Threat of more bad UK summers

The Met Office says none of the extreme seasonal weather is unprecedented, and not necessarily the result of climate change. But a summit concluded the UK could be in line for many more bad summers.

View all 10 updates ›

Warming Atlantic could be to blame for wet summers

Leading scientists and meteorologists today gathered at the Met Office to discuss the UK's unusual weather patterns in recent years.

Professor Rowan Sutton, of the University of Reading, said: "This spring was the coldest for over 50 years, 2012 was the wettest in a century and December 2010 was the coldest on record, with national records dating back to 1910.

"Research at the University of Reading suggests that recent wet summers could be caused by a major warming of the North Atlantic Ocean that occurred back in the 1990s. The North Atlantic ocean has alternated slowly between warmer and cooler conditions over the last 100 years.

"We saw a rapid switch to a warmer North Atlantic in the 1990s and we think this is increasing the chances of wet summers over the UK and hot, dry summers around the Mediterranean - a situation that is likely to persist for as long as the North Atlantic remains in a warm phase.

"A transition back to a cooler North Atlantic, favouring drier summers in the UK and northern Europe, is likely and could occur rapidly. Exactly when this will happen is difficult to predict, but we're working on it.

Earlier this month the Met Office said below average temperatures through March, April and May made it the fifth coldest spring in national records dating back to 1910 and the coldest spring since 1962.

More on this story