Climate change and weather caught in a media storm

11 12 2015

December so far has been characterised by intense media discussions about climate change and its relationship to weather.

Early in the month, the Met Office welcomed the BBC Trust report, which recognised there was a serious breach of their editorial guidelines and that the What’s the Point of the.. Met Office programme, aired in August, had failed to make clear that the Met Office’s underlying views on climate change science were supported by the majority of scientists.

Trustees considered audiences were not given sufficient information about prevailing scientific opinion to allow them to assess the position of the Met Office and the Met Office position on these criticisms was not adequately included in the programme.

In the wake of Storm Desmond, there have been further media comments about the relationship between climate change and weather.

On Monday, in a blog, we were very clear not to link the record-breaking rainfall with climate change.  This is what Professor Dame Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist has said: “It’s too early to say definitively whether climate change has made a contribution to the exceptional rainfall. We anticipated a wet, stormy start to winter in our three-month outlooks, associated with the strong El Niño and other factors.

“However, just as with the stormy winter of two years ago, all the evidence from fundamental physics, and our understanding of our weather systems, suggests there may be a link between climate change and record-breaking winter rainfall. Last month, we published a paper showing that for the same weather pattern, an extended period of extreme UK winter rainfall is now seven times more likely than in a world without human emissions of greenhouse gases.”

So, we have been clear: it’s not easy to link a single weather event to climate change, but last weekend’s record rainfall aligns with the pattern highlighted by our scientists. The Met Office expects an increase in heavy rainfall associated with climate change and this is an active area of research. A recent paper by the Met Office’s Mike Kendon highlights several key findings connected with rainfall records:

  • Since 2000 there have been almost 10 times as many wet records as dry records.
  • Remarkably, the period since 2010 accounts for more wet records than any other decade – even though this is only a five-year period. It also includes the winter of 2013/14: the wettest on record.

Guided by peer-reviewed science, the Met Office recognises the climate is changing, and with that comes an expectation that more records will be broken.





Did climate change have an impact on Storm Desmond?

7 12 2015

The exceptional rainfall in Cumbria over the past few days saw the fall of numerous records and has led many to ask whether it is linked to climate change. The records are based on digitised data going back to the 19th Century.

A gauge at Honister Pass recorded 341.4mm of rainfall in the 24-hours up to 1800 GMT on 5 December 2015, making for a new UK record for any 24-hour period. This beat the previous record of 316.4mm set in November 2009 at Seathwaite, also in Cumbria. A new 48-hour record (from 0900 to 0900 hrs) was also set, when 405mm was recorded at Thirlmere in Cumbria in just 38 hrs.

The weekend’s record rainfall was associated with a persistent, south-westerly flow bringing a ‘river of moisture’ from as far away as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Ocean temperatures in the West Atlantic are currently well above normal and may well have contributed to the very high levels of moisture in the air masses which unleashed rainfall on the Cumbrian fells.

Professor Dame Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist, says “It’s too early to say definitively whether climate change has made a contribution to the exceptional rainfall. We anticipated a wet, stormy start to winter in our three-month outlooks, associated with the strong El Niño and other factors.

“However, just as with the stormy winter of two years ago, all the evidence from fundamental physics, and our understanding of our weather systems, suggests there may be a link between climate change and record-breaking winter rainfall. Last month, we published a paper showing that for the same weather pattern, an extended period of extreme UK winter rainfall is now seven times more likely than in a world without human emissions of greenhouse gases.”





Last night’s coldest temperatures

30 11 2012

As the recent cold spell continues, last night saw some cold temperatures across the UK with widespread frost across parts of the country, with the coldest place being Shap, Cumbria where it fell to -7.0 °C.

The table below shows the top twenty coldest places recorded by the Met Office last night.

SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE (celsius)
Shap CUMBRIA -7.0
Benson OXFORDSHIRE -6.7
Braemar ABERDEENSHIRE -6.6
Eskdalemuir DUMFRIESSHIRE -5.8
Ravensworth NORTH YORKSHIRE -5.8
Redesdale Camp NORTHUMBERLAND -5.8
Leeming NORTH YORKSHIRE -5.7
Carterhouse ROXBURGHSHIRE -5.7
Newton Rigg CUMBRIA -5.4
Bainbridge NORTH YORKSHIRE -5.2
Bridgefoot CUMBRIA -5.1
Pershore HEREFORD & WORCESTER -5.0
Tyndrum PERTHSHIRE -5.0
Keswick CUMBRIA -4.9
Hurn DORSET -4.8
Spadeadam CUMBRIA -4.7
Chillingham Barns NORTHUMBERLAND -4.7
Saughall AYRSHIRE -4.6
Topcliffe NORTH YORKSHIRE -4.6
Aboyne ABERDEENSHIRE -4.5

The tables below show a breakdown of the coldest three places for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England

SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE (celsius)
Shap CUMBRIA -7.0
Benson OXFORDSHIRE -6.7
Ravensworth NORTH YORKSHIRE -5.8

Scotland

SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE (celsius)
Braemar ABERDEENSHIRE -6.6
Eskdalemuir DUMFRIESSHIRE -5.8
Carterhouse ROXBURGHSHIRE -5.7

Wales

SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE (celsius)
Tredegar Bryn Bach Park GWENT -3.6
Libanus POWYS -3.3
Llysdinam POWYS -3.1

Northern Ireland

SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE (celsius)
Katesbridge DOWN -3.5
Aldergrove ANTRIM -1.0
Lough Fea LONDONDERRY -0.7

The latest forecast from the Met Office shows that it is likely to stay cold with temperatures falling below freezing across many parts of the country over the next couple of night. Temperatures are expected to fall to similar lows tonight, with it perhaps a little colder still on Saturday night.

A full and regularly updated forecast is available on our website.





Heavy rain for parts of the UK this weekend

14 01 2011

Forecasters at the Met Office are monitoring the development of a slow-moving weather front, which could produce significant amounts of rain over the weekend.

A Met Office early warning has been issued for Cumbria for heavy rain, especially across the highest fells. Met Office advisories have also been issued for parts of Wales, North West England, Northern Ireland and much of southern and western Scotland.

Steve Willington, Met Office Chief Forecaster said: “Unsettled conditions will bring heavy and persistent rain through Saturday and into Sunday. The high ground of North West Wales and more particularly parts of Cumbria are likely to see the heaviest rainfall as the rain lingers across these areas into Sunday morning.”

The Environment Agency said: “With further rain forecast by the Met Office over the weekend, and the ground approaching saturation point, further flood alerts and flood warnings are likely to be issued. These may remain in place over the weekend and into next week.

“The heavy rainfall expected in Cumbria may result in some flooding of roads and some properties, although severe flooding, such as that seen in November 2009 is not anticipated.”

The public are advised to stay up to date with the latest weather forecasts and warnings on the Met Office website and get the latest information and sign up to free flood warnings by going to the  Environment Agency website  or calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Related Stories:
Rain and flooding warnings issued
Cumbria weather warning as experts forecast 30 hour downpour
 





Met Office in the Media: Friday 19 November

19 11 2010

The Western Morning News ran an article in the paper today explaining how ‘We issued rain warnings in good time‘ ahead of the heavy rain and subsequent flooding in Cornwall on Wednesday.

Today was also the one year anniversary of the Cumbria floods and The Times WeatherEye feature explored the weather that lead to that flooding.  We have also put together a case study on the Cumbria Floods.

Many papers have reported on Met Office forecasts of a switch to colder conditions through the weekend and into next week. This was followed by an article on WebNewsWire demonstrating the relationship between the Met Office and the Highways Agency, helping to make sure that road users are prepared for winter. We have issued more information on the switch to colder conditions on our website, where you can keep right up to date with the UK forecast.





Diary: 18-20 Nov – First Anniversary of Cumbria Floods

11 11 2010

Heavy and persistent rain caused widespread flooding in Cumbria, an in particular in the town of Cockermouth where during the night of 19–20 November 2009 over 200 people in Cockermouth were rescued from their homes by the emergency services.

One year on, we take a look at how the extensive flooding in Cumbria  (case study) was made easier to deal with because of the warnings from the joint Met Office and Environment Agency Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC), and how developments in weather forecasting technology are helping us provide earlier warning of such extreme weather.
 
 







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