State of the UK climate 2014

23 09 2015

Our climate in the UK is changing and therefore it is essential that we record those changes accurately. The foundation for this monitoring comes from our extensive network of meteorological observations. The Met Office National Climate Information Centre is responsible for translating these diverse observations into an understanding of our nation’s weather and climate and its longer term historical context. Today we have released a new report called ‘State of the UK Climate 2014’.


What is it?
‘State of the UK Climate’ is a new annual publication that presents a summary of the UK’s weather and climate, in this case for 2014, comparing it to historical records to provide long-term context. It is intended to provide an accessible, authoritative and up-to-date assessment of UK climate trends, variations and extremes based on the latest available climate quality observational datasets.

What does it say?
Some of the important findings of this year’s report are:

2014 was the warmest year on record for UK land and coastal waters.

2014 was the fourth wettest year on record for the UK.

8 of the 10 warmest years for the UK have occurred since 2002 and all the top
ten warmest years have occurred since 1990.

7 of the 10 wettest years for the UK have occurred since 1998.

Mean sea level around the UK rose by 1.4 millimetres per year (mm/yr) in the
20th Century, when corrected for land movement.

Within its pages you can also discover a host of other facts and figures from days of heavy rain, snow and sunshine hours, a summary of significant weather events in 2014 and the fact that February 2014 saw the highest ever recorded sea level at Newlyn in Cornwall in a 100 year series.

Why now?
We monitor a wide range of observations and will always report our findings as they happen, regardless of whether that be a single severe storm, the hottest year on record, or a relatively benign month. However the eagle-eyed may have noticed that we refer to these statistics as “provisional”. This is because we also continue to collect more observations and undertake extensive quality control of the data for a long time after the event. At the completion of this process approximately 6 months later we will then recalculate all our national statistics to include all the best quality data that we can. That is why we are now publishing up to date statistics for the year 2014.

Will this be updated?
Yes. This publication is intended to be the first in a series of annual reports and we expect to publish the summary for 2015 next summer . These will provide the most up-to-date and highest quality UK climate statistics available. Our routine day-to-day and monthly monitoring will also continue, so for those that can’t wait we’ll still be providing our important real-time monitoring as well.

We would also love to hear your feedback or suggestions so that we can improve the publication and make it as useful as possible. While we cannot promise to respond individually to all comments we will be sure to consider them all as we plan the release for ‘State of the UK Climate 2015’ next summer. Please email all comments to

Find the full report here: State of the UK Climate 2014

How do we measure snow?

6 11 2012

Here at the Met Office, we’re already being asked if it’s going to be a White Christmas and there’s always a lot of interest in snow.

It’s too early to give forecasts that far ahead, forecasting snow is – after all – a challenge which requires detailed information. While forecasting snow is one challenge, measuring it when it’s on the ground poses another.

There are several reasons for this. First of all snow is subject to the vagaries of the wind and can be blown into deep drifts, leaving bald patches of earth nearby.

Snow also melts, refreezes, and new snow can fall on top. This makes it difficult to discern how much snow has fallen at different times or on different days.

Another tricky aspect of measuring snow is that it often falls on high ground, away from where the majority of the UK population live – and also away from our observation sites.

Snow often falls on high ground but is less common closer to sea-level.

So what do we do to measure this problematic precipitation? In days gone by a manual observer (ie a human being) would go out with a ruler and measure snow on a flat surface.

But this is time consuming, limits observations (as there were relatively few manual observers) and, apparently, became a tricky operation when snow got particularly deep!

So modern technology has given us automated snow sensors which measure snow depth with a laser signal. A piece of artificial turf is the preferred surface below the laser, as it doesn’t grow and therefore doesn’t complicate readings as grass might.

It’s not all that simple though, as even artificial turf can expand and contract according to temperature, as can the soil below it (which can push the artificial turf up or down). Moles can also cause the same problem! To tackle this, our network is under continual review and calibration to make it as accurate as possible.

These fairly technical pieces of kit can’t be placed everywhere, and until last year there were less than 50 spread out across the UK.

Snow depth sensor

This year we have extended our network with 21 new snow sensors, bringing the total up to 68 – you can see the full network on the map below.

Map showing snow sensor network in 2012

This means we can get snow readings from a wider range of locations, which can help our forecasting and is useful for building records and statistics about UK climate.

It’s worth pointing out that while these additions to our observation network are a valuable step forward, the snow sensor network is still relatively sparse in comparison to our UK land weather observation network, which has 463 stations.

Fortunately this is supplemented by observations supplied to the Weather Observations Website (WOW), where anyone can give an up to date measurement of snow or even upload a picture of how much snow they have.

The very nature of our weather here in the UK means that it’s not possible to give precise information for every location in the country, but our network is being continually improved to provide the most detailed, accurate and up-to-date information available.

You can read more about snow and snow forecasts on our dedicated snow pages.


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