December on track to be the mildest on record

24 12 2015

Mowing the lawn has been the reality for some so far this December, with unseasonably high temperatures. It looks as though the UK is on track to break the record for the warmest December since records began in 1910 and some areas have also seen their wettest.

The latest temperatures for December (1st to 22nd) reveal that the month so far has been far warmer than normal. Early provisional figures* reveal that the mean temperature for December in the UK has so far has been 8.1C, which is 4.2C above the long-term average for the month and well above the previous record of 6.9C set in 1934.

The December figure for England has so far been 9.5C, that’s 5.1C above the same long-term average and 2C above the record of 7.5C set in 1934, and the other UK nations have been similarly warm:

  • the mean temperature of 9.3C in Wales, higher than the previous post-1910 record of 7.5C set in 1934, and 4.8C above average
  • the mean temperature of 5.6°C in Scotland is 2.8C above average, but is so far slightly lower than the previous December record of 5.8C set in 1988
  • the mean temperature of 7.5°C in Northern Ireland is 3C higher than average, and marginally higher than the 1988 December record

Tim Legg of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre said: “With no sign of any significantly cold weather to come in the remaining 9 days of the month, we’re on track to break the warmest December record which was set back in 1934.”

Rainfall 1 - 22 Dec 2015

Rainfall 1 – 22 Dec 2015

MeanTemperature Dec 1 - 22, 2015

MeanTemperature Dec 1 – 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainfall and sunshine figures so far confirm December has been dull and wet across most of the UK, with sunshine well down on the long-term average while precipitation (which of course has fallen mainly as rain) has been well above.  Some places have seen record breaking rainfall:

  • Cumberland 310.9mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 248.2mm 2006),
  • Westmorland 474.4mm 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 365.1mm 2006)
  • Dumfriesshire 314mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 307.5mm 2013)
  • Carnarvonshire 441.3mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 376.6mm 1965)
  • Roxburghshire 237.8mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 219.7mm 2013)

 

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-22 Dec 2015 Act Anom Act Anom   Act Anom
  Deg C Deg C hours % mm %
UK 8.1 4.2 17.7 43 148.0 123
England 9.5 5.1 19.8 42 86.5 99
Wales 9.3 4.8 16.3 39 237.1 143
Scotland 5.6 2.8 14.1 46 229.1 140
N Ireland 7.5 3.0 20.7 56 130.4 114

 

You can find out what the rest of the year has been like on our climate pages.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall and sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.





Mild start to December

16 12 2015

Looking at figures dating back to 1960 this has been the mildest start to December for Wales (8.7C), south west England (9.8C) and south east England (10C), and the 4th warmest for the UK as a whole (7.1C), with 1979, 2000 and 2006 being marginally milder.

Early provisional figures* (1-14 December) show the first half of December has been very mild across England and Wales with the maximum daily temperatures 3.2C above average for the UK as a whole.

However there has been a sharp north-south contrast at times with much colder air over Scotland and some frosts.  Elsewhere the humid south-westerly airflow means the weather has remained similar to last month: cloudy with very few clear nights, mild nights and very little sunshine for most areas.

Mean Temperature 1 -14 December 2015

Mean Temperature 1 -14 December 2015

 

The main talking point so far this month has been Storm Desmond, bringing record-breaking rainfall totals over the Lake District and a lot of rain over many northern areas.

Around 200% of the whole month’s normal rainfall has already fallen in a few places in the Pennines and the Lake District, it has also been wet in Snowdonia and parts of southern & central Scotland.  There has been near-normal rainfall across many other areas, and actually below average, for this point in the month, in parts of southern England.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-14 Dec 2015 Act deg C Anom deg C   Act Hours Anom %   Act mm Anom %  
Regions            
UK 7.1 3.2 13.4 33 100.2 83
England 8.6 4.3 15.7 33 56.7 65
Wales 8.7 4.2 11.0 26 140.9 85
Scotland 4.2 1.4 10.4 34 161.6 99
N Ireland 6.1 1.6 13.1 35 99.0 87

 

Despite the mild start to winter following on from a mild autumn, it looks like 2015 will be an average year as far as weather is concerned.

This year’s damp and cool spring and summer mean that despite the current mild spell, the rainfall, temperature and sunshine statistics for the year as a whole are all hovering around average, with just 17 days left until the end of the year.

Indications are that the unsettled weather will continue through Christmas and into the new year. Showers or longer spells of rain are expected across all parts, with the heaviest and most persistent rain in the north and west, and the best of the drier conditions across south-east England.

We can expect gales at times, again especially in the north and west. Temperatures will be closer to average than of late, but still generally above, with any snowfall restricted to the high ground of Scotland and northern England.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall and sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.





The science questions following a global deal on climate

15 12 2015

There has been a huge amount of worldwide media coverage following the weekend’s announcement of a globally agreed deal to try to limit global warming to 2 °C or less. Here Professor Stephen Belcher, the Director of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services, discusses some of the scientific questions raised by the agreement.

At the heart of the Paris agreement is the aim to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels”*. Why 2 °C? Because global governments have previously agreed this is an achievable target which could reduce some of the most dangerous impacts of climate change – such as melting of ice in places like the Greenland which would cause large scale sea level rise.

The agreement went even further, however, by saying efforts should be pursued to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”. This is a more ambitious target, especially given news from the Met Office in November that the world has reached the 1 °C above pre-industrial marker for the first time this year.

It raises some interesting questions for scientists as to how we can achieve this: how much do we need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions? How quickly do we need to make those cuts? What else might we need to do to be able to keep warming to 1.5 °C – for example, would we need to develop technologies that actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere? If temperatures overshot 1.5 °C and then reduced to 1.5 °C, would sea level also overshoot and then reduce?

To answer these questions more precisely will require scientists to get an even more detailed understanding of how sensitive our climate is to CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Key to this will be improving understanding of what we call ‘Earth system feedbacks’. These are natural feedback processes which could either increase or decrease the amount of warming we might expect in response to a given amount of greenhouse gases. For example, we know that there are stores of greenhouse gases ‘locked away’ under frozen ground (permafrost) in some parts of the world, such as northern  Russia. If that permafrost melts due to climate change, the gases would be released – which could further increase warming.

Scientists around the world are already working on providing answers to these questions by developing a new breed of ‘Earth System Models’ (essentially complex simulations of our planet run on powerful supercomputers), which take more of these feedback processes into account, and so will help inform planning of emissions to achieve the warming targets agreed in Paris.

Whether we limit warming to 2 °C or 1.5 °C, it’s clear we can expect some further change to our global climate over the coming decades. Research shows us that this will lead to some impacts and it’s vital that we understand in more detail what this means at a regional and local level.

For example, research tells us that some parts of the world can expect more extreme weather – including heat waves and increases in extreme rainfall. For those planning everything from future homes, to flood defences, to vital infrastructure, the detail on what to expect is essential.

Again, these are questions which science is already working to answer by harnessing new research and ever more powerful supercomputing technology. At the Met Office, we’ve published papers showing that we can expect more intense summer downpours for the UK in future – which raises the risk of flash flooding. We’ve also shown how the chances of summer heatwaves in Europe have dramatically increased.

There’s still much more work to do in this area and it will be vital that the information generated by this research is presented in a way that allows everyone to make informed decisions about how we can become more resilient to our climate – whatever changes we can expect.

*There’s a lot of scientific debate about exactly what ‘pre-industrial levels’ means and how you would measure that, but here we use the average of temperatures during the period 1850-1899 as our representation.





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.”





Warm November on course to equal record in England

27 11 2015

UPDATE – 3 December 2015 – Provisonal full month stats show that November 2015 was the dullest on record

Early provisional statistics* (1- 25 November) show November has been notable for its mild weather.

Overall, temperatures for the UK have been 2.2°C above the November average, with this month on course in England to equal the previous warmest November in 1994 (9.5°C).

The other UK nations have been similarly warm

  • the mean temperature of 9.2°C in Wales currently the second warmest November on record here – behind 1996 (9.4°C)
  • the mean temperature of 6.6°C is currently joint third warmest in Scotland – behind 7.7°C in 2011 and 7.5°C in 1994
  • the mean temperature of 8.0°C in Northern Ireland is currently the fourth warmest on record – behind 8.8°C in 1994, 8.7°C in 2011 and 8.1°C in 2007

Apart from a short but marked cold spell on 21- 23 November there has been an absence of frosts in almost all areas, largely because of a humid, cloudy south-westerly airflow. This has also meant that most areas have seen very little sunshine. Most areas have had typical rainfall amounts for the time of year, but north-west Wales, north-west England and Southern Scotland have had well above average totals. There have also been a number of very windy episodes, including the impact of storms Abigail and Barney.

Of particular note was the temperature of 22.4°C recorded at Trawsgoed in Wales on 1 November and a remarkable overnight temperature of 16.1°C at Murlough in Northern Ireland on 9-10 November.

1-25 Nov mean temperature anomaly 1981-2010

1-25 Nov mean temperature anomaly 1981-2010

1-25 Nov rainfall anomaly 1981-2010

1-25 Nov rainfall anomaly 1981-2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parts of southern and central Scotland, the Lake District, Pennines and Snowdonia have had over 150% of their whole-month rainfall average. North-east Scotland and parts of southern and eastern England have had slightly less than would be expected up to this point in the month. South-west Scotland has already had enough rain to make this the 5th wettest November for that region in a series since 1910.

Sunshine has been well below normal with just 33 hours of sunshine up to the 25th across the UK. This means November 2015 is heading toward being the dullest on records going back to 1929 – the dullest currently being 1962 with 39 hours.

1-25 Nov
2015*
Mean temp (°C ) Sunshine (hrs) Rainfall (mm)
Actual Diff from
81-10 avg
Actual % of
81-10 avg
Actual % of
81-10 avg
UK 8.4 2.2 33 58 136.4 113
England 9.5 2.6 34 53 93.3 106
Wales 9.2 2.4 33 58 197.4 122
Scotland 6.6 1.6 31 68 192.9 116
N Ireland 8 1.5 37 68 127.2 113

You can find out what the rest of the year has been like on our climate pages.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall and sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.





2015 likely to be the warmest on record

25 11 2015

This year’s global average surface temperature is likely to be the warmest on record according to data from the Met Office, and is expected to continue the trend showing 15 of the top 16 warmest years have happened since 2001.

These findings concur with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) findings also announced today.

2015 a more ‘clear-cut’ record

Provisional figures up to the end of October show this year’s near-surface global temperature as estimated from the HadCRUT dataset has been around 0.71 ±0.1 °C above the 1961-1990 average of 14.0 °C.

This is in-line with the Met Office’s forecast, issued in December 2014, which predicted 2015 global temperatures would be between 0.52 °C and 0.76 °C* above the 1961-1990 average, with a central estimate of 0.64 °C.

In HadCRUT, this year is clearly warmer than 2014, the previous nominal warmest year in the record, which was 0.57 ±0.1 °C above the 1961-1990 average.

Global Temperature graph

Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: “Last year was nominally the warmest year in our records but wasn’t much higher than the other top warmest years. This year the temperature is markedly warmer than anything we’ve previously seen in the 166-year record, meaning its position at the top of the rankings looks set to be much more clear cut.”

 

The HadCRUT dataset, jointly compiled by the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, uses data from more than 6, 000 observation sites around the world and observations from ships and buoys at sea. It is recognised as one of the world’s leading indices of global temperature.

Temperatures 1 °C above ‘pre-industrial’ for first time

2015 is set to mark the first time in the record that annual global temperatures reach 1 °C above ‘pre-industrial’ temperatures (taken here as an average of the 1850-1900 period*).

This is important because governments around the world have agreed the aim of trying to limit warming to 2 °C or less above pre-industrial to try to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Leading independently-run datasets agree

Findings from HadCRUT are very similar to independently-run global temperature datasets compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

Information from all three datasets is included in an announcement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on global temperature, which also concludes this year is likely to be the warmest on record.

Where did 2015’s warmth come from?

This year has seen a strong El Niño develop, with unusually warm sea surface temperatures across the Tropical Pacific, releasing heat into the atmosphere and pushing up global temperatures.

Global Temperature chart

Global Temperature chart

While this has contributed to 2015’s warmth, this is likely to be comparatively small compared to the long-term influence of warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

This is backed up by research from the Met Office last year which showed global temperatures seen in recent years would be highly unlikely in a world without human influence on the climate.

What’s in store for the year ahead?

Last year saw record or near record warmth globally, this year is warmer still and the current expectation is that next year will also be warm.

This is due to two factors: firstly, the ongoing warming due to human influence, and secondly although the current El Niño is expected to peak around the end of this year, its main warming influence is usually felt in the months afterwards. For example, a strong El Niño peaked at the end of 1997 – but it was 1998 which went on to become a record (at the time) by some margin.

There are other natural factors – such as changes in longer term ocean cycles or volcanic eruptions – which could act to reduce global temperatures next year, so there will always be some uncertainty.

The Met Office will give more detail in the expected global temperature for 2016 when it publishes its forecast in the latter part of December.

 

* While late 19th century temperatures are commonly taken to be indicative of pre-industrial, there is no fixed period that is used as standard and a variety of other periods have been used for observational and palaeo datasets. There are limitations in available data in the early instrumental record, making the average temperature in the reference period less certain. There is not a reliable indicator of global temperatures back to 1750, which is the era widely assumed to represent pre-industrial conditions. Therefore 1850-1900 is chosen here as the most reliable reference period, which also corresponds to the period chosen by IPCC to represent a suitable earlier reference period.





Warm start to November

16 11 2015

Early provisional figures* (1-15 November) show the first half of November has been very mild with maximum daily temperatures 3.8C above average for the UK

Central England Temperature data set shows the start to the month has been the second warmest since this record began in 1772.

Local temperature records have been broken at various stations with only November 1938 seeing a warmer start to the month.

There has been an absence of frosts in almost all areas, largely because a humid south-westerly airflow means the weather has been cloudy and there have been very few clear nights.

 

MeanTemp 1-15 November 2015

MeanTemp 1-15 November 2015

The increased cloud means most areas have seen very little in the way of sun, with levels well below normal across southern and central England and also south-west Scotland. At this time in the month we would expect to see 50% of the monthly average however very few places have had as much as this and the UK as a whole has seen just 32% and Wales has seen less than half the sunshine we would expect mid month.   In the case of southern England it has also been remarkably dull, with some stations having only had 10 hours or less of bright sunshine in 15 days.

For many the start of the month has been wet, with the UK as a whole having had 75% of the whole months average rainfall (we would expect to see 50% at this time of the month). Parts of southern & central Scotland, the Lake District, Pennines and Snowdonia are among the areas already well above their whole-month average. However it was not a wet picture across the whole country, north-east Scotland and most of southern & eastern England have had slightly less rain than would be expected by this point in the month.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-15 Nov 2015 Act Anom  Act Anom  Act Anom 
  degC degC hours % mm %
Regions            
UK 10.0 3.8 18.1 32 90.5 75
England 11.2 4.3 17.5 27 59.8 68
Wales 10.7 3.9 20.3 36 128.5 79
Scotland 8.0 3.0 18.4 40 132.5 80
N Ireland 9.6 3.1 18.3 34 83.1 74

 

For the rest of November indications are that after an unsettled week the weather will turn colder with temperatures dropping nearer to the expected average for Novemeber if not a little below.  However milder conditions look likely to return for a time at the end of the month with rain and strong winds for much of the UK.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall & sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.





Warm, sunny and dry October

30 10 2015

Early provisional figures (1-28 October) show sunshine and temperatures were above normal in almost all places this month while rainfall has been below average, especially in western areas.

Much of October has been relatively settled, with high pressure dominating our weather. This has led to many dry, sunny days but cold nights and even a few frosts (coldest so far -5.0 °C at Braemar on 17th).  Although the end of the month so far has been more unsettled, it has remained milder than average.

Rainfall has been below average, especially in the west of the UK, with only around 30% of average in eastern parts of Wales.  The exception to this has been a band from Cambridgeshire to North Yorkshire and around Aberdeen where rainfall has been around average (at the time these figures were compiled we would expect around 90% of the month’s total rainfall and sunshine to have happened).

1-28 October 2015 sunshine

1-28 October 2015 sunshine

1-28 October 2015 rainfall

1-28 October 2015 rainfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maximum temperatures (daytime) have been above normal in almost all areas for October, with north west Scotland being 2°C above, while south-east England stayed around average.  However cooler nights have led to Mean temperatures (average of daytime and night-time temperatures) over most of England and Wales being near average, but a degree or so above in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-28 Oct 2015 Act Anom Act Anom Act Anom
  degC degC hours % mm %
Regions            
UK 9.9 0.4 88.5 96 61.6 48
England 10.6 0.2 89.5 87 50.5 55
Wales 10.0 0.1 89.0 96 64.3 38
Scotland 8.6 0.7 85.4 113 78.4 45
N Ireland 9.8 0.4 94.7 108 64.8 54

 

Meanwhile Halloween starts off cloudy or foggy for many with some patchy rain across northern parts.  However this clears leaving a mild day with patchy sunshine for many in the afternoon.   Sunday, 1st November, looks much the same staying mostly dry with some sunny spells.  Check out our five day forecast for more details.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall & sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

 

 





Warm, dry, sunny start to October

16 10 2015

The first half of October has been dominated by high pressure, giving a warm, dry, sunny start to October across the UK.

The month started with some weather fronts crossing the UK bringing rain in places. However the mid month statistics* (1 -14th October 2015) show that from the 5th onwards a high pressure system has dominated our weather bringing dry, settled conditions for most of us.

However, because of the position high pressure, we have seen relatively cool air coming in from the north-east. This has resulted in plenty of pleasant, sunny days, particularly in western areas, but with temperatures dropping away at night and a few frosts in places (coldest in this period -3.7 °C at Altnaharra on 13th).  Sunshine hours and maximum temperatures so far this month have been above average, but many places have seen night time temperatures below what we would expect, meaning the overall mean temperatures so far are above average for the whole of October.

MeanTemp Oct 1-14 2015

Rainfall has been well below normal in western areas, although closer to what would be expected by this point in the month in some eastern parts of the UK.  As a whole the UK has seen just 20% of the expected monthly rainfall so far, well short of the 50% we would expect to see by mid month.

1-14 Oct 2015 mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 10.3 0.8 57.1 62 25.5 20
England 11 0.6 60.7 59 25.2 27
Wales 10.4 0.5 60.2 65 24.8 15
Scotland   9.1 1.2 49.7 66 28.5 16
N Ireland 10.3 0.9 61.4 70 12.1 10

Of course, while these figures are interesting, they don’t tell us where the month will end up overall. Latest forecasts show that the settled weather is expected to continue for many over the next few days, before conditions become generally more unsettled across the UK with outbreaks of rain and stronger winds, interspersed with drier, brighter periods as we head towards the end of the month.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.





How much does the weather influence what we put in our grocery basket?

14 10 2015

What do you think determines what we buy when we go food shopping? Whilst the odd item may catch our eye and lead to one of those ‘impulse purchases’, British consumers can in some ways be rather predictable when it comes to what influences their choices.

For example, when Christmas comes around, it isn’t hard to predict that we’re going to be looking for turkey and sprouts. And when the economy is doing well, the chances are we’ll be buying a few more bottles of expensive wine.

But one of the most important factors – in fact one which around half of the decision makers at UK retailers and suppliers would count in their top three – is the weather. And whilst Santa’s sleigh may come to town once a year like clockwork, us Brits – more so than most – know that the weather doesn’t quite work in such a predictable manner.

Capture

The weather can have a significant impact on what we choose to buy when in store, and ultimately on retailer performance. For example, a four degree increase in temperature can lead to sales of burgers increasing by nearly half, according to one leading supermarket.

When the weather changes, retailers risk losing millions through low stock levels, empty shelves and disappointed customers. It can lead to unexpected fluctuations in store footfall and sales, shortages in availability, and impact the costs and efficiencies of the whole supply chain – this is particularly true for fresh, chilled and seasonal products.

We wanted to understand a bit more about how the UK grocery sector as a whole accounts for the weather in its planning, so we have developed a new report based on opinions of key executives and managers across over 200 food suppliers and retailers in the UK. The report looks at just how much the weather impacts their business – and how they use weather products to make those all-important stock predictions. After all, no one likes going to the supermarket to find that their favourite food item is sold out.








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