Maximum temperatures and how they’re recorded

Here at the Met Office we have been collecting weather observations since we were founded, and the earliest daily temperature data we have in our digital climate database is from 1853. However, there are a number of elements to verify temperatures and any associated records which ensure a fair comparison and consistency across our annals.

How are temperatures measured?

Since the 1960s, temperatures quoted by the Met Office have had to come from stations that meet specific criteria and are regularly maintained and inspected by our specialist teams. Only data that is measured to the nearest decimal point are included, meaning that observations from certain stations that measure to whole numbers, such as METAR stations at airports, can’t be used in these standardised results.

Within these stations, thermometers have to be housed in a white slatted box with its door facing north, called a Stevenson screen, which keeps the thermometer away from direct sunlight but air flow constant.

Consistency in the locations of these boxes is also crucial, mounted 1.25m high over level, grassy ground. Man-made materials such as concrete can have a large impact on results through properties such as heat retention, and due to this the Stevenson screens should be located at least 20m away from concrete or hard standing, and only half of the area within a 100m radius should be formed of man made surfaces.

Stevenson Screen. Image: Met Office

When are maximum temperatures officially recognised as a new record?

There is a verification process to the daily real time data which has to go through quality control prior to it’s release, such as cross referencing with nearby stations for any inconsistencies. However, for records to become official more rigorous quality control is carried out over a longer period of time, potentially several months, before they can be recognised as a new record. These include wider cross checking between stations and sites, understanding of the weather on the day and what was expected compared to our forecasts.

Additional to these validations, physical inspections by a team of engineers mean they can check that equipment is working as it should with no anomalies, adding an additional layer of verification to ensure reported records are correct.

What are we learning from the past?

There have been significant impacts from high temperatures over the past century, with many lessons learnt to minimise these effects. In 1911 when temperatures reached 36.7°C, around 4,000 people died in London alone during the heatwave period. Droughts impacted water supplies, lack of grazing for cattle increased milk prices, and certain outdoor employers had to adjust the working hours of their staff in order to avoid the heat.

Graph showing how nine of the top 10 hottest UK days have been since 1990. Image: Met Office

The trend for these high temperatures has also been increasing, with nine of the ten hottest days on record in the UK falling from 1990, three of these since 2019. However, technology has developed, and whilst these temperatures still pose a significant risk to life, the ability to forecast more nearly a week ahead allows people to prepare and adapt their actions to try and minimise the effects that heat can bring.

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It’s warmer than average. But what is average?

This month we have been exploring the topic of climate monitoring, and in this post we hear from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about its role in global monitoring and its value for decision making.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) logo

The heat of summer is upon us, and there is much talk about how it is warmer than average – certainly in many parts of Europe. But what is average?

Well. It’s complicated. And this is why we need global coordination and support.

The World Meteorological Organization helps monitor the Earth’s climate on a global scale to provide the best possible science to support decision-making.

In order to assess whether a given day, week, month or year is warmer or wetter than average, we use a 30-year baseline, known as ‘Climatalogical Standard Normals’. These are averages of climatological data over a 30-year period, 1 January 1981–31 December 2010, 1 January 1991–31 December 2020, and so forth. It’s important to use a long-term average because of the natural variability in our climate.

Rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are changing the Earth’s climate much faster than before, and therefore WMO has agreed that the standard 30-year reference period has to be updated every decade in order to better reflect the changing climate and its influence on our day-to-day weather experience.

This is vital for operational decision-making in climate-sensitive sectors and industries such as water management, energy, agriculture and viticulture (production of grapes). They need up-to-date information for forecasting of peak energy load, crop selection and planting times, transport planning and schedules, and much more.

A new baseline

Until the end of 2020, the most current and widely used standard reference period for calculating climate normals was the 30-year period 1981-2010. WMO’s recent Executive Council recommended that the new 30-year baseline, 1991-2020, should be adopted globally and pledged support to Members to help them update their figures.

The United States of America and many countries in Europe have already switched to the new baseline, aided by today’s increasingly powerful computers and climate data management systems making it much easier to conduct more frequent updates, which involve analysing massive amounts of climate data.

But for developing countries, which have significant gaps in their data collection and processing capacity, this poses a real challenge. Just 70 out of 193 Members submitted their Climate Normals (CLINO) for the period 1991–2020 – less than 37%. This raises the concern of meeting the deadline for completing the CLINO collection in 2023.

“Missing CLINO 1991–2020 will seriously hamper the quality of Members’ and WMO products and services. Operational monitoring and prediction products, such as El Niño/La Niña monitoring, State of Climate reports, seasonal forecasts etc. will suffer from a non-delivery of updated CLINO. These products will lose their modern relevance for various application sectors as a result of the changing climate,” comments Omar Baddour, Head of WMO Climate Monitoring and Policy Division.

“An urgent collective action involving Members, WMO Secretariat, Technical Commissions and Regional Associations is needed to accelerate Members’ data submission and collection,” he says.

Ian Lisk from the Met Office and president of the WMO Services Commission agrees. “The Climate Normals dataset is used for a wide range of applications all over the world. It is also worth highlighting that there are also fixed historical reference periods that are used to benchmark climate change monitoring. The WMO Reference Period for long-term climate change assessment is based on the period 1961-1990 whilst the pre-industrial reference period, 1850-1900, is used by WMO and IPCC as the baseline for estimating past and future global temperature increases.”

He goes on to add that, “The WMO Services Commission is currently developing guidance on good practices for the use of climate normals and other reference period baselines to support the improved communication of climate change related information.’’

Consolidated data

WMO uses six international datasets for temperatures – HadCRUT.5.0.1.0 (Met Office, UK), NOAAGlobalTemp v5 (USA), NASA GISTEMP v4 (USA), Berkeley Earth (USA), ERA5 (ECMWF) and JRA-55 (Japan).

In 2021, the Met Office and the University of East Anglia upgraded their long-running HadCRUT dataset, including better coverage in data-sparse areas such as the rapidly warming Arctic. This provides more accurate estimates of global, hemispheric and regional temperature changes. The previous version, HadCRUT4, showed less warming than other global temperature data sets. HadCRUT5 is now more consistent with these other datasets during recent decades and shows slightly more warming than most of them do over the full period since 1850. 

Thus, the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11°C (± 0.13) above the pre-industrial level. The warmest year on record remains 2016, when the average global temperature was 1.29°C above the pre-industrial era because of a combination of a powerful El Niño event and global warming.

With each passing year, the chance of us reaching the 1.5°C lower limit of the Paris Agreement increases. Continued climate monitoring is therefore vital to inform mitigation policy and to guide us in our efforts to adapt to climate change.

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Crowdsourcing for weather & climate monitoring 

Observations constitute our primary source of information about how our climate is changing. They provide direct and unequivocal evidence of the impacts of climate change, are indispensable for the development of seasonal climate predictions, and are essential for validating and improving the models used to simulate future climates under different emission scenarios. 

The Met Office operates many of its own observing networks, whilst also participating in global partnerships such as the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) to facilitate the sharing of global climate observations. Various climate variables are collected from different observing systems, quality checked, and brought together to obtain the best possible description of the climate. Alongside long-term climate monitoring – which you can see visualisations of in our climate dashboard – we also need high-quality observations to support the attribution and prediction of climate change-induced extreme weather events. 

Wind observations equipment. Image: Crown Copyright

The urban environment 

Globally, urban areas constitute one of the most significant challenges in current observational capability. The importance of this challenge cannot be understated – across the world an ever-increasing number of people live and work in urban areas and will be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and heat stress. In the UK, heat-related mortality is projected to increase under a medium emissions scenario by around 257% by the 2050s, with this figure even greater in London1

Met Office Foundation Scientist, Matthew Fry explains, “At the heart of this lies the fact that city environments aren’t typically compatible with the requirements we follow when siting our observation networks. Obstructions from buildings are rife, and there’s tarmac everywhere! Despite these challenges, we need observations to help us understand the complexities of the urban environment; develop and improve our urban-scale modelling capability, and to monitor changes over time.” 

The growth of crowdsourced observations 

In recent years, the advent of the ‘smart home’ has brought the capability for weather observations into the homes and gardens of a greater number of individuals. Alongside this, a plethora of internet-connected devices now have the capability to make and share meteorological observations, at spatial densities that would be simply impossible via conventional means. 

Developing novel crowdsourcing methods is a highly active area of research. Some remarkable examples include deriving air temperature measurements from smartphone battery temperatures, and even detecting UK flood events using Twitter! Alongside these indirect crowdsourcing methods, there exists a wide variety of dedicated observational networks comprised of citizen-owned and operated devices. Companies such as Netatmo, Davis, and Oregon Scientific offer home weather stations and associated apps/websites that allow users to record their own observations and view those of others on online weather maps. 

In 2011, the Met Office launched its own platform – the Weather Observations Website (WOW) – designed to enable the sharing of current weather observations from all around the globe, regardless of their level of detail or frequency. Observations might come from specially designed digital, scientific, or wireless weather stations, or alternatively from simply looking out of the window and recording the present weather situation. In 2020, WOW passed the remarkable milestone of 1.5 billion total observations and routinely receives over 25 million observations a month. 

As well as being a great tool for public engagement, data from WOW have been used in operational applications. Following the development of quality control and bias-correction methods, data from WOW have been used in nowcasting applications, demonstrating particular use during severe rainfall events. Archived WOW observations have also proven useful in the detection of drought episodes in the Netherlands and urban climate research in Berlin. 

How can I get involved? 

Climate change is already affecting every inhabited region of the globe, with human influence contributing to an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Every observation is critical in monitoring and attributing these changes, with particular value provided by observations from data sparse regions.  

The Met Office WOW platform is a free resource, with observations submitted there having genuine applications in both weather and climate science. If you have your own weather station you can register and upload data automatically to WOW, or alternatively you get involved by recording your own photos, observations, or weather impacts via the website. 

Sources 

1 Hajat S, Vardoulakis S, Heaviside C, Eggen B. (2014). Climate change effects on human health: projections of temperature-related mortality for the UK during the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. J Epidemiol Community Health. 68(7):641-8. doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-202449

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June extends run of warm months

As we reach the half-way point of 2022, June continued the run of each month so far this year reporting above-average temperatures, as warm and dry conditions reigned for much of the month.

According to provisional Met Office figures, June 2022’s average mean temperature* for the UK was 13.9°C, which was 0.6°C above the long-term average (1991-2020). Maximum temperatures were also above average for the month, with 18.6°C the average daily high, some 0.9°C above the long-term figure. This was spurred on by a warm spell in the middle of the month, when temperatures peaked at 32.7°C on 17 June at Heathrow Airport and Santon Downham, in Suffolk. Daily minimum temperatures were somewhat closer to average for many.

However, June’s heat wasn’t spread evenly across the UK, with the highest departures from average along eastern coasts of England and Scotland. England and Scotland both saw average maximum temperatures 1°C more than their long-term averages, at 20°C and 16.6°C respectively, while Wales and Northern Ireland were much closer to their averages, with 18°C and 17.1°C respectively.

Mean temperature for the UK in June against the long-term average

Dry, but not for everyone

Despite some periods of late-month rainfall for much of the UK, figures are still around a quarter below their average for the month. For the UK, an average of 59mm of rain fell in the month, which is 24% less than the long-term average. Areas in England and eastern Scotland were particularly dry, although not enough to trouble any records. However, Northern Ireland did breach its long-term average figure, with 84.7mm of rain being 4% more than their average, thanks largely to some bursts of rain late in the month.

Rainfall amount for the UK against the long-term average

Sun shines for most

Sunshine figures for the month were largely above average, with an average of 195.8 sunshine hours in the UK, which is 14% more than the long-term average for June. However, as with temperature and rainfall, the sunniest conditions were in the east meaning Northern Ireland was the main exception with just 108.1 hours of sunshine – which is 28% less than the long-term average.  

Sunshine duration for June 2022 against the long-term average

Dr Mark McCarthy of the National Climate Information Centre said: “Looking at the weather and climate figures for June 2022, it has been a fairly unremarkable month, albeit with a particularly warm spell in the middle of the month and a fairly dry and sunny month for most.

“With the warmest, driest and sunniest weather to be found in the east, Northern Ireland was the outlier for a few of the statistics, with a few interludes of cloud and rain meaning there has been a relatively dull month, with sunshine in short supply in the west of Northern Ireland.”

Provisional June 2022Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm) 
 Actual Diff from avg (°C)Actual% of avgActual% of avg
UK 13.9 0.6 195.8114 59 76
England 14.9 0.5 220.9118 45 69
Wales 13.5 0 190.7107 71.5 78
Scotland 12.5 0.8 170.2116 74.7 80
N Ireland 13.4 0.4 108.172 84.7 104

Climate change

With June proving to be warmer than average according to mean temperature, 2022 continues a run of months since September 2021 being warmer than average, that’s despite a change to a new meteorological averaging period which reflects the UK’s changing climate as a result of human-induced climate change. Even with this recent shift in the averaging period, which demonstrated an increase in average UK temperature of 0.8°C compared to an earlier 1961-1990 period, 2022 has so far been higher than the average for every month, as well as the closing three months of 2021, even when measured against the latest averages.

Mark continued: “It’s perhaps noteworthy that 2022 so far hasn’t had any month report below-average mean temperature. Of course, short-term weather will always lead the direction of monthly statistics, but even with the change in averaging periods to reflect our changing climate, 2022 has had a run of relatively mild or warm weather, meaning that the January-June period for 2022 has been in the top five warmest for the UK in a series from 1884. This doesn’t mean that cooler months won’t still occur, such is the natural variability of the UK climate, but a warming trend for the UK over a longer period is consistent with what we’ve seen in our climate figures.”

The graph shows mean temperature for each month in the UK back to 2013. This is measured against the latest averaging period (1991-2020), with the red bars denoting a month with above average mean temperature, and the blue below average.

*Mean temperature is calculated by the difference between the average daily maximum and average daily minimum temperature.

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Over a fifth less traffic on the roads thanks to Storm Eunice warnings

Storm Eunice brought impactful weather to much of England and Wales.

Traffic on England’s roads appeared to reduce by over a fifth during Storm Eunice, as drivers appeared to heed the advice of the Met Office, National Highways, the RAC and emergency responders to take precautions to stay safe during the strongest storm to impact England and Wales since February 2014.  

According to National Highways, there was 21% less traffic than would normally be expected on England’s roads on 18 February, as two rare Met Office Red National Severe Weather Warnings came into force for Storm Eunice.  

According to Met Office post-event surveys, 99% of people within the red warning area in the southeast were aware of the warnings, while 98% of those within the red warning area in southwest England and south Wales knew about the warning. 

Impactful weather

Storm Eunice came in the middle of a week which saw three named storms affecting the UK, the first time this has occurred since storm naming was introduced in 2015/2016. These storms came in a turbulent week of wet and windy weather for the UK, which was associated with a powerful jet stream.  

Storm Eunice was the most severe and damaging storm of the three storms, bringing the strongest winds with gusts widely over 80mph for many southern areas of the UK and a new England gust speed record of 122mph being reached at an exposed station on the Isle of Wight. 

Travel disruption

Disruption was experienced for much of the UK, with a number of power cuts, fallen trees and delayed or cancelled trains.  

While disruption on the roads was still keenly felt by those who had no choice but to head out in the conditions, 21% fewer vehicles took to the road in England, helping to lessen some of the traffic issues on blocked routes.  

Melanie Clarke, Customer Service Director (Operations) for National Highways, said: “Storms Dudley, Eunice, and Franklin were some of the worst storms experienced in decades and certainly provided us with challenging conditions across our network of motorways and major A roads.  

“Even though a lot of people heeded our advice not to travel, our army of traffic officers, control room operators and winter service teams were incredibly busy, keeping roads gritted, responding to incidents, and ensuring our network of motorways and major A roads remained safe.” 

That reduction in traffic also helped to ease the burden on the RAC, who experienced a 16% reduction in callouts across the UK than would typically be expected in a day. It was a 34% reduction in callouts for Wales alone.  

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “These figures clearly show that, with enough notice and plenty of clear communication directly to the public, it is possible to change drivers’ behaviour during periods of severe weather. For us, less traffic on the roads during Storm Eunice led to fewer incidents and meant drivers – as well as our patrols – were kept safe.” 

Early, accurate forecasts

Drivers, as well as local and national resilience groups, were aided by early, accurate forecasts from the Met Office, with Storm Eunice being named some four days before it struck.  

Will Lang looks after managing severe weather events within the Met Office. He said: “While no one wants severe weather to impact their plans, it was vital for everyone’s safety that the public listened to the warnings and understood the risks during this week of impactful weather for the UK. 

“We’re very pleased that our early warnings helped people make arrangements to avoid taking to the roads during Storm Eunice. Without that reduction in traffic, the impacts on the roads could have been much worse.” 

With three storms in the week, Met Office forecasts aided critical services across the country to help people to stay safe. From helping the air traffic control service, NATS, to land aircraft in challenging conditions to working with emergency responders as impacts from the weather became clear.  

When it really matters, critical services trust the Met Office to provide accurate weather forecasts which support planning and decision making. So you can be sure those forecasts will help you plan your everyday too.  

You can check the latest forecast on our website, by following us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on our mobile app which is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from the Google Play store. Keep track of current weather warnings on the weather warning page.   

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Talking climate change – using podcasts to bring climate science to life

Dr Rosie Oakes is a Senior Scientist in the International Climate Services team at the Met Office and co-host of our Mostly Climate podcast. Here she talks about using podcasts to communicate climate science.

Climate change. It’s a subject that is starting to come up in conversations about all aspects of our lives. Are flood defences high enough? How can we plan cities for the future? Are some areas of the world going to become unsuitable for human habitation?  

Dr Rosie Oakes

The science on climate change is clear, the climate is changing. Climate scientists around the world are continuing to refine their understanding of the drivers and impacts of climate change, however, these results often end up in scientific publications or global assessment reports which can be inaccessible to those without technical training.  

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for example, was a staggering 3,949 pages long…and that’s just the section on the science of climate change. The reports on adaptation and mitigation were each almost as long. Not exactly something you want to dig into over a bowl of cornflakes.  

There is a need for climate scientists and communicators to work together to bridge the gap between technical scientific information and non-technical users who want to understand the science to help inform decisions in their work and everyday life. The great thing about this is that there are lots of ways to do this including poetry, art, music, cartoons and podcasts, which I’ll focus on for the rest of the blog.  

Podcasts, unlike 3,949 page science reports, are well suited to be enjoyed with a bowl of cornflakes or on the bus on the way to work. As a climate scientist at the Met Office, I spend most my time reading technical articles on climate change, analysing data, talking to people about climate change and writing reports. On my commute on the way home, I want to learn about what’s going on in the world, but I don’t have any extra brain power left to read news articles or reports on technical subjects. 

In steps the humble podcast. Over my 30-minute bus journey, I can learn about how gut health affects mental health, how agricultural practices can alter carbon storage in soils, or how rock-paper-scissors was used to decide the sale of a major art collection! There is absolutely no way I would have been able to read an article on any of those topics at the end of the day when my brain feels like it’s turned to mush, but listening to a podcast feels like a conversation with a friend. My favourite feature is that you can rewind 30 seconds if your brain accidentally has a snooze!  

So how about climate science? Can we make it more accessible to a wider audience by sharing it in a friendly podcast format? We really hope so as this is what Dr. Doug McNeall and I try to create with the Mostly Climate podcast. Supported by producers Clare Nasir and Grahame Madge and edited by Adrian Holloway, we have conversations about climate-related topics that people want to know about but perhaps don’t have the time, energy or inclination to spend hours reading about.  

When the IPCC released their new report on the science behind climate change (that’s the 3,949-page report I mentioned earlier), the Mostly Climate team dug into the content. We crafted an episode with some frequently asked questions at the beginning (a back and forth between Doug and I trying to work out what new information had come out and why it mattered), followed by interviews with Met Office scientists who had led on writing different chapters of the report.  

It’s not every day you have Dr. Helene Hewitt OBE and Dr. Chris Jones in your kitchen chatting to you about climate change while you eat your breakfast, but with the podcast you can have just that. We asked them, “What do you hope people take away from this report?” Helene wants you to know that, “It’s only by limiting warming that we can reduce the rates of sea-level rise into the future,” whilst Chris said, “There is a wide range of possible futures and we can still control which path we follow but the actions that determine that need to be taken now.”  

Mostly Climate Podcast – the science behind COP

This is the kind of insight I want to get when I listen to podcasts, and as co-host of Mostly Climate I want to bring this content to our listeners. I use my background in climate science and the connections the team have within the Met Office and beyond to break down complex topics and bring expert insights to our audience. By doing this, we hope to make the mountains of data and information on climate change feel a little less overwhelming.  

Climate change is a massive global challenge and to tackle it we need everybody to understand the science and solutions. If climate information is inaccessible to people, we can’t do this. Podcasts provide one way to tell stories about climate change, so I hope you’ll listen in and see what you think. 

Get ready for tomorrow. #GetClimateReady 

#MostlyClimate 

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How we make our 2050 ‘forecasts’, and why we do them 

You may have seen some of our forecasts that look a little further ahead than you would usually expect. Although they use the same graphics as our normal weather forecasts, we’ve been producing theoretical ‘forecasts’ for 2050 to look at what conditions we could expect to see in the UK if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.  

One of the greatest challenges with communicating the risks of climate change is how to show, in a relatable way, how changes in our atmosphere could impact the weather we experience on the Earth’s surface. By showing what the weather could look like by 2050 at certain times of year, it helps people relate to how different their experiences might be under a changing climate.  

To date we’ve produced plausible scenarios for a July 2050 heatwave, Wimbledon and Christmas 2054, and now we’ve examined how Glastonbury could look in 30 years’ time.  

Plausible scenarios  

The key aspect to these ‘forecasts’ is that they are plausible weather events for 2050. Of course, it isn’t possible to create a genuine weather forecast for 2050, however it is possible to generate a realistic forecast based on the atmospheric conditions projected for the future.  

The future forecasts are based on climate projections using a high-emissions scenario. One of the biggest sources of uncertainty in climate change is how much the world manages to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the years to come. That’s why climate scientists model future global warming under various scenarios. 

Although these forecasts use one of the higher emission scenarios (RCP8.5), in the middle of the century – where we are focusing – the difference in climate response between scenarios is much less than later in the century when the benefits of mitigation actions taking place now become much more apparent.  

Extracting the data 

Using Met Office climate modelling expertise, we can look to the future and provide data to our presenting team who generate the graphics to accompany the outlook.  

Dr James Pope, a member of the Met Office UK Climate Projections (UKCP) team, explains how this works: 

“Using our latest UKCP18 climate projections for the UK, we can examine in detail the various model runs for a specific period in time. Because the climate model works in the same way as our weather forecasting model, we can look at specific dates of interest – for example when Wimbledon usually occurs, or Christmas Day.  

“In this example we’ve looked at 22-26 June 2050, the time of year when Glastonbury usually takes place. We can then assess the various model runs, as there are multiple outputs which are based on slightly different atmospheric conditions, to see if there are any notable weather events at that time of year. 

“The output from one such model run showed a significant heatwave, with daytime temperatures reaching 38°C and overnight temperatures never getting below 23°C. As such, the ‘forecast’ that we are generating for 2050 is a plausible scenario that, depending on future greenhouse gas emissions, could happen in the future.” 

Presenting the future 

Once James has downloaded the relevant data, he passes it on to Met Office Presenter Aidan McGivern who then uses our visualisation software to generate the presented forecast.  

Aidan explains more: “Because the climate model works in the same way as our operational weather model, we can input data from our climate projections and display it like a normal weather forecast. By using the same colour palette as the current operational forecasts, it helps to show the intensity of the heat that we could realistically see by 2050.  

Map of the UK showing the visualisation of the climate data in a weather forecast format, with clear notes that it isn’t an actual weather forecast. 

“When scientists talk about 1°C or 1.5°C of global warming it might not sound like much, but there are wider impacts on our weather system as a consequence of climate change. Linking these ‘forecasts’ to national events makes climate change very real. In this example daytime highs of 38°C would be extremely uncomfortable in a festival environment, and with temperatures never dipping below 23°C at night there is no relief from the heat, conditions that can pose significant health risks.  

“It’s really important to make sure that people understand that this is not a real forecast, but a possible scenario for the future. Consequently, we mark up the graphics that show up behind me with very clear dates and a note that this is not an actual weather forecast! I always include an explanation at the end of the videos discussing how we make the videos, why they are plausible scenarios and how things could be different if swift action is taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Met Office Presenter Aidan McGivern in the studio recording the 2050 ‘forecast’  

So that’s how it’s done and why we do it. Here’s the latest example that James and Aidan have created for what Glastonbury 2050 could look like if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.  

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Poles apart: latest Met Office sea ice report published

The latest stocktake of sea ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic has just been published by the Met Office.

It might be tempting to consider the many apparent similarities between the polar regions, but there are also key differences that can be seen in the annual cycle of the regions’ sea ice.

The year-to-year and decade-to-decade variability in the extent of sea ice can help scientists understand a lot about the impacts of both weather and climate change.

Dr Ed Blockley leads the polar team at the Met Office. He said: “Perhaps the most obvious difference is that Antarctica is a large continent ringed by ocean, whereas the Arctic is a region of ocean hemmed in by continental land masses. This difference in geography means that sea ice formation has differing influences at each end of the earth.”

The Met Office briefing on Arctic and Antarctic sea ice shows that Antarctica set a new record minimum in the southern hemisphere (austral) summer, beating the previous low in March 2017. Researchers from British Antarctic Survey looked at the factors behind the February minimum concluding that storms had the effect of displacing sea ice by pushing it away from the continent toward relatively warmer waters, leading to the record low.

You can hear an interview with Professor John Turner of British Antarctic Survey in the latest episode of our Weather Snap podcast. In mid June Antarctic sea ice extent remains very low for the time of year and on 10 June was equal lowest with 2019.

Arctic sea ice extent on 10 June in the northern hemisphere summer was the eleventh lowest on record for the time of year, following relatively slow ice loss during May. Consistent records of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice began in 1979 during the development of the satellite era.

Although the extent of sea ice shows large variation between years, in the Arctic the downward trend means the region is losing ice at an alarming rate. 

Ed Blockley added: “Arctic sea ice extent has declined in all seasons but much more so at the summer minimum in September for which we have seen a reduction of around 13% per decade. This equates to an average annual loss of September sea ice extent of more than 85,000 sq km – an area over four times the size of Wales!”

However, the trend for the Antarctic is less clear. In part this is due to the variability of weather around the Antarctic continent which has a huge influence on sea ice. Another large area of difference between the two poles is the amount of data scientists have for each pole.

Ed Blockley added: “Satellites – looking down on the ebb and flow of sea ice – provide an invaluable record, but other sets of data can provide a richer understanding of sea ice. For example, in the Arctic measurements of sea ice thickness have been taken by submarines which can travel under the ice. Much less of this sort of data is available for the Antarctic. This leaves scientists facing greater uncertainty about sea ice around the continent as we only have measurements in two dimensions and not three dimensions like we have for the Arctic.”

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Looking into the future of climate modelling

The Met Office supercomputing system is one of the most powerful in the world dedicated to weather and climate. It has allowed the UK research community to produce some of the most advanced climate modelling information available, for example in the UK Climate Projections.

These projections are invaluable for informing decisions on how we respond to the challenges of climate change. Increasing our supercomputing capacity will increase the capability of our climate models and improve their ability to produce climate projections for the benefit of society.

Met Office meteorologist

Advances in supercomputing capability are providing climate scientists and meteorologists with ever-improving forecasts and climate projections. Picture: Met Office.

Whilst our capacity is increasing significantly with new supercomputing capabilities, there are still decisions to be made about how to best use this resource, a topic which is being debated by climate scientists.

The debate about the future of climate modelling relates to three key areas: increasing resolution; improving the realism of climate models to capture more elements of the earth’s system; and increasing the frequency of the number of times a model is run to examine the likely frequency and intensity of extreme weather events which may only happen relatively infrequently.

This week several new scientific commentary pieces have been published in the journal Nature Climate Change which explore different aspects of the future of climate modelling.

One of the commentary pieces has been led by Prof Dame Julia Slingo – a former Met Office chief scientist – and looks at the climate benefits of ultra-high-resolution climate modelling down to a spatial scale of one-kilometre: sometime referred to as k-scale.

Prof Stephen Belcher, Chief Scientist at the UK Met Office, is a co-author on the paper. He said: “Year on year we are seeing increasingly severe impacts of climate change, affecting communities around the world. Our scientific understanding has moved on, as have the technological developments in computing and data storage.

“Making the most of increasing technological capability to understand more about the impacts of climate change to come is vital for our future resilience.”

Capturing more of the earth’s system

However, it’s not just increasing resolution that needs to be considered when it comes to climate modelling. In another comment piece led by Dr Helene Hewitt OBE, the benefits of increasing the capability of climate models to capture more of the earth’s system are discussed.

The piece looks at the value of modelling specific aspects of the ocean to better understand climate. She said: “There are some elements of the ocean such as the Atlantic Overturning Meridional Circulation (AMOC) – which in part contains the Gulf Stream – and sea level rise which are of particular concern for the UK and global climate.

“Capturing the small drivers, such as eddies and coastal effects, which can have large influences on high-impact low-likelihood events like AMOC or Antarctic ice sheet collapse are imperative for gaining an improved understanding for assessing climate risk.”

Overall, climate models might be complex, but they are vital for understanding climate change. Through working with decision makers to find the correct balance between the three key areas, future climate models will be key tools for providing people with the information they need so we can stay safe and thrive.

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When was the wettest Glastonbury? The festival’s weather records… 

As well as playing host to some iconic music stars, Glastonbury Festival has also featured the UK’s favourite (or least favourite) supporting act… the weather.  

Glastonbury Festival (Image: Shutterstock)

The first Glastonbury Festival, then called the Pilton Pop, Folk and Blues Festival, took place in September 1970, featuring Wayne Fontana, T-Rex and Steamhammer. In the following 52 years, the festival has been subject to a typical mix of UK summer weather, with wind, sun and, of course, rain.  

Using Met Office data from nearby weather stations, the records for Glastonbury Festival tells a story of some unforgettable festivals, with a real mix of conditions.  

When was the wettest Glastonbury? 

Although normally a summer festival, Glastonbury isn’t immune to a downpour of rain (Image: Shutterstock)

In what will come as no surprise to anyone who was there, Glastonbury 2007 holds the record for the wettest day of the festival. 60.1mm of rain fell in a single day at Rodney Stoke, a nearby station to the event.  

For other unsettled weather, the highest gust speed recorded for Glastonbury was 41mph, which has been reached at Yeovilton in 1985 and 1987 during the event.  

Although 1997’s iteration is dubbed the ‘year of the mud’ on the Glastonbury website thanks to a deluge of rain in the days preceding the event, it actually holds the record for the lowest maximum temperature recorded on a day of the event, with 13.2°C as high as the temperature reached at Castle Cary Grove Mead.  

When was the hottest Glastonbury? 

In 2017, with The Foo Fighters headlining, the mercury reached a balmy 31.2°C at Rodney Stoke, while the highest minimum temperature was recorded in the same year, with 17.6°C at the same location.  

The sunniest day of Glastonbury on record was in 1989, when a station at Yeovilton recorded approximately 15 hours and 36 minutes of sunshine.  

A table showing Glastonbury Festival Weather Records. 
Highest max temp: 31.2C in 2017
Lowest min temp: 4.2C in 1987
Highest min temp: 17.6 in 2017
Lowest max temp: 13.2C in 1997
Wettest day: 60.1mm in 2007
Highest max gust: 41mph in 1985 and 1987
Sunniest day: 15.6 hours in 1989
Glastonbury Festival Weather Records

Weather forecast for Glastonbury 2022 

With still over a week to go until Glastonbury 2022, there’s much uncertainty about the conditions in the area for the duration of the festival, although there are some promising signs.  

Speaking during the Met Office 10 Day Trend forecast, Presenter Aidan McGivern said: “The first signs for Glastonbury is for high pressure to the west possibly building in later next week and that would lead to more settled weather for the southwest of the UK in particular.  

“As a result of the higher pressure, it’s likely to turn drier and warmer compared with earlier in the week, although no signs of a heatwave at the moment.” 

Check the Met Office app or online for a more detailed Glastonbury forecast nearer the time.  

Find advice on getting out and about this summer with WeatherReady.

Met Office 10 Day Trend with Aidan McGivern gives a forward look to what the weather is doing in the run-up to Glastonbury 2022.
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