Climate action – taking corporate responsibility

During April, we have been focusing on the topic of climate change and infrastructure, considering the impact of the climate on industries such as energy and transport. In this blog post, we look at this topic at a more local level, sharing information on some of the actions the Met Office is taking to reduce the impact of transport on the climate.

The Met Office Journey to Net Zero strategy includes a focus on business travel and, when our updated baseline is published soon, commuting will also form part of our aim to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. As well as reducing business travel, we have also been making changes to our vehicle fleet including both pool cars and bikes. This not only supports our Journey to Net Zero, but also the Greening Government Commitments that one hundred percent of the government car and van fleet will be fully zero emissions at the tailpipe by 31 December 2027.

A greener pool

Two electric pool cars will soon be available for use at our Exeter headquarters for occasions when colleagues need to use this form of transport for business. With charging stations on site (including a number for people to use for personal electric vehicles), this will reduce our reliance on petrol/diesel cars.  

At the end of 2022, we also took delivery of a new pool bike fleet at the Exeter office.  These include six Ridgeback Avenida bikes and two Ridgeback rechargeable Electron bikes in a variety of sizes to suit different riders. These bikes can be booked for business journeys and leisure rides as well as for emergency transport (e.g., if public transport or car sharer is unexpectedly unavailable) and to try out commuting by bike.

Encouraging low carbon commuting

To assess the climate impact of commuting as well as business travel, a recent staff survey was conducted to help us better understand people’s commuting habits. Cycling was our second most common commute method, with many staff making a great effort to use greener travel options; in 2022 we were deserved winners of the National and Global Cycle September Challenge organised by Love to Ride.

In 2022 the Met Office won the National and Global Cycle September Challenge organised by Love to Ride. Image: Shutterstock

The Met Office has long encouraged cycling to work, with excellent facilities available including over 300 covered cycling spaces at our Exeter headquarters along with showers and locker facilities. We are also part of a Cycle to Work scheme to help colleagues spread the cost of buying a bicycle and save on tax and national insurance. More recently, the Met Office has joined the Co Bikes Corporate Rider scheme ensuring our employees can get a discount when using Co Bikes, Exeter’s on-demand electric bike scheme.

Local infrastructure

Cycling and walking are often promoted as the most sustainable form of transport, but the infrastructure needs to be in place to facilitate these options. As well as considering the infrastructure available at our offices, we also contribute where possible to local proposals. Last month, for example, we provided a detailed response to a Devon County Council consultation on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. As well as providing some scientific context, we also commented on considerations for walking and cycling routes including taking into account the needs of those who have physical disabilities and other accessibility requirements. We look forward to seeing the results of the consultation.


As well as the climate benefits of reducing emissions by walking and cycling more, these activities also have co-benefits. These win-wins include reducing air pollution and personal health and wellbeing benefits. Next month we will be looking in more detail at the co-benefits of climate action. Follow #GetClimateReady on Twitter to learn more about our monthly topics.

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How does the weather impact the railways?

Like any infrastructure, the rail network can be impacted by external factors such as the weather. Met Office scientist, Alice Lake, is part of a team developing a new temperature model designed to help rail networks in the UK minimise these impacts.

The underlying infrastructure
In the past, the UK rail network was made up of tracks laid in separate panels, bolted together. But traditional track joints require significant maintenance; rail ends wear, and bolts need periodic checking and tightening. Therefore, as steel production and manufacturing processes improved, the lengths of the panels progressively increased until the 1960s when the first continuous welded rail was laid, eliminating track joints altogether. Today, continuous welded rail is used as standard across the UK network.

The weather impacts

Since the steel on railway tracks is essentially a very long piece of metal, it can expand or contract significantly in hot and cold weather. Therefore, to increase resilience, rails are pre-stressed to withstand the range of temperatures they’ll typically experience. The so-called ‘stress-free temperature’ (SFT) is the temperature at which the rail is neither in tension nor compression. In the UK, the SFT is 27°C. Other countries may choose higher SFTs – for example, in the US standard SFTs range between 35 and 43°C – which allows their rail to withstand hotter temperatures before expanding. However, this also means that their rails are more susceptible to brittleness and cracks in low winter temperatures.

If the rail temperature exceeds the range in which it is designed to operate, the steel can expand substantially, generating forces which push and pull the railway out of shape. Combined with the forces generated by trains running at high speeds along the tracks, this can lead to buckling. While rare, derailment caused by track buckling can have catastrophic consequences, so blanket speed restrictions are implemented across the UK network when the air temperature is forecast to exceed a set threshold.

Using science for informed decision-making

However, there isn’t a simple relationship between rail temperatures and air temperature. Therefore, at the Met Office, we’re currently developing a new rail surface temperature model, working with key partners to understand their needs. This model uses forecasts of local atmospheric weather parameters (such as air temperature, incoming shortwave and longwave radiation, and amount of precipitation) from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and then calculates the incoming and outgoing energy at the rail surface. From this, we are able to produce forecasts of local rail surface temperatures. With accurate and precise knowledge of rail surface temperatures, speed restrictions and other preventative measures (such as painting rails white to reduce overheating) could be applied in a more localised and targeted way, minimising disruption to the network.

A changing climate

The latest UK Climate Projections (UKCP18) indicate that we can expect hotter, drier summers as our climate continues to change. Services such as the rail surface temperature model will therefore continue to be critical to ensure industry and business can remain resilient to current and future weather impacts.

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What’s the pollen forecast this year?

Spring weather for many people means some warmer weather, April showers and seeing wildlife awaken from a winter slumber. However, for the one-in-five that suffer from hay fever, it can be the start of months of sneezing, watering eyes and keeping a keen eye on the pollen forecast.

After the wettest March in over 40 years for England and Wales, some are now wondering what the weather we’ve seen so far could mean for the release of pollen this year, with ‘very high’ forecasts for tree pollen already for some areas of the UK.

What’s the pollen outlook?

The majority of hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen, which can start as early as May and generally peaks in June and July. At present, the focus is on tree pollen, which a minority of people are allergic to, but can still cause some potent hay fever symptoms for those with the allergy.

Yolanda Clewlow is the Met Office’s Relationships Manager for Health & Air Quality, and the UK Pollen Forecast Manager. Speaking to the Weather Snap podcast, she said: “We’re constantly monitoring what’s in the atmosphere and what might be coming, in terms of pollen in the air.

“We look at a very broad picture for the pollen outlook, including the weather in the previous year when pollen is formed on some plants to make a judgement on how bad a season might be for pollen release.”

At the time of writing, birch pollen is predominantly in focus, with very high levels expected, particularly in England and Wales.

Yolanda added: “Tree pollen is the main factor in the forecast at the moment, and this week, with more settled conditions, we’re expecting a large amount of birch pollen in the air, but these different types of tree pollen in the air will shift as we head towards summer.”

The changing types of pollen

The pollen season is broadly split into three phases, with trees generally the first to release pollen, then grass, followed by weeds.

“The pollen seasons aren’t distinct and there’s obviously a lot of overlap with different types in the air,” said Yolanda.

“It’s not possible to forecast for the whole pollen season at this range, but we’re expecting a large amount of tree pollen in the air in the coming weeks, then we’ll be continuing to keep a close eye on the grass pollen generation and release in the coming months.”

In general, pollen production can be more significant in a warm and wet spring and early summer. This would then need to be released in breezy and dry conditions to create the most significant impacts.

Pollen calendar, showing tree pollen season running from February to July across a number of tree species, grass pollen season running from May to July and weed pollen season running from May to August.

How to manage hay fever

Although many have no adverse reaction to pollen in the air, for those who do suffer with hay fever, there are some steps that can be taken to minimise the impact.

According to Yolanda, the best defence is avoiding the allergen as much as possible in the first place.

“The first thing to do is to make sure you understand the type of pollen you’re allergic to and monitoring the forecast. That way, you know when the very high days of pollen are coming and you can take precautions to try and avoid the pollen. However, it’s not possible to avoid it altogether so for some it’s about taking that preventative medication and planning your day to try and avoid being out in the pollen at the peak times.”

Pollen levels generally peak at the start and the end of the day. During a warm day, pollen gets carried higher in the atmosphere and often goes beyond the range a human would breathe it in. This means the middle of the day can often have fewer pollen grains in the air.

As temperatures cool down in the evening, these levels can pick up again as pollen drifts back towards the level of atmosphere that we breathe in.

“It’s also important to think about what things you have in the atmosphere when those pollen levels are at their peak during the day. Think about whether you want your washing outside, or anything that can be outside picking up pollen and bringing it inside, whether that’s your hair, your washing or your pets.”

Pets can also be affected by hay fever, and in severe cases vets can often prescribe medication to help furry friends through the summer.

Find more advice on dealing with hay fever as part of WeatherReady with the Met Office.

Pollen and climate change

With global temperatures increasing as a result of human-induced climate change, the pollen season in the UK isn’t immune to the effects of a changing climate.

Climate models suggest an increasing likelihood of warmer, wetter winters and hotter drier summers, which will influence the release of pollen into the atmosphere.

Yolanda added: “We’re already seeing an impact on the pollen season as a result of climate change. Some species are having longer seasons, some are starting earlier and some are more severe. We’re also looking at invading species as we anticipate that more species from outside the UK will begin to be able to take hold here and release pollen.”

Get pollen alerts directly to your phone on the Met Office app, or visit the pollen forecast on the Met Office website.

Yolanda was speaking to the Met Office’s Weather Snap podcast, available from 21 April wherever you get your podcasts.

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Are we seeing more space weather?

Space weather might be a lesser-known forecast from the Met Office, but predicting the occurrence of solar flares, solar radiation storms and coronal mass ejections is vital for range of critical sectors from satellite providers to the aviation industry, as well as for forecasting Aurora Borealis sightings.

In recent weeks aurora sightings have been in the news again, with some as far south as Cardiff reportedly capturing photos of the Northern Lights, which is often the way most of the public is inadvertently aware of space weather.

Image: Grahame Soden, Royal Photographic Society

Has there been more Aurora Borealis activity recently?

In short, yes. But the explanation is well known in the science community and a further increase in space weather activity is expected in the coming years.

Krista Hammond is a Manager at the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC). She said: “Activity on the sun, and in particular the number of visible sunspots, varies over roughly an 11-year period, known as the solar cycle.”

The last solar minimum – when the Sun had the lowest frequency of visible sunspots in the solar cycle – occurred in December 2019. This means that the sun’s activity is currently increasing, with the next solar maximum expected around 2025.

Krista added: “Over the coming years, as we continue towards the solar maximum, we can expect to see an increase in the frequency of space weather events, with more chances to see the Aurora Borealis over the UK.”

Finding space to forecast

MOSWOC is one of a handful of 24/7 space weather forecasting centres in the world, with expert forecasters focused on predicting the arrival of impactful space weather events on Earth.

Despite the somewhat predictable nature of the 11-year solar cycle, forecasting specific space weather events can be more challenging, as you might expect when predicting an event on Earth that begins on the Sun around 150 million kilometres away.

Solar flares are sudden releases of energy across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. They are hard to predict, and the energy can be detected in Earth’s atmosphere as soon as 8.5 minutes after the occurrence of a solar flare.

Linked with large flares, solar radiation storms may also occur. These consist of high-energy charged particles, predominantly electrons and protons, and typically take between ten minutes and several hours to arrive at Earth.

Coronal mass ejections (CME) are often associated with flares and are a focus of space weather forecasting. They can take days to reach the Earth and can disturb the Earth’s magnetic field and ionosphere, which is where the Earth’s atmosphere meets space, causing what is known as a geomagnetic storm.

Strong geomagnetic storms have the potential to impact GPS, radio frequencies and some satellite operations but forecasting their arrival can give industries time to mitigate against the worst impacts. They are also the phenomena responsible for the enhanced Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere or Aurora Australis in the Southern Hemisphere. Find tips on how to take photos of the auroras, courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society.

Image: Richard Ellis, Royal Photographic Society

Last year, the announcement of the Vigil mission highlighted an opportunity to enhance space weather forecasting across the world.

Does space weather link with our weather?

Space weather doesn’t interact with the Earth’s meteorological drivers and doesn’t impact day-to-day forecasting, short of people being more interested in clear skies to see the Northern Lights.

Over a longer period, the impact the solar cycle on global temperatures is negligible and can be responsible for less than 0.05°C differences in global temperature over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. For comparison, global average temperatures have risen by around 1.1°C since the industrial revolution, driven by human-induced climate change.

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‘Critical’ Global Stocktake counting down to help keep Paris promises

The current decade is a critical decade for climate action. What we do now will be a deciding factor in whether we can constrain global temperature rise to 1.5°C or below.

The urgency is clear, but what keeps the ambition on track? Answer: the Global Stocktake, often referred to as the GST.

In our post we focus on just two aspects of the broad reach of the Global Stocktake:

  • Mitigation – where the world tries to reduce the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases
  • Adaptation – where governments and communities strive to adapt to the levels of climate change impact which are already dialled in to the climate system through previous or ongoing greenhouse gas emissions

What is the Global Stocktake?

The GST – first mentioned as part of the Paris Agreement in 2015 – is designed to support the implementation of the Paris agreement. It encourages information gathering and dialogue between countries and experts.

Dr Camilla Mathison is a Met Office expert on carbon budgets. She said: “The two-year process – which is repeated every five years – is crucial for enhancing and galvanizing collective ambition toward the long-terms goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Without this process there would be few other ways for the world to track progress towards long-term climate goals as well as ensure it keeps the promises it made seven years ago.”

Dr Laila Gohar is a Met Office climate scientist specialising in climate mitigation. She said: “The first Global Stocktake is due to report at the next global climate summit in Dubai later this year. Previous stages in the stocktake have shown the world is not on track on climate action.

“While there has been an observed slowing in the increase in emissions, we have not yet seen greenhouse gas emissions reduce.”

Emissions reduction urgency

Remaining carbon budgets from the start of 2022 for two likelihoods of achieving 1.5°C. 1850-2021 budget spent from GCB2022 Table 8. Remaining budget updated from AR6 SPM Table SPM2 and GCB2022.

Dr Mathison added: “The cumulative release of greenhouse gas emissions since 1850 has been unevenly distributed both across nations and stages of development.

“Humanity is now burning through the remaining carbon budget at a rapid rate, but historical emissions need to inform the future for just transitions to be achieved.”

Dr Laila Gohar concluded: “We need international cooperation and coordinated efforts to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. We need to see the peak of global greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 followed by reductions by 2030 or 2040.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “The culmination of the Global Stocktake this year is crucial for demonstrating that we are holding ourselves to account on pledges made under the Paris Agreement. Its outcome should include commitments from countries to enhance their current targets, set ambitious new ones, and implement tangible climate solutions”

What needs to happen next?

Reducing methane emissions in conjunction with carbon-dioxide will help to keep the peak warming as low as possible. But as Camilla Mathison explains: “All mitigation pathways need to include some element of physical removal of carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere; but this should be in addition to deep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Some solutions, such as decarbonizing the energy sector, are already available and cost-effective. But progress will depend on regional circumstances and which sectors are the major emitters of greenhouse gases in each country.”

Mitigation alone is not enough

People around the world are already experiencing severe climate impacts, such as flooding and drought, that can be attributed to human-induced climate change. Some adaptation measures, from bolstering sea defences to upgrading water supply networks, are already being implemented to shield communities from some of the worst climate change impacts.

Dr Freya Garry is a Met Office climate scientist specialising in climate impacts and providing information for decision making around climate adaptation. Freya said “The scale of future climate adaptation will depend on the mitigation pathway humanity takes. Without rapid and ambitious mitigation the world will experience increasingly frequent and severe climate impacts, and added climate adaptation measures will be needed.”

The recently-released synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights many climate policies around the world considering adaptation measures. However, these measures are not yet widely implemented, partly due to limited finance. The IPCC says with sufficient support, adaptation measures can build resilience to climate risks and deliver broader benefits to society.

Freya adds: “There is a wide range of possible adaptation measures. Rapid mitigation – together with adaptation action where needed – can reduce the risk of damage to lives, homes and communities.

“However, some climate impacts will continue to grow in severity. For example, sea level will continue to rise for centuries in every mitigation pathway, because of the melting of land-based ice and because ocean warming lags behind atmospheric warming.

“If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced rapidly, more and more places will reach limits on adaptation with communities unable to avoid climate change, leading to irreversible changes such as the loss of coastal or small island communities.”

The Global Stocktake at COP28

The output from the Global Stocktake will be presented at COP28 in November 2023.  This will include: lessons learned; how to overcome barriers and challenges to climate action; and the development of solutions.

Encouraging countries to update and strengthen their climate action pledges (known as Nationally Determined Contributions) is a key aim of the GST.

In addition, it should also inspire increasing international cooperation for climate action, including:

  • mitigation;
  • adaptation;
  • and providing means of support, through capacity-building, finance and technology.
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Do you know what climate action to take for a safer future?

The science is clear, the climate is changing. The Met Office is one of the UK’s foremost climate change research centres, carrying out world-leading research.

With over 8,100 peer-reviewed articles in scientific literature since 1981, and as a leading contributor to international climate research such as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, the Met Office has a deep understanding of how greenhouse gas emissions are impacting our climate. We also know that rapid and significant cuts to emissions can still help us to mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change.

Desire to change

The Met Office asked a representative sample of the British public about the climate action they are taking and their perceptions on whether people in the UK are doing enough to reduce their carbon footprint.

The results showed that over half of those surveyed (59%) are making conscious decisions to live a low-carbon lifestyle, including 17% who make these decisions even when it is inconvenient for them.

When asked if people in the UK are doing enough to lower their carbon footprints, nearly two thirds (65%) of respondents said we should be doing more.

This suggests that a majority of the British population are willing to make conscious efforts when it comes to cutting emissions, so let’s turn our attention to some of the steps people can take at a personal level.

In order to minimise the damage from climate change, action is needed at all levels of society, but here we explore what actions people can consider taking in their lives that will have the greatest impact. Whilst not everyone will be able to make these changes, for a variety of reasons, it is worth reflecting on what is achievable so that our combined efforts can make a real difference. Many of these changes also have co-benefits – that’s to say they might also reduce costs, improve air quality or have a positive impact on health and wellbeing.


Whilst a large proportion of UK adults rarely or never fly, for those that do, taking one fewer long-haul flight a year can make a significant impact on your carbon footprint.

Electric car being charged. Image: Shutterstock

A much larger proportion of people have access to a car or van, with only 22% of UK households without a car[1]. When buying a car, switching from a petrol/diesel vehicle to an electric one will reduce carbon emissions and be cheaper to run. Whilst they can be more expensive to buy, in many cases they have a lower cost over four years. Find out more in this article from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles which debunks some of the myths around electric vehicles.


The food we eat and the food we throw away is responsible for a notable proportion of our individual carbon footprint, so changing what we eat and reducing food waste can help lower this.

Food market with fruit and vegetables. Image: Shutterstock

The Climate Change Committee recommends a 20% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030[2] and the UK Government’s Eatwell Guide includes some suggestions of alternative protein sources, many of which are cheaper than meat. You can find out how to reduce your food waste at Love Food Hate Waste, which will save you money as well as reduce pressure on land use. Wrap[3] calculate that waste food in the UK would make over 15 billion meals a year.  


According to the Sixth Carbon Budget on buildings from the Climate Change Committee, direct greenhouse gas emissions from buildings were around 17% of the UK total in 2019. Lowering demand for heating homes can help reduce this through insulation and smart heating controls. A bigger shift, however, is required in terms of the fuels used to heat homes. Approximately 74% of the UK’s heating and hot water demand in buildings is met by natural gas[4], and the Government’s Net Zero Strategy indicates the need to move to heat pumps (air- and ground-source) and hydrogen boilers to decarbonise buildings. Whilst these are expensive options, grants are available towards the cost of heat pumps. You can find out more about saving energy in your home at GOV.UK.

Small actions also count!

We have focussed here on some of the most important changes people can consider making to their lives in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but even the small actions can make a difference. Take a look at our everyday actions webpage for some suggestions of ‘quick wins’ – many of these come at no or very little cost.

Adaptation remains important

Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, we’re already committed to a level of global warming and associated impacts from past emissions released into the atmosphere. It is therefore important to plan for these changes and mitigate the risk. Learn more about adaptation.

Follow #GetClimateReady on Twitter to learn about climate change and science and look out for more practical ways you can take action on climate change.

[1] Department for Transport – National Travel Survey 2021: Household car availability and trends in car trips

[2] The Climate Change Committee –

[3] WRAP –

[4] The climate Change Committee –  

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Has it been an unusually cold start to March?

March heralds the start of Meteorological Spring, and with daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses making an appearance many of us start to think of warmer sunshine and longer days. March 2023 has got off to a cold start, and with numerous snow and ice warnings across the UK it is a fair question to ask if this is an unusual start to Spring in the UK.

The short answer to this question is: no. The ‘transition’ seasons in the UK, Spring and Autumn, can often be highly variable, with changes in the conditions across the country as we move from winter towards summer and vice-versa. Indeed, statistically it is marginally more likely to snow in March than it is in December in the UK.

Comparisons of temperature

You don’t have to look back too far in the observational record to find a similar start to March, as Dr Mark McCarthy from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre explains: “If we look back at the start of March in 2021, the maximum temperatures for the UK were very similar to the values we’ve seen at the start of March 2023. The graphs below show in blue how temperatures have been below average and are very similar. Through mid-to-late March 2021 temperatures then became milder than average, as shown in orange.”

Going back further, March 2018 and 2013 were also both notably cold months, as shown in the graphs below. In terms of mean monthly temperatures for the UK, 2013 was considerably colder than 2018, and March 2013 was the coldest March for UK mean temperature since 1962 (ranking 5th coldest in the series back to 1884).   

Snow comparisons

For significant March snowfall many people will remember the March of 2018 with widespread freezing conditions that also delivered a lot of snow across much of the UK.

Dr McCarthy adds: “For the first three days of March 2018 there were more than 100 weather observation stations recording at least 2cm of lying snow. Just over 50 of these stations had 10cm or more for those first three days. In some locations this snow persisted until 18 March when there was another widespread snow event.

“March 2013 was another snowy month, however this time the snow events were more clustered towards the end of the month.”

It is too early to assess how the snow record for March 2023 will sit alongside March records in previous years. However, with plenty of impactful snow in the forecast, it will certainly be a memorable cold spell for many. Keep up to date with the Met Office forecast and severe weather warnings.

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Glacial archaeology – unlocking the climate time machine

Glacial archaeology is a new and emerging field made possible by the increasingly rapid melting of mountain ice due to climate change. Recent discoveries have left experts amazed.

Dr Doug McNeall, co-host on the Met Office’s Mostly Climate podcast, chats with Dr Lars Pilø, a Norwegian glacial archaeologist, on how the disappearing ice is revealing secrets from the past.

A 500 AD arrow recovered from ice in the Norwegian mountains
A 500 AD arrow is one of the treasures that have been revealed by the shrinking ice in Norway’s mountains.

Climate projections indicate nearly half the world’s mountain glaciers could disappear by the end of this century, even if the world meets its most ambitious climate goals. The consequences of this are far reaching.

The volume of ice on Earth has advanced and retreated over millennia. Yet the recent rate of melting of the cryosphere – the world of ice – has been far more rapid due to human influence. Ice has retreated on a time scale of decades rather than millennia, and this accelerated glacial shrinking over high ground has exposed ancient objects.

Decorative image

Most of Lars Pilø’s work is in the mountains of Norway, where ancient ancestors hunted reindeer as they escaped the biting insects of the lowlands. He talks about the incredible sight when a relic, which was encased in ice, is found.  

Lars Pilø said: “It doesn’t look old: the ice acts as a time machine.” Some pieces date back 6000 years, when temperatures were higher in a period following the Holocene Thermal Optimum.

Many of Lars’ discoveries also pinpoint a time when the mountain ice was far greater than now, when society across the northern reaches of Norway existed across an icy landscape.  Lars describes finding many items lost over time, across ancient hunting sites and old ice-bound transport routes.  From skeletons of dead animals to remnants of packhorse sleds. It’s a treasure trove of material culture now exposed as the glaciers recede.

Interestingly he and his team still use packhorses to reach certain remote sites – an adept way of transporting specialist equipment and provisions for an extended survey.

Glacial archaeology is also conducted across other icy realms in the Northern Hemisphere, from North America to the Alps: all regions experiencing similar challenges from mountain glacial melt.


For researchers, the satisfaction of working in glacial archaeology is bittersweet. For all the excitement of discovering artefacts seemingly as fresh as the day they were lost, they know that their study is a race against time.  In future the ice may not encase the land again, and in some places might be gone forever.

Although not a linear decline, Lars confirms there is a continual glacial net loss and so it’s a matter of urgency to retrieve historic items that reveal more about how communities lived under different climatic environments.

Dr Lars Pilø is the founder of the “Secrets of the Ice” website and twitter feed. Hear more about his work on the Mostly Climate podcast.

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Which weather drivers will affect the outlook for March?

March is the first month of meteorological spring. But what is the outlook for the month? Are we likely to get more spring-like weather, or perhaps something more reminiscent of winter?

The outlook suggests that March 2023 is more likely to be colder than average. But what is that likely to mean in terms of impacts?

From what we know so far – looking at some of the global drivers of weather – there are increased chances of impacts from cold weather, such as snow, frost and fog, at least for parts of the UK.

Mark Sidaway is a Deputy Chief Meteorologist with the Met Office. He said: “Although we have had a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event and other drivers pointing towards colder conditions in March, at this stage there is a low probability of having widely disruptive winter weather like that of five years ago in March 2018.

“At that time a large area of high pressure became established over Scandinavia, providing a feed of cold air all the way from Arctic Siberia. This brought intense cold to the UK.

“We are expecting an area of high pressure to become increasingly established in an area toward Greenland. This will allow a northerly flow to feed colder air into at least the northern and eastern half of the UK bringing wintry showers.

“The extended outlook shows the possibility for a series of areas of low pressure to come across the Atlantic, and these bring the potential for some more widespread snowfall as they encounter the cold air, although the location and timing of these is very uncertain for now.

“The exact positioning of the high pressure will be key and will greatly affect what weather we see in the UK.”

March 2018 was a record-breaking cold spring, which had been driven by a feature known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming. This happens when air in the stratosphere above the North Pole collapses creating a disturbance of the Stratospheric Polar Vortex – where westerly winds rotate around the North Pole, effectively hemming in the most intense cold air.

When the Stratospheric Polar Vortex breaks down it can encourage the switching of normally westerly winds to an easterly direction. Eventually, this wind reversal can reach the surface, bringing air from an easterly source. In 2018 this resulted in intensely cold air coming to the UK all the way from Arctic Siberia.

Although the globe has experienced another Sudden Stratospheric Warming episode the outcome will not necessarily be a repeat of 2018.

What can we expect from early March?

The most likely scenario is for colder and settled weather, with wintry showers perhaps affecting some northern and eastern areas (mainly coasts), at least at first.

This colder regime moving south across much of the UK, increasing risk of wintry showers, perhaps snow to the higher ground in the north. Temperatures are likely to be below average.

Beyond the first week or so of March confidence in the weather pattern becomes very low, but a preference for blocked broad scale conditions remains which continues to increase potential for colder conditions compared to average.

Spells of rain become more likely, with a chance that some areas could see snow. Some wintry episodes could be disruptive with a combination of snow and strong winds. North-west areas of the UK have the highest chance of remaining drier than average.

Temperatures are most likely to be below average overall during at least the first half of March. But values are expected to be nearer average overall later on. Within this, shorter colder spells remain possible.

Keep up to date with 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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Working for climate resilience with the UK water sector

2022 will be remembered for several meteorological events, including record-breaking heat and a prolonged drought. Eastern England was at the forefront of both events with East Anglia being the driest region in the UK relative to normal for the year.

Across the region, 2022 was the eighth driest year since 1836. During the year the region saw just over three-quarters (76%) of its annual rainfall, amounting to only 475.4mm.

Water security is this month’s Met Office climate theme. In this blog, Met Office Industry Consultancy Manager – Joe Osborne – describes his passion for ensuring the water industry work with world-leading weather and climate science.

Weather and climate events account for many of the key impacts on the water sector, especially in East Anglia. Translating the latest datasets and science into actionable information for decision-makers remains a substantial challenge. I am driven to ensure that organisations are resilient to present-day climate and prepared for future climate. 

In my role as an Industry Consultancy Manager at the Met Office, I work closely with the UK water sector to ensure that our world leading weather and climate science is useful, usable and used.

How I got here

I joined the Met Office Industry Science and Consultancy team in June 2019, with a background in both weather and climate science and a particular interest in the hydrological cycle. I recognised that my passion sat at the interface of science and end-user, and I was keen to find a role where I was contributing valuable and actionable information. As such, I was excited to find myself working on several projects with customers in the UK water sector.

Fast forward to 2022 and I find myself leading our work with the water sector as an Industry Consultancy Manager. This is a multi-faceted role which involves working closely with colleagues in our Markets division to develop, build and maintain relationships with customers in the sector. These customers range from water companies, regional groups (alliances of water companies), the industry regulator (Ofwat is the body responsible for economic regulation of the privatised water and sewerage industry in England and Wales) and external consultancies. We work closely with our customers to understand the challenges that they are facing. It is then crucial to lean on scientific expertise to propose, develop and deliver bespoke analysis to support their key decision making.

Forward planning or event driven

The work that I lead can be broadly categorised as either forward planning or event driven. Forward planning work supports customers in furthering their understanding of climate risk. In one example, using novel approaches and new datasets, the Industry Consultancy team worked alongside Anglian Water to strengthen their understanding of drought risk – both for today and in a future, warmer world. This improved understanding enables Anglian Water to enhance their resilience to future drought events.

With just under 630mm of rainfall annually, East Anglia is the driest region in the UK. Remarkably East Anglia is renowned for its diversity of wetland features and landscapes, including the Fens, the Broads and chalk streams, such as this example in Lincolnshire. Picture: Anglian Water

In other work, we are working with water companies to understand the weather drivers of key impacts, including water quality, water demand and asset deterioration (for example, pipe bursts caused by phenomena such as freeze-thaw and/or shrink-swell). We also support water companies in embedding climate information into their regulatory reporting in a consistent and appropriate manner. For example, in ongoing work, we are supporting water companies in the consistent application of climate information in their Price Review 2024 (PR24).

Despite best intentions, weather events can often present challenges to the UK water sector. Therefore, there is an event driven element to the work we deliver. The year 2022 was a demonstration of this. Beneath the headline statistics, real-world industry impacts often emerge, some of them more obvious than others. The most obvious impact was on water resources from the dry start to the year, exacerbated by the exceptionally dry and hot summer. This led to a declaration of drought across many regions of the country. The record annual warmth also contributed to the hydrological situation, amplifying evapotranspiration and soil moisture deficits.

2022 monthly rainfalls for England compared to average

The Industry Consultancy team responded to this hydrological situation by putting the weather of 2022 into a longer, historical context for water companies. The hot summer also caused additional impacts, leading to record high water demand in some areas and a reduction in water quality of some surface water supplies. Despite a general theme of warmth in 2022, the first half of December was notable for a significant cold spell. This caused considerable issues with pipe bursts, due to the freeze-thaw of water.

Innovation and influence

Fortunately, through innovation and influence, the Industry Consultancy team can support customers in preparing for and responding to these events. We provide solutions and consultancy across timescales, from short-range weather prediction through to 50-year ahead climate projections. As an example, the Met Office Industry Consultancy team has built weather impact models to enable the forecast of water demand out to 10 days ahead. We are supporting Thames Water in an Ofwat funded project aiming to extend this modelling into longer range forecasting, which will help water companies to anticipate weather events beyond 10-14 days. However, we are also innovating to ensure consistent and seamless prediction across timescales. As such, we have recently completed a project coupling these same models with UK Climate Projection (UKCP18) data to present future scenarios of water demand, supporting adaptation planning.

A unique role

The role that we play is a unique one; observing industry needs while undertaking and applying novel science. We are therefore keen to influence, to ensure that the best science is being used within the water industry. As part of my role, I work closely with our Strategic Relationship Managers to ensure that relevant insights are shared with key collaborators and government stakeholders. This is particularly important where there may be new science or insights that could benefit the industry as a whole. The 2022 drought event (which is still ongoing in some regions) is a key example of this. Working with collaborators and sharing evidence around the changing meteorological drivers of UK drought in a warming world ensures that the resilience to such events is improved in both the short- and long-term.

We’re better together

Of course, while scientific and strategic leadership, as well as relationship management, are key to my role, the strength of our offering and delivery is due to the diversity and quality of individuals working in the Industry Consultancy team. Our diverse team is made up of statisticians, scientists, and consultants, with expertise spanning weather and climate timescales. Together we demonstrate a range of Met Office values. We’re experts by nature, contributing to and learning from world-leading science from within the Met Office (and further afield) to develop our consultancy offering. This ensures that we keep evolving; by pushing these boundaries we can make tomorrow better for our customers.

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