Innovative space weather monitoring projects receive UKRI funding

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced funding for five projects focused on improving the UK’s capability to predict and mitigate the hazards of space weather. The projects will incorporate new research to further develop the space weather models used by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.

The projects are part of the first phase of the Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) programme, a £20 million, four-year programme led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The aim is to improve the UK’s capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction.

There will be an emphasis on space radiation, which can affect aircraft systems, changes in the upper atmosphere, affecting communications, satellite orbits and surges in the current of power grids and other ground-level systems. These are significant risks to the infrastructures we rely on in daily life and are recorded in the UK’s National Risk Register.

The five projects are together worth close to £9 million and funded by NERC, which is part of UKRI. Improving the accuracy of predicting when and where space weather events take place should allow the Met Office to issue warnings and advice sooner, allowing operators more time to take necessary action, such as manoeuvring satellites and isolating parts of the power network to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said; “Satellites are fundamental to our everyday lives, underpinning technologies we constantly rely on from mobile phones to GPS. Any disruptions caused by space weather can therefore have a profound impact on businesses and individuals.

“These fantastic projects that we are backing today will enhance the UK’s ability to forecast space weather, enabling our excellent national weather service to defend the technologies we all depend on.”

Met Office Space Weather Operation Centre

Simon Machin, Space Weather Programme Manager at the Met Office, said; “We are very excited by the prospect of working with the crème of UK science and academia on the SWIMMR projects. SWIMMR will deliver a step change in UK space weather monitoring, warning and prediction capability by supporting pull-through of cutting-edge science into operational services. This will enable the Met Office to provide a greater range of more accurate services driven by the needs of users and underpins the UK’s strategic aims to grow and exploit opportunities in the space domain.

“SWIMMR communicates a clear vision of cementing the UK as a world leader in space weather and our thanks go out to all partners and stakeholders for supporting this programme of work.”

Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, said; “SWIMMR is great example of NERC working with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and other partners to support world-leading environmental research, and the funding will maximise the impact and uptake of an essential forecasting service relied upon by Government and businesses. These exciting projects will further our understanding and confirm the UK’s reputation as an international leader in this field.”

The SWIMMR funding programme forms part of the Strategic Priorities Fund, delivered by the UKRI to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation.

The funded projects are:

SWIMMR Theme Project Title Lead organisation Partners 
N1 Satellite risk forecasts Satellite Radiation Risk Forecasts (Sat-Risk) NERC British Antarctic Survey


University of Sheffield

University College London

University of Reading

Imperial College London

N2 Aviation risk forecasts SWIMMR Aviation Risk Modelling (SWARM) University of Surrey NERC British Geological Survey

University College London

University of Central Lancashire

N3 GNSS and HF aviation forecasts Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: Ionosphere (SWIMMR-I) University of Birmingham


University of Bath

University of Leicester

Lancaster University

University of Leeds

N4 Ground effects forecasts SWIMMR Activities in Ground Effects (SAGE) NERC British Geological Survey


NERC British Antarctic Survey

University College London

Imperial College London

N5 Satellite drag forecasts Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: Thermosphere (SWIMMR-T) University of Birmingham


University of Southampton

NERC British Antarctic Survey

Lancaster University


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EUMETSAT selects Phil Evans as its new Director General

We are very pleased to share the news that former Met Office Operations Director, Phil Evans, has been appointed as the new Director General of EUMETSAT.

EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the provision of satellite observations in support of weather, climate and ocean science. Established in 1986, and with 30 European Member States, EUMETSAT satellites provides critical data for Met Office services.

The role of Director General is an important international leadership responsibility, and a great result for Phil, for the Met Office, and for the UK. Phil spent most of his career to date working at the Met Office, most recently as Chief Operations Officer until earlier this year. In that role, he served as the Head of Delegation for EUMETSAT Council. He is moving from his current role as Director of Programmes at Institute of Physics.

Penny Endersby, Met Office Chief Executive said “I am delighted to see Phil’s talents and knowledge being used to head up a European organisation which is so key to the success of international weather and climate prediction, and at a time when there is an exciting programme of satellite launches due.”

Met Office is a sophisticated user of satellite data in our weather forecasting:

  • Satellite data are responsible for ~75% of the observations we feed into our global weather models.
  • In addition, satellite imagery products and movie loops allow forecasters to track the development and progress of weather systems, so that they can add value to the forecast.
  • Satellite observations can also be compared to past forecasts to verify their accuracy and help us improve our models and accuracy.

The stability and longevity of weather satellite observations mean they are a key contributor to climate monitoring.

The Met Office has a long history at the forefront of exploiting the value from our satellites for benefit to the UK. Our membership of EUMETSAT is essential to safeguarding this vital source of data while sharing the cost among the 30 Member States. EUMETSAT funds the Met Office to lead the Satellite Application Facility on behalf of the EUMETSAT membership.

Find out more on our website

Phil will succeed the current Director General, Alain Ratier, who has led EUMETSAT since 2011. We look forward to working with him as EUMETSAT enters an exciting phase of new programme implementation. Amongst other priorities, EUMETSAT is about to enter an intense phase of launches, with 5 new generation satellite launches from 2020-2024. The first of these will be Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 in November 2020.

Phil will take up the role in early 2021.


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End of June statistics

While June 2020 overall was not a record-breaking month, it has been notable for many, with some heavy rainfall at times. And, despite cooler days in the inclement weather, there was a notable heatwave and there have been some warmer than average nights.

Early in June there was a gradual breakdown of the high-pressure system which was responsible for bringing us the sunniest spring and the driest May since records began.

The breakdown allowed a return to Atlantic weather systems, bringing unsettled weather across the UK. Low pressure prevailed for much of the month, with spells of heavy rain and showers for many, triggering Met Office rain and thunderstorm warnings at times. However a spell of hot weather saw temperatures reach 33.4 at Heathrow on 25th.


The June rainfall was above average across most of the UK with especially large accumulations in the South West and South Wales.

Provisional June


Actual rainfall % of the June average   
UK 105.7 mm 144.0
England 88.4 mm 143.0
Wales 137.0 mm 160.0
Scotland 122.5 mm 139.0
Northern Ireland 124.3 mm 163.0

Based on the 1981 to 2010 long-term average

Cornwall recorded 143.3mm, over twice the county’s average monthly rainfall – making it the fifth wettest June on record for the county, South Glamorgan recorded 144.8mm – again around twice the expected monthly rainfall – making it the 7th wettest on record, while Devon has seen its 8th wettest June with 142.1mm recorded, also around twice the expected monthly rainfall (data back to 1862).

Although Cumbria as a whole recorded 151mm of rainfall, its 13th wettest June on record, Honister Pass Environment Agency rain gauge recorded 212.8mm of rainfall on 28th June (24-hour total) breaking the wettest June day on record*. It was also the wettest day of 2020 so far. Sutton Bonington (Notts) also had their wettest June day in nearly 100 years, with 46.2mm falling on the 17th.



















Daytime maximum and mean temperatures have been above average for June for much of the UK, but not record breaking. Heatwave conditions were briefly reached in parts of the country in the week of the 19th June , while there were also some warm nights with Gosport, Hampshire and Hastings, East Sussex, not seeing temperatures drop below 20.0°C on the night of 25th June making it a ‘tropical night’. This term describes days when the temperature does not fall under 20.0° C during the night-time. The Met Office began tracking ‘tropical nights‘ in 2018. This criterion is infrequently met and usually quite localised.

Maximum  temperature
Minimum temperature
Provisional June figures Actual °C Difference from June average °C Actual °C Difference from June average °C
UK 18.3 1.0 9.8 1.0
England 19.5 0.9 10.4 0.9
Wales 18.1 0.8 10.1 1.0
Scotland 16.4 1.2 8.8 1.3
Northern Ireland 17.4 0.6 9.6 0.8

Based on the 1981 to 2010 long-term average

You can get the most accurate and up to date forecast for your area using our forecast pages and by following us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as using our mobile app which is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from the Google Play store. You can check the latest weather warnings on our severe weather warnings pages.

For the latest guidance to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic please visit the UK Government’s coronavirus advice page. Those living in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland can access country-specific advice.


*based on digitised data held in the official Met Office climate archive

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Global temperature: how does 2020 compare so far?

The Earth’s average temperature has increased by about 1 degree C since pre-industrial times, which for the climate record is calculated as the period 1850-1900.

How does 2020 global temperature compare with previous globally warm years

Figure shows values from GISTEMP, NOAAGlobalTemp and HadCRUT4 relative to the period 1850-1900.

Although this is an average, some regions are experiencing a much faster rate of warming. Nowhere is this more apparent than parts of the Arctic, where melting sea ice is creating areas where heat from the sun is absorbed by darker ocean water, rather than being reflected back into space by highly reflective sea ice. This process is a key contributor to Arctic amplification of the warming rate and is an expected consequence of climate change. However, this is only part of the story.

Parts of northern Eurasia have been experiencing extremely high temperatures this year. Monthly average temperatures were more than 10.0 C above average in some places, due to a combination of climate change and extreme climate variability.

The extra heat can be traced back to the record high Indian Ocean Dipole in late autumn 2019. This led to a strong winter jet stream leading to extreme late winter warmth over Eurasia and a supercharged stratospheric polar vortex leading to persistence into spring.  Once the higher than normal temperatures were established reduced ice and snow only exacerbate the warmth.

Global temperatures for 2020 from January to the end of May.

This record-breaking heat in northern Eurasia has helped to propel monthly global temperatures and has fuelled media headlines about 2020 being on track to be the warmest year on record globally. But is that going to be the case?

Whilst there have been some record months, this year, overall 2020 is still not running at record temperature compared to 2016 – the warmest year for global average surface temperature.  Prof Adam Scaife  is the Head of Met Office Long Range Prediction. He said:“We are likely to have seen the most extreme global temperatures already this year as La Niña is now developing and the final value is likely to fall back into our forecast range of 0.99 to 1.23 C”. So while 2020 is running very high, there is no guarantee of a record this year.

Note: The global forecast for 2020 was produced in December 2019.

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Met Office scientists receive prestigious Royal Meteorological Society Awards

Last month the Met Office Hadley Centre celebrated its 30th anniversary. With a focus on ground-breaking science it is fitting that three Met Office scientists have been recognised in this year’s Royal Meteorological Society Awards, acknowledging their work in making exceptional contributions to weather and climate science.

The award recipients were:

  • The Buchan Prize: Professor Adam Scaife, Met Office and University of Exeter
  • The Climate Science Communications Award: Professor Richard Betts MBE, Met Office and University of Exeter
  • The L F Richardson Prize: Dr Joanne Waller, Met Office and Dr Gerard Kilroy, Ludwig-Maximilians, University of Munich

This year’s Buchan Prize was awarded to Professor Adam Scaife, Principal Fellow and Head of Monthly to Decadal Prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre.  Professor Scaife has gained international reputation as an outstanding scientist and this award recognizes his recent papers in Society journals on the dynamical mechanisms behind seasonal forecasts.


Professor Scaife said: “I’m delighted to receive the Society’s Buchan Prize and I’m deeply grateful for the acknowledgement this implies.  I’d like to thank the scientists who made and supported the nomination and also acknowledge the Met Office for giving me the opportunity to pursue a research career in atmospheric science.  Thanks also to the collaborators on my recent papers in society journals.  I’m also indebted to the members of my research group; as well as the excitement of scientific discovery, it’s the great fun I’ve had with the many inspiring, curious and interesting characters over the years that I am particularly grateful for!”

Professor Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, received the Climate Science Communications Award, recognizing both his outstanding research and his work in increasing the understanding of climate science among the public.  Professor Betts is one of the most highly-cited climate scientists and has a vital role in communicating climate science in mainstream media, social media and public-speaking at high profile events –  last year he was appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his ‘services to understanding climate change’ and he has previously hosted a ‘Climate Q&A’ at Glastonbury Festival.


Professor Betts said: I feel honoured to have been awarded the Climate Science Communications Award of the Royal Meteorological Society for 2019 and am delighted to accept it. 

Communicating the science of climate change is as challenging as it has ever been, maybe more so. This is a vast, multi-disciplinary field with enormous implications for society, and research is being conducted within a context of growing public concern and heightened passions for climate action, along with controversy over proposed ways forward... I hope I’ve been of some help in cutting through the noise.

I very much appreciate the trust that the Met Office and University of Exeter have shown me in allowing me to represent our organisations... I look forward to continuing the conversation!

Met Office scientist Dr Joanne Waller was one of the recipients of this year’s L F Richardson Prize.  This prize is awarded annually to an early career member of the Society for a meritorious paper published in a Society journal.  Dr Waller received the prize for her paper that analyses a technique for observation uncertainty estimation. This article forms part of her series of innovative papers which reported significant advances in understanding and implementing new observation uncertainty techniques, resulting significant improvements in Numerical Weather Prediction forecast skill.


Dr Waller said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive the L F Richardson Prize for my paper ‘Theoretical insight into diagnosing observation error correlations using observationminusbackground and observationminusanalysis statistics’. Thank you to my fellow authors and the Royal Meteorological Society!”

This year the Royal Meteorological Society will celebrate the awards digitally, showcasing each of the worthy winners on their website and social media channels throughout this week.

The full list of RMetS award recipients for 2019 can be viewed here.



Posted in Met Office News

The impact of coronavirus on Met Office observations

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis continues to affect the activities of society as a whole, and the weather observing network is no exception.

The pandemic has led to a sharp fall in the number of flights around the world and therefore a loss of aircraft-based observations, including temperature, wind and humidity readings, which are used by global numerical weather prediction (NWP) centres.

Satellite observations from space agencies, such as the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT, have not been interrupted and continue to provide key observational data, and the Met Office surface observing network here in the UK is almost fully automated and is therefore also relatively resilient to this type of crisis.

In some cases, national meteorological services are working with private satellite companies to help mitigate some of the adverse effects of the continued loss of aircraft-based observations.  The Met Office has warmly welcomed the offer from the commercial satellite company, Spire, who have made their Radio Occultation (RO) data available to us free of charge for a limited period.

Dr John Eyre, Met Office Fellow, said “We have used RO data from other satellites for many years, and we know their value for improving our weather forecasts. The offer of data from Spire is very welcome. It will make a valuable contribution to mitigating the loss of other weather observations during the COVID-19 period”.

Spire Executive Vice President Corporate Development, Theresa Condor, said: “We are very glad that Spire could make a contribution of our weather data to the Met Office during this current crisis, demonstrating the kind of collaboration that is possible between public and private institutions to ensure the resilience of a critical service for people and businesses.”

Radio Occultation (RO) samples atmospheric temperature and moisture using a receiver on a satellite and by measuring signals sent by global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as those from GPS satellites. As the signal between the two satellites travels through the atmosphere, it is refracted; the magnitude of this refraction depends on the temperature and water vapour content of the atmosphere, allowing relevant weather information to be derived as the signal between the two satellites passes through different levels of the atmosphere.

The Spire data will be assimilated into Met Office Numerical Weather Prediction systems to help improve our forecasting capabilities.

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Why has Summer so far been wetter than Spring?

At less than halfway through June, some parts of the UK have already had more rain than during the entire three months of spring.  Parts of North East England in particular have seen most rain so far this month, with Durham already having reached its average rainfall total for June.

Why is this?

Spring 2020 was the sunniest spring on record and fifth driest for the UK overall.  This was a result of the jet stream lodging itself to the north of the UK throughout much of spring, allowing high pressure and settled weather to dominate for most of the season.  Many parts of the UK had less than 50% of their average spring rainfall and England had its driest May since records began.

However, from early June this ‘blocking high’ gradually broke down, allowing Atlantic weather systems to once again bring unsettled weather across the UK. Since then low pressure has prevailed, with spells of heavy rain and heavy showers for many, triggering a Met Office rain warning in places.

rainfall june

Where has been wettest so far this month?

Parts of north-east England have been especially wet – Loftus in North Yorkshire had 80.6mm of rain in the first 12 days of June, compared with just 32mm during the months of March, April and May combined.  On 11th June Loftus recorded 41.2mm of rain – this is more rain in one day than it received during the entire spring season.

Other locations that have been wetter in June so far than Spring include:

Spring Rain June rain (to 11th)
LOFTUS 32 80.6
BOULMER 33.4 35.4
LEEMING 37.2 43.4
WAINFLEET NO 2 38.8 18.6
BRAMHAM 42.8 51.4
LECONFIELD 43.2 59.4

Other counties, such as Cornwall and North Yorkshire, are approaching their average June total rainfall.

What does this mean for the rest of Summer?

Although it’s too early to determine what weather we can expect for the rest of summer, the second half of June looks to remain changeable, with a mix of sunny spells and scattered showers, these heavy and thundery at times.  The best of the drier and sunnier weather will most likely be across northwestern parts of the UK, with temperatures on the warm side for most.  Check out our long-range forecast for more details.

Posted in Met Office News

A local look at the record-breaking Spring and May weather

Both the month of May and the full spring season have been exceptional for the UK, as outlined in our recent news release. In this blog we look at the local detail of what has been an exceptionally sunny and dry few months.


Perhaps the most impressive of all the national statistics was the number of sunshine hours recorded across the UK. May 2020 was the sunniest calendar month on record for the UK, England and Wales. It has also been the sunniest spring for all UK countries.

As we have seen at the UK level, in May many weather station locations have also had their sunniest calendar month on record. A notable example of this is at the Radcliffe Meteorological Station in Oxford. This station has the longest continuous sunshine record in the world and it recorded 331.7 hours of sunshine in May 2020, beating the previous record of 310.4 hours set in July 1911. Data from this station stretches back to February 1880.

Top 10 sunniest ceremonial counties in May 2020

County Sunshine hours Anomaly (%) Previous record (hours)
Isle of Wight 378.2 168 322.9 in 1989
Bristol 352.1 172 295.3 in 1948
Hampshire 345.4 171 304.0 in 1989
Berkshire 342.4 179 294.3 in 1989
West Sussex 338.2 162 311.2 in 1989
Wiltshire 335.5 173 274.4 in 1989
Kent 335.4 164 311.2 in 1989
Dorset 335.0 163 295.7 in 1989
Oxfordshire 330.7 175 279.0 in 1989
Essex 329.9 166 305.6 in 1989

Shetland was the only location not to record more than its average sunshine hours, with 165.7 hours of sunshine in May, which is 92% of its average for the month.

For the spring season, the Isle of Wight was the sunniest location in the UK. It set a new spring sunshine record of 837.4 hours. The previous record was 718.6 hours recorded in the spring of 1990. All top ten sunshine counties in spring have set new records for the number of sunshine hours.

Top 10 sunniest ceremonial counties in Spring 2020

County Sunshine (hours) Anomaly (%) Previous record
Isle of Wight 837.4 155 718.6 in 1990
Kent 784.8 159 691.1 in 1990
Hampshire 776.8 159 662.6 in 1948
Bristol 775.9 157 689.2 in 1948
Berkshire 775.1 167 643.5 in 1990
Essex 773.9 163 658.8 in 1990
West Sussex 765.5 152 690.3 in 1990
Wiltshire 763.0 162 659.7 in 1948
Cambridgeshire 752.1 164 619.5 in 1990
Dorset 751.1 150 689.2 in 1948


The next most striking meteorological statistic has been the lack of rainfall. England has had its driest May on record and this is reflected in north-east England and eastern Scotland, especially where a number of counties have recorded their driest spring on record.

Another exceptional fact is that the station at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire recorded no measurable rainfall during May, with rain gauges left at 0.0mm at the start of June. Over the course of spring just 77.6mm was recorded here; the average is 141.4mm. A total of 10 Met Office weather stations recorded 1.0 mm or less though May, the majority of these in south-east England.

There has, however, been significant rainfall in parts of the UK through May, the highest accumulation recorded at a Met Office site being 226.4mm at Achnagart in Scotland. The Achnagart station also recorded its wettest May daily rainfall in 51 years with 97.2mm of rain in the 24 hours ending 0900 GMT on the 23rd.

Top 10 driest ceremonial counties in May 2020

County Rainfall (mm) Anomaly (%) Previous record (mm)
Northamptonshire 1.7 3 7.1 in 1990
Warwickshire 1.9 4 7.8 in 1896
Cambridgeshire 2.4 5 9.3 in 1896
Berkshire 2.5 4 5.6 in 1990
Hampshire 2.7 5 8.9 in 1991
Suffolk 3.0 6 5.9 in 1989
Hertfordshire 3.4 6 5.6 in 1990
West Midlands 3.5 6 6.8 in 1896
City of London 3.6 7 No new record
Merseyside 3.6 6 8.0 in 1991

For spring, only the Western Isles recorded more than average rainfall, with 317.7mm, 101% of the season’s average. In contrast most counties were well below average.

Spring rainfall top 10 driest counties

County Rainfall (mm) Anomaly (%) Previous record (mm)
Tyne and Wear 36.4 25 56.5 in 1875
Lincolnshire 37.3 27 41.5 in 2011
East Riding of Yorkshire 41.5 28 46.8 in 2011
Nottinghamshire 42.8 30 45.2 in 1990
Norfolk 47.1 33 No new record
South Yorkshire 48.9 29 60.2 in 2011
Cambridgeshire 50.4 39 No new record
City of Dundee 54.4 36 58.5 in 1870
Suffolk 55.0 41 No new record
Bedfordshire 59.4 42 No new record

Tyne and Wear set its record for lowest spring rainfall, beating 56.5mm recorded in 1875. All counties in the top 10 table above except Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Bedfordshire set new records for their lowest spring rainfall.


Although exceptionally dry and sunny, both spring and May were not notable for the temperatures recorded. Almost all of our weather stations in the UK were above their average temperature for May, however only Morpeth in Northumberland set a new monthly average maximum temperature record. The station has been recording weather observations for 113 years.

Top 10 mean temperature ceremonial counties Spring 2020

County Mean Temperature (°C) Anomaly (°C)
City of London 11.83 1.18
Greater London 11.14 1.17
Bristol 10.94 1.30
South Glamorgan 10.61 1.33
Isle of Wight 10.6 1.13
East Sussex 10.4 1.19
Hampshire 10.37 1.19
Cornwall 10.37 1.19
Merseyside 10.34 1.05
Surrey 10.31 1.23

All counties other than Shetland recorded mean temperatures above the long-term average in May. For spring, all counties were above their mean temperature long-term average.

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Spring 2020: the sunniest on record in the UK

The UK has recorded the sunniest spring since records began in 1929. Since that time there have been only nine UK springs recording more than 500 hours of sunshine, with the previous sunniest being 555.3 hours in 1948.

However, up to 27 May, Spring 2020 has already recorded over 573 hours of sunshine; and with the forecast indicating an extension of the sunny conditions until the end of the month, Spring 2020 will surely cement its record even more firmly.

The weather patterns creating the sunny conditions have also created relatively dry ones too. Dr Mark McCarthy, from the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, explains: “Much of spring has been dominated by successive areas of high pressure, leading to sunny and relatively dry conditions. In February, the Met Office was reporting record rainfall as Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge boosted totals, making February 2020 the wettest February on record.

“However, Spring 2020 has been very dry, and May in parts of England has been exceptionally dry. As it stands up to May 27, for England, May 2020 is the driest May on record since 1896, with less than 10mm rain falling across England on average.”

Some locations have recorded far less rainfall than this. Northamptonshire – the driest county so far – for example has only recorded 1.5mm of rain during May. To put that measurement into context 1.5mm is less than the thickness of a 20-pence coin – you could lay the coin flat in the month’s rainfall and the Queen’s head would remain dry!

Although spring as a whole has been relatively dry, the patterns of each of the spring months have been subtly different. Mark McCarthy explains: “The rainfall totals for each part of the UK for each month of spring (March, April and May) have followed different patterns. For example, parts of South West England had close to average rainfall in March, with drier conditions in April and very dry conditions in May. However, the pattern for other parts such as northern England was different with April being the driest month.”

The subtle differences in rainfall patterns across spring are largely influenced by the areas covered by the centre of the high pressure. Mark McCarthy explains: “You can perhaps see this effect most clearly in the May rainfall figures for north-west Scotland. During the month, the centre of the high pressure has been located to the south and east, leaving the Western Isles and other parts of north-west Scotland extending beyond the influence of the high pressure, leaving them exposed to weather fronts bringing more rainfall to the region, whereas southern England has been largely covered by the high pressure, suppressing rainfall.”

So far during May the Western Isles have received more than average rainfall (117%)

Until the month concludes some of the above may be liable to change. Full provisional climate statistics for May and Spring will be released on 1 June.


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Part II: Three decades of Met Office Hadley Centre science, and counting…

In Part I of this two-part blog series (published yesterday) Professor Albert Klein Tank described the history and highlights of the Met Office Hadley Centre over the past 30 years. Here the Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre focuses on the future.

The next 30 years

In the next 30 years, the role of climate science at the Met Office Hadley Centre will evolve to one of quantifying the predicted changes in climate, and providing more detailed information on what these changes mean to individuals.

How can we help societies plan for the future and manage the risks from extreme climate events and avoid impacts which are too drastic to cope with?

The next 30 years are extremely important regarding the need for stronger mitigation by proceeding towards a transition to a net zero emissions economy. Climate science will play an important part in informing adaptation to the consequences of climate changes that are already unavoidable, whilst informing the mitigation actions aiming to avoid more severe impacts. The emphasis on action and solutions implies a shift from climate science to climate services. But, underpinning science aimed at understanding climate system processes remains crucial.  Albert Klein Tank said: “I strongly believe that the climate services of the future rely on the pioneering and underpinning research of today.

“New frontiers of research including capability to robustly simulate and predict weather and climate extremes will bring additional utility to our forecasts and projections, both nationally and internationally.”

Following the 5th IPCC Assessment Report, the Paris Agreement in December 2015 marked a turning point in climate negotiations with 195 governments agreeing to take global action to tackle climate change and limit global temperature increase.

As a result of the Paris Agreement, the focus of climate research at the Met Office has changed to reflect these changing drivers:

  • moving from proving that climate change is happening and predictable to monitoring, understanding and managing current and future weather and climate risks
  • informing the development of strategies for lowering greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change and assessing the risk of abrupt, potentially irreversible, Earth system change (including so-called tipping points)

Preparing for inevitable climate changes will require more local information, an example of which is provided for the UK as part of the recently issued UK Climate Projections. Future projections require even more information on how global warming translates into local-scale changes in weather and climate extremes, such as windstorms, heat waves and coastal and inland flooding events.

© Crown copyright.Mark machin

The Met Office Hadley Centre is located in Exeter at the Met Office headquarters.

Importance of partnerships

Can the Met Office Hadley Centre do this on its own? The short answer is no. Building even stronger partnerships – both in the UK and internationally – will be essential to addressing the challenges we face in climate science and its applications. We will need to be able to deliver the science, given the increased complexity of observing and modelling the climate system. The Hadley Centre has a history of strong collaboration with: UK academics; partners sharing the same seamless modelling system; the World Climate Research Programme; and European partners. These will remain of high importance, despite the UK leaving the EU.

Climate Science Roadmap

The Roadmap for Hadley Centre research describes our specific contributions over the coming years. It details how we can deliver both the needs of customers, and the fundamental climate science questions to prepare for a changing future and help limit the impacts of climate change.

Albert Klein Tank added: “We do this by careful consideration of the changes in the demands for climate science, awareness of the next big things in science and technology, and bridging of the gap between the core science and solutions.” Quantifying, explaining, forecasting and projecting global and UK climate to inform early warnings, and adaptation-and-mitigation decision making will continue to be a key component. We will provide scientific evidence required to support the UK Government goals to reach NetZero by 2050.

For Met Office Hadley Centre scientist Ailsa Barrow – who was born on the opening day (25 May 1990) – the Roadmap gives direction to the priority areas she will be working on with colleagues across the global science community in the coming decades. Ailsa said: “I have witnessed first-hand, during my secondment to the Climate Evidence team in Defra, the recognition of Met Office Hadley Centre science in informing policy decisions of the UK Government.

“The breadth and versatility of our data helps users develop climate services as well as powerful tailored climate science communication.

“Now more than ever, in the lead up to COP26, the range of skills, experience and expertise across the Met Office Hadley Centre are required to equip policy makers, public, media and the academic communities with the evidence to make informed decisions to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Increasing the public’s understanding of climate science through traditional media and social media will become an ever-more vitally important activity to maximise the reach of important findings revealed by the scientific research. Albert Klein Tank added: “I am convinced that maintaining our impartiality does not need to conflict with increased evidence-based support for action as our contributions to COP over the past years have demonstrated.”


Professor Albert Klein Tank, Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services.

The role of science in decision making

The current coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of an evidence-based scientifically informed approach to inform society’s response to challenges. If applied to dealing with climate change this would mean that governments accept early warnings and future projections from experts about the risks (despite uncertainty) and adopt adequate measures. The recent changes in ways of working for our scientists, enforced by the coronavirus, are giving us valuable experience (such as working from home and holding virtual meetings and conferences) that we will use in future as we aim to reduce the impact of our working lives on the planet.

No doubt that climate science will remain vitally important for the forthcoming challenges that we will face as a society over the coming thirty years and I am confident that the next 30 years will be as acclaimed for climate science in the Met Office Hadley Centre as the past 30 years has been.

Posted in Met Office News
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