Summer 2012 - 2nd wettest on record

Thursday 30 August 2012, 16:15

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

UPDATE at 6pm Friday 31st August

Last night was the coldest August night on record at Leeming (1.1C, records to 1945) and Bradford Lister Park (2.8C, records to 1908).

Summer at Leeming was the fourth wettest, and the dullest on record.

At Sheffield Weston Park it was also the fourth wettest summer in records which date back to 1882, with 2007, 1912 and 1956 all wetter than this summer.

ENDS


The Met Office have said that summer 2012 will be the second wettest (summer is June, July and August combined for statistical purposes) on record across England and the UK as a whole, using rainfall data back to 1910.

So far 367mm of rain has fallen, compared with 384mm which was recorded in 1912.

It's also been the dullest summer since 1980, and cool, with mean temperatures 0.4C below average,

It adds to a depressing sequence of summers across the country, with the last 6 years all being wetter than average.

Moreover 2 of the 3 wettest summers on record have happened in that time - 2007 and 2012.

The reason for our poor summers is the jet stream.

It's been consistently too far south over the last few years, and is the reason why we've experienced some cold winters recently, too.

The big question is why is the jet stream behaving in this way?

There are two current theories, which I detailed in my earlier blog which you can read here.

One is linked to melting Arctic ice, which fell to a satellite record low on Monday.

The other theory suggests it's down to the protracted low solar activity over the last few years, as happened in the early 1800's.

And if the early 1800's are anything to go by, poor summers and cold winters may be something we need to get used to in the next few years.

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Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    Perhaps the law of averages will allow us a good summer next year. Did any long range forecaster predict this awful summer?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    So not as wet as 1912, based on the "short" UK series, which only goes back to 1910. It's just as well that they didn't start in 1913, or we would be being told that it was the wettest summer "ever".
    Based on the longer HadUKP series, it's possible that in England & Wales, 2012 was not as wet as 1912, 1879 and 1829, but we will have to wait for the official August figures to be certain.
    Recent rainfall has been high relative to the 60's and 70's, but the summer rainfall trend is falling and the 30 year average is currently much lower than in the 1850's.
    So proponents of "climate change" will have to decide if it is causing higher or lower rainfall in summer. Or is it whatever it happens to be at the time?

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    Comment number 3.

    #1. - Gadgetfiend wrote:
    "Did any long range forecaster predict this awful summer?"
    Not sure, but the MO predicted drier than average April-June, (and as far as I remember, May-July), but that was when we were having a drought.
    Personally, I don't think the summer was that bad, but then I don't like it too hot and I like rain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    Hmm. I wonder if the low solar activity could also be a reason for the low ice in the Arctic? I've seen reports that ice levels were low in the early 1800's and 1900's. Odd that these similarities seem to be approximately a century apart. A solar cycle anyone?

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    Comment number 5.

    Wasn't the time around the first world war extremely cold. Watch out as nature balances things back out. It is time that people understood cause and effect. The world is much like a heating system with a thermostat, God isn't stupid.

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    Comment number 6.

    I noticed that we had some extremely cold nights across the country last night. -2 in Scotland and 3 degrees in Bradford.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    4. buythermals wrote:

    "Hmm. I wonder if the low solar activity could also be a reason for the low ice in the Arctic?"

    Why would low solar activity, i.e. reduced TSI, *decrease* ice cover in the Arctic? Surely if there is less heat energy from the Sun you'd expect to see the opposite.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    #6. - Tim wrote:
    "I noticed that we had some extremely cold nights across the country last night. -2 in Scotland and 3 degrees in Bradford."
    Of course, since the cold air was coming from the North, that probably means that it is warmer than average where the air came from.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    It's not necessarily just about TSI is it. Lots of 'pet theories' out there if you're willing to delve a little deeper. Of course, since they are not mainstream, you may consider them unworthy of your attention. But just remember that AGW was not mainstream until it became mainstream.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    'Why would low solar activity, i.e. reduced TSI, *decrease* ice cover in the Arctic? Surely if there is less heat energy from the Sun you'd expect to see the opposite.'

    Who mentioned heat energy? The sun puts out a wide range of electro-magnetic energy. This interacts with the atmosphere, the earth's magnetic field and cosmic rays in a myriad of ways which are only partially understood.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    Just wanted to make a comment regarding Paul and Christa's mention of being 'told off' for mentioning 'brass monkeys' regarding temperature. Since the old expression "It's cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey" is based in something entirely innocent, I fail to see why they would be told off. It relates to the triangular brass mounting that cannon balls were placed on next to cannons, which would often freeze and cause the cannonballs to fall from their mount during inclement winter weather. Sorry for being pedantic - just thought I'd mention it, as people bastardising perfectly innocent comments for rudeness annoys me. And no, bastardising is NOT a rude word haha.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    #11. - matthewLEEDS wrote:
    "It relates to the triangular brass mounting that cannon balls were placed on next to cannons, which would often freeze and cause the cannonballs to fall from their mount during inclement winter weather."

    I'm afraid it isn't as clear-cut as that.
    According to Wikipedia, it might be an urban legend and personally I think that explanation might have been made up to "clean up" the expression.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass_monkey_(colloquial_expression)

    Next time you visit an old sailing warship, ask to see the "brass monkeys".

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    "One is linked to melting Arctic ice, which fell to a satellite record low on Monday.

    The other theory suggests it's down to the protracted low solar activity over the last few years, as happened in the early 1800's."


    Well the Arctic ice has been reducing for 30 years or so, if not since the LIA,
    so one would have thought that the more meridional jets would have developed at least 30 years ago. They didn't.

    By my observations the jets stopped becoming more zonal around 2000 which correlates with the decline of solar activity from the peak of cycle 23.

    The minimum of cycle 24 was the lowest for over a century and coincided with a record negative Arctic Oscillation and jets very meridional / equatorward.

    So if I were a betting man the appropriate choice would be obvious.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    Yes, another exceptionally cool wet summer - finishing with an unusually cold night.

    Let's not forget, of course, that the cold wet weather began long before the summer started - in April. For almost unrelenting miserable weather for such a long period - the record may have been exceeded? And it remains to be seen if it will yet end before wheat crops are almost entirely ruined.

    Dullest summer since 1980 perhaps - but May 1980 had one of the most remarkable sunny periods ever, if I remember correctly? - 9 consecutive days of cloudless weather over the entire British Isles.

    As for the early 19th cent - this was complicated by a period of exceptional volcanic activity (as we have said before) so comparisons are difficult.

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    Comment number 16.

    14. Stephen Wilde wrote:

    "The minimum of cycle 24 was the lowest for over a century and coincided with a record negative Arctic Oscillation and jets very meridional / equatorward."

    What do you mean by "the minimum of cycle 24" Stephen?

    When was this minimum?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    With respect to the sun cycles, isn't the minimum the same across lots of cycles but the maximum varies (higher, lower)? i.e the minimum is zero sunpots?

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    Comment number 18.

    matthewLEEDS. Most things are innocent until the pc brigade get stuck into them. I would say the people who complain are the ones with a dirty mind, because they see hidden reasons that most ignore. There will be nothing left of the Britain I loved as a child, if certain people had their way. Global warming is another one of those things, where people look for something that isn't really there.

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    Comment number 19.

    #14. - Stephen Wilde wrote:

    "The minimum of cycle 24 was the lowest for over a century and coincided with a record negative Arctic Oscillation and jets very meridional / equatorward."

    You probably mean the minimum between cycle 23 and 24, or at the start of cycle 24.
    In terms of sunspot numbers, I estimate that this happened in June 2009, with a 12 month average ssn of 1.68, although you could say Dec. 2008, if you calculate the average in the centre of the 12 month period.
    It is true that was the lowest minimum 12 month ma since 1913, but personally, since by definition, all minimums have low ssn, I don't think that was as significant as the fact that, again measured by average minimum ssn, cycle 23 was the longest since cycle 9, which ended in 1856.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    #17. - john_cogger wrote:
    "With respect to the sun cycles, isn't the minimum the same across lots of cycles but the maximum varies (higher, lower)? i.e the minimum is zero sunpots?"

    It's difficult to define the max & min of sunspot cycles using sunspot numbers.
    Personally I use the 12 month mean and then it depends on where you centre the average.
    While individual monthly ssn figures can be zero, the 12 month average is rarely zero, although it was in cycle 5, which ended in 1811. In fact, there have only been 68 months out of 2163 (2.15%) with zero ssn since 1749, and the last one was in August 2009, so you could argue that was the end of cycle 23, but a problem arises when there are two months with zero figures (68 monthly zero figures in 24 cycles), which is why I use the 12 month average.
    I calculated that the 12 month average ssn was 1.68 at the end of cycle 23, compared to a figure of 8.14 at the end of cycle 22, 12.33 at the end of cycle 21 and 11.93 at the end of cycle 20.
    So there is quite a lot of variation in the 12 month minimum figures, athought it's not as obvious as the maximum.

 

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Hello, I’m Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. 

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I worked as a forecaster with the Met Office for nearly 15 years locally and at the international unit, after graduating with first class honours in Geophysics and Planetary physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992. I then joined the BBC in October 2007, where I divide my time between forecasting and reporting on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

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