Have weather patterns really been unusual?

Thursday 20 June 2013, 17:31

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

There’s been much in the press in recent days following the widely publicised ‘Unusual weather’ conference held at the Met Office.

 

The Independent headline was similar to others in the media, advising readers to ‘Stand by for another decade of wet summers’, continuing that the UK was in the midst of a ‘rare’ weather cycle.

 

This cycle, scientists announced, was the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

 

But as it turns out, there’s nothing rare or unusual about it at all.

 

The AMO was first identified by researchers nearly 20 years ago, incidentally when I had just begun my career as a forecaster at the Met Office, and describes a natural, cyclical warming and cooling of the North Atlantic Ocean over time.

 

This cycle is known to affect temperatures and rainfall, and alter North American and European summer climate.

 

In the UK, it leads to an increased risk of summers that are wetter than average.

 

It’s also linked with changes in the frequency of Atlantic Hurricanes, and of North American droughts.

 

The 1930’s and 1950’s in North America are dominated by heat records and correlate almost perfectly with a warm AMO.

 

The AMO has a cycle of approximately 70 years and would mean the current warm AMO is likely to last into the next decade.

 

But talk of another decade of wet summers is misleading.

 

If as expected the warm AMO continues then there’s a higher risk of wet summers – but it certainly doesn’t mean every summer will be a washout.

 

It’s worth remembering that one of the warmest, sunniest summers on record happened in 1959 – during the previous warm AMO cycle.

 

The return to much colder winters discussed at the conference has coincided with another natural phenomena – that of low solar activity - which has been shown to be associated with weather patterns that encourage cold winters across the UK and Europe.

 

It goes to show that at a time when it seems that every weather event or climate pattern is linked in some way to man-made climate change, natural weather cycles like the AMO can offer a more straightforward, natural, explanation.

 

Comments

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1.

    "It goes to show that at a time when it seems that every weather event or climate pattern is linked in some way to man-made climate change, natural weather cycles like the AMO can offer a more straightforward, natural, explanation."

    Well said Mr Hudson, now please keep on saying it only louder and as often as possible!

    I can assure you I for one will not get bored.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    The whole man-made global warming edifice surely cannot withstand gravity much longer! I found the recent Met Office commentary full of contradictions and maybe, just maybe, as the global temperature trajectory fails to conform to the climate models, some important people will dare to see things for what they are.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Well that certainly makes sense. But how does it sit with this:" ...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..."

    On the one hand, you appear to be dismissing the present hysteria about 'extreme' weather - yet on the other, seem to be clinging to the idea that the climate is changing (due to man's activities, presumably - if not, what's the point of bothering, since there's nothing we can do about it?)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Refreshing.

    And in posthumous respect for one of the most distinguished BBC amateur scientists ever, may I offer a quote
    'Now for global warming. Of course we are going through a period of warming, but so far as human culpability is concerned I am a total sceptic and I fear we are dealing with political manoeuvring. There was, for example, much greater marked warming at the end of the Maunder Minimum; what about the Mediaeval Maximum, when Britain was hotter than it is now? No doubt, the present period of warming will be followed by a period of cooling, as has happened in the past time and time again. After all, the Sun is to a mild extent a variable star and we cannot control it –'
    (The Late) Sir Patrick Moore

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    It was refreshing to see some honesty from the Met Office - they finally admit they don't know what is driving the weather. And it follows that they never have. So all the output of their overpriced climate models can be put on the junk heap where they belong. Now they just need to make sure the politicians get the memo.

    And it looks like Mr Hudson really is a sceptic. Bravo!

 

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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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