Met Office experts meet to analyse 'unusual' weather patterns

Wet weather Scientists are meeting at the Met Office to try and understand the reasons behind last summer's washout

Related Stories

About 20 of the UK's leading scientists and meteorologists are due to meet at the Met Office to discuss Britain's "unusual" weather patterns.

They will try to identify the factors that caused the chilly winter of 2010-11 and the long, wet summer of 2012.

They will also try to work out why this spring was the coldest in 50 years - with a UK average of 6C (42.8F) between March and May.

The Met Office hopes the meeting will identify new priorities for research.

Start Quote

This meeting isn't looking at climate change, it's looking at climate variability in recent seasons”

End Quote Dan Williams Met Office

Over the past three years, British weather records have been under increasing pressure. The big freeze that gripped the UK in December 2010 saw the lowest temperature for the month in 100 years.

Even the buzz of the London Olympics could not disguise the washout that was last summer, the second wettest for the UK since records began.

Puzzled by these events, scientists from across the UK are meeting at the Met Office in Exeter to try to understand the reasons behind this run of what they term, "unusual seasons".

Much has been made of the jet stream and how changes in these strong winds affect our weather.

Map showing rainfall across the UK in 2012 against the 30-year average.

But the Met Office said that it was but one factor that the researchers would consider.

"The thing to remember with the jet stream is that, much like our weather, it is a symptom of other drivers rather than a cause," said the Met Office's Dan Williams.

The scientists will examine the reduction in Arctic sea ice and how it might be affecting Europe's weather.

The theory is that the loss of ice in the Arctic means there is a smaller temperature difference between the North Pole and the warmer, mid latitudes. This in turn could weaken the jet stream, which starts to move around more. When these winds move just south of the UK, colder air can come in from the north.

And as peaks and troughs form along the stream, they can act like a trap for wet weather.

"Low pressure systems run along there and drop into a trough and it's very hard to get them back out again, they get stuck like an eddy in a river," explained Dan Williams.

"They hit us and come back and we get rain for long periods of time."

Another factor that the scientists will be considering are changes in long term ocean cycles such as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a system of deep currents that transport heat around the world.

ocean circulation The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation can impact weather by distributing heat throughout the world

Prof Stephen Belcher from the Met Office Hadley Centre, who will chair the meeting, said these cycles could be having an impact.

"The ocean circulation has been stuck in a rather strange pattern for the past 10 years or so, which in fact has given the unusual weather patterns in many parts of the world," he told BBC News.

Researchers will also look at other factors including solar variability and the effect of the El Nino/La Nina weather patterns.

However a discussion of man made climate change is unlikely to feature.

"This meeting isn't looking at climate change, it's looking at climate variability in recent seasons," said Dan Williams.

"The aim is to understand some of the causes behind that variability. A lot of those potential causes cannot easily be attributed to climate change. The more we can understand about these potential causes, the better advice we can give on near-term climate from a month out to about a year ahead."

The researchers say the meeting could redefine the priorities for weather related research into the future.

Follow Matt on Twitter.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Will these experts come up with anything better than my Mum's recommendation for when it's raining.

    Mum - "Do what they do in China when it rains"

    Me - "What's that"

    Mum - "Let it"

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.


    "It’s not just gases causing climate change but the excess heat we are pumping into the air"

    Yes, there is far too much hot air being emitted

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The weather is the weather,no point worrying about it because you can't change it or if you can it means asking nations to stop making money they way they currently make it which they have demonstrated over many decades they are not prepared to do and thus this meeting is a complete waste of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Experts meeting to discuss UK's unusual weather.

    Oh dear, whats the odds this will be used to further promote the climate lobby and the insatiable desire for more of the tax cattle's money, in the form of subsidy to be handed over of course.

    Funny how these subsidies always seem to line the pockets of corporates and increase tax take for the gov.

    It stinks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    It’s not just gases causing climate change but the excess heat we are pumping into the air. How much heat does a car give off on a typical one hour trip then X by billions, or the central heating and millions of air con units and of course body heat? Perhaps we should have at least one international no drive / fly day a year to offset this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Aahhhhh, at the end of the day, after spending millions of tax payers money, some fool will come up with. . . . . . . . . .. . . that'll be that 'global warming' change that doesn't exist

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    When they finally reach a conclusion there will be another bunch of experts who disagree with them. And, whichever bunch of experts you agree with, there will be absolutely nothing anyone can do to prevent similar things happening in the future. We'd do as well, and save a lot of money, by paying Mystic Meg for an opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    If this pattern continue like this in the future and even gets worse, it has be linked to the climate change that effects the weather controlling factors found in the dynamics of the oceans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Are these the same 'experts' that studied it before, didn't get the answer they wanted so they falsified their data?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    As a physicist I would expect rapidly oscillating climate when there is large changes to CO2 levels in the atmosphere. CO2 absorbs more radiation in the infra red wavelength than O2 or n2 so with contribute change to heating patterns of the sun.

    If you perturb a system it will change, and people still think burning 200 millions years of oil end coal won't have an effect!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Here we go again. A bunch of science illiterates who know far more than anyone who has actually studied the subject.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    A theory will come out of this which like many before it will gather moss until it becomes "fact", and eventually it will be forgotten and brushed under the carpet. Only recently we have had the ozone layer caused by fridges and deodorant, you don't need to look that far back to find the earth was flat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    This is a Dynamic System and one that we don't fully understand yet. Let's get the research done and then draw some more solid conclusions..Until then, it's Waterproof Suncream with Sunglasses, Wellies and a Brolly, and a Wooly Hat - and that's just to pop to my local shop!..

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Another tax-payer funded scam. These 'experts' will conclude that the recent bad weather is man-made, and then the Government will force the energy companies to rack up their prices once again.

    Besides, if they conclude that climate change is 'natural', the BBC won't report it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    a stat for you all...85% of all earths history...there has been no ice at the poles. so that puts the global warming debate to sleep.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Never mind what the scientific experts have to say.. What I want is none scientific drivel spouted by the daily mailers, based on nothing more than self obsessed uninformed opinion. So let's go for it HYS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Can't help thinking when it comes to climate the experts have no idea. Climate occurs on such a grand scale, over such a prolonged period, it is impossible to predict properly, although admittedly they are are retrospectively examining the phenonmenon here. With weather there is more luck but after three days it becomes a percentage game, a gamble.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Since global warming failed to materialise I suppose these people need to keep earning money somehow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Just remember the UK is on the same latitude as Newfoundland. They enjoy average winter temperatures of -5 to -20 Centigrade.

    If climate change causes the Gulf Stream to divert or even shut down then we have those winters to look forward to.

    We need to think about planning for this possibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @9 gOLLUM

    "We seem to have more 'experts' in the world than 'non-experts' nowadays"

    Just because you could not begin to understand the mathematical concepts behind the work that the climate scientsts do does not in any way undermine their expertise. In fact, it should go some way to confirm it in your eyes.


Page 45 of 46


More Science & Environment stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.