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 217.

    8 Minutes ago


    + mobile telephones?

    + WiFi?

    + Radio2 etc.?

    +TV Txs?

    + Bluetooth?

    + Infra red remote controls?

    + Solar Panel inefficiency?

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Weather has nothing to do with climate –insist the warmists to reconcile their predictions of catastrophic warming with the record-breaking cold weather actually experienced .

    But it only takes a few hot days before they change their minds. Look how hot the weather is today they then say – that's proof global warming.

    They have all the consistency of men arguing that black is white.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    We can see from geological surveys that Climate is anything but stable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    That's right because Britain is renowned for its consistent all-year-round tropical climate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.


    "I would love the skeptics to sign some kind of register."

    Don`t tell them your name Pike

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    Well, we've had weird weather, but it's not THAT unusual. OK, so 2010 had the lowest temperatures for 100 years - but that means that 100 years ago, the temperatures were lower!

    So, we've had weird weather in a few years recently. So coincidences happen. So what?

    Sometimes we humans need to realise that we aren't in control of everything that happens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    For me there are more important isseus than driving a more fuel efficient car.
    Massive deforestation to produce palm oil. Killing 100 million sharks each year for their fins, which changes the entire eco system of our oceans.
    Our governments have no joined up thinking, they put a green tax on flights then want to expand our airports. Much could be done but people's desire for money prevents it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.


    If you just add that your research shows global warming is also a factor you could probably get a professorship at the University of East Anglia, failing that I'm sure the Met Office will gladly share some tax payer pounds with you

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Goes to show we do not know everything and our beautiful planet is the real boss.When it comes down to it when has there been the perfect summer or the perfect winter. Being in the roofing trade for 28 years I would say the last 15 years have been very dry compared to when I first started 10 years before that when you looked out for a shower even in a warm summers day. Let it be

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    "I remember the 70s when the predictions were that we were heading into another ice age, and the ice caps would spread."

    Most studies in the 70s were predicting warming. It so happens that the scientists are more confident now that the cooling effects of smog and particle pollution are less powerful than the warming effects of greenhouse gas pollution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    I would love the skeptics to sign some kind of register. Then when the inevitable happens in 50-100 years when there is proof of the irreversible damage we have caused the climate, the oceans have risen, there are food shortages due to loss of arable land, increased salinity in the earth and growing population etc we know who the caring people are who tried !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Polar ice melts. Fresh water from it pushes the Gulf stream further South or slows it down. .Result is colder air is introduced from the remaining ice cap which cools Northern Europe down which is happening right now. Cooler Europe means colder Arctic meaning another ice age. Cycle complete.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    This is not unusual weather but the Met Office needing to change its tune. Despite one of the most powerful computers devoted to climate it has to face the reality its scenario of warmer weather due to man-made climate change is not happening.

    This is not to say there is no man-made climate change but that the forecasts were wrong. Sadly we have based our energy needs on those poor forecasts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    When they say since records began, its only been from 1600 to 1700's. So they have very little idea of our weather before this period, bar historical events. The weather will be as it always has been, unpredictable and always will be. When it rains put a coat on and when the sun is out take it off. Oh, and stop building on Flood plains, its all in the word. Oh, and rivers flood as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Don't worry too much about the 'scientific' climate change predictions. None of them ever come true - if they had the Maldives would have vanished 15 years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    To all you nay sayers, the weather is obviously related to events in the world. Glastonbury and Wimbledon next week so expect rain !

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Allegedly, our weather is partly being caused by the 2010 Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    I remember the 70s when the predictions were that we were heading into another ice age, and the ice caps would spread.
    Now it's all about warming and the ice caps shrinking.

    All the worry about warming is largely irrelevant - the wholesale destruction of forests which replenish the oxygen supply mean we'll suffocate ourselves before anything else.

    Man - the species which died of ignorance!

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    The funny weather may or may not be a blip. But the bottom line is simple: there are too many humans on this planet using up far too much of Earth's resources than can be naturally replenished. This must have a knock on impact on the air (carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have ever been since the first ape walked upright) and that must change how our planet works. It isn't rocket science!

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    All them meatyerologists & sinetists hav got togevver and concoted this conspiracy to make us pay more tax. Cause that's wot its about, innit? The gubmint working out new ways to tax us. You'll have to prise the petrol pump from my cold dead hands, before I'll go back to dressing in furs and running around with flint axes.


Page 36 of 46


More Science & Environment stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.