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 197.

    Let us not forget that the long hot summer of 1976 occured during a period of global cooling

    when the chicken littles were clucking over the comming ice age

    and Paul Erlich was pronouncing western nations would starve by the year 2000

    And here we are ....humanity has grown in numbers (although some are indeed starving in places)

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    The major issue now isn't CO2, it's food supply.

    There is famine heading our way in less than a decade.

    If what you say is true then it's just natures way of balancing things. In the long term we should welcome it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    Roll on the asteroid!

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    @ 171 Blagshaw

    The votes are as unpredictable as the weather.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Waste of time and money. We are just going through weather patterns that we have had in the past. All natural nothing that man caused or can do anything about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    It's great to see another entirely British invention has conquered the world. The Jet Engine, Penicillin, complaining about the weather........

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    After the perpetual snow this year, and considering how late it fell, in conjunction with the highly wet summers, I think there's something they're not telling us.


  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    the only peple confused are the global warmers. Those who say sun drives climate have been able to predict months ahead with an 80% success rate. So there are 2 model of climate. The co2 religion that has 0% success rate in prediction eg end of snow in uk by 2010 and those who say the sun drives climate who have an 80% success rate. which one has the real science? which is it rational to prefer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    It's the weather - it's always changing.
    Still if they can pin it on "climate change" I'm sure they find an excuse to tax something else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    166 Cycleguy - majorities and beliefs are politics and religion not science. Its pretty certain climate change is happening it always has. Its fairly certain CO2 is making a contribution. How much of a contribution is uncertain. Some of the other major factors are known. How precisely how they interact is unknown. Which is translated by politicians as tax everyone and build wind mills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.


    the same respectable science as those used for dismissing BSE, leaded petrol, asbestos, food additives, use of depleted uranium in armaments, dumping in oceans including nuclear waste etc.....

    yes, scientists have a lot to answer for.

    & when science is to used to whip up public frenzy against competitor countries, then I do beg your scientific pardon while I put on my cynical hat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    The problem with fossil fuels is that mankind will burn every whiff, lump and drop of them until there are none left.
    No amount of evidence is going to change that, because the energy companies literally have all the power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    As I understand the Science while the overall temperature in the World is rising melting ice in the Arctic changes the jet stream over Northern Europe meaning our weather comes predominantly from the direction of Siberia causing colder winters and wetter summers in the UK .

    Bloody Typical!

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    One minute we're having a drought, the next minute it's raining too much. It's stereotypically British to complain about the weather but does it need to be reported in such a doomsday sort of way?

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    I may have dreamed this but isn't there a massive threat from methane release from the oceans if the earth heats up by a degree or two?

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Why fuss about the weather or climate? We should,all of us,read Ecclesiastes Chapter One,verse 3 :

    What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
    One generation passeth away,and another generation cometh : but the earth abideth for ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.


  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    The Iceland Volcano Eruption of 2010 negated all the efforts MANKIND had made to lower ITS CO2 emmissions in the previous FIVE years. So there you have it. Mankind (tho' not China/India !) can try all it likes, but if one of the 200 Active Volcanos errupts for 3 or 4 days all the good work is worthless, and so we may as well accept that we cannot tame nature and live our lives !

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    @158,....Apparently, right now in NI, the wind turbines have never experienced such revolutions, I think there must be a lot of hot air blowing in that part of the world at this present time. Tax breaks for wind farms perhaps?. Oh,...and the future cannot be changed, it can be affected, and seen only in hindsight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    What do you expect with projects like H.A.R.P ?,

    You try and manipulate the weather it will bite back, far worse than global warming could

    So yeah! +1 for science and its continued arrogance at weather control.
    PS: do research before marking this comment down, its a FACT weather control is real. There are company's you can pay to "guarantee" clear sky for weddings etc. (About £10,000 per hour)


Page 37 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.