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

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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.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    @223 johnboy99

    That's personal abuse - cut it out!

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    There is NO GLOBAL WARMING Sun isn't to blame.The SUN spot activity reaches a 11 year cycle high this year.ICE falling off ice bergs,is because of seasonal warming, it is like an avalanche & happens in the spring every year.It is not related to C02 & deforestation as most of our oxygen is produced by Algae in the oceans.You believe in global warming because "TV says so".

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    You really have to chuckle at all the armchair and public bar experts that have come out of the woodwork on this HYS. Perhaps they need to be reminded that 'X' is an unknown quantity and 'spert' (sic) is a drip under pressure.

    It's perfectly obvious to anyone with half a brain that the abnormal weather pattern is the fault of either Andy Murray, Jimmy Saville or the combined team at Blue Peter!

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    1 minute to midnight...? We humans are obsessed with our relevance as a species but we haven't been around long at all. Why should we assume something is unusual, just because it appears unusual to us?

    Point being, I imagine there have been periods of *millions* of years where the weather was a bit odd, nevermind a blip when one season affecting one little island seemed a bit odd.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    When a report is finally made,the last line had better be "This is for entertainment only,any similarity with real facts is purely coincidental".

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    It's called GLOBAL WARMING caused by excessive CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases. Scientists having been telling us about this for years yet the number of pollutant road vehicles increases and there are thoughts of producing electricity from burning coal. How can one equate convenience and profit with destroying this planet? Everybody seems to be fighting for the last berth on the Titanic!

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    About reminding our inept leaders they don't have the mandate to play with the weather as in geoengineering.
    The daily spray of aluminium, strontium and berium oxide in our skies is bringing the most disruptive weather in recent history.
    Irresponsible use of weather science is causing huge damages often far away from where the weather manouvre took place.
    Inept, complacent leaders are allowing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    All the indicators are that this is climate change, as oppossed to just a change in the weather.

    The fact that so many top scientists are being assembled must surely indicate that there are some serious worries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    There is a real lack of urgency amongst world leaders on such an important issue. Why is this? Why are the polar caps on Mars melting and the other planets heating up? Why do i get the feeling we're not being told the whole truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    It's very odd. When climate sceptics start pointing at a cold summer as evidence that the world isn't heating up at all the warmists bat them away superciliously with a 'that's weather'.

    Yet now, suddenly, it's 'climate'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    31. Remus - surprised to see you are attracting so many negative comments. The Mystic Meg thing apart, what you say makes sense. And as for ecology - had we acted 45 years ago, when humankind's role in disastrous planetary changes first started to be recognised, maybe - maybe - we could have reversed the trend. But for a long time we did almost nothing. Is it too late? Only time will tell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    its a FACT weather control is real. There are company's you can pay to "guarantee" clear sky for weddings etc.

    -Really there are vast numbers of events that are dependant on good weather to avoid expensive disruption and yet all too frequently it *****es down during them (Royal Jubilee anyone?)

    The reason why these events had bad weather is because it's impossible to control!

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.


    'It so happens that the scientists are more confident now that the cooling effects of smog and particle pollution.'

    I forgot this theory - the world did not warm for 30 years after WWII because pollution was blocking out the sun. Now there is no pollution in the world (due to the Clean Air Acts in the West) which is why the world is warming. We are supposed to take this seriously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    I like the idea that the earth is an intelligent being with a sense of humour who enjoys always being one step ahead of the weather experts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    @193. armia
    "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."
    What a rediculous thing to say. What makes you think this, you haven't been reading a tabloid again have you?

  • Comment number 222.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    i think maybe they should look at geoengeneering and weather modification!! thats the reason for our white skies and cold weather

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Further to my post at #172, it doesn't matter a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys now if the excess heat comes from man-made global warming, the sun, cosmic rays, volcanoes, cows or political hot air.

    The effects will be the same.

    We are now over the precipice and falling but the debate will grind on and on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    I do not believe this to be off topic, I wish David Atenborough, good health, and am glad to hear of his recovery from a heart bypass. We need you Mr Attenborough, a concientious, caring man, Speak loud on our behalf, make them understand the complexity and beauty of life on this planet, and how we should be a part of it, not apart from it. best of luck, and again, good health.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    It is a bit obvious that if the Gulfstream hasn't stopped, it has slowed down. The climate has changed a lot in forty years. If the Gulfstream has slowed, then it will stop. Winters in Britain will be very cold then. The Government was warned years ago, I read it.


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