Archives for August 2012

Summer 2012 - 2nd wettest on record

Paul Hudson | 15:15 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2012

UPDATE at 6pm Friday 31st August

Last night was the coldest August night on record at Leeming (1.1C, records to 1945) and Bradford Lister Park (2.8C, records to 1908).

Summer at Leeming was the fourth wettest, and the dullest on record.

At Sheffield Weston Park it was also the fourth wettest summer in records which date back to 1882, with 2007, 1912 and 1956 all wetter than this summer.


The Met Office have said that summer 2012 will be the second wettest (summer is June, July and August combined for statistical purposes) on record across England and the UK as a whole, using rainfall data back to 1910.

So far 367mm of rain has fallen, compared with 384mm which was recorded in 1912.

It's also been the dullest summer since 1980, and cool, with mean temperatures 0.4C below average,

It adds to a depressing sequence of summers across the country, with the last 6 years all being wetter than average.

Moreover 2 of the 3 wettest summers on record have happened in that time - 2007 and 2012.

The reason for our poor summers is the jet stream.

It's been consistently too far south over the last few years, and is the reason why we've experienced some cold winters recently, too.

The big question is why is the jet stream behaving in this way?

There are two current theories, which I detailed in my earlier blog which you can read here.

One is linked to melting Arctic ice, which fell to a satellite record low on Monday.

The other theory suggests it's down to the protracted low solar activity over the last few years, as happened in the early 1800's.

And if the early 1800's are anything to go by, poor summers and cold winters may be something we need to get used to in the next few years.

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Arctic sea ice now lowest on satellite record

Paul Hudson | 15:20 UK time, Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The extent of sea ice in the Arctic region has dropped sharply in the last few months.

Only in April, Arctic sea ice had staged an impressive recovery and was close to the 1979-2012 average, reaching levels not seen in April for over 10 years.

But yesterday, the National Snow and Ice data centre reported that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles, breaking the previous record set in the summer of 2007, based on satellite data which was first gathered in 1979.

Usually the minimum ice extent is not reached until September, suggesting that further ice loss is likely.

Including this year, the six lowest ice extents in the satellite record have occurred in the last six years.

And most scientists, whilst accepting that some of the decline in sea ice is likely to be down to natural factors such as prevailing weather conditions and natural ocean cycles, believe a substantial proportion is down to man-made influences such as global warming due to higher greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The big worry is that continued melting sea ice would cause serious feedback mechanisms to kick-in.

Firstly with less sea ice to reflect incoming solar radiation back into space, the sea will warm more quickly than would otherwise be the case, speeding up global warming.

And secondly, natural methane trapped under the sea-bed by permafrost could be released. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and would also accelerate global warming.

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