31 Jan 2014

Are tumbling weather records more evidence of climate change?

Following weeks of heavy rain and flooding, yesterday brought news of yet more records tumbling by the wayside.

The Met Office announced that central southern and south east England have had their wettest January ever, with most places receiving more than double the average rainfall.

This follows another notable record being broken in December 2013, when Scotland experienced its wettest December ever.


Looking further back to last spring, the UK had its coldest spring in 50 years, with much of the country blanketed in deep drifts of snow.

Then there was the summer of 2012 that was the wettest in 100 years and the second wettest since records began in 1910.

Each year that passes seems to break even more weather records.

Is our weather becoming less variable?

I’ve been interested in weather ever since I was in primary school in the late 1980s and I would say that there has definitely been a change in the weather since then.

Growing up, I was always drawn in by the variability that our weather offered – changing from week to week.

However, in the past decade, it seems that the weather tends to get stuck in a rut, with the same type of weather sticking around for longer, resulting in extremes.

Is it climate change?

There is no doubt that our climate is changing, however it is still difficult to take each weather event in isolation and say whether or not climate change is to blame.

wellies_water_g_wpWe’ve always had extreme weather and it’s important to remember that climate change is about longer term trends, rather than what happens from day to day or week to week.

Nevertheless, when four of the five wettest years in the UK have occurred since 2000 and average temperatures continue rising, the notion of a warmer and potentially wetter future seem to align with predictions.

With the rain expected to continue into the first part of February, it is going to be interesting to see if any more records are broken in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting regular updates about this weekend’s weather on Twitter – @liamdutton

Tweets by @liamdutton