Just how has the climate of the UK being done since 1910?
The short answer
It’s sunnier, warmer and wetter in the UK than it was in 1910.
The slightly longer answer
Well, with the help of the Met Office, and downloading the monthly climate data series that they maintain, in a bespoke application that I have written, I am now able to generate a chart for any period since 1910 for the following observational elements:
- Maximum Temperature
- Minimum Temperature
- Mean Temperature
Because the data the Met Office generate is from gridded data, they also produce subsets of the data for all the following regional and National areas:
- Northern Ireland
- England & Wales
- Northern England
- Southern England
- Northern Scotland
- Eastern Scotland
- Western Scotland
- North East England
- Northwest England & North Wales
- The Midlands
- East Anglia
- South West England & Wales
- Southeast England
So with this application I can easily delve into any area for any observational element to see just what’s going on under the hood so to speak. I have constructed each chart in the same way, that is I’ve plotted a running 12 month total or average for each month (grey area series), for instance the first value I’ll plot for rainfall will be in December 1911 and it will be the total rainfall for that year. In January 1911 I’ll plot the total for the period between February 1910 and January 1911, and so on. I like this way of looking at data because it gives you a complete chart with no cold or wet spells that fall between the cracks and get hidden in a simple annual total or average chart.
On top of that I’ve overlaid a moving average (dashed line with yellow outline series), which can be for a period of 1 to 30 years, although the three charts below (fig 1-3) all have a three-year moving average. This is a bit tricky to explain because it’s a moving average of another average if you like.
Finally I’ve added a simple linear trend (red dashed series) so that I can display the trend in the annotation box in the top right.
The first chart (fig 1) shows that annually since 1930 the UK has become 10 hours per decade sunnier in 2016 than it was in 1930. That’s around 80 hours a year sunnier. My devilishly fiendish mind can think of a couple of reasons why that might be:
- The Clean Air Act of 1956 and because the air is now less polluted by coal fires, places, particularly in Cities and particularly in Autumn and Winter, will naturally be much brighter places to live, with none of the smogs of the 1950’s.
- The Change in the way we now measure sunshine, perhaps the new sensors are now much more accurate that the old Campbell–Stokes recorder were.
Figure 1 – UK Sunshine
Temperature wise the mean annual temperature across the UK has increased by +0.09°C per decade since 1910 (fig 2), so the mean temperature is now close to being +0.9°C warmer than it was in 1910. This agrees very well with the CET series in this regard, but I’ll leave a comparison of the two datasets for another article.
Figure 2 – UK Mean Temperature
Annual Precipitation totals are also showing an increase of around +7 mm per decade (fig 3). This doesn’t sound a lot, but over 106 years that’s almost 80 mm of rainfall. I could delve into what particular months are wetter, but the purpose of this particular blog and the new coding that I’ve done, was to look at the annual picture rather than break it down into a seasonal or monthly one.
Figure 3 – UK Precipitation
As far as I can see the three charts look comparable to the ones on the Met Office site, not only that, my charts look much better, as if someone has put a lot of care into their construction, which of course they have. If you do see a problem with any of them please let me know.