Extreme weather
Jul 18, 2012
Bishop Hill in Climate: other

An interesting article about the wet British summer comes to us from Michael Hanlon in the Mail.


Perhaps the most dramatic and visible impact of climate change to date has been the reduction in Arctic sea ice cover and, particularly, thickness, seen in the last 20 years or so. The ice grows back in winter of course but, the evidence suggests, each year (on average) perhaps a little thinner than before. This makes the North Atlantic a little warmer than otherwise, reducing the temperature gradient between Polar and Tropical air and hence taking some of the wind (literally) out of the jetstream’s sails.

So, the overall effect of global warming will be to make our summers cooler and damper. The trouble is, this contradicts what most of the computer models have been saying to date, namely that in Britain we can expect hotter, drier summers and milder, damper winters. I spoke to Kate Willett, a climate scientist at the Met Office who agrees that the picture is confusing. “Yes, this contradicts the model of wetter winters and drier summers,” she says. It is also true, she adds, that since 2007 Arctic sea ice levels have been exceptionally low but it is not true that the last five summers have been exceptionally bad – those of 2010 and 2011 were average or a little above average in terms of sunshine and temperature.

This is almost beyond parody, so I'm not even going to try.

Interestingly, Hanlon says that there is a consensus that weather will become more extreme in an warming world. Is this right?


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