Comment, opinion & blogs

Human Side of the IPCC report : Human Side of the IPCC report

This term I am rewriting my climate change lectures. Not because the fundamentals have changed, but because the first part of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released in September. The IPCC was founded 25 years ago to provide authoritative assessments on the emerging problem of climate change. The first report was published in 1990, and the follow-ups, roughly one every six years, have grown in volume, complexity and indeed stature alongside our growing realisation of the complexity of the climate system.

Great British Storms: British storms captured in literature and some that shaped weather forecasting as we know today.

Throughout our history there have been numerous storms to batter British shores. We take a look at some of those captured in literature and some that shaped weather forecasting as we know today.

Let’s start with the Great Storm of 1703, arguably the worst storm in British history and sometimes referred to as ‘The Channel Storm’. It started on 24th November and did not die down until 2nd December 1703, with winds reaching 120mph during the peak of the storm.

The Big Freeze of 1963: One of the coldest winters on record

Image: Richard Johnson

We take a look back at The Big Freeze of 1963 - one of the coldest winters on record in the UK. When we look at the Central England Temperature records, which extend back to 1659, only the winters of 1683–84 and 1739-40 have been colder.

The most severe conditions were across England and Wales and although winter hit hard in Scotland it didn't rank as one of its worst on record.

2012: from droughts to floods: A year of two extremes

Across parts of the UK, the year began with ongoing concerns over long-term drought heightened by a relatively dry January to March but the situation was then transformed by the wettest April to June on record. There was been no modern day precedent for the extraordinary switch in rainfall amounts; the nearest comparison was in 1903.

Improved El Nino Forecasts

NASA image shows the warm water pool in the eastern Pacific during the El Niño event in 1997.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims to have discovered a better way of forecasting the periodic warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific, known as El Niño events. These events are closely linked to severe weather in Latin America and thousands of miles further away, as far as Australia, Africa and North America.

Wimbledon rain: Wet weather and Wimbledon

As night followed day, so the start of Wimbledon would always herald the arrival of a blanket of rain-packed clouds, leading to delays, dampness and Cliff Richard singing. Then the All England Club spent tens of millions of pounds on an state-of-the-art retractable roof for centre court, at which point the weather gods decided that the start of Wimbledon would, for a few years at least, instead herald a couple of weeks of unbroken sunshine, thus preventing the roof from ever making much of an appearance.

Paul Hardaker on the future of public weather forecasting:

Each year, as a member of the public, you pay for a public weather service. You won’t have been sent a receipt for this or noticed it appearing in your list of direct debits. That’s because it is a range of different government departments that pay for this on your behalf – and what excellent value you get for it. These departments meet together as the Public Weather Service Customer Group to make sure that public interests are represented, that the services are of a high quality and that they are value-for-money to you, me and every other taxpayer.