- 01 Sep 2011, 00:00
- Tim Holmes
Media reports this week suggest Britain has just experienced its
coolest summer in almost two decades. Here's what the headlines
The Met Office, however, is
sounding a strong note of caution on the news coverage. They
say those reports (published 30th and 31st Aug) were based on
temperature records for a small area of central England and
therefore could not be meaningfully extrapolated to the whole of
The figures do provisionally, though, support the news reports'
claims. For now the Met Office stress they will not be in a
position to produce a definitive report - or to compare the
temperature to prior years - until the summer is over and the full
set of figures are in.
As for the question of how this relates to climate change,
Brian Merchant's article How Do You Explain Global Warming When
the Summer Was So Cold?, provides a clear and helpful summary.
"If eight out of the last ten years
showed increasingly warm temperatures, and the two that didn't were
a bit cooler, it seems obvious what kind of a conclusion you'd
still make about the general trend.
"Also, it's worth noting that climate
change will have different affects on temperatures in different
parts of the world--hence the shift from 'global warming' to the
more palatable 'global climate change.' While the first term is
still correct, since the planet is on average seeing warmer and
warmer temps, some regions may see wetter, and sometimes, colder
weather. The basic explanation for this is that as heat increases,
more water evaporates around the world, putting more vapor into the
atmosphere--which can cause heavier rainfalls and worse storms, and
create cooler weather patterns."
Whether the media commentary reflects such basic scientific
observations, however, remains to be seen.