Saturday, 3 January 2009

Weather Records and Average Temperatures

I was reading over the Christmas holidays that there are records of the weather that go back as far as 13th Century BC. The records were found amongst the Anyang oracle bones, which give us an historical account of the Shang dynasty in China. But it’s the way in which nature responds to our weather that gives us the long record that we use for studying our climate beyond the more systematic observations we have over the last century or so – the sorts of information that comes from tree rings or trapped air in ice cores, and that is what we call paleoclimatology. It’s these observations together with our complex climate models that help us to understand and give context to how our climate is changing.

Our recent summers haven’t been great in the UK, most likely a response to the effects of a strong La NiƱa – a large pool of cold water of the south-American coast. This natural feature of the earth’s climate has masked the underlying warming of land temperatures to some extend. That being said the climate models are telling us that by all accounts 2009 is set to be a warm year globally, although the seasonal forecasts for the UK are showing that we will have a cold start – with colder than average temperatures in January and an average February.

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