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Climate Change Sunshine in UK

Published on June 3rd, 2020 | by Steve Hanley


May In The UK Was Sunny & Dry. That’s Unusual.

June 3rd, 2020 by  

Met Office, the official meteorological service for the UK, reports “May has become the sunniest calendar month on record in the UK.” How sunny was it? “626 hours of bright sunshine were recorded in Spring 2020 for the UK and have exceeded the previous high (555 hours, set in 1948) by over 70 hours. Spring 2020 also exceeds the sunshine amount for most summer seasons, with only three summers being sunnier (1976, 1995, and 1989).”

Sunshine in UK

Image credit: Met Office

At the same time, rainfall across most of the region has been far below normal. “It has been the driest May in England and second driest in Wales with 9.6mm and 14.3mm respectively, which are both just 17% of the average rainfall for May,” Met Office satys. That’s a lot of rain that didn’t fall on farmer’s fields throughout the country.

Dr. Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Center, says in a statement,

“The most remarkable aspect is just how much some of the May and Spring records for these climate statistics have been exceeded. Exceeding the UK sunshine record is one thing, but exceeding by over 70 hours is truly exceptional. The sunshine figures for spring would even be extremely unusual for summer and only three summers would beat Spring 2020 for sunshine hours.

“The principal reason for the dry and sunny weather is the extended period of high pressure which has been centered over or close to the UK. This has suppressed the development of clouds and rainfall over the UK, while allowing plenty of sunshine to reach the surface. There has been a band of similar weather conditions extending across central parts of Europe, whereas Iberia and parts of Scandinavia have experienced rather wetter conditions.”

By contrast, February was unusually wet in the UK. Professor Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, told BBC News, “We’ve swung from a really unsettled spell with weather systems coming in off the Atlantic to a very, very settled spell. It’s unprecedented to see such a swing from one extreme to the other in such a short space of time. That’s what concerns me. We don’t see these things normally happening with our seasons. It’s part of a pattern where we’re experiencing increasingly extreme weather as the climate changes.”

Mark McCarthy adds, “If we look at the difference in rainfall that’s fallen over the winter compared to spring, it is the largest difference in rainfall amount in our national series from 1862.

What to make of all this? One, it’s really good news for solar power advocates. Two, it’s really bad news for people who depend on access to clean water. We are used to turning on our faucets and having water come rushing out. Those days may be numbered.

Of course, some people, especially those paid handsomely by fossil fuel companies, will say it’s just weather and weather changes from year to year and season to season. They pooh-pooh any suggestion that climate change is responsible, saying no one can prove a connection one way or the other so until there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, we should all be glad for a little sunshine and enjoy time at the beach

But others see a connection to events elsewhere in the world, such as the fires spreading across Siberia where temperatures are as much as 40º F higher than normal. 40 degrees! If that isn’t enough to penetrate the shield of skepticism many hide behind, it’s hard to imagine what will.

Imagine their grandchildren 30 years from now asking, “When you heard Siberia was 40 degrees hotter than normal, what did you do about it, Grandpa?” And they will have no answer for them. 


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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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