Another sign of the growing North-South divide, but this time it's climate change

Detailed study shows inconsistent impact of climate change on weather across Europe

A A A

Global warming even applies to the North-South divide according to scientists who have discovered that temperatures in the south of the country have been rising much faster than in the north.

In the most extreme case of the temperature divide, a new paper finds that, since 1950, climate change has made the hottest days of the year rise by at least 2.5C in much of the south east, but just 1C or so in the north east.

Dr David Stainforth, the lead author on the paper, said: “In Britain, climate change will feel very different if you live in Northumbria than if you live in Oxfordshire; different again in Devon.”

He explained: “Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. As climate changes, the distributions change... But they don’t just shift, they change shape. How they change shape depends on where you are.”

The ‘changing shape’ of the climate is affecting the temperature in all sorts of unpredictable ways, according to the first detailed map of how climate change is influencing the weather in Europe, which paints an extremely inconsistent picture.

For example, while temperatures in the south of Britain are generally rising faster than in the north, there are cases where the thermometer increases are higher in the north. These include the coldest 5 per cent of nights, when temperatures have increased by at least 1.5C across much of the north east since 1950, compared to between 0.5C and 1.0C in the south.

When it comes to the hottest summer days, Wales has seen a smaller increase than the north – of between zero and 0.5C- since 1950.

Meanwhile, the coldest 5 per cent of summer daytime temperatures have hardly risen across Europe in the past six decades, according to the paper. By contrast, the mean global temperature – across all areas and times – has risen by 0.5C since 1950.

Apart from location, the temperature is much more influenced by factors such as the season and the time of the day than previously thought, although nobody yet knows why.

Professor Sandra Chapman, another author of the paper, said: “It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people’s perceptions of climate change. The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals.”

The research was conducted by the Grantham Institute and Warwick University and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The paper’s findings were welcomed by climate change scientists, who said they cast valuable new light on the mechanics of global warming.

Blue skies and bright sunlight in central London (Getty) Blue skies and bright sunlight in central London (Getty)  

However, some were concerned that climate change sceptics might seize on some of the milder findings – such as the relatively small temperature increases seen on the coolest summer days – to bolster their case.

Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, said: “The impacts of climate change are going to be complex and nuanced. It is wrong to suggest we have a full understanding of them, but the overall picture is clear.”

“This research suggests that the really uncomfortable days are getting more uncomfortable,” he added.

Dr Stainforth said: “We need to design buildings so that they don’t overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant and even plan for variations in large scale productivity. These would all benefit from knowledge of how the climate distribution has changed at particular locations.”

Rain at the Cowal Highland Gathering in August (Getty) Rain at the Cowal Highland Gathering in August (Getty)  

The paper examined changing temperatures between 1950 and 2011 and does not attempt to predict whether the trends it discovers will continue.

“This isn’t telling us what will happen in the future. My gut feeling is that the trend will continue. We don’t have any knowledge that the pattern is going to change in the future, but it might, so I wouldn’t want to predict,” Dr Stainforth said.

Given how unpredictable climate change is proving to be, his reluctance to predict the future looks extremely wise.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas