'No conflict' between Big Freeze and climate change

A A A

The current cold weather gripping the UK does not undermine the fact the world is warming, experts said today.

Stephen Dorling, of the University of East Anglia's school of environmental sciences, said it was not surprising the cold period raised questions over climate change - but the snowy weather should not be used as evidence against it.



He said: "It's no surprise that people look out of their window at the snow and find it hard to rationalise what's going on with the longer term trend."



But he said it was wrong to focus on single events - whether they were cold snaps or heat waves - which were the product of natural variability.



Instead they should look at the underlying, longer term trends for the climate which were more "robust" evidence of the changes which are happening.



Dr Dorling said: "There is no doubt we will continue to have unusually warm and unusually cold Decembers and Januarys but it will be superimposed on what the background climate is doing."



He said the climate was similar to personal finance, where people could have good months and bad months in terms of their spending - for example being frugal in January after Christmas expenses - but if their salary was falling their bank account would be in trouble in the long run.



While individual and short term weather events could make the situation look better or worse, the background issue of climate warming caused by greenhouse gases was not going away.



The last decade was the warmest on record, with the last three each warmer than the previous 10 years, he said.



And more warming is already built in because of delays in the system - making it imperative urgent action is taken to prevent temperature rises breaching thresholds where the more dangerous impacts of climate change could occur.



The Met Office's Barry Gromett said December and January's cold weather was "within the bounds of natural variability" within a global trend of rising temperatures - in which 2009 is set to be the fifth warmest year on record.



Despite temperatures in December which were half the average for that month in the UK, the country experienced another warm year which was 0.6C above the long term average.



"Climate change is likely to give us milder and wetter winters - that's the general theme, but there's always opportunities within that to have colder years.



"If you look at the temperature graph for the UK or the world, it is a series of peaks and troughs and there's a lot of inter-annual variability within the climbing trend," he said.



And while the recent shift to an El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific will warm global temperatures overall, there were indications the system could have a cooling effect on Europe in the second part of its winter.



He added that it was not currently "universally cold" across the northern hemisphere, and while Siberia, the UK and parts of the US were very cold other areas including Alaska, Canada and the Mediterranean were warmer than usual.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before