The UK may be cold, but it's still a warm world, says Met Office chief
She may have been one of the many thousands of people who failed to get to work yesterday because of the snow, but Professor Julia Slingo, the Met Office's chief scientist, is adamant that the current cold weather is merely a natural fluctuation – and does not mean that global warming is all a myth.
Professor Slingo, who is in charge of Britain's biggest research team investigating climate change, insisted that global warming was a reality despite the bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls that have brought much of the country to a standstill.
"This is not a global event; it is very much confined to the UK and Western Europe and if you look over at Greenland, for example, you see that it's exceptionally warm there," she said.
"Global warming is continuing and we know that from the global trends. There will, of course, be large local and regional variations from year to year. So this event that we're currently experiencing is not unprecedented."
A "blocking" high pressure over the North Atlantic has been a recurring feature of the current cold spell, which has split the path of the high-altitude jetstream, sending warmer weather to Greenland and allowing bitterly cold winds from the Arctic to spread across Britain and Europe. Professor Slingo said other factors may also be affecting the weather, such as the current in the tropical Pacific Ocean, called La Nina, which is disturbing the jetstream over the north Pacific and North America.
At the same time, the diminishing Arctic sea ice may be influencing a change in the weather patterns that are still not understood, she said. A final complication is that a regular pattern of natural climate change over the North Atlantic, called the multi-decadal oscillation, may be about to enter a cooler phase, just as it did in the 1960s, when Britain also experienced colder-than-normal winters.
"We've had a run in the past two decades of relatively mild winters, so our resilience to these kind of events has not really been tested," Professor Slingo said. "And yet during those 20-plus years the way we live has changed, so our vulnerability has changed."
Last October, the Met Office warned the Government that Britain is likely to experience a colder-than-average start to the winter. But long-term forecasts are still notoriously difficult to make with any accuracy, as the Met Office discovered with its "barbecue summer" prediction. Professor Slingo said: "The key message is that global warming continues."
Kielder Forest considered as site for return of wild lynx to the UK after 1,300 year absence
Frilled shark: Australian fishermen capture terrifying shark from the deep
My DIY beauty brand: Home-made cosmetics
Humanity's 'inexorable' population growth is so rapid that even a global catastrophe would not stop it
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...