Why has it been so warm this month?

In the past 12 months we have had the warmest November and August in records for central England stretching back to 1659. October looks set to join this record-breaking pair.

The scientific consensus is that global temperature trends are confirming predictions of human activities warming the climate. But the complexity of the global climate means we cannot yet be certain that what we are seeing is anything more than the natural variability of our climate. What is certain is that the unusual warmth this month is a result of sustained warm, moist southerly or south-westerly winds, cloudy skies, and high night-time temperatures.

One reason for this pattern is that the Atlantic to the south of Greenland has been unusually cold, and north-westerly winds have prevailed in this part of the world. These sweep southwards in the central Atlantic before drawing warm, humid sub-tropical air up towards the British Isles.

The cooling to the south of Greenland could be part of the global climate's response to human activities along with our warmth in the British Isles. But it could be something independent of human perturbation which will disappear or become more extensive.

The best approach to the current weather has to be to make the most of it, and don't assume it is part of an orderly progression which means that, in a few decades, southern England will enjoy the weather that is now the preserve of the Cote d'Azur.

William Burroughs