Vicky Pope: 'Abnormal' weather is here to stay

Analysis
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The Independent Online

This summer's rainfall patterns in Northern Ireland and Scotland have certainly been anomalous. The question is why. The answer can be sorted into two broad theories.

One, that the rainfall seen this year, is simply part of the ordinary variations of nature. While 84 per cent more rainfall than normal sounds like a lot for Scotland this August, in reality these incidents are bound to happen on a local level on occasion.

The second theory would be that it is truly anomalous in the sense that it is not natural, but a consequence of man-madeclimate change. Generally, climate change in the UK would be expected to cause a decrease in rainfall in summer and an increase in winter. That is the opposite of what we have here. But it is also true that climate change also causes a more active water-cycle.

This means that because of the general warming of the atmosphere, more water evaporates from the sea surface and consequently we would have heavier bouts of rainfall when they do occur.

Thus, while this event would not be in line with the expected trend of seasonal rainfall patterns, it does match our expectations in terms of global warming causing heavier bouts of rainfall.

While we cannot attribute a single individual event to climate change broader trends suggest this will be far from the last "abnormal" weather we are likely to experience.

Vicky Pope is Head of Climate Change Advice at the Met Office

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