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More Drivel From The Telegraph

November 9, 2011



“Climate change affects the seasons: autumn doesn’t know if it’s coming or going”

There used to be a time when the Telegraph did serious reporting, but that was before the babies took over. In last Sunday’s edition there was an article by Sir John Lister-Kaye, naturalist and the eighth Baronet of Somewhere near Wakefield, who runs what appears to be an excellent Field Centre in Scotland. The article claims that the mild autumn Scotland is experiencing is an example of “Climate Change” at work and speculates that “ these signals are a sort of Gaia comeuppance”.

Poor Sir John does not seem to appreciate the difference between climate and weather. For most of the autumn so far Scotland has experienced southwesterly airflows, so unsurprisingly the weather has been milder than usual, as the Met Office summary for October confirms.

The month began with a southerly airstream resulting in some exceptionally high temperatures, reaching 25–28 °C widely in England and Wales. Some places in the west and north recorded their highest temperature of the year. The rest of the month saw mostly mild westerly or southerly airstreams. “

Even with this pattern of weather, autumn temperatures have not been exceptional. At Eskdalemuir, the nearest rural GISS station to Sir John’s Field Centre, September/October temperatures rate as only the 15th warmest since 1931. The years, 1949, 1958, 1959,1961, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1978, 1995,1999,2001, 2005, 2006 and 2009 were all as warm or warmer.

The good Baronet does not seem to have a very good sense of timing either as Scotland has just had its coldest summer for 17 years, ranking 25th coldest in the last 80 years. Taking the year as a whole, only 28 years since 1931 were colder than 2010, and 2011 looks as if it will only be marginally warmer.

It is of course true that the British Isles have experienced a slightly warmer climate in the last 10 years or so, which correlates well with the warm phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation currently in force. However there are already signs that this warm interlude may be coming to an end as this GISS graph shows.


The article, of course, has to make the obligatory reference to extreme weather. Sir John complains about gales bringing down a few trees. He might like to reflect on the fact that during the Little Ice Age in the 16th Century, the incidence of severe storms rose by 400% throughout Europe. Just up the road at the Moray Firth, the Culbin Estate used to be a large and prosperous farm estate owned by the local Laird. In 1694 it was hit by a storm so powerful that the whole estate was literally buried under several feet of sand, blown in from the coastal dunes. A rich estate had become a desert overnight and the Laird died a pauper three years later.

Floods? Droughts? Don’t worry, your highness, they have all happened before and will no doubt continue to occur in future, regardless of how much we upset Gaia. In the meantime, enjoy your mild autumn – it will probably be snowing soon.

  1. November 10, 2011 10:40 pm

    If the good Baronetness is worried about the impact of mild autumns in Scotland, he might like to consider buying Greece. I heard it is going cheap at the moment.

  2. February 12, 2013 6:57 am

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this post i thought i could
    also make comment due to this sensible article.

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