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Beddington Is Wrong–UK Rainfall Is Not Becoming More Variable

March 26, 2013

By Paul Homewood




Professor John Beddington, the outgoing UK Chief Scientist, has been ramping up the alarmism with his prediction of drastic weather extremes in the coming 25 years in an interview with the BBC.

Amongst his claims was this:-


“The variation in the temperature or rainfall, which Britain has been experiencing lately, is double the average rate.”


Let’s check the facts.


The Met Office have produced an England & Wales Precipitation Series, dating back to 1766. The annual totals are plotted in Figure 1.




Figure 1


There are ups and downs, as you would expect with English weather. Wet though last year was, it was not as wet as 1768 or 1872. And dry though 2011 was, it was only the 33rd driest in the series. 

Still, this is not what Beddington was referring to. He was specifically talking about the variation in rainfall, large swings from dry to wet, or vice versa. So Figure 2 shows the variation from year to year.



Figure 2


Now let’s change all the negative values to positive, so that increases and decreases are both shown on the same scale, and add a 10 year running average.



Figure 3


The large increase in rainfall between 2011 and 2012 is apparent, but was less than the increase in 1789, and of a similar level to four other years. But, more importantly, what about the trend?

There has certainly been more variability in the last few years compared to the 1980’s and early 90’s. But the current level of variability is similar to that which has existed throughout the larger part of the series. There is also no sign, despite the events of last year, that variability is on the increase.


Could it be that the Professor is overreacting to the events of just one year, or is not aware of the historical facts? It is difficult to understand how a top scientist could make such basic errors, but it is hard to come to any other conclusion.


Tomorrow, I’ll have a look at temperatures. I have not cranked the numbers yet, so don’t know what they will show, (‘onest guv!). But I don’t have much confidence that they will support what Beddington has to say.




The England & Wales Series is here.

  1. March 26, 2013 6:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  2. Keitho permalink
    March 26, 2013 7:04 pm

    There you go again Paul Homewood, walkin’ in here throwing facts around as if you were somethin’ special, lookin’ down your nose at us little people. Why don’t you make it a fair fight eh? Use hyperbole and opinion like the rest of us instead of all this “facts” nonsense.

    Pick on somebody your own size and leave us common purpose midgets alone to make the world better for ourselves man.

  3. tckev permalink
    March 26, 2013 10:01 pm

    Sir John Beddington understands that Britain has to stop “global climate disruption” and “global weirding” through changing their energy sources to the glorious free sustainable sources that will keep homes and industries going. Even if that means ‘energy’ prices have to rise by 70% or more.
    If the UK doesn’t stop putting out CO2 and just leaving it to other countries to do, the UK’s climate will become so weird that it will be seen as normal for Britain!
    Now variations in climate over the last few decades may appear to be a natural variation but science knows that these variations are caused by human sourced CO2, this is known because climate science researchers are paid to prove it so, and have.

    So, it’s so long, have a happy and very quiet retirement Sir John Beddington, you’ve had your say and now it’s time for what reality will show us.

  4. March 26, 2013 10:44 pm

    I’d suggest looking at something like the 10-year maximum value minus the 10-year minimum (or 20 years), so that it captures all the extremes.

    That shows that the 2000s were very close to the 1960s, which were very close to the 1920s, but all of these were far less “extreme” than the 1850s and 1870s.

    It also shows a huge drop in variability in the 1980s – which is perhaps why someone who doesn’t look at the data might think things are extreme now.

  5. Bill Irvine permalink
    March 27, 2013 9:12 am

    His specialty is economics in which he got a Bachelor of Science degree. (Economics – Bachelor of Science – oxymoronic, no?).That is why he knows so much about climate /weather, in so far as it increases the cost of keeping a house warm, mending broken electricity supplies and road clearance.
    He should be telling us why we have economic weirdness and that the anthropogenic exponential growth in money generation is causing poor old people to die.
    I am sure that he will get a nice sinecure in the (well heated) EU as well as advising renewable energy companies on how to maximize their cash flow.

  6. Andy DC permalink
    March 27, 2013 5:40 pm

    Those charts are putting me to sleep with all their “catastrophic” non-trends. Time to put the whole AGW farce to sleep!

  7. nick brown permalink
    April 6, 2013 2:45 pm

    I suggest that you look at the 12 month moving average of rainfall. If you do that you might understand what Beddington is talking about.

    Graph it and then correlate it to the 12 month moving average of NAO (available from NOAA)

    Then try relating both to Arctic ice minimums ………. You would expect NAO to relate to the temperature gradient between the Arctic and the tropics, and in turn to relate to variability of rainfall, positive and negative in UK, and so there may be a correlation with NAO.

    You may have missed the point ……..


  1. Beddington Is Wrong: UK Rainfall Is Not Becoming More Variable | The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)
  2. Sir John Beddington Is Wrong About UK Temperature Record | The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)

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