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Trends In Wettest Years At Oxford

September 24, 2015

By Paul Homewood 


I looked earlier at annual rainfall trends in the England & Wales series. 

One of the problems with country wide numbers is that they tell us more about geographical distribution than rainfall in individual locations.

For instance, one inch of rain across all of the country averages one inch. However, 10 inches across just 10% of the country also gives the same one inch average. Clearly the latter is far more “extreme”.


So what would the pattern of extreme years look like at an individual location, such as Oxford, where we have reliable and continuous record dating back to 1766?





As with the national series, there is a clustering of wet years recently, with four of the top 25 appearing since 1998. However, the long term record shows absolutely nothing unusual about this at all.

For instance, the periods 1839-52, 1875-86 and 1912-27 produced four, four and five wettest years respectively.

Unfortunately, long term records such as Oxford’s are few and far between, and the location may not be typical of all the country, particularly the north. Nevertheless, we should take claims of “wettest years” in the UK with a pinch of salt.

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