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Analysis Of CET Winter Temperatures

April 5, 2017
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By Paul Homewood




It is widely accepted that winters are becoming milder in the UK on average. But averages can often be misleading, so what does this actually mean?

In a post last week, I analysed CET daily mean temperatures for February, looking at the highest and lowest daily temperatures in each year:




As I commented, the peaks are not getting higher, for either the daily high or daily low bands. In other words, we are not experiencing temperatures for either that we have not had many times in the past.

But what is readily apparent is that in the last couple of decades there has been a marked absence of really cold weather.

I have now extended the analysis for December and January, and we find a very similar pattern:






December 2015 stands out as unusually warm, with both the highest and lowest daily mean temperatures above anything else on record. Readers may recall that this was the month of storms from the Atlantic!

But apart from that year, as with February, the bands are not going up. And again, we find the same with January too.

As with February, there is an almost total absence of really cold spells of weather, with the exception of December 2010.

Put another way, we are not experiencing “warmer weather”, but just more of it.

If we did a similar analysis for, say, London and Glasgow, we should expect to see consistently higher daily highs and lows for London, as the climate is warmer, being further south.

In the same way, if the UK climate really was growing warmer, should we not see the same pattern?


Does any of this actually matter?

Well, on a simplistic level, I think most people would agree that it is a good thing to have less, extreme cold weather.

But on a deeper level, what we are seeing is a weather phenomenon, and not a climate one. (Yes, I know that “climate” is the summation of many years of “weather”).

Just because we have not had much really cold weather recently does not mean that we won’t get more in future.

  1. Bartemis permalink
    April 5, 2017 7:32 pm

    To the extent there is a rise, it is across the entire record, well before rising CO2 could have been a causative agent. It’s just recovery from the LIA.

  2. quaesoveritas permalink
    April 5, 2017 8:06 pm

    Could the Urban Heat Island effect be behind this?
    i.e. is it more likely to result in less extremely low temperatures?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      April 5, 2017 9:06 pm

      My own hypothesis, for what it’s worth, is that UHI is at least partially a cause of higher minima especially in winter.

      Heat-emitting activities continue round the clock to a much greater extent than they did even 30 years ago — all-night buses, 24-hour supermarkets, late-opening pubs and clubs, to name but three obvious ones.

      Urban sprawl will have extended the urban heat island and there fewer and fewer places where there is no activity between sunset and sunrise.

      I would have thought this was a fruitful area of research for an honest scientist, a breed I am sure is still in the majority!

  3. April 5, 2017 9:00 pm

    Really cold weather in winter is likely due to a blocking high with North Easterly winds. The frequency of these determine the average temperature of Winter. These are a function of the Jet Stream. What determines where that goes?

  4. April 5, 2017 9:03 pm

    In contrast, June temperatures show much less warming.

  5. April 5, 2017 11:21 pm

    Yep don’t fall for the line
    that diesels are killers
    and that banning diesels is a magic solution that will save lives.
    That is purely a simplistic narrative.

    #1 All diesels sold comply with the law.

    #2 Big diesels have enough filtering tech that’s why some cars are more polluting.

    #3 The test designers erred in that the tests don’t mimic real road conditions.

    Sadiq runs with DieselsRPaedos cos who is going to vote against cleaner air ?
    Generally official stats show roadside air is much cleaner than 30 20 10 years ago.

  6. April 5, 2017 11:27 pm

    There’s a wall of daily PR I try to log

    Why the heck do 3.7m people commute more than 2 hours to work?
    Jobs and homes should be closer…that is a bigger priority.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    April 6, 2017 1:59 am

    Considering the huge amount of industrialization and urban sprawl that has happened over the time period shown, I’m amazed that there is so little effect. Yes climatically temperatures were recovering from the minimums, however, did all that burned coal, the great age of steam, and steel mills have so little effect?
    Looks like overall the Chicken Licken, Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Hen-Len, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Ducky Daddles, Drakey Lakey, Goosey Loosey, Goosey Poosey, Gander Lander, Turkey Lurkey and Foxy Loxy et al. really are overplaying the warming effects of CO2, methane, industrialization etc., etc.

  8. Ian permalink
    April 6, 2017 9:03 am

    Paul says:

    “Well, on a simplistic level, I think most people would agree that it is a good thing to have less, extreme cold weather.”

    Not necessarily. Some plant diseases and pests are dealt with in cold weather. Milder weather allows them to persist.

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