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Climate change ‘driving UK’s extreme weather’-Claims Harrabin

July 31, 2020

By Paul Homewood

  Harrabin promotes the Met Office’s ludicrous claim that “climate change is driving UK’s extreme weather”:


Climate change driven by industrial society is having an increasing impact on the UK’s weather, the Met Office says.

Its annual UK report confirms that 2019 was the 12th warmest year in a series from 1884.

Although it does not make the top 10, the report says 2019 was remarkable for high temperature records in the UK.

There was also a severe swing in weather from the soaking winter to the sunny spring.

The temperature extremes were:

  • A new UK maximum record (38.7° C) on 25 July, in Cambridge
  • A new winter maximum record (21.2° C) on 26 February, in Kew Gardens, London – the first time 20C has been reached in the UK in winter
  • A new December maximum record (18.7° C) on 28 December, in Achfary, Sutherland
  • A new February minimum record (13.9° C) on 23 February, in Achnagart, Highland

No national low temperature records were set in the State of the UK Climate report, published by the Royal Meteorological Society.

It shows that UK temperatures in 2019 were 1.1° C above the 1961-1990 long-term average.

Mike Kendon, lead author of the report, said: “Our report shows climate change is exerting an increasing impact on the UK.

“This year was warmer than any other year in the UK between 1884 and 1990, and to find a year in the coldest 10 we have to go back to 1963.”

The Central England Temperature series is the longest instrumental record of temperature in the world, stretching back to 1659.

Dr Mark McCarthy, from the Met Office, added it was a particularly wet year across parts of central and northern England.

He said Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Cheshire received between a quarter to one third more rainfall than normal. For northern England this was the ninth wettest year in a series from 1862.

He said: "It’s worth noting that since 2009 the UK has now had its wettest February, April, June, November and December on record – five out of 12 months."

Rescuers using a boat to get around Rotherham 

Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, identified a number of concerning trends.

She said: "As well as extreme hot temperatures, the stand-out weather events in 2019 were the many different types of floods, causing millions of pounds worth of damage and causing misery to many people.

“The picture that emerges is of the multiple flooding threats that are facing the UK, many of which are exacerbated by climate change."

She cited as examples summer flash floods caused by extreme downpours, extensive autumn and winter river floods caused by persistent heavy rain and storms, and a backdrop of continued sea-level rises heightening the risk of coastal floods. 

In fact the Met Office’s report offers no evidence that our weather is getting more extreme, never mind because of climate change.

Let’s start with record temperatures.

As the UK’s climate is about half a degree warmer than it was half a century ago, it would be expected to see more temperature high records being set, and fewer low ones. And as the Met Office themselves admit:

No national low-temperature records were set during the year.

And this goes to the heart of the matter – average temperatures may be higher, but that does not mean weather is more extreme. After all, London tends to be warmer than Edinburgh, but does that mean London has more extreme weather? The whole idea is absurd. There may be more very hot days, but there also fewer very cold ones.

What is far more significant, however, is that although the climate became warmer between 1980 and 2000, that warming has stopped for the last two decades:

Indeed, decadal average temperatures have actually dropped slightly since 2000-2009:


This is an important fact, and I am perplexed why the Met Office did not think to mention it.



The Met Office’s various statements about rainfall do not support Harrabin’s claims about extreme weather:

1) The UK rainfall total for 2019 was 1,227 mm, 107% of the 1981–2010 average

In other words, a very ordinary year. Since 1862, 92 years out of a total of 158 have had rainfall either more than 107% or less than 93% of the average.

2) For northern England (north of a line from the Wash to North Wales) this was the ninth wettest year in a series from 1862.

Again, not a hugely impressive statistic. Analysis shows that the region is not getting wetter, with the wettest year back in 1872.


3) It’s worth noting that since 2009 the UK has now had its wettest February, April, June, November and December on record – five out of 12 months.

According to the longer running England & Wales series, between 2000 and 2019 three monthly records were set – April and June 2012, and January 2014.

However, clusters of this sort are not unprecedented. Between 1903 and 1918, three monthly records were also set.

In any event, such calendar records are not particularly significant, and are often flukish. When we look at the wettest months of any month, a different picture emerges. Only one month since 2000 is amongst the top 10 – Nov 2009.

There have only been four months with more than 150mm of rain, in line with the average, and well below most of the 20thC. No month since 2014 has exceeded 150mm.




Sea Levels

Finally there is this curious statement in the Met Office’s press summary:

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) contributed to the sea-level section of this report. The NOC’s Director, Professor Edward Hill, said: “Sea-level around the UK is expected to continue to rise due to an increased rate of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets, as well as continued glacier mass loss and warming of the ocean. An immediate consequence will be higher extreme sea-levels, which cause flooding and threaten lives, property and key infrastructure.

“However, the report highlights continuing concerns around the quality of UK sea-level measurements. As the report states, we have been unable to calculate the uncertainty of the UK sea-level index for 2018 and 2019, as only one of the long-term tide gauge sites is producing data of sufficient quality.

“High-frequency, high-accuracy, coastal sea-level monitoring is essential.”

Maybe Hill is concerned that the actual data from North Shields and Newlyn, both long running sites with high quality records, does not support his theory of higher extreme sea-levels, which cause flooding and threaten lives, property and key infrastructure.

Instead the tidal gauges show that sea levels are rising at a very modest 1.9mm a year or so, with no acceleration:

mean trend plot

mean trend plot

Maybe he thinks the data is wrong?

If this is the best the Met Office can come up with to scare people about extreme weather, I suggest they try harder next year!

  1. mwhite permalink
    July 31, 2020 6:20 pm

    Next year…

    North Atlantic cooling?

  2. HorshamBren permalink
    July 31, 2020 7:00 pm

    For more toe-curling BBC climate propaganda, check out Radio 4’s ‘How They Made Us Doubt Everything’ series

  3. jack broughton permalink
    July 31, 2020 7:19 pm

    Fortunately, the people who listen to the BBC’s drivel are the London-glitterati and pseudo-socialists. The BBC preaches to the converted on almost every topic, objective reporting is at its lowest ever value.

    To the man in the street the UK is still nowhere near as warm as they would like it to be. He recognises bullshit when he sees it …… and he sees a lot of it. But, the London-bubble are impervious to the evidence before their eyes (as shown by Brexit)!

  4. John Palmer permalink
    July 31, 2020 9:04 pm

    Paul… thanks for suggesting that they ‘try harder next year’…. don’t worry about that, they will! And on and on and on, but still somehow we just carry on living our lives despite them.

  5. Broadlands permalink
    July 31, 2020 9:39 pm

    “It shows that UK temperatures in 2019 were 1.1° C above the 1961-1990 long-term average.”

    How does that average compare with the 20th century average, or the 1951-1980 mean?

    • dennisambler permalink
      August 2, 2020 10:25 am

      61-90 was one of the coldest periods of the 20th century, guaranteed warming when used as a base.

  6. July 31, 2020 10:34 pm

    Temperatures have been gradually rising since the Little Ice Age. No big deal unless you suffer from climate derangement syndrome, then you need someone to blame.

    • August 1, 2020 12:45 am

      Notice how rarely, if ever that is referenced in the MSN. Indeed the B(LM)BC have been pushing a narrative by inserting “since the start of the industrial revolution” as often as they can to seed this idea in the minds of those who do not know better and forget the BBC is no longer the impartial purveyor of information that it was set up to be. Playing fast and loose with bits and pieces of scientific data is par for the course in the climate circus and the fact that real scientists are not constantly pointing out that this is not science of any kind is undermining the credibility of the whole of science. Scared of losing their jobs some may be but many have sold their souls very cheaply to the dark side for some pieces of silver.

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      August 3, 2020 11:23 pm

      The Met Office state of the climate report actually admits that every period in the CET record has been warmer than the previous one, going back to 1659. Do they expect us to believe that humans were having an effect on the climate in the 1700’s? Shame the BBC didn’t report this, there is clearly no better evidence that recent warming is no more than a continuation of a very long running, and therefore natural, trend.

  7. August 1, 2020 12:35 am

    The NOC’s Director, Professor Edward Hill, said: “Sea-level around the UK is expected to continue to rise due to an increased rate of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets,
    I am a little confused about this statement given Professor Hills background. “Continue to rise due to an INCREASED rate of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctic”. When did the increase start? Sea level has been rising at pretty much the same general rate for a very long time although it fell during the Little Ice Age of course. Obviously When the learned Professor studied Oceanography there was no geology included because HE SHOULD know about the critical difference between Isostasy and Eustacy, indeed he MUST know that Scotland is rebounding due to positive isostatic readjustment post removal of a couple of KM of ice load and as a consequence the South of England is being tilted down. This has been known and measured in great detail for a considerable length of time, certainly since he was in short trousers! How come he does not know about it or worse, ignores it to make such a statement? That is NOTHING to do with net movement in sea level rather movement in the land level. Also to bring down our friends, those hooked on the narcotic of climate porn, requiring their daily fix of ever inflated predictions of doom, any consideration for net change in relative sea level is considered ALL factors not just the ones which suit the narrative must be factored in. Indeed the North of Scotland is still emergent even when 1.9mm a year are added. So dear Professor, either you are not very clever, are reading from a script given to you by the NOC’s political commissar OR you are wilfully playing fast and loose with the truth! Is that how you got to be a Professor…. just like Michael Mann?

  8. August 1, 2020 1:43 am

    I do have a comment to make here about the interpretation of localized weather events in terms of global warming but I was told by Mr Grim not to do it. But maybe I am allowed to leave a link to a post that will explain why this interpretation is not possible.

  9. August 1, 2020 8:30 am

    What with Russian military manoeuvres in the Baltic (planes and submarines acting in concert), Covid wreaking havoc around the world, Harrabin’s attempt at terror seems rather insignificant on the ‘what if’ scale. Either Mr Putin will attempt some sort of military escapade or we will all be wiped out by plague yes, but the world will then be pristine and thriving but there might not be anyone here to observe the wonder due to factors other than weather. Had this man seen the smoke infested blackness of the Potteries (coal mining, coal gas plants, iron and steel manufacture and pottery production (and most of its people still living an indigent existence as late as the sixties) he may now have been drawing comparisons with the Deccan Traps at the time of their greatest upheaval. I don’t see anything in the records to suggest that such industry was impacting weather then. I can imagine the horror of those brought up in a large conurbation or the leafy south new town being frightened by a garden fire.

    • August 2, 2020 4:08 am

      Thank you europeanunion. It is a significant point that an obsession with climate fearology interferes with our ability to identify, recognize, and deal with real global issues.

  10. Mr T permalink
    August 1, 2020 10:09 am

    The website does a great job in correcting much of the global warming propaganda but occasionally the script doesn’t fit the picture. The statement “the UK’s climate is about half a degree warmer than it was half a year ago” is not supported by the graph below it. The Met office graph of the Mean Temperature UK year shows the current trend is about 9.2 degrees C. Fifty years ago it was about 8.3, an increase of nearly one degree. Unfortunately, there is no explanation of how the trend is calculated but the fact that the script doesn’t fit the picture weakens the argument. A pity when the trend has clearly levelled off.

  11. David Allan permalink
    August 1, 2020 11:46 am

    The Met Office is now a branch of the BBC which, in turn, is a branch of The Grauniad.

    • August 1, 2020 5:08 pm

      All three of which make Pravda begin to look like a credible source of impartial information…..

  12. tom0mason permalink
    August 4, 2020 6:39 pm

    The dimwits of the BBC and the Met Office do not understand that our weather does NOT run in a predictably linear fashion.

    Weather (like climate) is the overall summation of many interlocking feedback factors, and subsystems, that are non-linear, and often CHAOTIC in nature.
    Here’s a hint watch this and start to understand.
    Understand that from relatively simple equations that can describe a complex and particular chaotic behaviors, and from those equations scaled, self-similar patterns can be generated. And then understand that as the many dependent factors change (because something or other outside the chaotic system has seemingly varied randomly around/on/in the planet) then the pattern will also change, and occasionally continue changing with many variations, until the many chaotic factors regain another nearly stable situation, and the scaled self-similar patters building starts anew. A new start where the cycle of building to another analogous (but very different) pattern of self-similarity. Wash, rinse, repeat!
    With the models, NO amount of statistical averaging can ever tell you where the trend will head off with such a chaotic system (which is poorly understood and defined). This is because in all chaotic systems initial states of ALL variables are of profound importance.

    The Met Office’s weather model can not possibly tell accurately what will happen over medium term time period (beyond about 2 weeks).
    This failure is similar to all of the IPCC preferred climate models, they are never initialized with ALL the current climate condition — they have too crude a global 3D grid system, also it is too crude because it does NOT accurately model the many ‘parameterized’ factors. This means that overall it is NOT possible for any of these models to correctly characterize the progress of any climate variables. (See for the very basics of weather as a chaotic system).
    All these models’ shortcomings ensure that they do not have enough short-term accuracy to allow anyone to be truly confident that the long-term projection is meaningful. Only people who completely misunderstand weather and climate are stupid enough to BELIEVE these models can give a fair representation of the future weather and climate changes.

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