Note: UK atmospheric scientist John Kettley, is formerly of the Met Office and the Fluid Dynamics Department at the Bracknell headquarters.
Last updated at 3:21 AM on 24th August 2008
Atrocious: The terrible August weather has delayed the harvest but global warming is not to blame
Atrocious weather has seriously delayed the harvest this year – by now oil seed rape, barley and oats should already have been gathered.
The delay could mean either a loss in yield or drop in quality, with a subsequent fall in income for farmers for the second year running.
But this is not a symptom of so-called ‘global warming’.
These conditions are not unique and are more like the poor August weather Britain saw during the Twenties and Sixties.
It is more likely a stark reminder that the warming trend we recorded in the last part of the 20th Century has now stalled. Globally, 1998 remains the warmest of the last 150 years.
Of course, we have seen very hot months in the UK recently, but we should be under no illusion about global warming.
We are not suddenly about to be catapulted towards a Mediterranean climate. We are surrounded by water, with the vast Atlantic Ocean to our west, while the jet stream and gulf stream will forever influence our daily weather and long-term climate.
So, this year’s Sixties-style August has seen bad weather in many places.
Northern Ireland suffered particularly from serious flooding last weekend, but it has been the cumulative affect of cool, wet and dull conditions which has really hampered farmers’ progress.
For every loser there are always winners.
Lerwick in Shetland has largely stayed north of the rain-bearing jet stream and in the past week alone saw almost 40 hours of sunshine.
Further south, mainland Scotland was not so blessed, as storms brought 2in (50mm) of heavy rain to many places, including Edinburgh, on Wednesday and Thursday.
There will be more rain for the west of Scotland in the next few days, but at long last much of the country can look forward to a change in fortune.
Late August should see warm picnic weather – which I think will last through September, in line with recent years.