Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Extreme weather in Britain

I have observed that the Guardian reports on climate change very well but hardly ever reports extreme weather – as if the two are not connected?

UK weather: Homes flooded after enormous waves and 65mph winds strike the South West coast
Towering waves struck buildings and smashed windows in Cornwall today as severe weather coincided with a spring high tide.


10 April, 2016

Homes in the South West were flooded today after enormous waves and 65mph winds rocked the coast.

The waves struck buildings and smashed windows in Cornwall as severe weather coincided with a spring high tide.

The Ship and Castle Hotel in St Mawes was flooded, while at least three homes in Penzance were also affected, according to reports.

The waves also crashed over sea defences in Devon, resulting in a number of delays on trains out of the region.

Fire crews were called to deal with flooding, while the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for the South West.

Swanpool Road is closed due to the high seas. in attendance

This evening, the Environment Agency had 13 flood warnings in place across Devon and Cornwall, the Plymouth Herald reports.

Read more: Climber dies on Mount Snowdon after falling from 'knife edge' ridge

Elsewhere, parts of Britain were left covered in snow today - while other areas were bathed in glorious sunshine.

Some residents in Northumberland found themselves surrounded by deep snow this morning following overnight blizzards.


And two people in the region had to be rescued from a car after becoming stranded by the sea on a tidal causeway.

The rescue mission took place on the road that leads to the island of Lindisfarne, that sits around one mile off the Northumberland coast.

The couple were eventually saved by the coastguard and taken back to dry land.

Northumbria Police said they were 'safe and well' and the vehicle would remain on the causeway until it was safe to return.


Spring snow? Cumbria's landscape left wintery and frozen after overnight snowfall
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Warning signs at either end of the road urge drivers to check the tide times, which explain when it is safe to cross each day.

Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, has a population of around 180 people.

Read more: UK weather: Snow in the north and 65mph winds in Cornwall - but the sun's out in London

Despite the poor weather in some regions today, London was drenched in sunshine, with people in the capital enjoying a lazy Sunday outside.

It comes just a week after the hottest weekend of the year saw the mercury push past the 17C (63F) mark.

PASome residents in Northumberland found themselves surrounded by deep snow this morningSome residents in Northumberland found themselves surrounded by deep snow this morning
Forecasters last week said it could be the end of the month before Brits can enjoy warm temperatures again.

Warm southerly air responsible for the brief burst of joy at the start of April is being shoved away by a bitter plume from the Arctic.

Met Office forecaster Nicola Maxey said last week: "It is going to turn wet and windy with temperatures much colder than the beginning of the week.

"Polar maritime air will move in while colder air aloft will be brought down by rain making it feel much colder.

"There is a chance of wintry showers and hail in the north over high ground with even some to lower levels.

"It will stay fairly changeable and will remain fairly cold over into the weekend and over the next few days."

The Met Office predicts a grim outlook for the rest of the month with gales, hill snow and below-average temperatures on the way.

PAForecasters last week said it could be the end of the month before Brits can enjoy warm temperatures againForecasters last week said it could be the end of the month before Brits can enjoy warm temperatures again
A spokesman said: "Showers could be heavy at times with a risk of thunder, mixed with some drier interludes, but possibly with some hill snow in the north.

"The rather unsettled pattern will continue, but with the southeast increasingly seeing the better of any drier spells.

"[It will be] windy with a risk of gales, more especially in the southwest.

"Winds will generally be moderate throughout, but strong along exposed coasts with a risk of gales in the southwest."

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say

Gulf Stream stops Britain from freezing over in Winter

24 March, 2014

The Gulf Stream that helps to keep Britain from freezing over in winter is slowing down faster now than at any time in the past millennium according to a study suggesting that major changes are taking place to the ocean currents of the North Atlantic.
Scientists believe that the huge volumes of freshwater flowing into the North Atlantic from the rapidly melting ice cap of Greenland have slowed down the ocean “engine” that drives the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean towards north-west Europe, bringing heat equivalent to the output of a million power stations.
Scientists believe that huge volumes of freshwater flowing into the North Atlantic from the rapidly melting ice cap of Greenland have slowed down the ocean “engine” that drives the Gulf Stream (Getty)
However, the researchers believe that Britain is still likely to become warmer due to climate change providing the Gulf Stream does not come to a complete halt – although they remain unsure how likely this is.
Calculations suggest that over the 20th century the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation – the northward flow of warm surface water and the southward flow of deep, cold water – has slowed by between 15 and 20 per cent, said Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
There is more than a 99 per cent probability that this slowdown is unique over the period we looked at since 900 AD. We conclude that the slowdown many have described is in fact already underway and it is outside of any natural variation,” Professor Rahmstorf said.
The scientists calculated that some 8,000 cubic kilometres of freshwater has flowed from Greenland into the Atlantic between 1900 and 1970, and this rose significantly to 13,000 cubic kilometres between 1970 and 2000.
Freshwater is lighter than salty water which means that it tends to float on the surface of the ocean and in doing so disturbs the normal sinking of dense, cold saltwater to the ocean floor, which is the main driver of the Atlantic circulation.
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Professor Rahmstorf and colleagues point out that maps of global surface temperatures have consistently indicated an overall warming trend around the world, except for the region of the North Atlantic south of Greenland.
It is conspicuous that one specific area of the North Atlantic has been cooling in the past hundred years while the rest of the world heats up,” said Professor Rahmstorf, who added that previous research had indicated that a slowdown in ocean currents may be the explanation.
Now we have detected strong evidence that the global conveyor has indeed been weakening in the past hundred years, particularly since 1970,” he said.
The study used proxy measurements of the Atlantic currents, using ice cores, tree rings, coral growth and ocean and lake sediments, to estimate regional temperature variations and so assess how the Gulf Stream has changed over the past 1,000 years.
Machair, a grassy coastal habitat found only in north-west Scotland and the west coast of Ireland, is one of the several elements of the UK’s “cultural heritage” that is at risk from climate change (Getty)
Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, who helped to calculate the amount of freshwater flowing into the Atlantic from melting ice caps, said that the slowdown can be linked to man-made climate change.
Now freshwater coming off the Greenland ice sheet is likely disturbing the circulation. So the human-caused mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet appears to be slowing down the Atlantic overturning, and this effect might increase if temperatures are allowed to rise further,” Dr Box said.
Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University said: “Common climate models are underestimating the change we’re facing, wither because the Atlantic overturning is too stable in the models or because they don’t properly account for Greenland ice melt, or both.”

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