U.K. March Weather: Forget the Noise, Look at the Trend

It is close to two years now since I returned to the U.K., and the March weather I have experienced could not have been more different. The March of 2012 was one of T-shirts and cold beer drunk in pub gardens. This March, the wood-burning stove is going flat out, and the papers are full of reports of potential natural gas shortages due to unexpected heating demand.

Such a swing has given rise to a host of articles claiming just about everything and anything to do with climate. In the face of this, my first reaction is to look at the data. The first port of call is the U.K. met office site, and you can find the monthly and annual temperature data record here.  The Met Office graphics are sorely lacking in sophistication, but nonetheless you can observe March mean temperatures all the way back to 1910 (click for larger image):

UK Mean Temperature March jpeg

As you can see, last March (2012) was the third warmest on record (over the last 100 odd years). Given March 2013 has yet to finish, the date point for this month has not yet been entered in the Met Office data base. Fortunately, The Guardian has added a proxy number for March 2013 (based on average temperature up to the 17th) to produce the much prettier bar chart below (article here, click for larger image).

March Temperatures jpeg

It is pretty damn cold in my town of Henley as we see out the end of the March, but whether we challenge the 1962 record average temperature low of around 2 degrees Celsius remains to be seen. What we can observe, however, it that there is a discernible trend: overall, things are warming up.

As for more extreme weather? Well, two divergent months in consecutive years don’t make a new trend toward higher volatility. And if you look at the top Met Office chart, you can see there has been plenty of volatility over the last one hundred years. Of course, the climate science tells us to expect more extreme weather, but there appears meagre evidence to collaborate the theory as yet from a temperature perspective in the U.K. looking at the month of March alone. But then again, as temperature has only just started to push above the range in maintained within the 12,000 year holocene era, things are only just getting started climate-wise.

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