UK's wet summers 'could last for 10 years'

UK's wet summers 'could last for 10 years'

Weather and climate experts from across the UK came together at the Met Office's HQ in Exeter on Tuesday 18 June to discuss the recent run of unusual seasons in Europe.

And, while it didn't rule out "decent summers", it is thought the UK could see its run of wet summers continue for around 10 years, thanks to a shift in the jet stream, possibly as a result of climate change.

A total of 25 delegates attended including representatives from the Universities of Exeter, Leeds, Oxford, Reading and Imperial College London, as well as the Met Office.

Up for discussion on Tuesday was the weather patterns and their potential causes in three recent seasons – the cold winter of 2010/11, the wet summer of 2012, and this year's cold spring.

Professor Stephen Belcher, Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre and chair of the meeting, said: "Ultimately what we've seen in each of these seasons is shifts in the position of the jet stream which impact our weather in certain ways at different times of year.

"The key question is what is causing the jet stream to shift in this way? There is some research to say some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream, but this loading may be further amplified by climate change."

There are a number of possible factors which could be 'loading the dice', including declining Arctic sea ice, solar variability, long-term ocean cycles, and other long-term cycles of natural variability, according to the Met Office.

Five out of the last six UK summers have seen above average rainfall (2010 is the exception, with average rainfall) and the workshop heard new evidence from the University of Reading suggesting that long-term Atlantic currents may be playing an important role.

The Met Office said in a statement: "These are understood to operate on cycles of a decade or more, which suggests that we may see their influence on our summers for a few more years to come. While these influence the odds of wet summers, it doesn't rule out the possibility of decent summers over the next few years."

With regards to the cold winters, there is a wide range of drivers that could have an influence.

There is some initial evidence to suggest that changes in Arctic climate may also be making an impact.

Dr James Screen, from the University of Exeter, said: "There has been a lot of talk about declining Arctic sea ice playing a role in our weather patterns, but really that's just one aspect of changes in the Arctic climate – which has seen rapid warming compared to other parts of the world.

"Those changes mean there is less of a difference in temperature between the Arctic and tropics, which could impact the position of the jet stream."

Another driver of colder winter weather has already been identified and is known as Sudden Stratospheric Warmings (SSWs).

The Met Office says recent research in SSWs has seen them able to give good advice up to a month ahead on cold spells in recent seasons when they have been driven by this phenomenon.

Variations in UV output from the sun have been identified as one potential driver of SSWs, but there may be others.

Dr Belcher said the workshops and research work "will help us continue our work to push forward understanding in this area so we can give better forecasts and advice on longer timescales in the future".

Where to go for the best weather in Europe this summer
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UK's wet summers 'could last for 10 years'

Sorrento is a brilliant base for exploring the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Capri. The old town is full of elegant boutiques and bars with much of the life in Piazza Tasso. Take the steps down to Marina Piccola where you can sunbathe under the clear skies and dine at charming seafood restaurants. Leon says: "Southern Italy is expected to have a slightly drier and warmer summer than normal, with a few isolated afternoon and evening thunderstorms. In Sorrento, afternoon temperatures could reach 28C in June and peak at 33C in late July to August with extremes of around 38C in August."

Known for its year-round sunshine, southeast Spain is the place to go for wonderful beaches, warm weather and Mediterranean lifestyle. In Alicante, there is a marina and a real taste of Spain in the old town and the Santa Cruz neighbourhood. Murcia's coast is home to endless beaches and small coves, many of these considered open-air spas, like Mar Menor, because of the hyper-saline waters. In the city, there is the Cathedral of Murcia, landscaped city square Glorieta and the 18th-century bridge Puente de los Peligros to explore. Leon says: "August may see some extremes, especially inland in southeast Spain. Sea breezes will keep temperatures at coasts a little lower. Although there will be isolated thunderstorms, August will mainly be dry. Southeast Spain will see temperatures of 28C to 32C in June and peak in the mid-30s late July to August with extremes of 36C to 40C likely, especially inland, like last August."

The posters don't do Oludeniz justice. The wonderful Belcegiz Beach is surrounded by pine forested hills and the famous Blue Lagoon has no less than three shades of turquoise water. Oludeniz is widely known as Turkey's top beach destination so you'll find young couples, large families and adventure types. It's also a popular spot for paragliding. Leon says: "Apart from isolated thunderstorms, this summer is expected to be drier and hotter than normal in Turkey. Oludeniz will see afternoon temperatures reach 29C to 32C in June and over 38C at times in July and August. There may be some extremes of 40C in August."

Bulgaria's beaches in the summer are as delightful as the country's ski slopes in the winter, and offer great value for money, breathtaking scenery and fantastic long stretches of sand. For added history, opt for UNESCO-protected Nessebar. The old and new town are full of life and it's a great spot for combining history with beautiful beaches. Sozopol is another picturesque Black Sea town, with clean beaches, pretty cobbled streets and centuries-old fishing traditions. Leon says: "Bulgaria is likely to be a lot hotter and drier than usual again this year. In Nessebar and Sozopol, afternoon temperatures are expected to reach 28C to 30C in June and may be in the mid-30s in late July to August. Extremes could be over 40C in August."

Famed for its beautiful beaches and historical landmarks, the picturesque seaside city of Cefalu in northern Sicily is one of the island's most fascinating spots. Originally a small fishing village, it now attracts many travellers to discover its pretty churches, medieval streets and golden sand beaches. Don't miss a visit to Cefalu Cathedral and the climb up La Rocca. Leon says: "Afternoon temperatures in Cefalu are expected to reach 30C in June and over 35C in July and August. Cefalu may see some sirocco winds with extremes near 40C for a day or so, especially in August."

Whether you're after a lively clubbing scene or peaceful beaches, Ibiza is a fabulous Island to explore and enjoys long hot summers. For history, visit the 17th-century Phoenician burial grounds Puig des Molins, adventurers will love mountain biking in Ses Salines Natural Park and those looking to party should hit Ibiza town and San Antonio for the best clubs and bars. Ibiza's sister island Formentera is worth the ferry trip if you're looking for unspoilt beaches, superb diving spots and idyllic walks. Leon says: "Sea breezes will help moderate temperatures and a near average summer is expected. July to August will be mainly dry with isolated thunder showers. Temperatures are expected to be around 27C in June and 30C in July and August, with some extremes inland reaching the mid to upper 30s in August."

This beautiful part of Europe is still waiting to be discovered by British holidaymakers and offers a wealth of opportunities for every type of traveller, with breathtaking nature, quaint towns and a plethora of islands. Zadar offers culture and adventure - you can climb the peaks of the Paklenica National Park and see the city's cool art installations, like the musical Sea Organ. Hvar is the ultimate island for celeb spotting. Its glamorous harbour town is where you'll find huge luxury yachts, historical sites and trendy bars. Croatia is popular with naturists too and if you fancy skinny dipping, Rab is home to one of the most famous nudist beaches, Kandarola. Leon says: "The Croatian coast is likely to be a little hotter than normal again, especially in July and August. Expect some thunderstorms, especially June to early July then isolated storms in August. Rab, Pag and Hvar will see similar temperatures, reaching 26C to 28C on average in June and lifting to 30C to 32C by August. Hot episodes are likely, with temperatures reaching the higher 30s, especially in August and with extremes of 38C."

Greece boasts a welcoming atmosphere, ancient ruins and paradisiacal islands. Neoclassical facades and whitewashed houses characterise Athens, while Halkidiki offers golden beaches and traditional villages. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, with spectacular mountain ranges, olive groves and unspoilt beaches. For glamour and romance, choose Santorini or Mykonos and if you want to experience real Greece, the Peloponnese area has classical sites, tiny villages and great beaches. Leon says: "Greece will be hotter than normal this summer. The islands are less at risk since sea breezes help moderate the extremes, but Athens could well see 40C to 44C in August. Coastal resorts on the mainland and around Crete will see slightly above normal temperatures from June to August, with extremes reaching the high 30s to 40C."

The only city in the world to straddle two continents - Europe and Asia - Istanbul has history dating back 8,000 years and is best known as the capital of the Ottoman Empire. If you're looking for the perfect city break this summer, you'll be spoilt for choice in Istanbul, with shopping in the bustling Grand Bazaar, a visit to the marvellous Blue Mosque and a boat ride on the Bosphorus for when you need to cool off. Leon says: "Afternoon temperatures in Istanbul are set to reach 28C in June and 33C to 35C in July and August, with extremes near 40C."

Mesmerising cliffs and caves, prehistoric temples and medieval cities make up the beauty and history of Malta. The ancient capital Mdina is a walled town which has barely changed in centuries and boasts sublime baroque architecture, quaint cafes and stunning views from its hilltop location. Gozo is Malta's sister island and has a spectacular coastline, rugged landscape and some of the Med's best diving sites. Leon says: "Malta is expected to be slightly hotter than average, but sea breezes will help moderate the extremes. A few sirocco wind days are likely and these may bring extremes of 38C to 40C in August, otherwise typical temperatures will be nearer 30C."

As we can't always rely on the British weather, we wanted to find out where we should escape for guaranteed sunshine this summer. Forecaster Leon Brown at The Weather Channel told us that south and southeast Europe are our best bets and gave us indepth forecasts for some brilliant beach and city spots. Here are 10 great places for a European holiday if you like your summer getaways hot, hot, hot!

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