Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The wettest drought on record - the weather of 2012

A public lecture at Bangor University presented by Professor Geraint Vaughan in the Main Arts Lecture Theatre on Monday 24th June 2013, at 6.30pm.

Professor Geraint Vaughan will be giving his re-scheduled public lecture for the Science Festival Week. The event is sponsored by the Royal  Meteorological Society and the Climate Change Consortium of Wales.  Entry is free of charge, includes a wine reception and is open to all members of the general public.

2012 began with predictions of drought and with hose pipe bans  beginning as early as March in some parts of the UK. The 3-month  outlook released by the Met Office UK originally forecast: “…average  UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for  April-May-June as a whole, and also slightly favours April being the  driest of the 3 months. With this forecast, the water resources  situation in southern, eastern and central England is likely to  deteriorate further during the April-May-June period”. However, April  and June ended up being the wettest months recorded, since records began in 1910.

Clearly, predicting month to month variations in rainfall at long-lead  times remains very difficult. There are a number of factors  influencing the climate system and our weather. Sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean can act as a mirror reflecting heat back into the atmosphere but as it melts, the dark ocean becomes a heat sink for the sun’s rays, warming the earth’s surface. The position of the jetstream  – the atmospheric circulation that drives our prevailing west to east  flow of weather systems - appears to have been a major contributing factor behind the high rainfall last year. Evidence suggests that during March and April there appeared to be a ‘blocking pattern’ in the jetstream’s path – causing its deviation to the north and south of  its usual eastward progress.

What is the science behind the extensive high rainfall and extreme  flooding events during 2012? Come and find out from one of the world’s  leading experts - Professor Geraint Vaughan. Professor Vaughan is a  native of north Wales and Welsh language speaker. He gained his BA from Cambridge University and DPhil from Oxford University. Geraint  started his research career in the Meteorological Office, initially on  rocket-borne measurements of mesospheric ozone, then on airborne  measurements of stratosphere-troposphere exchange. In 1984 he joined  the Physics department at the University of Wales Aberystwyth, moving  to University of Manchester as Professor of Atmospheric Science in January 2005.

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