Carbon Brief summed up the media and scientific community’s response to the remarkable spell of summery weather the UK has just experienced when it was supposed to be winter (today is the first day of Spring and it’s much colder!). Reading between the lines, I would hazard to guess that within the next few weeks, the Met Office and/or World Weather Attribution will publish a study saying that the late Feb 2019 UK heatwave was made x times more likely by climate change. Peter Stott and/or Friederike Otto will be among the list of authors. Here’s what Met Office and other scientists have had to say thus far:
Much of the coverage of the high temperatures included statements from scientists.
People were right to ask themselves whether the record temperatures were being driven by climate change, Dr Friederike Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, told BBC News. She added:
“I am very confident to say that there’s an element of climate change in these warm temperatures. But climate change alone is not causing it. You have to have the right weather systems, too.”
Martin Bowles, a Met Office meteorologist cited in the Guardian, said climate change cannot be blamed “directly” as “we’re talking about weather, not the climate”. He added:
“But it is a sign of climate change. There’s been a gradual increase of temperatures over the last 30 years so the extreme weather has also been increasing.”
Several climate scientists also took to Twitter to comment on the role that climate change may be playing in the warm weather.
What is particularly remarkable about the temperature record is “how big of a margin there has been compared to the previous record” and that its “been smashed at multiple locations over multiple days!”, wrote Dr Mark McCarthy, a climate scientist at the Met Office.
Prof Peter Stott, who leads the leads the climate monitoring and attribution team at the Met Office, said he “suspect[s] that human-induced climate change has made the extreme temperatures seen in this current warm spell quite a bit more likely”.
The maximum of 19.6C seen on Tuesday at the University of Reading “smashed” the university’s previous winter record of 17.4C, set the day before, said Prof Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the university.