The wettest drought on record - the weather of 2012

Come along to Bangor University’s Main Arts Lecture Theatre, on Monday 24th June 2013, at 6.30pm and learn about “the wettest drought on record – the weather of 2012”.

This is a timely Lecture, considering the recent meeting of the UK’s leading meteorologists to discuss recent unusual weather patterns in the UK

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 who will be giving a lecture which was postponed during Bangor University’s Science Week, due to bad weather! The Lecture, which is sponsored by the Royal Meteorological Society and the Climate Change Consortium of Wales, is open to all. Entry is free of charge, includes a wine reception.

The year 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.

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.

Publication date: 21 June 2013