Warm North Atlantic ocean causing UK's wet summers – study | Environment | guardian.co.uk
The UK's dismal recent summers can be blamed on a substantial warming of the North Atlantic ocean in the late 1990s, according to new scientific research.
...The pattern is likely to revert to drier summers and may do so suddenly, according to Professor Rowan Sutton, at the University of Reading, who led the work. "I can't guarantee it but it is likely," he said. "However we are not sure of the timing, which is what every one wants to know – but we are working on this now." Sutton added that when the switch occurs, it could happen as rapidly as over two to three years.
Sutton said these shifts have been occurring for many hundreds of years, but that global warming was also having an impact. "It is not now purely natural or purely a manifestation of human-induced climate change," he said. "There is lot of evidence to show that climate change is changing the timing and amplitude of the temperature changes." For example, he said, the cooler period from the 1960s to the 1980s occurred when soot and other pollution from dirty power stations cooled the planet.
The previous North Atlantic warm phase, which ran from the 1930s to the 1950s, also saw a run of wet summers in the UK, including severe flooding in August 1948, which closed the east coast mainline railway for three months, and the Lynmouth floods in August 1952 in which 34 people died.
The warm and cold swings in the North Atlantic affect temperatures, rain and winds across Europe, Africa and North and South America, and previous research indicates they are related to changes in ocean circulation. Other research at Reading University has suggested that it may in future be possible to predict the warming and cooling cycles some years ahead.