Skip to main content

Reading scientists taking the lead on climate conundrum – University of Reading

Show access keys

Reading scientists taking the lead on climate conundrum

Release Date 18 June 2013

What has been causing Britain's string of wet summers?

Leading scientists from the University of Reading are attending a Met Office workshop today to discuss Britain and Europe's unusual seasonal weather over the past few years.

A series of wet summers in Britain, England's wettest ever year in 2012, and the coldest spring for 50 years in 2013 has prompted weather and climate researchers - including four from the University of Reading - to meet at the Met Office in Exeter today to discuss how to provide some answers about what's going on.

Professor Rowan Sutton, Dr Len Shaffrey, Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, and Professor Stephen Belcher, all climate scientists and meteorologists who work at the University of Reading's world-renowned Department of Meteorology, are attending the meeting.

The workshop will look at our existing knowledge about what could be going on with the climate in Britain and Europe and suggest opportunities for new research projects to find out more.

For example, research at the University of Reading has already discovered a link between a natural cycle of warming and cooling in the North Atlantic and our recent run of wet summers. The cycle varies every few decades, suggesting a pattern of drier summers may return 10 or 20 years from now.

Other research is looking at the impact increasing greenhouse gases and the unprecedented summer melt of Arctic sea ice, for example.

But all this cold, wet and icy weather in the UK and elsewhere in Europe has left many people asking - isn't climate change supposed to be making the world warmer?

"It's important to realise that overall, the world is getting warmer," said Dr Peter Inness, from the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology.

"Records of surface temperatures, and those deep under the sea, show the world is warming, which the vast majority of scientists agree is due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

"There has always been a lot of variability in Britain's weather, but recent trends suggest that there may be underlying causes to our disappointing run of summers and other record-breaking weather we've seen in recent years.

"Here at the University of Reading we're at the cutting edge of research into climate and weather. We're looking at the planet from every angle - from the far reaches of space, down to the bottom of the oceans and deep inside the ice - to help unravel this complex but fascinating mystery."


For more information or for interviews, please contact Pete Castle at the University of Reading press office on 0118 378 7391 or

Notes to editors:

The meeting is being held today the Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter.

The University of Reading is ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world (THE World University Rankings 2012). Its Department of Meteorology is internationally renowned for teaching and study of atmospheric, oceanic and climate science and earth observation. Reading is involved with pioneering research on weather, climate and earth observation and is home to the Walker Institute for Climate System Research

Professor Rowan Sutton is NCAS Director of Climate Research at the University of Reading.

Dr Len Shaffrey is Senior Research Scientist of NCAS Climate at the University of Reading.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins is head of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London, and professor of meteorology at the University of Reading.

Professor Stephen Belcher is head of the Met Office Hadley Centre and professor of meteorology at the University of Reading.

We use Javascript to improve your experience on, but it looks like yours is turned off. Everything will still work, but it is even more beautiful with Javascript in action. Find out more about why and how to turn it back on here.
We also use cookies to improve your time on the site, for more information please see our cookie policy.