Library Dissertation Showcase

UK temperature and precipitation changes and their relation to North Atlantic atmospheric circulation from 1950-2020

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

Over recent decades, UK weather and climate has been changing at an unprecedented rate. This has been clear in the amount of notable extreme weather events in the UK with increases in extreme cold and snowy winters, such as 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. Record breaking wet summers, such as that of 2007 and 2012. UK weather conditions are primarily controlled by North Atlantic circulation indices and in this dissertation the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Greenland Blocking Index (GBI) are discussed and reviewed. Previous work studying UK climate has found UK weather has been changing at an unprecedented rate and many agree this could be due to changes to North Atlantic circulation patterns including the NAO and GBI. Many previous studies on the NAO and GBI focus on larger timescales, compared to this dissertation, and the overall effect they have on Northern Hemisphere weather such as that over Northern Europe. This dissertation will address some of the knowledge gaps concerning how NAO and Greenland Blocking events influence regional weather conditions over the UK. Previous studies have viewed the wider influence the GBI and NAO have on UK weather, viewing much longer timescales and this dissertation will view the disparities in previous research. To view how NAO and Greenland Blocking conditions influence UK weather conditions, statistical methods such as correlation coefficients and T-Tests were used. This showed how the NAO and GBI link to UK weather conditions in winter and summer. From these statistical tests, the NAO appears to have a greater influence on UK weather conditions compared with the GBI, although both showed links to UK temperature and UK precipitation in correlation coefficient results. Further to his, in the summer the NAO and GBI were found to have much stronger effects on UK weather and correlation results were almost all significant when comparing both the NAO and GBI to regional precipitation data in summer months. From 1950 to 2020, UK weather is also shown to be becoming more extreme, with significant positive trends found in both winter and summer temperatures. In previous research, it has been proposed that the NAO and GBI have controls over UK weather, and research completed in this dissertation found this to be the case across the UK in both winter and summer. This dissertation discusses how North Atlantic atmospheric circulation, such as the NAO and GBI, link to UK weather conditions and results and findings from this study can provide a useful basis for further research into North Atlantic atmospheric circulation and its effect on UK climate at a regional scale.

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