Why February felt like summer
If parts of February felt like summer, that’s because they almost were. The UK record for the warmest winter day was broken twice in two days that month. Until this year, there is no recorded instance of UK temperatures exceeding 20°C from December to February. On February 25, temperatures higher than 20°C were recorded in three places, including Trawsgoed, near Aberystywyth, which reached 20.6°C.The following day, temperatures of 20.8°C and 21.2°C were recorded in Porthmadog, north Wales, and Kew Gardens, London.
The previous February temperature records for the four UK nations were 19.7°C in London in 1998, 18.6°C in Powys in 1990, 17.9°C in Aberdeen in 1897 and 17.8°C in Bryansford, Northern Ireland, in 1998.
Why the warmth?
Well, there’s no doubt that global climate change is having an effect on average temperatures, but this particular anomaly was also the result of an unusual weather pattern. Southerly winds were blowing hot air from north Africa up to northern Europe for several days, and that, combined with the fact that the world is warmer than it was, led to record temperatures.
Average global temperatures are now 1°C warmer than they were before the industrial revolution – the Arctic is more than 3°C warmer. It’s believed that this is because of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, generated by burning fossil fuels, which trap more of the sun’s heat.
While global warming doesn’t cause unusual weather, it makes it more pronounced than it otherwise would be. The cold spell the US experienced in January was caused by very cold air from the Arctic coming further south than usual, but the New Scientist said: “Had the same weather pattern occurred two centuries ago, it would have been even colder.” Some climate scientists think the rapid warming in the Arctic is making extremes of cold and heat more likely.
Less fun in the sun
And while the sun is fun for us, it’s not good for the ecosystem to experience temperatures wildly different from normal. It makes animals think it’s spring, and come out of hibernation or (in the case of birds) migrate earlier than normal, only to struggle to survive when temperatures return to expected levels.
An article in the journal Climatic Change by Kevin Trenberth, a senior climate analysis scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, explained: “The main way climate change is perceived is through changes in extremes because those are outside the bounds of previous weather.It is when natural variability and climate change develop in the same direction that records get broken. The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.”
You don’t have to know how to stop global warming, but if your company is involved in scientific or technological research, you could be eligible for relief through the government’s research and development tax credits scheme. Take a look at our page on how to calculate r&d tax credits and our r and d tax credit calculator to see how much you could be eligible for – and call us at our Manchester office on 0161 298 1010 to see how we can help.