Global meteorological influences on the record UK rainfall of winter 2013–14

Article


Knight, Jeff R., Maidens, Anna, Watson, Peter A. G., Andrews, Martin, Belcher, Stephen, Brunet, Gilbert, Fereday, David, Folland, Chris K., Scaife, Adam A. and Slingo, Julia. 2017. "Global meteorological influences on the record UK rainfall of winter 2013–14." Environmental Research Letters. 12 (7). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa693c
Article Title

Global meteorological influences on the record UK rainfall of winter 2013–14

ERA Journal ID36365
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsKnight, Jeff R. (Author), Maidens, Anna (Author), Watson, Peter A. G. (Author), Andrews, Martin (Author), Belcher, Stephen (Author), Brunet, Gilbert (Author), Fereday, David (Author), Folland, Chris K. (Author), Scaife, Adam A. (Author) and Slingo, Julia (Author)
Journal TitleEnvironmental Research Letters
Journal Citation12 (7)
Number of Pages11
Year2017
PublisherIOP Publishing
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN1748-9326
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa693c
Web Address (URL)http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa693c/meta
Abstract

The UK experienced record average rainfall in winter 2013–14, leading to widespread and prolonged flooding. The immediate cause of this exceptional rainfall was a very strong and persistent cyclonic atmospheric circulation over the North East Atlantic Ocean. This was related to a very strong North Atlantic jet stream which resulted in numerous damaging wind storms. These exceptional meteorological conditions have led to renewed questions about whether anthropogenic climate change is noticeably influencing extreme weather. The regional weather pattern responsible for the extreme UK winter coincided with highly anomalous conditions across the globe. We assess the contributions from various possible remote forcing regions using sets of ocean–atmosphere model relaxation experiments, where winds and temperatures are constrained to be similar to those observed in winter 2013–14 within specified atmospheric domains. We find that influences from the tropics were likely to have played a significant role in the development of the unusual extra-tropical circulation, including a role for the tropical Atlantic sector. Additionally, a stronger and more stable stratospheric polar vortex, likely associated with a strong westerly phase of the stratospheric Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO), appears to have contributed to the extreme conditions. While intrinsic climatic variability clearly has the largest effect on the generation of extremes, results from an analysis which segregates circulation-related and residual rainfall variability suggest that emerging climate change signals made a secondary contribution to extreme rainfall in winter 2013–14.

Keywordswinter 2013-14; floods; UK rainfall; atmospheric circulation; Rossby waves; climate change
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020370108. Meteorology
Public Notes

Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

Byline AffiliationsMet Office, United Kingdom
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
International Centre for Applied Climate Science
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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