Talks on local climate change

At our November 2017 meeting, there were two illustrated and fascinating talks on the signs and effects of climate change in the Wiveliscombe area.

Simon Ratsey, who has been recording local weather since the 1960s, covered indicators of climate change.

Gareth Varney, who works for the Environment Agency, considered changes in local rainfall, groundwater and river flows.

Findings included annual temperatures now being 1.2°C warmer than in the 1960s and recent summers being warmer and wetter. Air frosts have decreased and the growing season has extended by about two weeks.

The Somerset floods in 2013/14 followed sustained rain over several months, which was above average intensity and frequency. Other contributors to flooding include increased run-off related to building and changes in crops or tree cover.

Rising sea levels from climate change could be Somerset’s biggest concern, as 1,000s of miles of tidal defences will need raising to continue to protect low lying homes.

Click on both names above for a summary of each talk and links to the slides shown for both presentations.

Following his talk, Simon Ratsey published a research paper in 2019 on the local climate. His conclusions on climate change include:
• The mean annual temperature is now about 1°C higher than it was in the period 1961 – 1990.
• Recent decades have seen a significant increase in the frequency of occurrence of unusually warm months.
• On average, summer arrives a week earlier and extends a week later than previously.
• The present century has seen unprecedented spells of unseasonable warmth in autumn, winter and spring.
• Summers have become wetter overall but more variable, while autumns have become drier and less variable.
• The present century has seen a disproportionately large number of notably heavy rainfalls, especially in the period April – July.

For information on the global effects of climate change see:

NASA – The consequences of climate change

Met Office – Impacts of climate change

Wivey Action – Our climate

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