Britain is experiencing some unusually snowy weather. But here’s a funny thing, last year we had unusually snowy weather too. I’m wondering when the unusual started to become usual. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s just two unusual years in a row. (Historical data on white Christmasses from the Met Office here.)
There were worrying mutterings that this was all due to the Gulf Stream shutting down, like in the (rather daft) movie The Day After Tomorrow. I tried to find some credible scientific corroboration of this, but have had no luck so far. Maybe someone with more Googling patience than I would like to look into it and let us all know.
I’m very wary of falling into the trap of confusing climate with weather. It’s too easy to label anything out of the ordinary as a doom-laden harbinger of climate change. Climate change is of course about long term rises in global average temperatures, and has to be distinguished from the idiosyncrasies and natural variations in the weather from year to year. It’s about long-term trends, not short-term anomalies. A sequence of white Christmasses does not mean that climate change is real, but it doesn’t mean it’s not real either.
Again, I’m trying to find some hard data coupled with some interpretation from a real expert. As with the Gulf Stream rumour, I’d appreciate any credible sources you can suggest.
Meanwhile, the upside of all this snow is that England is looking tremendously pretty and Christmassy. The downside is that heavy snowfall still comes as a great surprise to us so everything has ground to a halt. My general view is that we live in uncertain times, so it’s best to be prepared. If I had a home, I’d be buying a shovel. And cutting down my CO2 emissions, just in case.