Experts from About Drought discuss the past few months remarkable weather

Experts from the About Drought project have given updates on the recent changeable weather we’ve been seeing in the UK and further afield.

The team at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) released a blog post which focused on the hydrological transformation following the wettest February on record, which soon turned into one of the driest springs on record. Low soil moisture and river flows at the end of May have resulted in impacts on agriculture and the environment, and heightened concerns over water resources over the longer term.

“There is now an increasing risk of reduced crop yields and potential water use restrictions.”

Katie Muchan, Hydrologist at UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Find out more by visiting the UKCEH blog post which also highlights the UK Water Resources Portal, one of the outputs from About Drought.

Adding to the debate, Professor Len Shaffrey at the University of Reading contributed to a blog post exploring the reasons as to why we are seeing such changeable weather.

The article explores whether the persistent high-pressure “blocking” weather systems which bring clear, dry conditions for many days or weeks, are becoming more frequent. These systems are particularly synonymous with heatwaves and drought in summer and bitterly cold conditions in winter.

Len explains that changes in the Arctic, “might influence the frequency of blocking events”:

“The theories suggest that as the Arctic warms, changes in the strength and position of the northern hemisphere jet stream will allow blocking events to become more frequent.” 

Professor Len Shaffrey, professor of climate science at University of Reading

Find out more by visiting the Carbon Brief blog post.

Drought and woodlands

Woodland modelling undertaken by Dr Pam Berry and colleagues at the University of Oxford has explored in the impact of climate change on the distribution of key woodland species in Great Britain. The resultant datasets map changes in the drought vulnerability for 12 tree species and for two periods, the 2030s and the 2080s. Six categories of potential natural vegetation are also mapped for (i) the present, (ii) the 2030s and (iii) the 2080s. The modelling shows potential changes in leaf area, net primary productivity and net ecosystem productivity.   A spatial explorer interface is in development, which allows users to explore these maps interactively, including zooming into their particular location, and allows the user to swipe between two periods for a given location. If you would like to be included as a beta tester for the explorer, please email nevil.quinn@uwe.ac.uk.