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Meteorological experts discuss unusual weather

The Met Office has gathered various meteorological experts to discuss the unusual weather patterns in Britain over the last few years.

Specialists from the body discussed the unpredictable climate with representatives from Imperial College London and the universities of Leeds, Exeter, Reading and Oxford.

Among the subjects on the agenda were this year’s unseasonably cold spring, which led to snow falling in some parts of the country. Experts also discussed the unseasonal weather that occurred in the UK last summer, as it turned out to be the wettest summer in a century and the second wettest on record.

Professor Stephen Belcher of the Met Office, who chaired the meeting, commented: “Ultimately what we’ve seen in each of these seasons is shifts in the position of the jet stream which impact our weather in certain ways at different times of year – the key question is what is causing the jet stream to shift in this way?”

He noted that research has suggested that “some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream”. However, he said this loading is possibly being “amplified by climate change”.

Last year’s wet summer came in the wake of the wettest April to June period on record, which means the ground is likely to be saturated in many areas.

This could be particularly damaging to properties across the UK if the country experiences a dry summer this year, since clay soils swell if they are saturated, yet shrink and crack as a result of evaporation in hot weather.

Property search provider SearchFlow recently warned that this means a dry summer could lead to a surge in the number of subsidence cases, particularly in the East Midlands, London and south-east England.

Estimates from the organisation suggest that about 6.5 million homes across the UK are currently at risk of shrink/swell subsidence. SearchFlow added that subsidence has cost homeowners £3 billion throughout the last decade.

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