Only 1990 and 1949 have rivalled the last four years for warmth. The extraordinary warmth of the last few years is reflected in the fact that, if we take the average of every 10-year period (1850-59, 1851-60, etc.), then the last decade (1996-2005) is the warmest on record and the first to average 9.5°C. As it happens, the coldest ‘decade’ on record at Durham is 1879-1888 (7.7°C); an increase of just over 1°C in a little over a century does not sound much, but is in fact a huge increase compared the ‘historical’ record. Moreover, an increase of 1.1°C has occurred since the 1960s, a remarkable rate of warming. The mean maximum temperature for 2005 was 8th highest since 1950, while the mean minimum was 3rd highest. 2005 was a dry year, but not remarkably so, only 112th driest in 154 years, and some 40mm wetter than the rather drier 2003. Sunshine hours ended up just above average, having lagged behind for most of the year. It was a little windier than normal, but in this regard the most remarkable event was the damaging winds on 8th January.
Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography