2012 was second wettest on record
7:00am Saturday 5th January 2013 in News
With Cornwall still recovering from recent deluges, statistics from the Met Office show 2012 was the second wettest year since 1910, and just a few millimetres short of the record set in 2000.
While starting dry, 2012 quickly gave way to very wet weather, with April and June both being the wettest on record.
Unsettled weather continued through to the end of the year, with December being the eighth wettest on record for the UK.
November and December in Cornwall saw widespread flood alerts, with homes inundated across the county and road chaos as streams and rivers failed to cope.
The persistent rainfall resulted in total 2012 rainfall for the UK of 1330.7 mm, which is just 6.6 mm short of the record set in 2000.
Looking at individual countries, 2012 was the wettest year on record for England, third wettest for Wales, 17th wettest for Scotland and 40th wettest for Northern Ireland.
Four of the top five wettest years have been since 2000.
Professor Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist at the Met Office, said: "The trend towards more extreme rainfall events is one we are seeing around the world, in countries such as India and China, and now potentially here in the UK. Much more research is needed to understand more about the causes and potential implications.
"It's essential we look at how this may impact our rainfall patterns going forward over the next decade and beyond, so we can advise on the frequency of extreme weather in the future and the potential for more surface and river flooding. This will help inform decision-making about the need for future resilience both here in the UK and globally."
The Met Office says that changes in sea surface temperatures due to natural cycles and reducing amounts of Arctic sea-ice could be influencing the increase in rainfall, but more research needs to be done to establish how big a role they play.
Increasing global temperatures may be another factor. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture and we have seen an increase of about 0.7 °C in global temperatures since pre-industrial times.
From basic physics, this would equate to about a four per cent increase in moisture in the atmosphere, which means there is a greater potential for heavy rain.