Met Office rainfall records – how far do they go back and what can they tell us?

Official blog of the Met Office news team

As we have seen over recent weeks and months, observations for the UK are essential to put recent weather into context and to detect variations and possible long-term trends in UK climate. So, when the Met Office quotes “the wettest on record” what does that mean?

Station records
All our time-series of rainfall come from observations made by rain gauges and their length is determined by how long the recording stations have been open.

Stations with long records are a very important part of the UK’s weather station network. These time series provide an accurate picture of rainfall for that particular location, provided there are no significant changes in instrument type or station exposure. One of the longest in the UK is the weather station at Oxford Radcliffe Observatory, which holds nearly 250 years of rainfall observations from 1767 to the present day and is maintained by Oxford University…

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