By studying climate data in the British-Irish Isles over a 142-year period, researchers have confirmed the important role of cyclones. Seasonal precipitation totals were strongly related to cyclone frequency, especially during summer.
The researchers found that relative to the 1961-1990 period, summers have become much wetter and more cyclonic. The move towards wetter summers in recent years is more of a re-establishment of conditions typical of the earlier half of the 20th Century rather than being unusual in the long term.
Recent years have seen three of the stormiest seasons on record, however. The summer of 2012 was the "stormiest" since at least 1871.
"Given concern over increased British-Irish Isles storminess as the climate warms, there is a need to understand the extent to which these changes may already be underway," said Dr. Tom Matthews, lead author of the International Journal of Climatology study. "By providing a 142-year regional cyclone climatology, this study allows recent extreme seasonal storminess to be placed in context. Such a long-term perspective is needed to explore variability in the regional storm climate and to diagnose and understand emerging changes."