- It keeps you guessing
On 13 September the temperature in London reached 31° - the hottest on record since 1911[i]. Located within the same northerly latitudes as Labrador (Canada) but warmed by the Atlantic Ocean, the British Isles are a battle-ground between opposing air masses from North and South bringing by turns cool and warm conditions - and frequent rain, of course.
今年的9月13日，伦敦的气温达到了31摄氏度 – 自1911年的最高气温记录1。不同于处在同一北纬的拉布拉多（加拿大）常年被大西洋温暖着，英伦三岛处在了北风和南风的战场中心，不断变化的冷空气和暖流当然就造就了英国经常下雨的现象。
Perhaps British people discuss the weather a lot not because their conversation is dull but because their weather is interesting.
Last week we felt the hot breath of southern Europe. In certain years you might even observe a film of red dust on parked cars: it is sand that has blown nearly 3,000 miles from the Sahara desert[i]. When the wind blows from the West, sniff the scent of the sea. When the wind blows from the East, beware of the ‘Euro-Whiff’ which comes among us during muck-spreading time in Holland and Northern Germany.
Over the last 25 years we have been battered by hurricane-force winds, massive floods and some very severe winters[ii].
Rather like Japan (those islands at the opposite end of the Eurasian land-mass) Britain enjoys great seasonal variation. Witnesses to its variety down the ages have been the nation’s scientists, artists and writers[i].
It was Englishman Luke Howard (1772-1864), the ‘Namer of Clouds’ who devised the standard scientific classification of clouds and laid the foundations of modern meteorology[i]. Cloud is a motif in the work of English poets and a dynamic part of the landscape in the paintings of English artists such as JM Turner and John Constable[ii].
And with everyday expressions like ‘it is raining cats and dogs’ to describe a heavy down-pour, popular culture has its own creative response to the vagaries of UK weather[i].
[i]Keeping records of the weather is a British tradition and of value to climate science. English sea captains have provided one of the world's best sources of long-term weather data. Scientists have analyzed log books of the voyages of Royal Navy ships which recorded over the last 400 years air pressure, wind strength, air and sea temperature and major weather around the globe. The studies suggest that global warming may not always be about carbon dioxide emissions.
[ii] This phenomenon is also called ‘blood rain’. Tran M (2014) ‘London Smog warning as Saharan sand sweeps southern England’ Guardian. 1 April. [On-line] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/01/london-smog-saharan-dust-storms-downing-street (Accessed at: 26 September 2016)
[iii] The Met Office is a valued British institution responsible for weather fore-casting.
Met Office. Available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/interesting (Accessed at: 26 September 2016)
[iv] English weather is a frequent subject of English poetry and leads to reflections on nature and the life of the spirit. Two examples are Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 -1821 – a very ‘cloudy’ poet) and Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) in whose ‘Pied Beauty’ a cloud formation leads to praise of ‘dappled things’ throughout the natural world. Wikipedia. ‘Pied Beauty’ Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pied_Beauty (Accessed at: 26 September 2016)
As well as the being the subject of writing, the nature poet Ted Hughes (1930-1998) comments on how wind and weather stimulate the creative writing process. Weather gives you new insights. Hughes T. (1967) Poetry in the Making. London. Faber & Faber.
[v] The Met Office have produced a cloud-spotting guide which Luke Howard would have recognised. Met Office.
Available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/clouds/cloud-spotting-guide (Accessed at: 26 September 2016)
[vi] You can view some great British cloudscapes at the Tate Britain gallery in London. Tate Gallery. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/search?aid=108&sort=date&type=artwork (Accessed at: 26 September 2016)
[vii] A common but poetic saying is ‘Red sky at night – Shepherd’s delight. Red sky at morning – Shepherd’s warning’. The one predicts a fine day tomorrow the other stormy weather’. It is always right.