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Winter weather growing more extreme: Research

By Ben Kendall

We should brace ourselves for more extreme winters as weather conditions become more volatile, scientists have warned.

A study of seasonal records dating back to 1899 found that while most seasons have not changed dramatically, winter has become much more unpredictable.

The results suggest the idea of a typical British winter is increasingly becoming a myth, with wide swings from mild but stormy conditions like those which hit the UK this year to extremely cold temperatures and snow in another year becoming more common.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia, University of Sheffield and the Met Office found that seven out of the 10 most extreme winter conditions over the last 115 years have occurred in the last decade. Professor Edward Hanna, from the University of Sheffield's department of geography, said it was too soon to say whether the increased volatility is linked to global warming.

But he added: "We cannot use these results directly to predict this winter's weather but, according to the long-term North Atlantic Oscillation trend, we can say that the probability of getting extreme winter weather has significantly increased in the last few decades."

Professor Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, said: "This indicates that British winters have become increasingly unsettled."

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