0 Growing season boosted by a month, says Met Office

Grass RootsSix of the ten longest growing seasons have occurred within the last 30 years say Mat Office

During the last 10 years the 'plant' growing season, according to the Central England Temperature (CET) record, has been on average 29 days longer than the reference climatology period 1961-1990, according to Met Office figures released on World Meteorological Day [23 March, 2016].

The Met Office records the length of the growing season as part of a set of UK climate statistics based on temperature. The CET record is the longest continuous temperature record in the world with monthly temperatures back to 1659 and a daily series back to 1772 allowing us to look at the growing season length over several centuries.

Doctor Mark McCarthy is the manager of the National Climate Information Centre, which is part of the Met Office Hadley Centre. Commenting on the growing season figures, he said: "The Central England Temperature record is an invaluable data set for measuring long-term changes in the climate.

"Between 1861 and 1890, the average growing season by this measure was 244 days, and measuring the same period a century later, the average growing season had extended by just over a week. For the most recent ten years between 2006 and 2015, the average growing season has been 29 days longer at 280 days when compared with the period between 1961 and 1990."

In addition to the longer growing season, the figures also reveal that six of the ten longest growing seasons in the CET record sequence have occurred in the last 30 years. At 336 days, the longest growing season in the sequence was 2014: tenth in the sequence was 2015 with 303 growing days.

By comparison, only three of the ten years with the shortest growing seasons have occurred within the last 100 years: 1979, 1941 and 1922. The years with the lowest recorded growing season were 1782 and 1859 with just 181 days.

In the UK, in addition to the length of the growing season, the CET series can also reveal other UK climatic trends, such as days of air frost, when the daily minimum temperature dips below 0C. The number of days of air frost has also been declining over recent decades. Since 1990 there have been seven years when the days of air frost exceeded the 1961 - 1990 average, these were 1991, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2013. 2010 was particularly notable having the most days of frost since 1917.

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