Weather and Climate
Southern England is the part of the UK closest to continental Europe and as such can be subject to continental weather influences that bring cold spells in winter and hot, humid weather in summer. It is also furthest from the paths of most Atlantic depressions, with their associated cloud, wind and rain, so the climate is relatively quiet. From late spring through the summer, coastal areas can be affected by sea breezes, which result in lower maximum temperatures than further inland. In winter, coastal areas are generally milder than inland.
Southern England is one of the more sheltered parts of the UK. The strongest winds are associated with the passage of deep areas of low pressure close to or across the UK. The frequency and strength of these depressions is greatest in the winter half of the year, especially from December to February, and this is when mean speeds and gusts (short duration peak values) are strongest.
Climate refers to the average weather experienced over a long period. This includes temperature, wind and rainfall patterns. The climate of the Earth is not static, and has changed many times in response to a variety of natural causes. For the UK, climate change means hotter, drier summers (more heat waves), milder wetter winters , higher sea levels and an incresed flood risk to coastal areas. According to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mean global temperatures are likely to rise between 1.1 and 6.4°C (with a best estimate of 1.8 to 4°C) above 1990 levels by the end of this century, depending on our emissions. This will result in a further rise in global sea levels of between 20 and 60cm by the end of this century, continued melting of ice caps, glaciers and sea ice, changes in rainfall patterns and intensification of tropical cyclones.