The Great British Weather Experiment was launched on 13th September 2010 by theWeather Club. The experiment aimed to track the onset of autumn across the British Isles by asking schools and members of the public to take weather observations over the course of a month and record them at theWeatherClub.org.uk. This was one of the largest weather experiments in Britain, with over 2,000 observations collected between 13th September and 13th October.
Autumn is one of the most interesting seasons of the year. To many people, the season is defined by the leaves changing to the vibrant yellow, orange and red colours. Sometimes there are other more subtle indicators, such as the height of the sun in the sky - people comment about the 'autumn colour' in a reference to light and shade, as the sun is much lower in the sky than in the summer. Astronomers define autumn by the equinox, which fell on 23rd September, while meteorologists define autumn as the months of September, October and November, meaning that for them, the season officially starts on 1st September.
The Great British Weather Experiment was set up to provide a detailed picture of the country's weather during the transition into autumn. The results provided a vivid indication of just how varied the UK's weather can be during this transition. Over the course of a single month, we saw torrential rain, beautiful clear skies, sub-zero temperatures, balmy Indian Summer days, 100mph winds and thick fog. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the results is the fact that, despite these seemingly dramatic variations, they weren't actually all that unusual at all. Although some of the individual observations were at the outer limits of what we expected, the overall pattern was fairly typical for Britain at this time of year. The impression we are left with is that of a small country that manages to squeeze in an extraordinary variety of weather conditions over a very short space of time.
The other major impression that we have been left with came from the public enthusiasm we encountered during the experiment. The willingness of individuals and schools to painstakingly records data over the course of a whole month was remarkable, and opens the door for other more focussed weather experiments to be carried out by theWeather Club in the coming months and years.