, Volume 100, Issue 3-4, pp 419-431
Date: 17 Apr 2010

Is the onset of the English summer advancing?

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Abstract

British summers are known to have become warmer and drier in recent decades, but has there also been a change in the timing of this season’s beginning, as has occurred for spring? This paper addresses this question by examining records of the first blooming date of early summer flowering plants (phenology) and the timing of first occurrences of warm ‘summer’ temperatures, both events that we associate with the onset of summer. This has revealed that the onset of summer in England has been advancing since the mid 1950s. The occurrence of ‘summer’ temperatures has advanced more than early summer flowering, by eleven and three days respectively in the 1990s compared to the period 1954–1963. This may have encouraged drought or heat wave conditions by prolonging the period of warm temperatures and lower rainfall in which these events occur.