Accessing local climate records

By Andy Hacket Pain

We hear a lot in the news about climate change, with global scale trends and predictions . This large research effort is underpinned by the historic data for climate change, some of which, for the UK at least, is held by the Met Office.

Much of the primary data is publically accessible, and you can access it from the Met Office website. It is interesting to use the historic weather station data to look back at the climate of your local area over the last few decades; the length of the records vary but some go back over a hundred years.

An easy way to access the data is to copy and then save the data as a .txt file (using Windows notepad for example), then import  the data into a spreadsheet from this file. The data is formatted so that you can easily insert column breaks where needed – your data import wizard should guide you through this.

The data can easily be sorted into months allowing you, for example, to look at temperatures for August (as in the graph above). The results for most locations show a clear warming trend over the last few decades, but also the high variability in climate on a year to year basis. For example, in 1997 in Cambridge, the mean maximum temperature in August (i.e. the mean warmest daily temperature across the whole month) was 26.3°C, but the following year was nearly 4°C  cooler.

Have a look around the rest of the website too- there is a lot of interesting material.

Access Met Office climate data for local weather stations here


  1. Climate change is a long term phenomenon. It cannot be measured on a yearly basis. Comparing individual records may mislead.

    1. You are absolutely right that climate change is a phenomenon that cannot be detected on a year-to-year basis; the graph above demonstrates the the large interannual variation in temperature. However, it also demonstrates that over the approximately 60 years of record, temperature has shown a clearly increasing trend. I wanted to highlight that climate change (in this case on relatively short time-scales) can be detected at local scales as well as regional and global scales.

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