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Central England Temperature

In last month's Weather (p. 278), Richard Probert-Jones commented that it was ‘unfortunate’ that the Central England Temperature (CET) series used in Weather log was not the same as that provided by the Met Office.

The CET was devised and compiled by the eminent geographer and climatologist, Professor Gordon Manley (1902–1980). The culmination of a life's work, Manley's final paper was published in the Society's Quarterly Journal (QJ) in 1974, but several earlier publications – mostly in the QJ – had paved the way for this magnum opus.

Because of the availability of long records at single sites at Oxford's Radcliffe Obser-vatory and in Lancashire, he chose to take the average of the two series of observations ‘to give something representative of the west midland counties lying between’.

Since Professor Manley's death the Meteorological Office (latterly the Hadley Centre) seems to have become the self-appointed guardian of the CET series, although one wonders whether it is a guardianship of which Manley would have approved. Their continuation of the series from 1974 onwards uses observations from a variety of stations in the English Midlands; neither Oxford nor stations on the Lancashire Plain have been utilised, and for 30 years one coastal site was included.

Since the early-2000s, three sites have been utilised: Pershore (Worcs), Rothamsted (Herts), and Stonyhurst (Lancs). With two sites in the south Midlands, the series is now excessively weighted in this direction, and is manifestly not the same series that Manley compiled. The series I have devised, which can be found at http://www.climate-uk.com/page5.html, uses one site in Oxfordshire and one on the Lancashire Plain, and therefore emulates Manley's original concept.

  • Philip Eden

  • Whipsnade, Beds