This handbook presents the changes in climate across Scotland in the last century. It provides a benchmark against which we can measure future climate change. This should help with the development of strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The handbook presents the highlights in a simplified way. For a more detailed technical analysis please see the accompanying SNIFFER publication "Patterns of Climate Change across Scotland: Technical Report."


Table 1 presents a summary of the results showing what we have analysed, and the changes for Scotland, by region and by timescale (in other words, annual or seasonal). Figure 1 shows the three regions for which we describe the results. The other sections provide the results of
analyses for each of the variable groups (related to temperature, precipitation, atmospheric
pressure and sunshine and clouds). For each group we present the results as:


  • a graph (time series) showing changes each year since 1914 or since 1961;
  • a table summarising average change over the period by each region (see the note below table 2 for a worked example); and
  • a map of the patterns of change over the period for the whole of Scotland.


In presenting the results, we have highlighted changes that are statistically significant at the 5% level. These show that we are 95% confident that we can measure a statistically significant trend in the changes.


At the end of each analysis we compare these recent trends with the future climate, as estimated by the UK Climate Impacts Programme Scenarios published in 2002 (UKCIP02). The UKCIP02 scenarios provide a snapshot of future climate for three 30-year periods, the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. The comparison considers whether or not the trend we have seen already agrees with the future direction of change for that variable and whether the pattern across Scotland is similar or not.


The Met Office datasets we have used in this analysis cover temperature and precipitation from 1914 – 2004, sunshine from 1929 to 2004, and a range of other variables from 1961 up to 2004, including pressure, derived temperature indices, snow cover, wind speed, and the intensity of rainfall. Appendix 1 provides a brief summary of the techniques we have used.


Figure 1 - Map of Scotland showing boundaries of the three regions as defined in this study (North, West and East Scotland).

When we describe areas of Scotland in this Handbook, a capital letter is used when any of the three regions are being discussed, that is to say ‘North’ Scotland rather than ‘north’ Scotland.