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Why do the British talk about the weather so much?

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Not just a useful tool for small talk, the British weather is complex with different air masses at work.

Asked by: Jules Weaver, via email


Brits really do like to talk about the weather: over 90 per cent admit to having done so in the previous six hours. But there’s always plenty to talk about, because our location means our weather is affected by six different air masses.

Southwesterly winds expose us to warm, moist tropical air from the Atlantic (tropical maritime), bringing rain and mild conditions, while Arctic air masses from the north (Arctic maritime) and northwest (polar maritime) can deliver cold, wet weather and potential blizzards in winter. Another air mass from the Arctic, travelling via the North Atlantic (returning polar maritime), delivers mild, cloudy weather.

Meanwhile, our summers can sizzle under the influence of hot, dry air from North Africa (tropical continental) or eastern air flows from the continent (polar continental) – which can also cause winter temperatures to plunge. Small wonder forecasting is so hard!

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Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.


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