Stormy weather... blame Greenland

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky?Blame Greenland's weather.UEA experts are on a mission to “significantly improve” the accuracy of British weather forecasts - and they believe looking closely at weather patterns in the mountains of southern Greenland could hold the key.

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky? Blame Greenland's weather.

UEA experts are on a mission to "significantly improve" the accuracy of British weather forecasts - and they believe looking closely at weather patterns in the mountains of southern Greenland may hold the key. They will take to the skies in a specially-adapted aircraft this

week to attempt to gauge the influence of the atmosphere over both Greenland and Iceland on the weather in Britain and northern Europe.

In particular, they believe the mountainous region in the southern tip of Greenland produces hurricane-strength "tip jets"', "barrier winds" and "mesoscale cyclones"which turn the seas and affect the weather downstream in the UK some three to four days later.

Small cyclones known as "polar lows" can sometimes produce heavy snow in north-western Europe.

The pioneering research, led by Ian Renfrew of UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, comes at the start of the International

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Polar Year which begins on

March 1 and is launched in

the UK by the Princess Royal on February 26.

"In Britain, we tend to view medium-range weather forecasts with a certain scepticism, so it is very exciting to be part of a

project which could significantly improve their accuracy," said Dr Renfrew.

"Though we have suspected for several years that the mountainous presence of Greenland has a strong influence over our own weather, this will be the first time that its impact has been observed."

Dr Renfrew and an international team of scientists - drawn from the UK, Canada, Norway, Iceland and the United States - will conduct

the Greenland Flow Distortion Experiment (GFDex) experiment from February 21 to March 10.

Richard Swinbank, who is leading a team from the Met Office team, said: "We will identify areas where additional targeted observations should be particularly beneficial, and afterwards we will check the benefit that the extra observations had on our forecasts."

As well as improving predictions of UK weather, the research will also fill in missing gaps in the existing climate change models, such as those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its major report earlier this month. This will help to improve the accuracy and the long-term range of climate change predictions.

The UK Met Office is a project partner and the research is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).