About the Gazetteer for Scotland Climate Estimates

About the Gazetteer for Scotland climate details

Climate represents the normal conditions that could be found in a location for a given time of year. While the weather may vary greatly over a short period of time, climate averages are based on long-term measurements of the weather, providing an estimate of what weather conditions might be considered normal. It is not unusual for weather conditions or forecasts to differ greatly from the averages, and it is common for the weather to differ year-to-year. The climate estimates provided in the Gazetteer for Scotland can therefore provide a picture of normal weather, but they cannot be used to predict the weather for any given day and are not intended to be used in this way.

How the Gazetteer for Scotland climate details were created

The climate details in the Gazetteer for Scotland are based on 30-year climate averages produced by the United Kingdom Met Office. The Met Office derives these averages from the recorded weather over the time period 1981-2010 for a series of reporting stations across the UK. The averages from the Met Office's stations in Scotland (as well as several stations in England and Northern Ireland to ensure continuity up to and beyond Scotland's boundaries) are used to produce the Gazetteer for Scotland climate details. These stations are not present for many places in Scotland, so the estimates provided in the Gazetteer for Scotland were determined by analysing the variation in the averages for the Met Office stations, and mathematically estimating climate averages between the stations. The estimates are based on a thorough understanding of Scotland's climate, and they are weighted according to geographical effects on the climate such as elevation, distance from the sea, distance from large urban areas, slope, and latitude. This method allows the Gazetteer for Scotland to produce realistic climate estimates for anywhere in Scotland with a high degree of certainty.

Users should note that the climate can vary dramatically within short distances, particularly when there are geographical differences such as changes in elevation. Additionally, the climate can even vary within cities and towns, meaning the Gazetteer for Scotland climate estimates may best represent a town centre, with different climate conditions possible in other parts of a town. This makes it impossible for the Gazetteer for Scotland estimation method to account for all climatological effects, such as very localised frost hollows.

Estimates of error in Gazetteer for Scotland climate details

Based on a comparison between Gazetteer for Scotland climate data and existing climate data for several known locations, it is possible to predict the amount of error possible in the climate estimates. Due to a lack of data, error estimates are only possible for several of the climate variables. The mean error expected for average high temperatures is approximately 0.19°C, for average low temperatures is 0.07°C, and for days of precipitation is 0.3 days per month. These error measures are quite small and are considered satisfactory for inclusion in the Gazetteer for Scotland. While there is no available comparison data for sunshine, frost, and precipitation, these estimates were based on the same methods that yielded the small error estimates for average high and low temperatures and days of precipitation, and are likely to be equally realistic.

Users should be aware that these error estimates are averages for all of Scotland, and errors may vary across the country, being higher in some areas and lower in others. The smallest errors are likely to occur near lower, flatter terrain where there are the greatest number of Met Office reporting stations. Remote, mountainous regions may have slightly higher errors. Despite this variation, the error for any location is likely to be small, and the climate details in Gazetteer for Scotland represent a reasonable picture of local climate.

About the data

The data presented is copyright of the Editors of The Gazetteer for Scotland and must not be reused without permission. Further details are available here.

The Met Office climate normals used in this project are freely available under the Open Government License for public sector information, available here. Met Office data contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government License v1.0. The Gazetteer for Scotland climate details are adapted from the Met Office data and are not endorsed by the Met Office.

Additional datasets used to generate the Gazetteer for Scotland climate estimates include:

Panorama DTM and OS Strategi are produced by the Ordnance Survey under the OS OpenData License (available here) and contain Ordnance Survey data @ Crown copyright and database right [2014].

Settlement Development Limits produced by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency are available through the Open Government License (available here) and subject to Crown copyright.

SRTM data is produced by: USGS (2006), Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, 3 Arc Second scene, Filled Finished-B, Global Land Cover Facility, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, February 2000. These data are distributed by the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC), located at USGS/EROS, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA.

  ©1995-2014 The Gazetteer for Scotland
Sponsored by: The Robertson Trust, The Royal Scottish Geographical Society
The School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh