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What is the Central England Temperature series?

In studies of the climate for any region, locality etc., it is important to have a homogeneous record to describe such atmospheric variables as rainfall, sunshine, temperature which eliminate as far as possible changes in site (both location and characteristics), observing practice and so on. Professor Gordon Manley (1902-1980) developed one such series which dealt with the temperature of 'central England', defined as the area stretching from the Lancashire Plain southwards across the Midlands, and constructed using stations in the Lancashire (including the modern-day Merseyside/Gtr.Manchester) area, and the east and west Midlands.

The series has been maintained since his death, although there have been changes in stations used, as some have closed/altered. Corrections also have to be applied, particularly to latter-day observations to take account of urbanisation, however the 'CET' series remains one of the longest and most widely used of its kind in the world. The record now extends, on a monthly basis, back to 1659, and on a daily record back to 1772. However, the values prior to 1721 are regarded as less reliable than later data, a fact acknowledged by Manley amongst others. Nothwithstanding this caveat, useful clues to changes in climate can be gleaned from this work. It has also been shown that the CET series is a statistically useful indicator of changes of mean temperature for a somewhat wider area than just the 'English Midlands'.

To see the monthly series maintained by the University of East Anglia go to:

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~mikeh/datasets/uk/

... and for data, and more information on the data-set maintained by the Hadley Centre/Met Office, go to:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/hadleycentre/obsdata/cet.html

Remember though that values are often revised after initial issue: it is a good idea to check back periodically to capture such changes.