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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 15:56 GMT
UK winter storms 'have doubled'
The causes of global warming may lead to extreme weather
The number of serious winter storms in Britain has doubled during the past 50 years, according to scientists.

Met Office experts say the trend could be linked to long-term changes in air pressure, caused by greenhouse gases.

The findings have been revealed at a United Nations Climate Change Convention meeting in Milan.

They come as the future of the Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gases is in doubt, with Russia indicating it may refuse to ratify the protocol.

Climate experts believe the same factors responsible for global warming also lead to more extreme weather.

Analysis of figures from weather stations across the UK showed the number of sharp drops in pressure that lead to severe winter storms has doubled since 1950.

Geoff Jenkins, of the Met Office's Hadley Centre, says this could be linked to separate findings showing air pressure is rising in the Atlantic around the Azores and getting lower in the Arctic - with Britain caught in the middle.

He told BBC News: "South of the UK we've had the build up of pressure. North of the UK we've had a reduction in pressure. We tend to be on the receiving end because changes in pressure mean greater winds."

The report made to the UN suggests even drastic action now would make little difference to climate change for at least 40 years.

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