It’s official – Cornwall’s climate really can compete with abroad

Cornwall’s mild and temperate climate is not frequently known to those who don’t visit the county. Cornwall is bursting full of subtropical gardens, beautiful lawns surrounded by borders alive with flowers and exotic trees, a riot of colour and scent, often stretching down to languid creeks and hidden estuaries.  These gardens thrive because Cornwall is on the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream and it is this which gives rise to such warm and balmy temperatures even through the winter.

So, Cornwall’s climate is really no secret but in 2016, the University of Exeter analysed environmental and meteorological data and discovered that Cornwall has just become even hotter, putting it on a level with parts of Vietnam and Mexico.  This increase has occurred in the last decade.  As an average, mean temperatures remain above 10C  for in excess of seven months of the years which gives Cornwall’s climate its official subtropical status.  Areas which the University highlighted include Padstow, Falmouth, Mousehole, Porthleven and the Isles of Scilly.  The climate is tempting growers and farmers to consider new exotic crops such as Quinoa, a grain crop usually found in South America and Persimmon, a fruit from Japan.

Previous data had never been that specific but new techniques mean that the scientists are able to narrow down hotspots like never before, even down to individual fields. South-facing slopes are often as much as fifteen degrees warmer than other terrain in the same locale so the shelter of steep valleys can create some really amazing growing conditions.  Cornwall has always been famed for its climate and beautiful subtropical gardens but this latest development takes it a stage further.  The University cites two key factors in this climatic change:-

  • A decline in cloud cover from the early 1990s in the two decades following to 2010
  • A decline in westerly airflows

Cornwall already grows sunflowers, maize, tea and grapevines and now, coupled with new monitoring techniques developed by the University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute in Penryn, researchers can pinpoint even more closely the best areas to plant new crops.  The algorithm plots the effect of the terrain, sea temperature, altitude and soil type to predict far more accurately the likely climate for growers in specific places.  There are risks associated with such warm, frost-free climes and so scientists will continue to work with horticulturalists and growers to ensure that pest invasion is kept to a minimum.

What does this climate mean for Cornwalls visitors?

Cornwall has been classified as ‘temperate’ since the 1960s when the scientist, Glenn Thomas Trewartha, first devised classifications for the different climate types.  Now, it has moved from temperate to subtropical.  Visitors to Cornwall can enjoy some of the most beautiful gardens on the planet, many developed by wealthy Victorian families who harvested plants from their overseas travels.  Keen gardeners will not be disappointed but these numerous locations (and there really are loads of gardens) are perfect for any visitor whether you have green fingers or just want to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labours.  This warmer climate gives Cornwall a longer season, ideal for those who are not bound by the constraints of the school holidays.  Even in the depths of winter, there is a lightness and tranquillity about these milder temperatures.

So, it’s official, Cornwall is both sunnier and warmer than it was forty years ago, great news for farmers and growers but also for tourists who will want to take full advantage of this official stamp of approval for a great holiday climate.  Visitors have often said that Cornwall is as beautiful as the Meditteranean if you only you could guarantee the weather.  Now, it seems like you can.  So, what are you waiting for? We’d certainly recommend staying in St. Ives – just check out these stunning holiday cottages!

Image Credit: Cornwall via ValerijsJegorovs/Shutterstock

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