Oxford University's Radcliffe Meteorological Station has measured a new record for sunshine hours. Doctoral student Thomas Caton Harrison has collected the final readings for May's sunshine, taking the total for the month of May to 331.7 hours.
This total makes May 2020 the sunniest month on record, with data stretching back to February 1880 for the world's longest continuous sunshine record. The previous record of 310.4 hours was set in July 1911.
Statistics for March to May also show that spring 2020 has been far sunnier than anything measured in previous years, with 59.3 more hours of sunshine than the previous record set in 1990. Oxford's sunshine in May was higher than the May average for Seville and Malaga - and 173% higher than the City's own average of 192 hours.
Thomas Caton Harrison, from the University's School of Geography and the Environment, uses a Campbell-Stokes recorder to measure Oxford's sunshine, sited on one of the highest points in the City. Invented in 1853, the device focuses the sun's rays through a glass sphere onto a specially calibrated card where they burn a trace. "You can smell the burning card and sometimes see a small smoke trail” said Caton Harrison "It's a beautiful and wonderfully simple yet very clever device".
Long, sunny days meant an almost total absence of rainfall during May. Rainfall records go back as far as 1767 in Oxford and this month was the driest May since 1795 - only 3.5 mm accumulated in the rain gauge.