Image ID 00285

Climate & Soils

Cambridge is in the driest region of Britain and has a more continental climate than most of Britain.

At the Botanic Garden, the 30-year average annual rainfall from 1970 to 2000 was just 557 mm. By comparison, the annual average received by RBG Kew was 629mm, Oxford Botanic Garden 646mm, and RBG Edinburgh 698mm.
The summer temperature maximum is reached in July with a 30-year average of 22°C. The average maximum for January is 6°C.

We have been recording weather data at the Botanic Garden since 1904 and supply daily figures to the Meteorological Office at Bracknell. Garden Curator, Dr Tim Upson, has co-authored a review, 100 years of Cambridge Meteorological Records which you can download from the link to the left.

We write up the daily records on a Met Info board in the research plots at the heart of the Garden and publish monthly rainfall records (mm per month) here:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2005 28.1 25.5 20.7 20.8 47.0 52.1 29.0 58.8 101.5 55.8 40.3 16.5 495.1
2006 17.8 26.6 34.8 29.2 66.2 19.2 44.6 66.4 53.2 48.4 61.4 42.4 510.3
2007 55.7 49.3 21.4 1.9 131.1 68.3 68.2 51.1 22.0 55.2 34.3 38.7 597.2
2008 56.9 14.9 71.3 42.8 64.1 33.7 50.8 84.8 61.0 49.3 76.0 21.4 627.0
2009 38.0 55.7 32.6 13.2 28.5 37.5 108.6 56.3 11.2 33.8 102.7 71.6 589.7
2010 44.0 65.9 21.4 11.2 27.7 39.3 23.0 136.4 55.1 55.2 26.0 22.7 527.9
2011 61.6 31.4 3.0 1.7 16.4 64.0 34.5 48.9 24.9 16.9 29.9 47.2 380.4
2012 42.2 20.8 22.0 102.2 51.4 105.9 130.3 76.1 30.1 78.5 64.4 88.8 812.7
2013 38.7 18.8 37.6 24.6 49.5 14.9 44.1 54.0 40.1 75.9 53.9 42.8 497.9
2014 83.8 60.9 16.6 14.5 71.7 46.9 50.9 91.9 18.1 59.7 63.4

The soils of the Botanic Garden are silts and sands derived from the flood plain of the River Cam nearby. These soils are about 1 metre in depth and overlie a layer of chalk and flints. This soil is stony, light and free draining, and rapidly dries out after rain. The soil and soil water are alkaline in pH.

The thermometer has recently been passed from the Garden's 'Weatherman' for decades to our new 'Weatherwoman' and we will now be able to once again provide informal monthly weather write ups below. Apologies for the gap in the run over the late spring and summer. We will be attempting to backfill these from the records.