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CCNet 29/03/13

Met Office Apologises For Wrong Forecast - And Makes Another One 

Warm Bias: The Met Office's Disastrous Track Record

 

Met Office apologises for warning of 'dry spell' before wettest April on record. --The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2013
 

For February and March the range of possible outcomes is also very broad, although above-average UK-mean temperatures become more likely. --Met Office forecast, 20 December 2012


Sub zero temperatures, snow, blizzards, gale force gusts, school closures, traffic chaos that just about sums up March 2013. The Met Office has confirmed it looks like it could have been the coldest in the UK for 51 years. --ITV News, 28 March 2013


If you want a laugh I recommend reading the Resilience Of England’s Transport Systems In Winter, an interim report by the DfT published last July. It is shockingly complacent. Rather than look for solutions to snow-induced gridlock the authors seem intent on avoiding the issue. The Met Office assured them “the effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK”. --Daily Express, 3 December 2010 



Which begs other, rather important questions. Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this? --Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 9 January 2010



 

Britain will be colder than parts of Greenland this Easter with temp­eratures plunging to an Arctic -10C (14F). Though the clocks go forward tomorrow night, marking the start of British Summer Time, there is no end in sight to the bitter weather. This has already been the coldest March since 1962, the Met Office confirmed yesterday, and the fourth coldest since records began. --Lianne Kolirin, Daily Express, 29 March 2013
 


The Met Office three-monthly outlook at the end of March stated: "The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for April-May-June, and slightly favours April being the driest of the three months." A soul-searching Met Office analysis later confessed: "Given that April was the wettest since detailed records began in 1910 and the April-May-June quarter was also the wettest, this advice was not helpful." --Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 28 March 2013
 


The [Met Office’s] probabilistic forecast can be considered as somewhat like a form guide for a horse race. It provides an insight into which outcomes are most likely, although in some cases there is a broad spread of outcomes, analogous to a race in which there is no strong favourite. Just as any of the horses in the race could win the race, any of the outcomes could occur, but some are more likely than others. -- Met Office chief scientist Prof Julia Slingo, BBC News, 28 March 2013
 


It all makes perfect sense to me. When the Met Office makes a statement, the opposite is true. So the earth is cooling, their models don't work and they are pretty useless at forecasting. Now I understand what they told John Beddington. --Schrodinger's Cat, 29 March 2013
 
 

"She says last year's calculations were not actually wrong because they were probabilistic." So, using Slingo logic, the statement "The Met Office is probably a criminal waste of money" is not wrong. --David Chappell, 29 March 2013
 

In both winter and summer, year on year temperature variations in recent years are pretty normal, or even low, when compared with the historical record. Could it be that the UK’s Chief Scientist, Sir John Beddington, is overreacting to the events of just one year, or is not aware of the historical facts? It is difficult to understand how a top scientist could make such basic errors, but it is hard to come to any other conclusion. Coming hard on the heels of Environment Agency head, Chris Smith, making unsupportable claims about convective rain without first checking, it appears that facts no longer matter to our public servants. --Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 27 March 2013 
 
 

Complaining about the weather has reached epidemic proportions in northern Germany this “spring.” And with good reason. With Easter just around the corner, meteorologists are telling us this could end up being the coldest March in Berlin and its surroundings since records began in the 1880s. --Spiegel Online, 28 March 2013
 


No one seems upset that in modern Britain, old people are freezing to death as hidden taxes make fuel more expensive. Instead of making sure energy was affordable, ministers have been trying to make it more expensive, with carbon price floors and emissions trading schemes. --Fraser Nelson,  The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2013
 

1) Met Office Confirms The Coldest March Since 1962 - ITV News, 28 March 2013

2) Met Office Forecast: “March Above-Average UK-Mean Temperatures More Likely” - Met Office, 20 December 2012

3) Met Office Or Bookie's Office? - Bishop Hill, 29 March 2013


4) Warm Bias: The Met Office's Disastrous Track Record

5) Britain’s Colder Than Arctic: -10C Freeze Over Easter - Daily Express, 29 March 2013

6) Guess What? John Beddington Is Wrong About UK Temperatures Too - Not A Lot Of People Know That, 27 March 2013 

7) Germany Faces Coldest March Since 1883 - Spiegel Online, 28 March 2013

8) Fraser Nelson: It’s The Cold, Not Global Warming, That We Should Be Worried About - The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2013

 
 
1) Met Office Confirms The Coldest March Since 1962
ITV News, 28 March 2013

Sub zero temperatures, snow, blizzards, gale force gusts, school closures, traffic chaos that just about sums up March 2013.

The Met Office has confirmed it looks like it could have been the coldest in the UK for 51 years.

We expect highs of around 11c in March, the reality is this month temperatures have averaged at 3.2c.

To rub salt in the wound on March 28th 2012 highs of 21c/70f were recorded in our region.
It's not just temperatures that have been suffering, sunshine amounts have been way below the seasonal average too and it's not over yet.

Although we have seen the worst of the snow Easter is shaping up to be one of the coldest on record with an icy wind and sharp overnight frosts.


The satellite picture over the UK earlier today Credit: ITV Weather
Today we can't rule out a few snow showers but it will remain mostly dry with sunny spells, the wind will be light but still cold.

Full story
 
 
2) Another Glorious Met Office Forecast: “March Above-Average UK-Mean Temperatures More Likely”
Met Office, 20 December 2012

Met Office 3-Month Outlook: For January as a whole below-average UK-mean temperatures are somewhat more likely than above-average, although there is considerable uncertainty. Similarly, snow and ice may occur more often than they do in an average January.
For February and March the range of possible outcomes is also very broad, although above-average UK-mean temperatures become more likely.

Overall, the probability that the UK-mean temperature for January-February-March will fall into the coldest of our five categories is around 15% whilst the probability that it will fall into the warmest of our five categories is around 20% (the 1981-2010 probability for each of these categories is 20%).

Met Office, 20 December 2012
 

3) Met Office Or Bookie's Office?
Bishop Hill, 29 March 2013

Andrew Montford

Roger Harrabin takes a wry look at the Met Office's three-month forecast for last spring. These longer-term forecasts are not published, so Harrabin got it under FOI. The results are most amusing:

The Met Office three-monthly outlook at the end of March stated: "The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for April-May-June, and slightly favours April being the driest of the three months."

A soul-searching Met Office analysis later confessed: "Given that April was the wettest since detailed records began in 1910 and the April-May-June quarter was also the wettest, this advice was not helpful."

The whole piece is worth a look, but I was struck by this bit:

The Met Office explained it this way: "The probabilistic forecast can be considered as somewhat like a form guide for a horse race.

"It provides an insight into which outcomes are most likely, although in some cases there is a broad spread of outcomes, analogous to a race in which there is no strong favourite. Just as any of the horses in the race could win the race, any of the outcomes could occur, but some are more likely than others."

The analogy between weather forecasting and backing horses is amusing, particularly in the light of a Twitter conversation between the FT's Jim Pickard and Bob Ward last week:

Jim Pickard - HOTTEST MARCH EVER AS MINI-HEATWAVE HITS UK: Is this the worst weather forecast since Michael Fish?

Bob Ward - .@PickardJE Yes, that's what happens when journalists confuse Ladbrokes with the Met Office.

Perhaps it's different when the Met Office confuses the Met Office with Ladbrokes.



4) Warm Bias: The Met Office's Disastrous Track Record

Met Office, 25 September 2008: The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year.

Reality Check: Winter of 2008/09 Coldest Winter For A Decade
Met Office, March 2009: Mean temperatures over the UK were 1.1 °C below the 1971-2000 average during December, 0.5 °C below average during January and 0.2 °C above average during February. The UK mean temperature for the winter was 3.2 °C, which is 0.5 °C below average, making it the coldest winter since 1996/97 (also 3.2 °C).

Met Office 2009 Forecast: Trend To Milder Winters To Continue, Snow And Frost Becoming Less Of A Feature
Met Office, 25 February 2009: Peter Stott, Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Despite the cold winter this year, the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future.

“The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”
Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years

Met Office, 1 March 2010: Provisional figures from the Met Office show that the UK winter has been the coldest since 1978/79. The mean UK temperature was 1.5 °C, the lowest since 1978/79 when it was 1.2 °C.

Met Office July 2010: Climate Change Gradually But Steadily Reducing Probability Of Severe Winters In The UK
Ross Clark, Daily Express, 3 December 2010: ONE of the first tasks for the team conducting the Department for Transport’s “urgent review” into the inability of our transport system to cope with snow and ice will be to interview the cocky public figure who assured breakfast TV viewers last month that “I am pretty confident we will be OK” at keeping Britain moving this winter. They were uttered by Transport secretary Philip Hammond himself, who just a fortnight later is already being forced to eat humble pie… If you want a laugh I recommend reading the Resilience Of England’s Transport Systems In Winter, an interim report by the DfT published last July. It is shockingly complacent. Rather than look for solutions to snow-induced gridlock the authors seem intent on avoiding the issue. The Met Office assured them “the effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK”.

Met Office 2010 Forecast: Winter To Be Mild Predicts Met Office
Daily Express, 28 October 2010: IT’S a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear. The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years… The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began
The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.

Met Office Predicted A Warm Winter. Cheers Guys
John Walsh, The Independent, 19 January 2010: Some climatologists hint that the Office’s problem is political; its computer model of future weather behaviour habitually feeds in government-backed assumptions about climate change that aren’t borne out by the facts. To the Met Office, the weather’s always warmer than it really is, because it’s expecting it to be, because it expects climate change to wreak its stealthy havoc. If it really has had its thumb on the scales for the last decade, I’m afraid it deserves to be shown the door.

A Frozen Britain Turns The Heat Up On The Met Office
Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 9 January 2010: Which begs other, rather important questions. Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this?

A Period Of Humility And Silence Would Be Best For Met Office
Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times, 10 January 2010: A period of humility and even silence would be particularly welcome from the Met Office, our leading institutional advocate of the perils of man-made global warming, which had promised a “barbecue summer” in 2009 and one of the “warmest winters on record”. In fact, the Met still asserts we are in the midst of an unusually warm winter — as one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”
 
 
4) Britain’s Colder Than Arctic: -10C Freeze Over Easter
Daily Express, 29 March 2013

Lianne Kolirin


BRITAIN will be colder than parts of Greenland this Easter with temp­eratures plunging to an Arctic -10C (14F).
Image Attachment
Though the clocks go forward tomorrow night, marking the start of British Summer Time, there is no end in sight to the bitter weather.

This has already been the coldest March since 1962, the Met Office confirmed yesterday, and the fourth coldest since records began.

Instead of spending the four-day Bank Holiday pottering in the garden or driving to the coast, people are being advised to wrap up warm and stay indoors.

Millions have given up hope of spring arriving and are jetting off for some much-needed sun. And some are still digging themselves out after being marooned by 20ft snowdrifts.

Parts of the UK are likely to see a white Easter with wintry showers forecast for eastern areas, though these are likely to be isolated and the snow should be fairly light. …

The record lowest Easter temperature of -9.8C was set at Lagganlia, Inverness, on Easter Monday 1986.

Temperatures hit -8.8C early yesterday in Aonach Mor, Inverness, and -6.7C at Great Dun Fell, Cumbria.

That is much colder than parts of Greenland in the Arctic Circle which will see Easter lows of 1C.

Full story
 
 
5) Guess What? John Beddington Is Wrong About UK Temperatures Too
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 27 March 2013 

Paul Homewood

UK Chief Scientist, Sir John Beddington, has claimed in a recent interview that:-
“The variation in the temperature or rainfall, which Britain has been experiencing lately, is double the average rate”.

I have already shown that Met Office data does not bear out his claims regarding rainfall, but what about temperatures? Using the Central England Temperature Series, I have used the same methodology as I did with rainfall to check Beddington’s claims.
Just to recap, I have calculated the year on year changes for mean temperatures, then converted any negative values to positive . (This stops negative changes from cancelling out positive ones). Finally I have added a 10 year running average. Figure 1 shows the results. 


image
Figure 1

There has only been one year on year change of note in recent years, when temperatures bounced back in 2011 from the cold year before. But this change is dwarfed by some of the changes in earlier decades and centuries.. More importantly, the 10 year average is low by comparison with much of the earlier record. This suggests that temperatures in the last decade or so have been much less volatile.

Of course, annual numbers may cover up large fluctuations during the year. For instance, a cold winter and hot summer would cancel out, leaving an annual average temperature that looked “normal”. So, let’s extend the exercise to winter and summer seasonal temperatures, as shown in Figures 2 and 3.
 


image
Figure 2


image
Figure 3

In both winter and summer, year on year variations in recent years are pretty normal, or even low, when compared with the historical record.

I commented yesterday

Could it be that the Professor is overreacting to the events of just one year, or is not aware of the historical facts? It is difficult to understand how a top scientist could make such basic errors, but it is hard to come to any other conclusion

It increasingly looks as if I was right. Coming hard on the heels of Environment Agency head, Chris Smith, making unsupportable claims about convective rain without first checking, it appears that facts no longer matter to our public servants.
 
6) Germany Faces Coldest March Since 1883
Spiegel Online, 28 March 2013

Complaining about the weather has reached epidemic proportions in northern Germany this “spring.” And with good reason. With Easter just around the corner, meteorologists are telling us this could end up being the coldest March in Berlin and its surroundings since records began in the 1880s.


Snowmen are fine. Snow Easter Bunnies, though, are a sign of a spring gone...
Snowmen are fine. Snow Easter Bunnies, though, are a sign of a spring gone terribly wrong.

These not-entirely-lifelike sculptures were photographed in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania this week.

The poor Easter Bunny deserves our sympathy. Whereas in recent years he has grown used to dodging daffodils, lilies and tulips as he carries his cargo of eggs and chocolate to homes across northern Europe, this year the rabbit will find himself confronted with ice slicks, snow drifts and bundled up humans in foul moods.

Easter, after all, may be upon us. But spring weather most definitely is not. Biologists are warning that the Easter Bunny’s wild brethren, European hares, are having trouble keeping their broods warm and healthy in the unseasonable chill. Meteorologists are keeping close tabs on thermometers to determine whether this March will go down as the coldest ever — since records began in the 1880s. And wiseacres on the streets of Berlin have not yet tired of noting that Easter promises to be colder than last Christmas. And it’s not just the northern regions of Continental Europe where the Easter Bunny will encounter problems. Great Britain and Ireland are likewise suffering through unseasonable weather, with power outages threatening the roast lamb and snow drifts making hopping difficult. Russia and Ukraine are also suffering.

Full story
 
 
7) Fraser Nelson: It’s The Cold, Not Global Warming, That We Should Be Worried About
The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2013

No one seems upset that in modern Britain, old people are freezing to death as hidden taxes make fuel more expensive. Instead of making sure energy was affordable, ministers have been trying to make it more expensive, with carbon price floors and emissions trading schemes.

A few months ago, a group of students in Oslo produced a brilliant spoof video that lampooned the charity pop song genre. It showed a group of young Africans coming together to raise money for those of us freezing in the north. “A lot of people aren’t aware of what’s going on there right now,” says the African equivalent of Bob Geldof. “People don’t ignore starving people, so why should we ignore cold people? Frostbite kills too. Africa: we need to make a difference.” The song – Africa for Norway – has been watched online two million times, making it one of Europe’s most popular political videos.

The aim was to send up the patronising, cliched way in which the West views Africa. Norway can afford to make the joke because there, people don’t tend to die of the cold. In Britain, we still do. Each year, an official estimate is made of the “excess winter mortality” – that is, the number of people dying of cold-related illnesses. Last winter was relatively mild, and still 24,000 perished. The indications are that this winter, which has dragged on so long and with such brutality, will claim 30,000 lives, making it one of the biggest killers in the country. And still, no one seems upset.

Somewhere between the release of the 1984 Band Aid single and Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, political attention shifted away from such problems. The idea of people (especially old people) dying in their homes from conditions with which we are all familiar now seems relatively boring. Much political attention is still focused on global warming, and while schemes to help Britain prepare for the cold are being cut, the overseas aid budget is being vastly expanded. Saving elderly British lives has somehow become the least fashionable cause in politics.

The reaction to the 2003 heatwave was extraordinary. It was blamed for 2,000 deaths, and taken as a warning that Britain was horribly unprepared for the coming era of snowless winters and barbecue summers. The government’s chief scientific officer, Sir David King, later declared that climate change was “more serious even than the threat of terrorism” in terms of the number of lives that could be lost. Such language is never used about the cold, which kills at least 10 times as many people every winter. Before long, every political party had signed up to the green agenda.

Since Sir David’s exhortations, some 250,000 Brits have died from the cold, and 10,000 from the heat. It is horribly clear that we have been focusing on the wrong enemy. Instead of making sure energy was affordable, ministers have been trying to make it more expensive, with carbon price floors and emissions trading schemes. Fuel prices have doubled over seven years, forcing millions to choose between heat and food – and government has found itself a major part of the problem.

This is slowly beginning to dawn on Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He has tried to point the finger at energy companies, but his own department let the truth slip out in the small print of a report released on Wednesday. The average annual fuel bill is expected to have risen by £76 by 2020, it says. But take out Davey’s hidden taxes (carbon price floor, emissions trading scheme, etc) and we’d be paying an average £123 less.

His department has been trying to make homes cheaper to heat, and in a saner world this would be his only remit: to secure not the greenest energy, but the most affordable energy.
By now, the Energy Secretary will also have realised another inconvenient truth – that, for Britain, global warming is likely to save far more lives then it threatens. Delve deep enough into the Government’s forecasts, and they speculate that global warming will lead to 6,000 fewer deaths a year, on average, by the end of the decade. This is the supposed threat facing us: children would be less likely to have snow to play in at Christmas, but more likely to have grandparents to visit over Easter. Not a bad trade-off. The greatest uncertainty is whether global warming, which has stalled since 1998, will arrive quickly enough to make a difference.

It’s daft to draw any conclusions from this freakish, frozen spring. But in general, the computer-generated predictions do not seem as reliable as they did when Al Gore was using them to scare the bejesus out of us. A few weeks ago, scientists at the University of Washington found that man’s contribution to global warming may have been exaggerated – by a factor of two. The natural cycle of heating and cooling, they discovered, plays a far bigger role than they had imagined. Mr Davey’s fuel bill taxes may do nothing for the planet. But they will certainly lead to poorer, colder homes and shorter lives.

Our understanding of climate science may be weak, but our understanding of basic medicine is not. Low temperatures increase blood pressure and weaken the immune system, making everyone more vulnerable to bugs. For the elderly, this can be fatal. People don’t actually die of frostbite, as the Norwegian video teasingly suggested. They die of flu, or thrombosis, or other conditions they would not have acquired if their house had been warmer. Far fewer Scandinavians die in winter, because they have worked out how to defeat the cold: keep the heating on; insulate houses. It really is that simple.

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