Met Office: memory or honesty deficiency?

Dave Britton, the Met Office’s Chief Press Officer, e-mailed the following statement to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF):

Following the entry on your blog regarding the Met Office please find the Met Office response below:

The Met Office has not issued a seasonal forecast to the public and categorically denies forecasting a ‘mild winter’ as suggested by Boris Johnson <http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/&gt; in his column in the Daily Telegraph.

Following public research, the Met Office no longer issues long-range forecasts for the general public; instead we provide a monthly outlook on our website, which have consistent and clearly sign-posted the very cold conditions.
(Continues on the GWPF website).

This is all very interesting. Either the Met Office’s left hand doesn’t know what it’s right hand is doing, the Met Office has no idea what is being said by its employees, or the Met Office is playing semantics in a very disingenuous manner. Why? This bit of information issued by the Met Office in October…

The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

The eastern half of England, Cornwall, Scotland and Northern Ireland is in for temperatures above the 3.7C (38.6F) average, more than 2C warmer than last winter.

The map also shows a 40 per cent to 60 per cent probability that western England and Wales will be warmer than 3.7C (38.6F), with a much smaller chance of average or below-average temperatures.

Update: Screengrab of the map as at October 2010… (click to enlarge)

The piece even goes on to name the Met Office employee who spoke about the map and talked up the effort that had gone into producing the start point for a ‘seasonal forecast‘:
Helen Chivers, Met Office forecaster, insisted the temperature map takes into account the influence of climate factors such as El Nino and La Nina – five-yearly climatic patterns that affect the weather – but admits this is only a “start point” for a seasonal forecast. She said: “The map shows probabilities of temperatures in months ahead compared to average temperatures over a 30-year period.

You can read the whole piece on the Daily Express website, including this response from the independent forecaster, Positive Weather Solutions:

But other experts maintain we are in for another big freeze. Positive Weather Solutions senior forecaster Jonathan Powell said: “It baffles me how the Met Office can predict a milder-than-average winter when all the indicators show this winter will have parallels to the last one.

“They are standing alone here, as ourselves and other independent forecasters are all predicting a colder-than-average winter.

“It will be interesting to see how predictions by the government-funded Met Office compare with independent forecasters.”

So when is a forecast not a forecast? When the Met Office gets it wrong, it seems. Let’s see how they spin this. But for now the words ‘bang to rights’ spring to mind.

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31 Responses to “Met Office: memory or honesty deficiency?”


  1. 1 Gator 20/12/2010 at 8:38 pm

    From the Met’s wepage on “Future Projections”…

    “It is important to be aware that projections from climate models are always subject to uncertainty because of limitations on our knowledge of how the climate system works and on the computing resources available. Different climate models can give different projections.”

    Odd then that they only have warming scenarios depicted on this page.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 20/12/2010 at 8:43 pm

    Curious that, eh Gator… Anyone would think they have a closed collective mind on the subject!

  3. 3 Tufty 20/12/2010 at 9:48 pm

    It doesn’t matter how hard the Mutt Office wriggle, they have nailed their colours to a very shaky mast and everyone knows it.

    Ho ho ho is my seasonal response.

  4. 4 Ian 21/12/2010 at 3:14 am

    Does anyone have copies of the October weather maps?

  5. 5 Rereke Whakaaro 21/12/2010 at 6:18 am

    There are two differences between the Met Office and some of the other forecasters.

    The first is that the Met Office base their forecasts on complex mathematical models based on the science of fluid dynamics; other forecasters manually calculate a probable forecast based on historical observations of cyclic trends.

    The second is that the Met Office places all of their reliance on the use of super-computers to conduct the millions of calculations required by the models; other forecasters manually calculate a probable forecast based on historical observations of cyclic trends.

    Spot the difference.

    Having worked with computers for the last fifty years or so, I feel qualified to point out that the use of super computers to calculate anything at all, does nothing to improve the reliability of the results. Super computers just tend to get the wrong answer faster, and with considerably more precision.

  6. 6 Barry 21/12/2010 at 8:01 am

    The Met Office are playing a shell game. GWPF say the Met forecast a mild winter. The Met say they don’t issue seasonal forecasts to the public. That is not a denial of the claim GWPF have made.

  7. 7 Katabasis 21/12/2010 at 8:25 am

    There is a new rearguard action being fought here.

    Alarmists are trying to reclaim the narrative by arguing that this kind of weather in temperate regions is to be expected, either because of i) more ‘extreme weather’ events, supposedly caused by the “unnatural” forcing of CO2 (“explanation” proffered by a frenemy on his website who will no longer speak to me because of my scepticism) and/or ii) shrinking arctic sea ice is to blame, supposedly resulting in more heating of the local ocean that then led into a ‘blocking’ higher pressure region there (“explanation” given by George Monbigot).

    Let us be very clear here. The alarmists seemed very sure 10 years ago what the effects of CAGW would be on Northern Hemisphere winters:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990604081638.htm

    Yet again, we are seeing post-hoc “explanations” of the weather.

    Yet again, CAGW remains unfalsifiable.

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 21/12/2010 at 9:38 am

    Rereke, as the saying goes, garbage in – garbage out.

  9. 9 Autonomous Mind 21/12/2010 at 10:46 am

    Yes, Ian, it has now been added into the post.

  10. 10 Orde 21/12/2010 at 11:48 am

    And did you hear the interview on the ‘Today’ prog on Radio4 with professor Sir David King, the former chief government scientific advisor? Much bigger computer modelling (the size of the CERN project) is required. Oh Yeah!? He tells us that the mid atlantic oscillation has flipped over to be as it was in the 1960’s when we had very cold winters and very hot summers, that’s why the summer of 2010 was so hot too!

    Now, I’m 57 and remember my everyday life right back to the age of 2. At last I can put this ability to a practical use at long last, and I can tell the idiot Dr King, that apart from the notorious cold winter of 62/63, the summers in England at least, were very ordinary and NO DIFFERENT AT ALL to the 1980s. I don’t need to exert much of my powerful personal memory to recall what the summer of 2010 was like, IT WAS VERY ORDINARY AND MEDIOCRE. I fervently hope no one was taken in by this PRATT who’s record as a government advisor was marked by his lamentable advice over the BSE crisis.

  11. 11 AJC 21/12/2010 at 1:41 pm

    “.. the use of super computers to calculate anything at all, does nothing to improve the reliability of the results. Super computers just tend to get the wrong answer faster, and with considerably more precision.”

    More precision of the individual operations indeed (well perhaps).

    However if the numerical methods used are as sloppy as their model assumptions appear to be then smaller grid size and many more iterations may well just accumulate additional error faster!

    Not only their “science” but their numerical analysis is suspect.

  12. 12 cosmic 21/12/2010 at 7:21 pm

    The Met Office has been converted from a weather forecasting service to a means to trumpet the Global Warming message. They made no definite statement on this winter, because their previous attempts were so laughable, but they hinted, or allowed hints to be made and didn’t correct them.

    I don’t see that numerical models of a complex chaotic system attempting to make predictions of its state 50 years ahead, where we don’t understand all the factors affecting it (and there will obviously be huge cumulative errors and unpredictable events, such as volcanism), are worth spending any serious time or money developing. Taking them as the basis for spending trillions is insanity.

    It’s my belief that the Met Office computer models will always predict future warming, because that’s what they are required to do.

  13. 13 Brian Williams 22/12/2010 at 12:21 am

    If the Met Office don’t give seasonal predictions anymore, what is the point in it?

  14. 14 James A. Marusek 22/12/2010 at 3:29 pm

    Due to the severe winter in Great Britain, the transportation department blamed their unpreparedness on the government’s weather forecast. Now the weather forecasters say they never predicted a mild winter. So the question is “Is the Met office hanging the government’s transportation department on a limb, in order to avoid responsibility.” These forecast are weighing heavily on the backs of the common man. They have a vested interest in the truth.

  15. 15 ge0050 22/12/2010 at 6:30 pm

    The problem for the MET is that they are trying to model the climate on the assumption that warming is not cyclic, that it is man-made. This has lead to ever increasing costs with very little to show in the way of reliable predictions.

    Everything in nature moves in cycles. Find the cycles and you can predict the future with some skill. The Farmer’s Almanac has done this for years with great success, at very low cost. Private forecasters are doing the same.

    By looking at the resulting accuracy of the long term forecasts, it is quite apparent which assumption is true.

    Climate change is cyclic – good predictive ability
    Climate change is man-made – poor predictive ability

    So long as the MET continues to base their models on the assumption that climate change is man-made, their models will be like the IPCC models – no predictive skill.

  16. 16 john morrissey 22/12/2010 at 9:22 pm

    Can anyone tell me where I can purchase a copy of “The
    Scrutape Letters”. Thank you

  17. 18 T. A. Speaker 22/12/2010 at 10:11 pm

    IMO, the British and American scientific establishments are utterly corrupt. To these people, the ends justify the means – the ends being diminution of humanity’s numbers and ecological footprint; the means being whatever works. Insulated by wealth and power from the consequences of the policies they promote, they will be secretly delighted, I believe, if millions die – better billions. To them, it matters not whether the climate warms or cools. What matters is reducing our collective environmental impact – see here, here and here.

    Of these, the first two are public addresses by Lord Robert May, former Chief Science Adviser to her Majesty’s Government, former President of the Royal Society, current President of the British Science Association, etc. The last is the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) website.

    OPT wants to diminish the world’s population to 5.1 billion at the least and would prefer reductions to 3.4, 3.0 or 2.7 billions – go here. The policies OPT endorses are, depending on your point of view, more or less benign: “full access to family planning should be provided to all those who do not have it, … couples should be encouraged to voluntarily ‘stop at two’ children to lessen the impact of family size on the environment, and … this should be part of a holistic approach involving better education and equal rights for women.”

    But the problems, they maintain, are severe: “Dangerously rapid climate change and rising food, water and fuel scarcity are already threatening human populations.”

    Assuming current fertility and mortality schedules, total population is headed to 9 billion by 2050. Getting the world’s population to 3.4 billion by that year would require the death of half of humanity over a period of 40 years and the complete curtailment of reproduction. In other words, OPT’s policy prescriptions are a lie. If they truly believe the situation to be urgent, the only possible things they can have in mind is tyranny of the most draconian sort and slaughter unparalleled in human history.

    This is the mindset that climate skeptics are up against. It is a great evil, and it is pervasive among the scientific elite. Far from being concerned citizens of a world in peril, these people are would-be purveyors of death on a planetary scale. Into the maw of their man-is-a=cancer ideology will pass first what remains of liberty, then the unborn, the elderly and the sick and finally those who remain. If the latter are cold, weak and malnourished, how much the easier to send them on their final journeys.

  18. 19 Amado 09/06/2013 at 9:34 pm

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book
    in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog.
    An excellent read. I will definitely be back.


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