What supercomputers do Bastardi and Corbyn use?

Bishop Hill kindly points readers in the direction of Nature magazine, which has published an interview with Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist at the Met Office.

Slingo is the global warming fanatic who famously tried to blame the Met Office’s laughable ‘barbeque summer’ and 2009-10 ‘mild winter’ forecasts on ‘communication’ and the public being ‘very confused’. Now she is riding the Met Office’s new hobby horse, claiming that the recent ‘freak weather’ (aka a cold winter) could have been predicted if only the Met Office had more supercomputing power. No, really.  Nature’s Nicola Jones asked Slingo:

What’s the biggest obstacle to creating better, hazard-relevant weather forecasts?

Access to supercomputers. The science is well ahead of our ability to implement it. It’s quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job — tomorrow — in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions. It’s so frustrating. We keep saying we need four times the computing power. We’re talking just 10 or 20 million a year — dollars or pounds — which is tiny compared to the damage done by disasters. Yet it’s a difficult argument to win. You just think: why is this so hard?

Would that really make a practical difference to forecasts?

Yes. In retrospect, we were able to predict many aspects of the Russian heat wave from a forecast in May. We hadn’t particularly analysed it. We couldn’t afford to do that.

Instead of talking about seasonal means, we ought to be saying “There’s an x% probability of a heat wave of this magnitude lasting this amount of time.” That’s more useful. You could use that to mobilize food aid or fire-fighting equipment.

Slingo’s answers sums up the extent of denial and delusion at the Met Office about the global warming bias in its forecasting. They also show how her thinking on the subject has changed since she joined the Met Office. After millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money lavished upon the Met Office, they now say they need even more. The obvious question to ask in the light of Slingo’s responses is this:

What supercomputers do Joe Bastardi and Piers Corbyn use that help them consistently outperform the Met Office?

I think the answer to that question will be very interesting.  So, today I have emailed Messrs Bastardi and Corbyn to ask them just that.  If they are kind enough to reply I will share their answers in a follow up post on this topic as soon as possible.

Update: Joe Bastardi and Piers Corbyn have both replied. You can read their responses in this new post.

12 Responses to “What supercomputers do Bastardi and Corbyn use?”


  1. 1 andrew hammerschmiedt 01/01/2011 at 3:27 pm

    I have said anything so far but since Bastardi becomes increasingly popular – it is one hell of an unfortunate name …

  2. 2 Edward 01/01/2011 at 4:22 pm

    At the end of the day, cliched and hackneyed though it is, Slingo is a paid government shill – UK.gov say the world is warming, cos the EU says it is and we all know that the Germans are AGW loonies.
    And so, what the Brussels Politburo state (hot from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) is ‘ex cathedra’ for the ‘town council’ sitting in Westminster, Slingo is just making another attempt at Empire building in Devon-shire/Exeter.

    Joe (Bastardi) and Piers (Corbyn) do the prediction thing for a living, there is a big difference. Plus, they are real scientists, not civil servants ‘playing at science’.

  3. 3 Michael St George 01/01/2011 at 4:27 pm

    Happy New Year, AM.

    I do like Ms Slingo’s comment “In retrospect, we were able to predict”. Orwellian Newspeak is clearly flourishing at the Met Office.

  4. 4 Mike Spilligan 01/01/2011 at 6:07 pm

    The next problem will be caused by those gullible enough and with sufficient authority to follow up this line of thinking, and try to get more “money” (that is more borrowing) assigned to this modern version of alchemy.

  5. 5 NeilM 01/01/2011 at 7:38 pm

    We keep saying we need four times the computing power.

    I suspect they will forever be saying such and blaming the tools when in fact the problem lies with the tool-heads who keep programing the computers to produce political correct results.

    What a pointless and expensive waste of money and effort!

  6. 6 NeilM 01/01/2011 at 7:42 pm

    We’re talking just 10 or 20 million a year — dollars or pounds — which is tiny compared to the damage done by disasters.

    What value then Piers Corbyn or Joe Bastardi who can actually make credible and useful forecasts using nothing but the wet-ware between their ears?

  7. 7 Tufty 01/01/2011 at 8:32 pm

    I think Julia Slingo is being disingenuous. She doesn’t expect to get her new computer, so she is preparing the ground for future Met Office seasonal prediction failures – blame it on the lack of computing power. It’s how they play the game.

  8. 8 Rereke Whakaaro 02/01/2011 at 9:13 am

    A Joke I shared with the readers of joannenova.com.au … [slightly modified]

    Question: How does the Met Office work?

    Answer:
    Well, they have ten Meteorologists, and the Chief Scientist asks, “Who thinks it is going to rain tomorrow?”

    Seven Meteorologists raise their hands.

    So the Chief Scientist walks over to their multi-billion dollar super-computer and types “7″ into the input field of The Climate Model.

    Lights flash, and disks whirl, and bells ting, and the answer comes up:

    “69.999% probability of rain tomorrow”.

    And the Chief Scientist turns to the Climate Modeller, and asks, “Why haven’t you fixed that round-off error yet?”

    And the Climate Modeller replies … all together now …, “We need four times more computing power” … Ta dah.

  9. 9 Tom 02/01/2011 at 5:21 pm

    Michael St George 4:27 pm

    “In retrospect, we were able to predict”.

    err… nope… they can’t – “postcasting” a known result hasn’t been very successful from the present crop of software models (i.e. the stuff they’re using to forecast doom). . Otherwise they’d be shouting it from the rooftops. Check out modelling results on WUWT

    A “Supercomputer” is likely to simply get an erroneous result somewhat faster.

    They won’t even talk about other folks successful predictions of the weather, and no doubt the PR department are combing the web archives to expunge past UKMO whoopsies. Scum.

    What I want to know is when Sir Patrick Moore is going to wade in? I mean Mars… no cars, no oil, no coal, but episodic polar icing c’mon Monbiot, Mann et al explain that?

  10. 10 Greg 03/01/2011 at 12:07 pm

    In days gone by, the king would ask the oracles whether there would be a good harvest in the following year. The oracles would then go away and slaughter some chickens and examine their entrails and would then provide their forecast to the king. As the results were only randomly correct, there being no correlation between chicken entrails and weather, more often than not, the oracles got it wrong. This would upset the king, but the oracles were able to convince him that it was not their methodology that was wrong, but that they just needed more chickens to improve the accuracy of their forecast.

    The Met now tells us they also want more chickens.


  1. 1 Bastardi en Corbyn over gebruik van computers voor weersverwachtingen | Dagelijkse Standaard Trackback on 05/01/2011 at 3:31 pm
  2. 2 Met Office’s pathetic self justification and lack of attention to detail « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 25/06/2011 at 12:54 pm
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