Addressing the Daily Mail and James Delingpole’s ‘crazy climate change obsession’ article

10 01 2013

An article by James Delingpole appears in the Daily Mail today under the headline The crazy climate change obsession that’s made the Met Office a menace’.

This article contains a series of factual inaccuracies about the Met Office and its science, as outlined below.

Firstly, he claims the Met Office failed to predict snow in 2010, but our 5-day forecasts accurately forecast 12 out of 13 snowfall events – as you can see in this article. In addition the Press Complaints Commission has also already addressed this fallacy with the Daily Telegraph in February of last year. As a result the newspaper published a clarification that highlighted that “the Met Office did warn the public of last winter’s [2010/11] cold weather from early November 2010.” 

Mr Delingpole also says we failed to predict flooding in November last year. Once again, our 5-day forecasts gave accurate guidance and warnings throughout the period. In just one example of feedback the Met Office has received for highly accurate forecasting and guidance throughout 2012, Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton, Chair for the Local Resilience Forum for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (which was one of the areas most affected by flooding in November), said: “[I] would like to formally thank and recognise the hard work of the Met Office over the past week. The information you provided was invaluable and enabled the responders in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to prepare and respond effectively to assist our communities.”

Mr Delingpole then inaccurately states that the Met Office has conceded ‘there is no evidence that ‘global warming’ is happening’. We have not said this at any point.

In fact, we explicitly say this was not the case in an article, posted on the home page of our website and widely circulated, which was written in response to articles about updates to our decadal forecast. Professor Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist, has also provided a more in depth feature on ‘Decadal Forecasting – What is it and what does it tell us?’.

Further on in the print version of the article (although amended online), Mr Delingpole says “According to the Met, Britain is apparently experiencing more rain by volume and intensity than at any time since records began.” Although he is right in saying the Met Office has published preliminary observations which show an increase in the intensity and volume of rain, we are clear that this relates to a period from 1960 onwards – not ‘since records began’ as he claims.

He also states that the Met Office was trying to defend a narrative that the “the past ten years have been the ‘wettest decade ever’”. Again, this is not something the Met Office has ever said.

Also he quotes David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation saying that the Met Office ‘thinks weather forecasting is beneath it’ and that ‘climate change… brings in more money’.

A cursory glance at our annual report and accounts (pdf) would reveal weather forecasting represents the vast majority of the Met Office’s contractual work on behalf of the public.

There are also a number of other accusations which cannot be substantiated.

Mr Delingpole does quote Dr Whitehouse saying “when it comes to four or five day weather forecasting, the Met Office is the best in the world.”

This supports the view of the World Meterological Organization (WMO) which consistently ranks the Met Office in the top two operational forecasters in the world.

Our reputation for forecasting accuracy is based on our commitment to provide the world’s best weather and climate service which helps protect lives and property here in the UK and around the world.


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137 responses

10 01 2013
essiep

The Daily Mail does not let the facts get in the way of a story! Nothing new there, they’ve been doing that since before the war. What baffles me is why so many people buy this paper.

10 01 2013
hesychast (@hesychast)

Please take him to court. He needs to be taught that he can’t just keep writing rubbish. Though I suspect he would become a martyr.

10 01 2013
LinneaRowlatt

Agreed; he should be taken to court. Since he’d lose, he wouldn’t be a martyr but an avenue for education.

12 01 2013
Robert

No agreed. As a government agency, the Met Office cannot sue for libel. Even trying would bring opprobrium on the organisation.

Far better is the classy rebuttal above, which discredits the journalist’s ‘research’ and argument.

10 01 2013
Geof Newman (@fludulurt)

Dave, I’m so pleased with your rebuttal of James Delingpole’s article. Quite what his intention was by writing such a badly researched article is beyond me other than sensation seeking.

I think the Met Office do a fantastic job and have been spot on with forecasts. I’m sure the effects of this years flooding events would have been a lot worse if not for the hard work of everybody in the Met Office.

11 01 2013
Daz

I am shocked—shocked, I tell you!—that anyone would make the accusation that Delingpole researches anything, badly or not.

11 01 2013
pendantry

I seem to recall him admitting that he’s not a researcher, he’s an interpreter of research done by others. Or some such bollocks.

10 01 2013
etonmess (@etonmessuk)

Amazed to see it has been 15 seconds and there aren’t a million and one climate change deniers on here.

It’s probably because they are already convinced that Global Warming is a massive communist-marxist conspiracy invented by evil scientists (including the Met Office) and the ‘EUSSR’… who are all part of a baffling conspiracy with no obvious point.

They have no doubt moved on to the next great scourge of the free market: this so-called ‘gravity’ that the same scientists pretend exists.

It is why at exactly midday tomorrow, James Delingpole, Lord Monckton and the entire crew of Fox News are going to ride a giant unicycle off the edge of the Grand Canyon and PROVE CONCLUSIVELY that they are also correct about the lies that gravity-believers peddle.

10 01 2013
Ian Slaney

I shouldn’t place too much credence on the Mail’s article. The journalist is clearly out to create a stir which is so often the way with contributions from that newspaper. As to the Met Offices’s record, I have nothing but praise for your efforts. Just go back a few years to when weather forecasting was little more than inspired guesswork – today it is quite remarkable what you achieve armed with today’s technology. Congratulations on the excellent blog, it is very informative.
Ian Slaney

10 01 2013
gamanrad

Reblogged this on yogazazen and commented:
I wish James Delingpole no ill but I am very glad that he has had this strong rebuttal.

10 01 2013
toffer99

That’s good of you but I wish him lots of ill, bags of it, rolling heaps of ill. His trash ideas really do cause harm, and quite why the Telegraph still uses him, I don’t know. The Mail is just after page views, and anything that gets those is welcomed by those who publish it.

10 01 2013
Mike Rigby (@MikeSRigby)

I’d sooner get my science from scientists rather than an Eng Lit bloviator like Mr Delingpole. He only gets column inches and webspace in newspapers as those with extreme views like him, drive traffic to newspaper websites, boosting the rates that they can charge for online advertising. I don’t expect even he believes much of what he says but I guess it makes him some money.

10 01 2013
caerbannog666 (@caerbannog666)

Maybe you should ship Delingpole over to our side of the pond. He’d be a very small minnow in an ocean of American idiocy and would quickly be lost in the noise.

You Brits would enjoy a statistically significant reduction in idiocy over there, and we would suffer only a statistically insignificant (and unnoticeable) increase in idiocy over here.

11 01 2013
pauldwaite

We tried that with Piers Morgan. IT DIDN’T WORK

10 01 2013
David Longhorn

Does Delingpole care, though? This is a neat, detailed rebuttal that millions of ordinary, scientifically illiterate people will never read. They read denialist tripe in the right-wing press every day. Delingpole, meanwhile, makes good money with his essentially nihilistic, sod-the-facts approach. Depressing.

10 01 2013
FrankFisher

That’s a pretty poor rebuttal. Dellers says you say that there is no global warming taking place *at the moment* – and on your own temperature figures, there isn’t. When did *observed data* last show warming?

10 01 2013
10 01 2013
marcvsbarcvs

What an utterly disingenuous, strawman rebuttal. The MetOffice knows fine well that the subject of Delingpole’s polemic was the MetOffice’s SEASONAL forecasts. Delingpole is quite correct that the MetOffice thus failed to predict the cold 10/11 winter, predicted a “BBQ” summer before a dire summer, and forecasted droughts immediately before floods this year. It is no defence at all to pray in aid, in response to these criticisms, that the MetOffice’s 5 DAY forecast is (entirely unsurprisingly) much more accurate – a fact which, as yuo were pleased to point out, Delingpole himself acknowledged.

Further evidence, were any needed, of the MetOffice’s partisan, propagandist stance on cliamte change. Shame on you.

10 01 2013
Barry Woods

Are you going to respond to Paul Hudson (BBC)concerns about Met Office model running to warm, and forecasting problems..

In Many ways this is similar to Delingpoles ‘concerns’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulhudson/2013/01/met-office-scale-back-global-w.shtml

Paul Hudson:

“I have written several times in the last few years on the subject of Met Office global temperature predictions, and how they have been regularly too warm.

In the 12 years to 2011, 11 out of 12 forecasts were too high – and although all projections were within the stated margin of error, none were colder than expected.

One of their most high profile forecasts came in late 2009, coinciding with the Copenhagen climate conference.

It stated that half the years between 2010 and 2015 would be hotter than the hottest year on record, which I wrote about on my blog.

This already appears wide of the mark.

The latest projection seems to address this error with a prediction to 2017 in which temperatures rise 20% less than previously estimated.

In November 2009 I wrote about this levelling off in global temperatures, using research available at the time on the Met Office website.

In it, the Met Office explained that the levelling off of global temperatures that we were experiencing can be expected at time periods of a decade or less, because of the computer models internal climate variability.

But intriguingly, the research ruled out zero trends for time periods of 15 years or more.

The new projection, if correct, would mean there will have been little additional warming for two decades despite rising greenhouse gases.

It’s bound to raise questions about the robustness and reliability of computer simulations that governments around the world are using in order to determine policies aimed at combating global warming.

The Met Office says natural cycles have caused the recent slowdown in warming, including perhaps changes in the suns activity, and ocean currents.

And mainstream climate scientists, who are in a majority, say that when the natural cooling factors change again, temperatures will be driven up further by greenhouse gases.

But climate sceptics, who have long argued that natural processes are either underestimated, or not properly understood, will not be surprised at this scaling back of expected warming.”

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

Barry,
We have had several conversations with Paul Hudson on this issue and he even exlpains our position within his articles on how global temperatures are observed.

‘Some scientists who I have spoken to suggest that one of problems is the lack of observations in the Arctic, which is known to have warmed faster than other parts of the world.

They point out that if proper account was taken of this area of the world, then the overall observed global temperature would be higher, a point acknowledged by the Met Office when I spoke to them earlier this week.’

This issue was addressed in the update to our global temperature record early last year. The latest version of the dataset, called HadCRUT4, includes newly available data – notably adding much more information from the sparsely observed northern higher latitude region.

Differences in the way sea surface temperature observations have been collected have been taken account of and the new version also provides much more detail on uncertainty.

The new study brings together our latest and most comprehensive databases of land and marine temperature observations, along with recent advances in our understanding of how measurements were made at sea. These have been combined to give us a clearer picture of what the historical data can tell us about global climate change over the past 161 years.

Updates have resulted in some changes to individual years in the nominal global mean temperature record, but have not changed the overall warming signal of about 0.75 °C since 1900.

One of the key reasons for slight changes to mean temperature for later years in HadCRUT4 is the inclusion of much more data from the Arctic, an area which is warming faster than other parts of the world.

11 01 2013
roddycampbell

Oh lord, you’re up-weighting the Arctic? Don’t tell Barry ….

15 01 2013
clivebest

Hadcrut4 added 628 new stations and discarded 176 stations. All the new stations were in high northern latitudes especially round the Arctic. No stations at all were added from the Southern Hemisphere, while some others were discarded. Although the coverage in the Arctic improved, the coverage in Antarctica is still very poor. In that sense the extra weighting given to the Arctic may have skewed global temperatures to higher values. It is not yet clear fully clear whether Antarctica is warming or not. Also, in principal if the area weighted average is done properly it shouldn’t matter how many stations are included so long as each grid cell is populated.

15 01 2013
Martin Lack

clivebest: Antarctica as a whole may not be warming very fast because of the hole in the ozone layer above it. Therefore, as this continues to repair itself (following international agreement to ban CFCs), warming is likely to accelerate. Similar problems will arise globally as industrial pollution in developing countries is brought under better control. However, the Antarctic Peninsula (i.e. furthest from the geographic pole and ozone hole) is warming every bit as fast as the Arctic.
http://weatherdem.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/research-west-antarctic-warming-greater-than-thought/

Therefore, as I have said to you before, I think you need to be more careful who you get your scientific “facts” from…

10 01 2013
Jae Mather (@JaeMather)

A wonderful rebuttal! Well done Met Office.

10 01 2013
thehutts

Your forecast of rain was spot on for my location today. Thanks, as I got the wood cut in the dry this morning and didn’t waste time on a job that needed a full day of clear/dry weather. Hoping to get the job done tomorrow as the forecast snow at the weekend would make it nearly impossible not just unpleasant. Sally

10 01 2013
Chris Lane

Sir,

I think that Mr Delingpole is questioning the accuracy of the Met Office medium and long term forecasts and not their five day ones. With regard to the Winter of 2010, can I draw your attention to this article from October in that year.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/8090325/Met-Office-data-suggests-mild-winter-but-dont-forget-last-year.html

Surely, matters would be clearer if The Met Office made clear and unambiguous statements about their own predictive abilities. If the Met Office can’t predict what a coming Winter or Summer will be like, they should keep there guesses to themselves.

10 01 2013
Dave Britton

Chris more detail in relation to the story in the Telegraph can be seen here. http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/winter-forecast/. The Met Office has been clear on the relative skill of forecasts across different timescales, including at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/in-depth/our-role and http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2010/forecasts-change

10 01 2013
vivinfrance

Time to invoke the Press Complaints Commission, maybe?

10 01 2013
Richard Mitton

No one argues about climate change etonmess (@etonmessuk) (15:20:38). However when organisations start saying that the science is settled on AGW, when clearly it isn’t then you have to think about the reasons why. The Met Office is just as guilty of this as is the bbc and lets not start talking about IPCC etc. There are plenty of websites out there for you to peruse to find that the sciance is most definately not settled on AGW.

11 01 2013
owlbrudder

“There are plenty of websites out there for you to peruse to find that the sciance [sic] is most definately [sic] not settled on AGW.”

Websites and blogs are not necessarily the places to go to find good science. The litmus test is whether the science under discussion has been published in a respected, peer-reviewed journal. If a blog post refers to such published papers and interprets them correctly, then it might have some weight, but it does not make the blog post ‘good science’, any more than Mr. Delingpole’s article was ‘good science’.

If you search the published papers, you will find that AGW science is as settled as any scientific theory ever gets. In the same way, gravity is only a theory, but it is also settled science.

Moral: don’t believe anything a blogger says, unless there are links given to the underlying, published scientific papers, that you can read for yourself.

11 01 2013
John Havery Samuel

Anthropogenic climate change (ACC)/anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is not a hypothesis. It is a robust theory, referred to as “settled fact” by scientists.

Per the National Academies of Science, in their 2010 publication Advancing The Science Of Climate Change (pp 44-45):
“Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small.

Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts.

This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”
http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12782

And note that the above National Academies paper is available for free download after a free registration. No purchase necessary. And the quote is from pages 44 & 45.

10 01 2013
mpcraig

I was just wondering if you were also going to address the inaccuracies in this BBC report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20947224

It’s interesting that the Met Office would release a report on Christmas Eve. Probably part of the transparency efforts I guess.

10 01 2013
Dave Britton

David has chanegd the piece to make it clearer that the warming is above the long term 1971-2000 19long-term average

10 01 2013
Julian Brimelow

Thank you for being proactive and not taking this sheer idiocy from Delingpole lying down. Please keep it up! Promptly refuting these nonsensical claims is annoying and time consuming, but it needs to be done as many times as required.

10 01 2013
rwtravels

Delingpole admitted that he doesn’t read peer reviewed papers about climate science but sees himself instead as an “interpreter of interpretations”. He also got completely floored by a simple analogy presented to him by Paul Nurse:

His minimal credibility is shredded still further by this measured but devastating rebuttal to his wild claims.

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

Read the letter from the BBC produce who lied to Delingpole about the nature of the chat,the letter to Delingpole is reproduced here:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/03/has-the-bbc-has-broken-faith-with-the-general-public/

11 01 2013
gammonshanks

I would be interested to read the supposed letter to Delingpole – if, that is, it were reproduced on a more reliable source.

14 01 2013
John Havery Samuel

One can rely upon Watts – but not the way he intends. :-)

10 01 2013
Andrew Jones-McGuire

While I do not believe that Anthropogenic Climate Change has been proven beyond any doubt to be happening and therefore disagree with the Met Office stance on it – especially in respect to their blinkered view – I respect the Met Office in it’s other efforts. I’m glad the Met Office has taken the effort to issue a rebuttal to the article – but I wouldn’t worry too much about any damage it might of caused to the reputation of the Met Office – since I’m fairly sure World+Dog knows the Daily Mail is only useful for lighting the fire or replacement toilet tissue…..

11 01 2013
John Havery Samuel

Anthropogenic climate change (ACC)/anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is not a hypothesis. It is a robust theory, referred to as “settled fact” by scientists.

Per the National Academies of Science, in their 2010 publication Advancing The Science Of Climate Change (pp 44-45):
“Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small.

Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts.

This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”
http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12782

And note that the above National Academies paper is available for free download after a free registration. No purchase necessary. And the quote is from pages 44 & 45.

10 01 2013
Michael Roberts

I have to say, having had many arguments with James and his followers on his blog, he is clutching at straws. He is a Libertarian anti-science hack.

10 01 2013
Kyle Harrison (@KyleFitzgeraldH)

The blog keeps talking about 5 day forecasts. No one is saying the problem with the Met is its short term forecasts. The problem is its medium and long term forecasts, which are very often wrong. Even the Met admits long and medium term forecasting is no where near as reliable as short term. So then why should we believe organisations like the Met when they are making long term predictions about the climate?

10 01 2013
Martin Lack

I tried submitting a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) regarding David Rose’s similarly repititious attempts to paint the Met Office (MO) as either incompetent or willfully deceptive. Sadly, the PCC were forced to deal with my complaint because the MO declined to get involved (even though the PCC asked them if they wanted to). However, I really do think, as others have suggested here, that the time has come for the MO to stop issuing rebuttals and take these idiots to Court.

10 01 2013
Dave Britton

Martin, many of the points made in the story you refer to were ‘comment’ and would not necessarily fall under the PCC. We have written two blog posts in response to the two very similar articles written for the Mail on Sunday by David Rose, explaining in each case the statements that we belived to be misleading and explained why. However, I thank you for taking the time and effort to raise these issues with the Press Complaints Commission.

10 01 2013
roddycampbell

Dave, well done for not getting PCC-happy, especially with a renowned polemicist one of whose previous Mail articles was entitled ”How the BBC fell for a Marxist plot to destroy Civilisation from within’. I am glad you recognise that would be a waste of your time and taxpayer money! Best …

10 01 2013
Martin Lack

Thanks Dave. I am afraid I got tired of the obfuscatory responses submitted by the Mail on Sunday and told the PCC to just go ahead and make a decision. However, the PCC have said I can publish their decision in the case, which I have now done:
http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/a-case-is-concluded/

10 01 2013
Barry Woods

could you free up my comment, and any others stuck in moderation please.

10 01 2013
Barry Woods

timescales..

James acknowledge your 5 days wether forecasts are good, as did Dr David Whitehouse, so short term thanks for 5 days forecasts (or less) of flooding from councils, etc is hiding the pea under the thimble..

perhaps the councils were caught out because they were hearing media stories stating that the Met Office was predicting high probabilities of a severe drought lasting to Xmas, and to conserve water..

just perhaps this led the councils to be unprepared that year for flooding..

but I’m sure the short term forecaste (5 days orless) of flooding were very welcome..

10 01 2013
Martin Lack

Nice try, Barry. Meanwhile, I think the reality train is in danger of leaving without you… I think you need to read this rebuttal from the MO again because, whatever is the grain of truth you think you have found in Delingpole’s article, it is completely buried by an avalanche of facts provided by the organisation JD has so clearly misrepresented….

Do record-breaking numbers of extreme weather events – and insurance claims – all around the World… not make you question your “scepticism” even for a moment…? If not, will widespread increases in food prices and/or civil disorder do so? If you think they might, I suspect your “scepticism” has a very short shelf life; and look forward to you accepting the nature of reality before the next General Election here in the UK (2015).

11 01 2013
nebakhet

IS there a record-breaking number of extreme events around the world?

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

There’s certainly a lot of newsworthy weather around the world at the moment. Last year was the wettest on record in England, there are wildfires and very high temperatures in Australia and recently it’s been unusually cold with snow in Syria. However it’s very difficult to say whether these individual spells of weather are down to the natural variability in the world’s weather or whether there’s an element of climate change involved. This is a key area for investigation by climate scientists.

12 01 2013
Martin Lack

There are many ways in which nebakhet’s question could be answered, but here is one of my recent favourites: http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/01/noaas-state-of-the-climate-a-litany-of-2012-weather-records/

12 01 2013
Martin Lack

Then, of course, thanks to the diligence of people like James Hansen, there is the small matter of the climate dice now being loaded, shifting the average temperature upwards and flattening the probability distribution curve. All of which has,over the last few decades, made a greater range of events possible; and warmer extremes more frequent than they used to be.
http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/the-reason-we-keep-getting-double-six/

10 01 2013
JabbaTheCat

From the DT, Delingpole summarises with

“Let’s just remind ourselves of the key charges against the Met Office:

1. Since 1990, when it was taken over by the arch-warmist Sir John Houghton (founder of the IPCC), it has become so wedded to the cause of promoting the AGW “consensus” with the help of its dodgy computer models that it has grown increasingly out of touch with climate reality.

2. The dramatic warming it has been so assiduously been predicting these last few year simply hasn’t materialised. This suggests there is a major flaw with the AGW theory on which the Met Office has rather foolishly decided to stake its credibility.

3. Rather than admit its failure publicly, the Met Office tried to adjust its forecasts by stealth – on Christmas Eve: a good time to bury bad news – and got found out, embarrassed and humiliated.

4. Its desperation to “prove” the existence of man-made global warming has had an unfortunate knock-on effect on its weather forecasting, which in recent years has grown unreliable – especially in the medium and long term forecasting range – because it uses the same computer models which predict CO2 induced global warming.

5. We pay £200 million a year for this useless quango. We deserve far better for our money.

6. The Met Office has not managed to defend itself against a single one of these key charges, preferring instead to do what it always does when criticised: deny, distract, obfuscate. The blog it has written justifying itself is no better than an arsonist standing up in court and saying: “Well I’m not saying whether or not I burned down all those buildings your honour, but it’s bleeding outrageous of Mr Delingpole to say I didn’t wipe my shoes on the doormats before I visited those premises: and I demand he retracts that outrageous allegation immediately.”

10 01 2013
src2000

Too many Idiots like Delingpole making up stories and being paid to do it.
It’s a pity he doesn’t understand the amount of effort the Met office put into getting this right.
If he put some effort into research he might be able to do half a job with his reporting, but he is clearly lazy.
He probably just does this as he’s incapable of anything better and then some other idiot who doesn’t have a clue is paying him to write rubbish for other idiots to read.

10 01 2013
FrankSW (@FrankSW2)

Even I know the difference between 5 days and anything over 10 days. 5 days the met office is probably right anything over two weeks I find that it pays to take the opposing view. And now it turns out I was right to do the same with your multidecadal climate scare forecasts as well.

Not really a rebuttal is it when the only accuracy you can brag about comes from very short term forecasts ?

10 01 2013
Craig Thomas

It’s a shame the government doesn’t have a mechanism for stifling the emission of deliberate untruths by 3rd-rate media organisations.

10 01 2013
Roy Everett

You could be spinning this story as a triumph of how, in the nick of time, the Met Office and Phil Jones, working together, exposed a multi-trillion dollar international fraud came about from the anthropogenic global warming racket. Yet instead you are wasting blogspace by arguing about whether or not some Met Office forecast about a snowflake landing on Chipping Camden was accurate. Get a grip and start reporting on this scandal instead of wriggling around as though you knew all about it from the start!

10 01 2013
bobchewie

I called delingpole a nut case on Twitter he was online to john ward I asked john why he was communicating with that nut case delingpole . Oddly enough delinhpole retweeted my comment about him . I dunno maybe he loves that reputation ? He always has these lunatic reds under the bed conspiracy theories for some reason

10 01 2013
(X)MCCLXIII

I’m afraid this blog post is very poor.

You make a big deal about the phrase “since records began” being removed from the online version of James’ article. So I did two things:

1. Read the Met office press release at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/2012-weather-statistics. It did very strongly imply “since records began”:

“Provisional statistics from the Met Office show 2012 was the second wettest year in the UK national record dating back to 1910, and just a few millimetres short of the record set in 2000.”

2. Online news sources all over the world have taken that interpretation: Scientific American, Metro, Exeter Today, the Guardian, the BBC …

If the Met Office is concerned about being misrepresented they only have themselves to blame and should look to themselves for the solution.

10 01 2013
Dave Britton

Sorry, you miss the point and I apologise if the blog is not clear. The part of the release Mr. Delingpole is referring to is our preliminary study on changes in amounts of and intensity of rainfall. The news release clearly states this refers to data since 1960 not from 1910 when the UK record begins.

11 01 2013
nebakhet

Blog is perfectly clear. Some people try too hard to defend Delingpole that’s all.

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

can you free up my comment that has been in moderation for 5 hours – I merely quote BBC’s Paul Hudson take on this, and would like a response.

thanks

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

which makes Delingpole point.. the Met has earlier records, why quote from 1960..

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

Barry, As isclearly highlighted this is a preliminary study of rainfall patterns in the UK.

10 01 2013
(X)MCCLXIII

Actually, I’m quite angry about this. The Met Office very clearly did say “2012 was the wettest year on record for England” see the Met Office press release, on the Met Office web site, at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/2012-weather-statistics

You should be ashamed of yourselves for the dishonesty of this blog post.

10 01 2013
Dave Britton

Sorry, you miss the point and I apologise if the blog is not clear. The part of the release Mr. Delingpole is referring to is our preliminary study on changes in amounts of and intensity of rainfall. The news release clearly states this refers to data since 1960 not from 1910 when the UK record begins.

10 01 2013
(X)MCCLXIII

I’m sorry, but I disagree. I’ve gone back to study the press release and I do not think that your assertion of its clarity is justified.

I was encouraged by your comment to read the original Daily Mail article online. I’m afraid I think it fair comment and based closely on facts as you presented them in you press release (even allowing for the online deletion which you seem to use to imply ill will on the part of James Delingpole). I think you’re losing credibility and should not be vilifying and misrepresenting your critics, as you are doing here.

11 01 2013
nebakhet

seriously (X)MCCLXIII, look:

2012 was the wettest year on record in England. Record goes back to 1910:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/actualmonthly/

2012 was the 2nd wettest year on record in the UK. Record goes back to 1910.

Delingpole wasn’t referring to either of these.

10 01 2013
blackadderthe4th

Why not get over to Delingpoles blog and tell him directly

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/jamesdelingpole/

10 01 2013
Oliver Kealey (@keewa)

Take him to court please!

10 01 2013
Mike Hutchinson

Gosh it’s wet today…

10 01 2013
cmdocker

“Let’s just remind ourselves of the key charges against the Met Office:

1. Since 1990, when it was taken over by the arch-warmist Sir John Houghton (founder of the IPCC), it has become so wedded to the cause of promoting the AGW “consensus” with the help of its dodgy computer models that it has grown increasingly out of touch with climate reality.

2. The dramatic warming it has been so assiduously been predicting these last few year simply hasn’t materialised. This suggests there is a major flaw with the AGW theory on which the Met Office has rather foolishly decided to stake its credibility.

3. Rather than admit its failure publicly, the Met Office tried to adjust its forecasts by stealth – on Christmas Eve: a good time to bury bad news – and got found out, embarrassed and humiliated.

4. Its desperation to “prove” the existence of man-made global warming has had an unfortunate knock-on effect on its weather forecasting, which in recent years has grown unreliable – especially in the medium and long term forecasting range – because it uses the same computer models which predict CO2 induced global warming.

5. We pay £200 million a year for this useless quango. We deserve far better for our money.

6. The Met Office has not managed to defend itself against a single one of these key charges, preferring instead to do what it always does when criticised: deny, distract, obfuscate. The blog it has written justifying itself is no better than an arsonist standing up in court and saying: “Well I’m not saying whether or not I burned down all those buildings your honour, but it’s bleeding outrageous of Mr Delingpole to say I didn’t wipe my shoes on the doormats before I visited those premises: and I demand he retracts that outrageous allegation immediately.”

Could you please answer these key charges individually Dave…….

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

Many of these ‘charges’ are opinion, and Mr. Delingpole provides no evidence for his ‘charges’ especially 1, 4 and 6.
On 2, we have repeatedly been clear that this latest forecast will mean we continue to see near-record temperatures in the coming years, and this forecast means nothing for the long-term trend in global temperatures.
On 3, I concede that Christmas Eve may not appear to be the best time to issue this forecast. However, we produce vast amounts of science routinely and this is often placed on our website, encouraging openness and transparency with our scientific colleagues and the public alike. These predictions have been updated every year at this time as part of the requirements from Government, who pays for this research. The prediction uses latest information on the observed state of the climate as its starting point, so it is run in December for the coming 5 years. The prediction was placed online at the earliest opportunity whilst meeting deadlines agreed with our customer.
On 5, and this is a small point. The Met Office is a trading fund of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and as a result all our work is undertaken on a contractual basis for all the work we undertake. Research has shown that, for example, for every £1.40 invested in our Public Weather Service, there is a £10 return to the UK, supporting economic growth, whilst helping to keep people safe and well.

10 01 2013
clivebest

The Met office short term forecasts are the best in the world! It is also very difficult to get medium term forecasts right. No-one can blame you if you stick to making “honest” evidence based predictions. So the so-called failure to predict flooding medium term is irrelevant. However these are all side issues and the Dellingpole’s Mail article was not really about that at all. It was about anthropogenic global warming.

James Delingpole describes himself as a polemicist, which is someone who goes a bit over the top in order to make his point. The only serious point in his article relates to global warming, and this alone is what the Met Office should respond to.

“In 2007, its Hadley Centre for climate change research produced a briefing document for the Government claiming its state-of-the-art computer models left no doubt: man-made global warming was a very real threat which needed to be addressed urgently by policy-makers. Many in the Government were impressed for, a year later, the 2008 Climate Change Act was passed by an overwhelming majority. The act has been described by veteran journalist Christopher Booker as the most expensive legislation in history, committing the government to as much as £734 billion (£18.3 billion a year for the next 40 years) in extra spending to ‘decarbonise’ the economy.”

Now as it has turned out that the rapid rise in temperatures from 1970-2000 was to a large extent caused by natural oscillations. These same oscillations caused a natural cooling of the climate from 1940-1970. Since 2000 we have now entered a similar downturn which will last until roughly 2030. The net result will be that globally temperatures will likely remain static until 2030. GCM models have been tuned assuming that all observed warming since 1970 was only caused by man, ignoring natural variations. There is an underlying AGW signal of producing a 0.5 – 1C warming by 2100, but we have 90 years to deal with it – not 20.

The new Met Office predictions reflect this fact by re-tuning the model to better fit observed data since 2000 – this is science. Their PR problem though is that by “calling wolf” in 2007 just before the credit crunch, the UK has now committed itself to essentially unachievable goals for carbon reductions that are incompatible with economic growth.

The scientific problem with the climate change act 2008 is that the UK acting unilaterally will have no effect whatsoever on CO2 levels in the atmosphere, nor will it “tackle climate change”. If the UK were to switch off all the lights tomorrow then we might just manage to offset the increase in China’s emissions by 12 months. We have plenty of time to develop a serious alternative energy source – nuclear fusion.

11 01 2013
nebakhet

“The only serious point in his article relates to global warming, and this alone is what the Met Office should respond to.”

If Delingpole really did hide his one serious point in a haystack of non-serious smears, that’s his fault. Not the Met Office’s.

“Now as it has turned out that the rapid rise in temperatures from 1970-2000 was to a large extent caused by natural oscillations.”

No it hasn’t. If you just make up stuff like this you can claim anything.

11 01 2013
rwtravels

“Now as it has turned out that the rapid rise in temperatures from 1970-2000 was to a large extent caused by natural oscillations”

Nothing of the sort has turned out. The most recent IPCC report concluded that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations” – very likely meaning greater than 90% probabilty.

“GCM models have been tuned assuming that all observed warming since 1970 was only caused by man, ignoring natural variations”

No GCM has ever ignored natural variations.

11 01 2013
clivebest

@nebakhet & rwtravels

OK you’re right guys. Sorry – I need to correct that statement. It should properly have read:

“Now it has turned out that about a third of the observed rapid rise in temperatures from 1970-2000 was actually caused by natural oscillations.”

There is an enhanced greenhouse effect caused by man. The magnitude of this effect, however is significantly less than past IPCC predictions. The new MET Office forecast reflects this new reality. The climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is unlikely to be more than 2C.

We have far more time that imagined to develop real energy alternatives. The climate change act needs amending because it was based on erroneous figures and is now causing serious damage to the UK economy.

11 01 2013
rwtravels

That’s quite a dramatic downgrade of your previous claim. But still highly questionable. You present this claim as if it’s something recently discovered, whereas it’s always been known and understood that solar, volcanic and oceanic effects all contribute to observed atmospheric temperature trends. Which study or studies attribute “a third of the observed rapid rise in temperatures from 1970-2000″ to natural oscillations? Which previous studies claimed something different? Note again the IPCC summary which states that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations”

Very few climate studies find evidence for climate sensitivities below 2C. Perhaps you could quote links to whichever papers support your claim.

11 01 2013
clivebest

“Very few climate studies find evidence for climate sensitivities below 2C. Perhaps you could quote links to whichever papers support your claim.”

most recent papers are finding much lower climate sensitivities.

Estimate of climate sensitivity from carbonate microfossils dated near the Eocene-Oligocene global cooling 1.1 +- 0.4 , M. W. Asten
School of Geosciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia, Climate of the Past

Aldrin, M., et al., 2012. Bayesian estimation of climate sensitivity based on a simple climate model fitted to observations oh hemispheric temperature and global ocean heat content. Environmetrics,

Gillett, N.P., et al., 2012. Improved constraints on 21st-century warming derived using 160 years of temperature observations. Geophysical Research Letters, 39,

Olson, R., et al., 2012. A climate sensitivity estimate using Bayesian fusion of instrumental observations and an Earth System model. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117,

Padilla, L. E., G. K. Vallis, and C. W. Rowley, 2011. Probabilistic estimates of transient climate sensitivity subject to uncertainty in forcing and natural variability. Journal of Climate, 24, 5521-5537

Schmittner, A., et al., 2011. Climate sensitivity estimated from temperature reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum, Science, 344, 1385-1388

Richard Lindzen, one of the giants of Atmospheric Physics has been arguing for years that water feedback is far less than IPCC scientists have been claiming.

He is basically right. We need now need a balanced scientific approach.

12 01 2013
rwtravels

“most recent papers are finding much lower climate sensitivities.”

I searched google scholar for “climate sensitivity”, selecting papers from 2012 onwards. Here are the first 10 results which quote a climate sensitivity in the abstract.

1. “Climate Sensitivity of the Community Climate System Model, Version 4″: 3.2K

2. “Making sense of palaeoclimate sensitivity”: 2.2-4.5K

3. ” Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level, and Atmospheric CO2″: 3±1K

4. “Cloud Adjustment and its Role in CO2 Radiative Forcing and Climate Sensitivity: A Review”: 4.4K

5. “Forcing, feedbacks and climate sensitivity in CMIP5 coupled atmosphere-ocean climate models”: 2.1-4.7K

6. “The Evolution of Climate Sensitivity and Climate Feedbacks in the Community Atmosphere Model” : 4.0K

7. “Multivariate probabilistic projections using imperfect climate models. Part II: robustness of methodological choices and consequences for climate sensitivity”: 2.2-4.5K

8. “Can the Last Glacial Maximum constrain climate sensitivity?”: 2.5K

9. “A climate sensitivity estimate using Bayesian fusion of instrumental observations and an Earth System model”: 1.8-4.9K

10. “Geobiological constraints on Earth system sensitivity to CO2 during the Cretaceous and Cenozoic”: 3K

The 11th result I found was the Asten paper you quoted. One out of eleven recent papers is not “most recent papers”. This is an unbiased sample. How did you assemble your sample of papers?

Regarding “IPCC scientists” – there’s no such thing. The IPCC doesn’t employ scientists to carry out scientific research. It oversees the production of reports summarising the work of all climate scientists regardless of location or funding.

12 01 2013
clivebest

rwtravels,

It is probably not a good idea to get into a bun fight about feedbacks on this blog. I am convinced that H2O feedback must be small or negative based on the anthropic principal. If it were as positive as claimed (2watts/m2/K) then the oceans would have either boiled away billions of years ago as the sun brightened, or in response to many meteor impacts, super-volcanoes, super novae – so as a result we would not be here at all to fuss about AGW.

We have now entered a natural cooling period, so I am am prepared to wager a bottle of 15 year old Glenfiddich whisky that there will be no year before 2017 (or 2020 if you prefer) warmer than 1998, where significant means more than the quoted error on Hadcrut4 (0.05C) above 1998. The wager can be either with you, Dave or the Met Office !

13 01 2013
rwtravels

For the record, clivebest, you haven’t answered these straightforward questions that I asked:

Which study or studies attribute “a third of the observed rapid rise in temperatures from 1970-2000″ to natural oscillations? Which previous studies claimed something different? How did you assemble your sample of papers which claim low climate sensitivities?

“It is probably not a good idea to get into a bun fight about feedbacks on this blog”

What is that supposed to mean? Is it supposed to be some kind of threat? Or just you avoiding questions you don’t want to answer?

“If [water vapour feedback] were as positive as claimed (2watts/m2/K) then the oceans would have … boiled away billions of years ago”

No, they wouldn’t have. People do check their results for this kind of basic consistency with reality. Why would you imagine otherwise?

13 01 2013
clivebest

rwtravels,

1. My arguments as to why water feedback is likely negative are here http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=3659 The faint sun paradox is an interesting subject in its own right.
2. A general overview including arguments as to why about 1/3 of the observed rise in temperatures from 1970-2000 is natural is here http://clivebest.com/blog/?page_id=2949

Feel free to criticize it all on that blog.

10 01 2013
11 01 2013
Ali Babba

The Met office = junk science alarmists and a sad collection of revisionist liars.

11 01 2013
Daz

Reblogged this on The Dixie Flatline.

11 01 2013
Chris Lane

Can the Met Office effectively predict what a season will be like before it starts?
If so, in what year did the Met office first acquire the ability to make reliable seasonal forecasts?
What metrics were used to determine that seasonal forecasts had transitioned from flim-fam to valuable tools?

Can the Met Office effectively predict future climate?
Across what time-scales?
What year was this ability first acquired?
What mechanisms were used to validate the predictive methods used?
What proportion of methods that hind-cast correctly, forecast correctly?

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

The new graph, implies the Met Office accurately forecasted the eruption of a volcano Mt Pinutobo (before it happened) and the also forecast resulting temp change very accurately (compared to prev graph)

quick somebody tell the volcano experts the Met Office can predict major volcanic eruptions!!

Why are the outputs of a new model producing hindcasts, described by the Met Office as ‘previous predictions’ (the white lines)

old graph:
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/image19.png

new graph:
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/image18.png

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

To explain:

The red shaded area and the white line in the middle on the 2011 graph (shown bottom in your article) shows hindcasts from the old HadCM3 model
– we run the model for previous years to see what it would have predicted and then we see how closely it matches the real-world observations. This gives a measure of the skill of the model. For the
2012 forecast (shown top in your article), we upgraded to the HadGEM3 model, and as explained before, we tested this thoroughly using the hindcast from that model – I’m sure you’ll agree it wouldn’t make sense to give a forecast with one model, and a hindcast using another. What you can actually see from the new shaded red area and white line in the
2012 forecast is that our new model HadGEM3’s hindcast much more closely represents real-world observations – indicating a higher level of skill.
So this article from GWPF is really based on the fact that the author has noticed our new model has increased skill.

11 01 2013
clivebest

Dave,

So what is the principal difference between HADCM3 and HADGEM3 ? Is it not just really the case that it is the “natural variability” parameterisation that has been improved ?

HADGEM3 now gives a near perfect fit for its hindcast – even reproducing Pinatubu cooling. This cannot come from greenhouse gas theory and as far as I am aware there have been no breakthroughs in atmospheric, ocean or coupled models.

Therefore am I right to assume that the new forecast is mainly driven by the natural variation component of the model rather than the AGW component of the model ?

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

Clive, more information on HadCM3 can be found at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/modelling-systems/unified-model/climate-models/hadcm3 and on HadGEM3 at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/modelling-systems/unified-model/climate-models/hadgem3.

Decadal forecasts are specifically designed to forecast fluctuations in the climate system over the next few years through knowledge of the current climate state and multi-year variability of the oceans.

Decadal forecasts are produced using state-of-the-art climate models which include the four fundamental elements of the climate system, with comprehensive representation of the key fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and radiative transfer. The physical formulation of these models is the same as those used for climate change projections. In the case of the Met Office, the atmospheric component is the same as that used in global weather forecasting, with the result that the model is tested and evaluated on a daily basis.

Because decadal forecasts start from the current state of the climate system they also include the current state of greenhouse gas and aerosol loadings in the atmosphere and how these are expected to evolve over the period of the forecast i.e. the next few years. The change in radiative forcing is, of course, small over the period of the forecast, and so the forecast outcome, at least in first few years, is likely to be dominated by natural variations in the climate system, predominantly from the ‘weather’ in the oceans. Likewise forecasts made, say, a year apart are likely to differ because they start from a different initial condition, and ocean ‘weather’ will evolve differently.

The oceans interact strongly with the atmosphere, and so ocean ‘weather’ can change the patterns of weather in the atmosphere (as with the well known global impacts of El Nino/La Nina) and also affect temperatures and rainfall over land. The impacts of different aspects of ocean variability on the global mean temperature have been well-documented, and show that El Nino/La Nina can warm/cool global mean temperatures by at least 0.10C (e.g. Trenberth et al. 2002 ). Likewise Atlantic Multi-Decadal Variability, related to changes in the strength of the Thermohaline Circulation, can also affect global mean temperatures by a similar magnitude (Knight et al. 2005 ). We can see the influence of these natural variations imprinted on top of the long-term global warming trend in the global temperature record shown in Figure 1 (e.g. the peak warming in 1998 related to an exceptionally strong El Nino).

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

What does not make sense is labelling the hindcast output of the new computer model, as ‘previous predictions’

This cearly implies to the average reader that it was forecasted.

11 01 2013
mpcraig

Increased skill…

So you’ve added new climate mechanisms into the model that not only now accurately hindcast the mid 2000s downturn but also the Mt Pinatubo cooling.

As Seinfeld would say, “that’s one magic loogie”. I would say “well done”, give yourselves a raise.

There’s still the problem with the Verification subsection on the web page. Is Figure 3(b) the new hindcast, the old forecast, the previous predictions..?

11 01 2013
Dave Britton

It is the five-year mean forecast from November 2007.

11 01 2013
blackadderthe4th

‘The Met Office is very cross with me. Well you can hardly blame it given that I’ve just published a big piece explaining what a spectacular waste of taxpayers’ money it is’ Delingpole seems to be proud of his achievements! At least if you read his blog!

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

Of course, I am being sarcastic.. of course the met office can’t predict volcanoes, the original now replaced decadal forecast graph shows they can’t (big gap oberserved temps, vs projections because of the volcano

what they can do when they run a new model retrospectively, is of course include that information..

the sarcasm came about, because they label the new graph, the white line model output, with the volcanic factor retrospectively included, now matching observed temps, is described as ‘PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS’

11 01 2013
theraggededge (@Welshwoman)

In blacksmithing terms it’s called it ‘cutting the hoof to fit the shoe’.

11 01 2013
caerbannog666 (@caerbannog666)

Just thought I’d put up this tidbit for folks here to check out: http://img703.imageshack.us/img703/653/ghcnandcru.jpg

The above image shows results I got when I ran GHCNV2, GHCNV3, HadCRUT3, and HadCRUT4 data through a simple gridding-averaging procedure that I could teach second-semester programming students to code up. (I implemented a seriously “dumbed down” version of the gridding/averaging procedure used by NOAA and the CRU.)

In addition, I included the official NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” results (copy/pasted directly from the NASA/GISS web-site) in the plot for comparison purposes.

I used raw data where available (i.e. the GHCNV2, GHCNV3, and HadCRUT3 raw datasets were used). Note how similar all those raw data results are to the HadCRUT4 results (HadCRUT4 uses adjusted data, IIRC) *and* to the official NASA/GISS results.

The plot shows that the HADCrut4 and NASA/GISS data adjustments pretty much cancel each other out on global-average scales.

BTW, this was not a very difficult task; it’s something that a reasonably competent programmer/analyst should be able to throw together in pretty short order (as in a few days max, starting from scratch).

Keep that in mind when you consider how many *years* deniers have been attacking the NASA/NOAA/CRU global-temperature results.

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

I understand that the Met Office is going to rephrase ‘previous predictions’ – very wise..

please don’t however use ‘retrospective forecasts’ as we will fall about laughing.. I mention this, as this was seriously suggested as a description/explanation of the model output, by a Met Office scientist !

11 01 2013
Barry Woods

Fred Pearce has an interesting quote about this, originally at New Scientist (reproduced in the link below)

which seems to indicate 90’s warming and recent lack of warming, natural variability had a bigger role, than previously thought:

Sir Brian Hoskins:

“it now looks like natural cycles played a big role in the unexpectedly fast warming of the 1990s.”

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/fred-pearce-has-global-warming-ground-to-a-halt/

13 01 2013
jdey123

You never see the MetOffice rebutt any articles that push the extreme weather or catastrophic anthropogenic global warming agena. At least now, we can see the extent of the poiticisation of this failed agency.

The Met Office cannot predict weather accurately for anything greater than 2 days. They’ve dramatically slashed their decadal cimate forecasts, and flip between admitting and denying that global warming is not statistcally significant since 1996.

In the UK, which is what the Met Office should be interested in, it’s been getting colder for 10 years, according to the Met Office’s own data. You won’t see any ideological articles from them highlighting this as a fact.Tomorrow will see snow in London for the fourth year in a row. This is a return to the weather of my youth.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

13 01 2013
Dave Britton

James, that is not the case. Just today I have spoken to the Observer about their editorial in which they had misrepresented some of our science. As well as raising this with the news desk I have responded in the comments section. I have copied details below:

The Observer editorial (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/no-one-can-deny-global-warming#start-of-comments) has incorrectly interpreted that ‘Met Office figures indicate that most of the years between 2013 and 2017 will be hotter than those of the hottest year on record’ ( 1st sentence of 2nd to last para). This is not what our latest findings show.

What the latest decadal forecast, issued in December 2012, show is that the Earth is expected to maintain the record warmth that has been observed over the last decade. This means temperatures will remain well above the long-term average and we will continue to see temperatures like those which resulted in 2000-2009 being the warmest decade in the instrumental record dating back to 1850. Furthermore a substantial proportion of the forecasts show that new record global temperatures may be reached in the next 5 years. You can find more information at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/decadal-forecasting.

13 01 2013
clivebest

Dave,

You have earned my full respect for this reply !

The Observer editorial is equally as evangelical on the catastrophic warming side as those who claim there is no such thing as a greenhouse effect from CO2.

The scientific evidence seems to be pointing somewhere is the middle. There is some anthropogenic global warming but it isn’t catastrophic!

14 01 2013
John Havery Samuel

It isn’t catastrophic…yet. The signs are ominous.

14 01 2013
Barry Woods

Honestly.. were you going to do this, before you were prompted to?

and if not, why not?

and the Guardian appears to have completely ignored you..

It still states this:

“In fact, the Met Office’s figures indicate that most of the years between 2013 and 2017 will be hotter than those of the hottest year on record.”

This describes at least 3 of next 5 years breaking record after record, and a rising trend (which like last time, will be interpreted by the masses of environmentalists, that the Met Office say’s global warming is accelerating.. I don’t think the Met Office can afford to be passive on this.

The Met Office needs to write a blog article, at least, challenging the Guardian on this (as the Guardian have NOT listened to you) as it is highly like that this will prove wrong. A real hostage to representational fortune,

The next 5 years could all be cooler (slightly) than the record years (this extending the slowdown trend suggested, as the new projection suggested (as described by Roger Harrabin and Paul Hudson)

Nor does it discount the possibility of the next 5 years being on a downtrend from the peak (imagine the ‘cooling headline’)

all of which, of course proving/disproving nothing about man-made global warming, any outcome over such a short timescale will be very hard to attribute to climate change..

The Guardian, is telling the world that the Met Office predict successive record breaking temperature records for the next 5 years, (this will be interpreted as accelerating global warming)

pre Copenhagen the exact same thing happened, with Vicky Pope’s 3 out of the next 5 years statement. As Myles Allen pointed out, this led to ‘claims of accelerating Global Warming..

If The Met Office challenged the climate concerned hype, visibly, more often, there would be very much less skepticism, nor damaging Daily Mail article, as the blame for hype could be squarely laid on an activist element of environmental media that has gone native.

15 01 2013
Dave Britton

Barry, I will continue to liaise with the Observer to get this corrected. Thank you. Dave

14 01 2013
Martin Lack

Whilst I think Dave Britton’s response to your overly-emotional and unscientific comment is highly commendable, I nevertheless feel compelled to be slightly more blunt: What we are now experiencing is not the return to the weather of anyone’s youth. This is because the last time atmospheric CO2 exceeded 400 ppm was three million years ago.

Unless we stop adding to the CO2 in the biosphere (and start removing it) excess atmospheric CO2 will eventually lead to the Antarctic becoming ice-free once more (800 ppm 35 million years ago). Such a transition may well take hundreds of years but we should not delude ourselves that it will not happen; or that now doing nothing is a survivable option (for significant proportion of all life on Earth).

As a geologist, I know that climate change may well be natural. However, what is now happening is predominantly unnatural. The only people who dispute this are those with a short-sighted vested interest in the continuance of business as usual and/or an ideologically-impaired ability to accept what atmospheric physicists have been telling us for over 50 years.

15 01 2013
roddycampbell

Martin Lack:

‘we should not delude ourselves that ….. doing nothing is a survivable option for significant proportion of all life on Earth.’

while describing the previous comment as

‘overly-emotional and unscientific’

LOL. 100 months to save the planet.

15 01 2013
Martin Lack

Facile (if not slightly puerile?) criticism, Roddy. However, whereas the person I was criticising was making unscientific statements of ill-informed opinion, I was reflecting the opinion of the vast majority of climate scientists who say: We have wasted far too much time arguing about whether or not we have a problem; and that the problem will become much harder (if not impossible) to solve if we wait much longer.

No, the World is not going to end in 100 months (where did you get that quote from BTW?) but, it is going to get much harder to adapt to the potentially-irreversible changes now occurring unless we stop arguing about the Physics very soon.

Unless, of course, you wish to second-guess all those genuine experts because you know better…?

13 01 2013
climatebeagle

” This means temperatures will remain well above the long-term average”

Why use a subjective term “well above”, why not just state “about 0.43°C above the long-term average”?

Or is there some Met Office definition of such terms, e.g. how would you describe temperatures that were 1.5°C above the long-term average?

13 01 2013
rwtravels

“The scientific evidence seems to be pointing somewhere is the middle. There is some anthropogenic global warming but it isn’t catastrophic!”

clivebest, you’re entitled to your beliefs but you’re not entitled to simply make things up. The scientific evidence is pointing nowhere near the middle. The best evidence, in fact, is that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are the dominant climate forcing right now, and that anything other than a dramatic reduction in their emission on a timescale of years and not decades will almost guarantee changes in the climate system which will certainly be catastrophic.

You would do well to acquaint yourself with what scientists actually think before deciding that you know better than they do.

14 01 2013
clivebest

I deal only with evidence – not beliefs. The AR4 predictions for 2012 were all around the 0.6C anomaly level. The measured data fall below the level for CO2 levels fixed at year 2000. see the graph here. The “best estimate” prediction of AR1 made in 1990 was for temperatures in 2012 to be 0.75C higher than long term average. 2012 was actually measured to be 0.45C higher. So this is all good news because it implies feedbacks are small(er). Don’t forget also that CO2 forcing increases logarithmically with concentrations. The main uncertainty with feedbacks are in how clouds and high altitude water vapor develop.

“anything other than a dramatic reduction in their emission on a timescale of years and not decades will almost guarantee changes in the climate system which will certainly be catastrophic.”

This sounds rather like belief to me.

P.S. I am a scientist (Phd Physics)

16 01 2013
rwtravels

You deal only with the part of the evidence that you think supports your beliefs. You never explained why you cherry picked the literature to find the lowest estimates of climate sensitivity, dishonestly claiming that “most” recent estimates find a low value when an unbiased search reveals that more than 90% of recent results find a value higher than 2K.

The AR4 predictions were for warming to continue at about 0.2K per year. See here:

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-projections-of.html

And, if you do the comparison properly and honestly, you find that temperatures have followed the projections presented in the third and fourth IPCC reports quite closely, while sea level rise is at the upper end of the most pessimistic projections.

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044035/article

I cannot find a prediction in the IPCC report for 2012 anomalies to be at “the 0.6C anomaly level”, nor guess which baseline period that is relative to. Perhaps you could give some references.

As for my “belief” – I do also believe that the sun will rise tomorrow. And just as for that belief, the evidence supports the prediction which is based on extremely well tested theories. Your beliefs are wonderfully liberated from all supporting evidence, such as your belief that positive water vapour feedback would have resulted in the evaporation of the oceans. Evidence against: 1. positive water vapour feedback is observed (searching the literature using eg google scholar for “water vapour feedback” will find you the important papers on this), and 2. oceans.

15 01 2013
outdoor-enthusiast

From time to time I wonder if this kind of wobbling over the topic of global warming negates my own personal efforts to reduce my own carbon footprint. I’ve forsaken the car, and engaged in a completely bicycle-centric lifestyle.

Many people are waiting for the governments to institute carbon taxes to save the planet. Stunningly, people don’t have to wait to raise their personal price of carbon… they need only provide financial support to people like myself who are offsetting their carbon emissions by taking personal action such as bicycling: commuting, shopping for food, visiting, vacationing.

I’ve made it possible for anyone who believes that they need to raise the price of their fossil fuels to ‘purchase’, through donations, offsets from me.

15 01 2013
Barry Woods

2 days on The Guardian / Observer has completely ignored the Met Office concerns with their editorial, 2nd sentence:

Guardian: “In their dozens, climate change sceptics charged forwards to claim this data showed that global warming has stopped, a completely misleading suggestion that was not properly challenged by journalists.

In fact, the Met Office’s figures indicate that most of the years between 2013 and 2017 will be hotter than those of the hottest year on record. ”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/no-one-can-deny-global-warming

Dave Britton says he contacted the Guardian above (following my twitter prompting?) and the Guardian seems to have ignored him completely..

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/20577864

2 days forward – it has not been corrected and how many hundreds of thousands of people have read the Guardian misleading editorial (online, through out the world, 40% US audience)

I expect a Met Office blog post (correction ) is now in order about the Observe editorial, their error (and hostage to fortune, what if 5 years cooler) to me is much worse than anything David Rose October article ever said, who was completely vindicated, following a press complaint by an activist.

see here ( PCC Reference no. 124521 )

http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/a-case-is-concluded/

Is the Met Office going to comment on the Guardian failure to correct?

15 01 2013
Dave Britton

Barry, I will continue to speak to the guardian and I post the response porvided to the Observer here for the benefit of readers.

DaveBritton
13 January 2013 11:34 AM

The editorial above has incorrectly interpreted that ‘Met Office figures indicate that most of the years between 2013 and 2017 will be hotter than those of the hottest year on record’ (2nd to last para). This is not what our latest findings show.

What the latest decadal forecast, issued in December 2012, show is that the Earth is expected to maintain the record warmth that has been observed over the last decade. This means temperatures will remain well above the long-term average and we will continue to see temperatures like those which resulted in 2000-2009 being the warmest decade in the instrumental record dating back to 1850. Furthermore a substantial proportion of the forecasts show that new record global temperatures may be reached in the next 5 years.

You can find more information at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/decadal-forecasting

I have spoken to the Observer/Guardian newsdesk and have asked for this to be corrected.
Dave Britton, Chief Press Officer, Met Office

15 01 2013
Martin Lack

Although valid, Barry, I think your concern regarding response times for requests for correction is somewhat misplaced: At least 24 years after being told that humanity needs to stop pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the fossil fuel industry is still funding – as did the tobacco industry before it – a mutli-faceted campaign to dispute the science that says it bears primary responsibility for the adverse consequences we are now all witnessing.
Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review (11 Feb 2013).

15 01 2013
roddycampbell

Lack: It’s Big Oil everyone!

Commenter asks Met Office to correct Observer.

Lack’s reply: ‘the fossil fuel industry is still funding a mutli-faceted campaign to dispute the science’

LOL!

15 01 2013
Martin Lack

Please stop being so ridiculous, Barry. David Rose has not been “completely vindicated”; he was just very careful not to breach the Code under which the PCC completely fails to self-regulate the Press.

Furthermore, if you are going to label me an “activist” simply for caring about the misrepresentation of science and the unjustified criticism of the Met Office by ideologically-driven and unscientific journalists… Why don’t you go the whole hog; and label me as “unemployed” as well? Does that make me wrong? No it does not.

However, thanks again for even more free publicity; you are too kind.

15 01 2013
roddycampbell

I love outdoor enthusiast above – brilliant business scheme:

‘I’ve made it possible for anyone who believes that they need to raise the price of their fossil fuels to ‘purchase’, through donations, offsets from me.’

16 01 2013
Barry Woods

It is now three days since the Met Office raised it concerns in the Observer editorial.

The Observer has made no correction, nor made no comment. All that the Met Office has to show for ts concerns us a comment, is a blog, and buried in the hundred of comments at CiF.

The Observer editoridl will have been read by 100’s of thousands of people around the world, of which over 40% are online in the USA.

The Met Office went to great lengths to respond to David Rose in the Mail, where on the science aspect they essentially agreed.

Yet the Guardian misleads the reader in the science quoting the Met Office work.

Surely, 3 days on now, a more formal response is required to the Observer than a comment in a blog

17 01 2013
Martin Lack

I agree with you, Barry, that the Observer’s mis-statements deserve official correction (in a position of equal prominence, etc). However, I cannot agree with you when you attempt to imply that the Met Office and David Rose agree about the science.

Yes, the Met Office got into a bit of a mess (trying to be a little to conciliatory perhaps?) discussing the use of word “significant” but, in essence, it would not be possible for the Met Office and David Rose to disagree about the science more than they do already.

David Rose repeatedly tells his readers that global warming has stopped and the Met Office (and others) repeatedly point out that – although there has been recent hiatus in land surface warming – global average temperatures, arctic sea ice melting, permafrost thawing, and glacier retreat have all continued; and/or accelerated.

I am therefore sorry to have to say this but, in this respect at least, it seems to me that you are repeatedly being either disingenuous or willfully blind.

19 01 2013
Tony

Perhaps climate change doubters should observe the signs coming from the Natural world. Many thousands and thousands of records exist which, confirm the impact of climate change on a whole range of subjects from plants through to insects and beyond. I voluntary note my own signs of seasonal shifting and they are freely available online at naturestimeline.com. The U.K. Phenology Network, provides further evidence from a citizen science basis and this longer-term project is provide in conjunction with the Woodland Trust and other conservation and research bodies.

The Met Office should continue to confront those and hold to question, those who disbelieve what is more often than not, sound climate science.

19 01 2013
clivebest

Meanwhile today’s kids are just loving the new snow outside as we speak – just like we all did some decades ago – dragging sledges up the hill.

Tony you’re right that the natural world in Britain has suffered greatly since I was a kid. I remember finding stickle-backs and frog spawn in the local streams around south London – toads and caterpillars everywhere. A lot of that has now gone, but I doubt very much whether the climate has anything to do with it. I think It is the throw away society – supermarkets, packaging, plastic bags and bottles, driving the kids to school in 4x4s, obsessive health and safety and tarmac.

The climate has not changed in the UK at all. The winter 2011 was the coldest since 1947.

20 01 2013
rwtravels

“The climate has not changed in the UK at all. The winter 2011 was the coldest since 1947.”

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/datasets/Tmean/ranked/UK.txt

According to the Met Office UK average temperature dataset, the winters of 1951, 1956, 1963, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1986 and 2010 were all colder than the winter of 2011.

Meanwhile, 2011 was the second hottest year overall. Here are the ten warmest years measured in the UK: 2006 (warmest), 2011, 2007, 2003, 2004, 2002, 2005, 1990, 1997, 1949.

Once again your beliefs are not supported by the evidence.

20 01 2013
Martin Lack

Thank you, clivebest. You have proved me right, I was sure someone would try and posit heavy snow/cold weather as evidence that global warming has stopped. I thought it would be some unscientific journalist in a newspaper but it was you instead… rwtravels has already given you a wonderfully concise answer, upon which I cannot improve. However, for the record, mine is available at: http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/moisture-cold-air-snow/

20 01 2013
clivebest

I really meant “winter” 2010 not 2011. What I did was to select all stations used by Hadcrut4 within a (lat,lon) coverage of the UK and Ireland and with continuous coverage from 1940. There are 53 such stations, and from them I make an area averaged weighting of all of them. The result of that is that the lowest monthly anomalies occur in 1947, 1963 and 2010, with 2010 and 1963 being about equal. In 1947 & 1963 snow covered much of the UK till March (I believe). The consequent thaw and rain triggered the great Fen flood in 1947.

Of course the Met Office are correct and hold the official statistics ( I am just an amateur). However, I am grateful to you for giving the link to their UK ranking table. I would be interested to know exactly how they calculate their ‘UK average”. The table shows a wide spread in years but there is indeed a trend for the years between 1997 to 2008 to be warmer in the season rankings. There was also another slightly “warmer” period eg. 1949 & 1945. Recently though 2010 and 2012 seem more “normal”.

The onset of spring varies from year to year. Last year in northern Italy spring was nearly one month later than normal. I would be interested to know if there is any long term trend although I don’t know how you would define spring to measure it.

Martin : I was not actually trying to make any propaganda about snow, I was merely nothing how much kids love it, and long may they do so.

20 01 2013
Dave Britton

Clive, you can find the published literature on the method used to measure UK averages at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/about/methods.html

21 01 2013
rwtravels

“a trend for the years between 1997 to 2008 to be warmer in the season rankings”

2009 and 2011 were both warmer than 2008.

“slightly “warmer” period eg. 1949 & 1945.”

from the Met Office data, the average UK temperature in the 1940s was 8.60°C. The average temperatures for the 2000s was 9.22C. The 2000s are the warmest decade in the UK temperature record, and every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the one preceding it. Your claim that “The climate has not changed in the UK at all” is not supported by the data.

“Last year in northern Italy spring was nearly one month later than normal. I would be interested to know if there is any long term trend although I don’t know how you would define spring to measure it.”

The timings of the seasons have been quite well studied. The 2007 IPCC report summarises the evidence in that regard as follows: Although phenological network studies differ with regard to regions, species, events observed and applied methods, their data show a clear temperature-driven extension of the growing season by up to 2 weeks in the second half of the 20th century in mid- and high northern latitudes, mainly due to an earlier spring, but partly due also to a later autumn”

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch1s1-3-5-1.html

20 01 2013
Tony

I would argue that climate cycles are changing though Clive. The shifts to cyclical extremes, to which the MetO often refer show up well in many phenology based studies too. Year over year changes are also shown in own data. The Natural world is where climate change hits home, whilst many of us humans ignore this fact. Ok, small datasets are not enough, granted, but should you wish to know more about phenological indicators. I urge anyone to type such phrases into Google scholar and you see the many papers dedicated to this fascinating subject.

20 01 2013
outdoor-enthusiast

My commute home by bicycle a few nights ago was snowy. I felt pleased indeed that my low carbon lifestyle was helping the planet stay cold enough for snow to fall. I am trying my best to live a very low income, low carbon lifestyle to save the planet. My commuting times, which are marginally longer than it used to take me by automobile, give me time to ponder questions such as “it it rubbish to think that the sun’s output is variable”, or “is it nonsense to think that warming oceans release CO2, not wanting to confuse correlation with causality”… in other words, how to best rebut those that deny AGW. Foremost in my thinking is how I can help raise the price of carbon immediately. And in doing so, is it possible for me to share knowledge of how to successfully lead a lifestyle in which the bicycle is the sole means of transportation, even through winter. Perhaps my modest little cyclinglifestyle wordpress blog can help put a halt to AGW sooner rather than later. One has to try.

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