Met Office in the Mail on Sunday

15 09 2013

An article appears in the Mail on Sunday today focusing on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) which it bills this as the ‘world’s most authoritative climate study’.

It’s fair to say that AR5 is expected to be the most comprehensive review of climate change science to date. The first part of the report, from its Working Group I (WGI), has been worked on by more than 800 scientists from around the world who have assessed more than 9,000 scientific publications and taken into account more than 50,000 comments from over 1000 expert reviewers.

The WGI report is now in its final stages and the major conclusions will be finalised and released on 27 September. It is at that point that we should debate its findings and their implications.

Further parts of the report, from its Working Group II and III, as well as a final version of the whole report will be published next year.

The Mail article also discusses the recent pause in warming, which the Met Office looked at in a series of papers, released in July. Many of the issues raised in the article are addressed in those reports, which you can see on our website.

The article also goes on to mention some of the claims made in a commentary published by Nic Lewis yesterday. This is a lengthy and technical commentary covering several topics and will require time to provide as helpful a response as possible, so further comment will be released in due course.

There are a couple of points raised in the Mail story which should be addressed now, however.

The article states that the Met Office’s ‘flagship’ model (referring to our Earth System Model known as HadGEM2-ES) is too sensitive to greenhouse gases and therefore overestimates the possible temperature changes we may see by 2100.

There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. It is indeed the case that HadGEM2-ES is among the most sensitive models used by the IPCC (something the Met Office itself has discussed in a science paper published early this year), but it lies within the accepted range of climate sensitivity highlighted by the IPCC.

Equally when HadGEM2-ES is evaluated against many aspects of the observed climate, including those that are critical for determining the climate sensitivity, it has proved to be amongst the most skilful models in the world.

Finally, in our aim to provide the best possible scientific advice to the UK Government, the Met Office draws on all the scientific evidence available to us. This includes many other physically based climate models from leading research centres around the world, which provide a range of climate sensitivities and a range of potential future warming.


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29 responses

15 09 2013
Rachel

Perhaps I am a bit naive, but how is it that the Daily Mail is allowed to misrepresent the science week after week after week?

16 09 2013
sunshinehours1

What science are you talking about? Temperatures are still no higher than they were in 1998 and the trend is downwards from 2002.

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2002/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2002/trend

16 09 2013
Rachel

And yet the decade 2001-2010 is the warmest on record for both hemispheres and the ice is melting and the water is getting hotter.

Don’t believe what you read in the Daily Mail.

16 09 2013
John Benton

You are being naïve if you believe the science is being misrepresented in the mail article, unless you can enlighten us all what you are referring to.

16 09 2013
Rachel

Last week the Daily Mail told us that we are headed for global cooling. This week the Daily Mail tells us we can expect global warming to be half as much as previously thought. Need I say more?

17 09 2013
nuwurld

Rachel, no disrespect intended, but you have answered your own question.

15 09 2013
wottsupwiththatblog

Reblogged this on Wotts Up With That Blog and commented:
I was thinking of writing a brief post about today’s Daily Mail article by David Rose that discusses both the leaked IPCC AR5 draft and Nic Lewis’s response to the Met Office report about climate sensitivity. Given that I’m feeling a little lazy, I though I would instead reblog this Met Office post that does quite a good job of discussing both (although it doesn’t say much about the leaked draft as – quite rightly – suggests that we should wait for it to be published before discussing it in detail). I may write a bit more about this at a later stage though.

15 09 2013
pesadia

“Equally when HadGEM2-ES is evaluated against many aspects of the observed climate, including those that are critical for determining the climate sensitivity, it has proved to be amongst the most skilful models in the world”

Insofar as all the models are wrong and not one of them predicted this haitus,
it may be more accurate to say it is the best of a bad bunch.

15 09 2013
niclewis

I would like to comment on the statements:

“The article states that the Met Office’s ‘flagship’ model (referring to our Earth System Model known as HadGEM2-ES) is too sensitive to greenhouse gases…”

and (referring to the sensitivity of HadGEM2-ES):

“it lies within the accepted range of climate sensitivity highlighted by the IPCC.”

Table 1 in Forster et al, 2013 ( Evaluating adjusted forcing and model spread for historical and future scenarios in the CMIP5 generation of climate models. J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1002/jgrd.50174) gives the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) of HadGEM2-ES as 4.59°C.

The IPCC stated in its 4th Assessment Report (WG1: Box 10.2): “we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C.” It gave no other range for ECS in that report, nor has it as yet changed that range.

I therefore fail to understand how the Met Office can claim that HadGEM2-ES lies within the accepted range of climate sensitivity highlighted by the IPCC.

Nic Lewis

17 09 2013
nuwurld

Nic although I agree with your comment, there is no grace I can give for “greenhouse gases” or the following sensitivity to such. The whole model is wrong. Plain and simple.

All bodies with sufficient gravity to pull themselves spherical are subject to hydrostatic equilibrium

dp/ dh= -g. density.

The lapse is determined similarly

dT/dh= -g/Cp

Cp already contains the embodiment of radiative conduction as it contains the portion of vibrational modes subject to equipartition and therefore available through normalisation to effect heat capacity. Tweaking Cp to the fourth decimal has little effect. More so, incorporating vibrational modes as independent energy states increases Cp and therefore reduces the lapse.

This reduces the surface temperature with respect to any atmospheric height whilst increasing the temperature of the tropopause. Which whether anyone likes it or not is not conducive to raising global surface temperatures.

18 09 2013
Martin Lack

If you believe the Met Office is misrepresenting its own data, can you please say why that might be the case?

15 09 2013
John Benton

Weasel words re HadGEM2-ES.The fact the model result lies within the IPCC range does not in any way tell us that the model is accurate. In fact it would be astonishing if it did not produce results within the IPCC range due to the IPCC’s wide range of predicted sensitivity.

Just more obfuscation form the Met Office.

15 09 2013
Linda Serena

You seem to have made an untrue statement in “there is no scientific evidence to support this claim”.

Mr. Lewis actually did support his claim with scientific evidence, which includes most recent peer reviewed high profile top journal scientific papers and observational data.

Even if you may present scientific evidence to support your climate models, this does not make Mr. Lewis statement “unscientific”.

16 09 2013
Derek Colman

There can be no justification for the Met Office claiming the highest sensitivity out of the range provided by the IPCC. Any reasonable claim would be to take the average. Also your explanation of the 16 year pause in temperature increase is totally unwarranted, when the majority of climate scientists admit to not having an explanation. We taxpayers did not buy you a £30 million computer to play games. We expected serious science.

17 09 2013
nuwurld

Derek. Totally agree. But answers don’t sustain grants. The carbon industry isn’t about the truth.

16 09 2013
charliexyz

This article says “Equally when HadGEM2-ES is evaluated against many aspects of the observed climate, including those that are critical for determining the climate sensitivity, it has proved to be amongst the most skilful models in the world.”

Do you have a link to these evaluations?

16 09 2013
Gerry Morrow (@GerryMorrow)

Oh dear, no mention of the plethora of scientific papers using observations and empirical evidence to show your sensitivity is wildly pessimistic. This is what happens when an organisation moves from science to advocacy, cherries get picked. You are going to be in trouble with the politicos in the very near future.

17 09 2013
nuwurld

Yep, the proverbial, at some time soon, is going to hit the fan!

16 09 2013
Jacques Lemiere

Can you calculate an error bar with a single model, including calculations/modelling method errors plus physical parameter error?

I still don’t understand why ipcc use a bunch of model to creat a sort of uncertainty range. cab you explain?

And are all runs of different models used by ipcc using the same physical parameters? I guess some historical paramaters such aerosol and so on are unknown so they can be used as a parameter to fit the obesrved data…what if different models don’t converge to the same values for such historical unknown parameters?

Sorry to ask such basic questions and sorry for my bad english.

16 09 2013
John Benton

It is long past time politicians took a close look at the standard of output and weasel claims generated by the Met Office. The taxpayer is funding an organisation to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds per year an organisation which has limited skill producing short term weather forecasts, no demonstrated skill producing medium term forecasts and does not even attempt to publish long term weather forecasts. All ‘useful’ output produced by the Met Office can now be purchased at a small fraction of the price from private forecasters.

Instead, the Met Office now act as a climate alarmist activist organisation, smearing scientists they disagree with, despite the fact their alarmist claims and predictions produced by their models have been shown to have no predictive skill over a period of at least two decades.

If the Met Office models are so incompetent that they can’t even produce reliable weather forecasts for more than a few days then it’s long past time when funding should be drastically cut and new senior management appointed.

16 09 2013
John Catley

Your climate models are what they are.
What the Met Office needs to do is stop using discredited models, take a hard look at reality and start to look to the future with an open mind.
Met Office forecasting is absolutely tainted by the belief that climate is on a catastrophic and unstoppable headlong rush to Armageddon. Perhaps a more moderate and cautious approach would allow you to closer match the reality rather than the nightmare you seem to love so much.

17 09 2013
nuwurld

Unfortunately, the “nightmare” is a multi million pound/dollar mitigation industry. The Australians have just thrown theirs out. Climate departments, carbon taxes, the lot.

Who’s reporting that?

16 09 2013
Paul Matthews (@etzpcm)

In 2007, the Met Office informed us that
“2014 is likely to be 0.3 °C warmer than 2004. At least half of the years after 2009 are predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record”
Was this prediction made with one of your skilful models?

And how about the prediction made by the Met Office in June this year that the Arctic ice extent this summer would be 3.4Mkmsq, that’s less than last year? How skilful was that prediction? At the moment, the WUWT prediction looks like being more accurate.

17 09 2013
nuwurld

Paul, they’re just plain wrong buddy. Problem is all they have to do is just keep sweeping things under the carpet. “Joe Public” ain’t reading this. “Joe Public” won’t remember all the incorrect predictions as letter by letter the message turns into something different. Like global”warming”, to climate “change”, to “period of cooling” to “sustained period of extreme cold”
. But hey, it’s still warming. Like we said.

16 09 2013
Sundance (@0Sundance)

Does the MET have any falsification criteria for their model that they have shared with the public, or will the model transform into some sort of undead zombie thing that never dies if it continues to diverge from reality?

17 09 2013
ntropyalwayswins

“Finally, in our aim to provide the best possible scientific advice to the UK Government, the Met Office draws on all the scientific evidence available to us. This includes many other physically based climate models from leading research centres around the world, which provide a range of climate sensitivities and a range of potential future warming.”

You seem to be under the misapprehension that the output of climate models amounts to ‘scientific evidence.’ This is probably where you went wrong.

Please explain to the taxpayers of this country how you can claim to model the climate when no-one fully understands how the climate works. The level of scientific understanding of the known drivers of climate set out in Table 2.1 of IPCC AR4 is repeated below:

LLGHGs – high
Stratospheric ozone – medium
Tropospheric ozone – medium
Stratospheric water vapour from CH4 – low
Direct aerosol – medium to low
Cloud albedo effect (all aerosols) – low
Surface albedo (land use) – medium to low
Surface albedo (BC aerosol on snow) – low
Persistent linear contrails – low
Solar irradiance – low
Volcanic aerosol – low
Stratospheric water vapour from causes other than CH4 oxidation – very low
Tropospheric water vapour from irrigation – very low
Aviation induced cirrus – very low
Cosmic rays – very low
Other surface effects – very low

This details the known unknowns. The list of unknown unknowns may be equally long.

For you to claim that any of your models shows any level of skill is disingenuous in the extreme. Anyone who has studied the output of the UK Met Office knows that you ceased doing science many years ago and have become a deplorable activist organisation. It is never too late. I am sure there must be one or two scientists who want to do science and who are sickened as the rest of us with the abject failure of the MO over the last 20 years. Time that we heard from them.

18 09 2013
18 09 2013
michael panero

I don’t know about any of you lot but whenever I read something in the Mail I automatically assume it is wrong
And as for telling anyone about climate change and expecting a positive reaction I mean have you met people? They will not face up to this until the waters lap around there 4×4’s tyres

19 09 2013
jbenton2013

Are you seriously suggesting that sea levels are rising so fast that it will outrun an SUV?

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