Met Office in the Media: 14 October 2012

14 10 2012

An article by David Rose appears today in the Mail on Sunday under the title: ‘Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it’

It is the second article Mr Rose has written which contains some misleading information, after he wrote an article earlier this year on the same theme – you see our response to that one here.

To address some of the points in the article published today:

Firstly, the Met Office has not issued a report on this issue. We can only assume the article is referring to the completion of work to update the HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset compiled by ourselves and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

We announced that this work was going on in March and it was finished this week. You can see the HadCRUT4 website here.

Secondly, Mr Rose says the Met Office made no comment about its decadal climate predictions. This is because he did not ask us to make a comment about them.

You can see our full response to all of the questions Mr Rose did ask us below:

Hi David,

Here’s a response to your questions. I’ve kept them as concise as possible but the issues you raise require considerable explanation.

Q.1 “First, please confirm that they do indeed reveal no warming trend since 1997.”

The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period, but equally we could calculate the linear trend from 1999, during the subsequent La Nina, and show a more substantial warming.

As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.

Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual.

Q.2 “Second, tell me what this says about the models used by the IPCC and others which have predicted a rise of 0.2 degrees celsius per decade for the 21st century. I accept that there will always be periods when a rising gradient may be interrupted. But this flat period has now gone on for about the same time as the 1980 – 1996 warming.”

The models exhibit large variations in the rate of warming from year to year and over a decade, owing to climate variations such as ENSO, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. So in that sense, such a period is not unexpected. It is not uncommon in the simulations for these periods to last up to 15 years, but longer periods are unlikely.

Q.3 “Finally, do these data suggest that factors other than CO2 – such as multi-decadal oceanic cycles – may exert a greater influence on climate than previously realised?”

We have limited observations on multi-decadal oceanic cycles but we have known for some time that they may act to slow down or accelerate the observed warming trend. In addition, we also know that changes in the surface temperature occur not just due to internal variability, but are also influenced by “external forcings”, such as changes in solar activity, volcanic eruptions or aerosol emissions. Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.

———–

The below graph which shows years ranked in order of global temperature was not included in the response to Mr Rose, but is useful in this context as it illustrates the point made above that eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade.

Graph showing years ranked in order of global temperature.





Global average temperatures continue to warm

29 11 2011

WMO Press Conference on global mean temperatures in 2011

As the second day of negotiations gets underway at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) published its review of the climate of 2011 at a press conference this morning.

With observations collated from around the world, including the Met Office Hadley Centre, the Deputy Secretary General of WMO, Jerry Lengoase stated that 2011 so far, was the 10th warmest year on record and the warmest year in which there has been a La Niña. This data was compiled by taking an average of the three global temperature data sets from NASA and NOAA, both in the US and the Met Office and University of East Anglia in the UK. 

Mr Lengoase highlighted that we have observed on of the strongest La Niña events in the last 60 years. La Niña is a natural cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean that tends to have the effect of cooling global temperatures. Despite this cooling, this year is very likely to be warmer than previous years with a La Niña, as shown in the graph below.

Graph showing global temperatures with years in which there was a La Nina highlighted in blue
Graph showing global temperatures with years in which there was a La Niña highlighted in blue

The World Meteorological Organisation also announced that it will be publishing ten-year climate summaries in the spring of 2011. So far the data collected shows that no single country has reported average temperatures in the decade 2001-2010 to be cooler than long-term averages compared to the standard WMO climate reference period of 1961-2000. In addition 76 countries have reported that the 2001-2010 was in fact the warmest decade in their own national records. 

The Met Office and University of East Anglia published the Met Office/UEA HADCRUT3 global temperature data used in the WMO report today, confirming that in this dataset 2011 was currently ranked 11th with a value of 14.36 deg C. NASA GISS is currently ranked 9th with a value of 14.45 and NOAA NCDC is ranked 11th with a value of 14.41 deg C.

                                                      





Met Office in the Media: 29 July 2011

29 07 2011

There have been a lot of news reports today (Express, Mirror, Telegraph) about the spell of fine weather we are seeing at the moment in contrast to the rather disappointing weather we had seen earlier in July.  The fine weather looks set for the weekend and into the middle of the coming week. As the Met Office forecast the first week of school holidays in England and Wales has seen some fine weather for most areas of the UK at some point through this week.

The Met Office provides a range of forecasts for the public on our website, on mobile phones and through our website widgets, allowing you to stay right up to date with the latest weather. Since last summer the Met Office has launched local forecasts for up to 5000 locations across the UK, including seaside resorts and tourist attractions across the country. These regularly updated forecasts provide local detail on the weather to help you plan your day out with confidence.

Mark Smith, Director of Bournemouth Tourism said: “These new forecasts from the Met Office communicate weather forecast information in clearer, more appropriate and user friendly ways that allow tourists and tourism operators to better plan activities. As weather is a key driver for tourists, I am sure that this improved communication will have a positive economic impact on our industry and will improve the overall quality of life for British residents through more productive use of their leisure time.”

Several papers also reported on soul star Beverley Knight’s weather obsession. The Mail on Sunday and The Telegraph reported how Ms Knight had been in contact with experts here at the Met Office to find out what the typical weather may be on a range of dates for her upcoming wedding. The Met Office was happy to help and we wish her and her fiance well with their ongoing wedding plans.

Finally, BBC online and New Scientist have reported on how the University of East Anglia have released nearly all its remaining data on temperature measurements with the help of the Met Office. All data sent to the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia by National Meteorological Services around the globe to complete its global land temperature dataset CRUTEM3 has been released, apart from data from 19 stations in Poland.

 





2010 – a near record year

20 01 2011

The Met Office and the University of East Anglia have today released provisional global temperature figures for 2010, which show the year to be the second warmest on record.

With a mean temperature of 14.50 °C, 2010 becomes the second warmest year on record, after 1998. The record is maintained by the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA.

Earlier this month, in the US, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center announced that the past year is either warmest or equal-warmest on their respective records.

Events in the Pacific Ocean have heavily influenced the global temperature in 2010. The year began in El Niño conditions, which have a warming effect. But the El Niño was replaced by a very strong La Niña – the strongest for more than 30 years – which acts to cool the climate.

Comparison of global mean temperature anomalies

Dr Adam Scaife, head of long range forecasting at the Met Office, said: “The three leading global temperature datasets show that 2010 is clearly warmer than 2009. They also show that 2010 is the warmest or second warmest year on record as suggested in the Met Office’s annual forecast of global temperature issued in December 2009.”

Speaking about the figures, Professor Phil Jones, Director of Research at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia said: “The warmest 10 years in all three datasets are the same and have all occurred since 1998. The last 10 years 2001-2010 were warmer than the previous 10 years (1991-2000) by 0.2 °C.”

2010 has been a year of headline-making weather. In the summer there were extremes such as the Russian heatwave and the floods in Pakistan and China. At the end of the year many areas across Northern Europe experienced heavy snowfalls and very low temperatures, while eastern Australia saw extensive flooding.

Professor Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist,  investigates the driving forces behind the weather extremes of 2010.

Locally, the UK recorded its coldest year since 1986 and its coldest December on record. However, very few parts of the world were significantly colder than normal during 2010. The Northern Hemisphere experienced its warmest year with a mean temperature anomaly of 0.69 °C.

Global temperature anomalies December 2010

Notes:

  • The 1961-90 global average mean temperature is 14.0 °C.
  • Inter-annual variations of global surface temperature are strongly affected by the warming influences of El Niño and the cooling influences of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean. These are quite small when compared to the total global warming since 1900 of about 0.8 °C but, nevertheless, typically reach about +/- 0.15 °C, and can strongly influence individual years.
  • Temperature anomaly for the Southern Hemisphere is 0.30 °C, the fifth warmest on the HadCRUT record

* Anomaly: °C above long-term average.

<!–[if gte mso 10]>  

Rank

HadCRUT3

NOAA NCDC

NASA GISS

Year

Anomaly *

Year

Anomaly *

Year

Anomaly *

1

1998

0.52

2010

0.52

2010

0.56

2

2010

0.50

2005

0.52

2005

0.55

3

2005

0.47

1998

0.50

2007

0.51

4

2003

0.46

2003

0.49

2009

0.50

5

2002

0.46

2002

0.48

2002

0.49

6

2009

0.44

2006

0.46

1998

0.49

7

2004

0.43

2009

0.46

2006

0.48

8

2006

0.43

2007

0.45

2003

0.48

9

2007

0.40

2004

0.45

2004

0.41

10

2001

0.40

2001

0.42

2001

0.40








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