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Friday, December 24, 2010

Time to end the bias at the Met Office

It's been very cold in the UK in the last few weeks. Indeed it could be argued that as Winter didn't officially begin until Dec 21st, we have witnessed the coldest Autumn since records began.
And it's not just the Northern hemishere. Australia has just had snowfall during their summer!
OK, it's weather. And they keep telling me that weather is not climate.
Europeans have climate. The British have weather.

We're an island off the coast of mainland Europe that is washed by the Gulf Stream, which means our climate is generally warmer and wetter than mainland Europe. It also means that our weather is more variable than the mainland.
Being variable, it gives us British something to talk about.

So why does a few inches at most of snow cause the UK to grind to a halt, (although the BBC insists on using centimetres despite the UK official measurements being in miles, feet and inches)?
Why is it that we are as unprepared today for bad weather as we were three years ago?
Why is it that local authorities have bought less salt and grit than they did last year?
Why is it that Heathrow Airport closed because they didn't have enough snow-clearing and de-icing machinery?

Where do they get the information to base their buying requirements?

The Met Office.

Compare and contrast with London's Transport system. They've had little disruption, apart from re-routing some buses away from hillier routes.
They didn't use the Met Office predictions.

Can you see a picture emerging?

Here's a link to an interesting article

Here's some of the text
"The Global Warming Policy Foundation has called on the Government to set up an independent inquiry into the winter advice it received by the Met Office and the renewed failure to prepare the UK for the third severe winter in a row.
"The current winter fiasco is no longer a joke as the economic damage to the British economy as a result of the country's ill-preparedness is running at £1bn a day and could reach more than £15 billion," said Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF's Director.
"It would appear that the Met Office provided government with rather poor if not misleading advice and we need to find out what went wrong. Lessons have to be learned well in advance of the start of next year's winter so that we are much better prepared if it is severe again," Dr Peiser said.

And here's a few of the questions the GWPF would like answered

1. Why did the Met Office publish estimates in late October showing a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter? What was the scientific basis of this probabilistic estimate?

2. Has the October prediction by the Met Office that this winter would be mild affected planning for this winter? If so, what is the best estimate of how much this has cost the country?

3. Last year, the Met Office predicted a 65% chance that winter will be milder than normal. Has the Met Office subsequently explained what went wrong with its computer modelling?

8. Although the Met Office stopped sending its 3-month forecasts to the media, it would appear that this service is still available to paying customers, the Government and Local Authorities for winter planning. What was their advice, in September/October, for the start of winter 2010?

10. Is it appropriate that the chairman of the Met Office is a member, or a former member of climate pressure groups or carbon trading groups?

And finally-

13. What plans has the government to privatise the Met Office?

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