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Met Office Shown To Be Wrong By Its Own Data

Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

In recent years the organisation’s forecasts have become skewed by its obsession with global warming

Imagine if Michael Fish, our most famous weatherman, had been sacked by the BBC for writing a book accusing the world’s climate scientists of having “manipulated” their data to promote panic over global warming. Something similar made headlines in France last week when its “top TV weatherman”, Philippe Verdier, was taken off air by the state-owned France 2 channel for writing a book claiming that we have all been made “hostages to a planetary scandal over climate change”.

Recalling how computer predictions relied on by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have proved consistently wrong, Verdier accused its scientists of having “blatantly erased” data which contradicted their scare story – only weeks before France hosts the mammoth UN climate conference in Paris.

Before this scandale erupted, I planned to start this column by asking “what on earth is happening to our British weather”? There was a time when we might have looked to the people we pay £220 million a year to tell us the answer. But the Met Office’s own forecasts have become so skewed by its obsession with global warming that its incessant predictions of “hotter, drier summers” and “warmer, wetter winters” have made them the last people to rely on.

In a series of recent posts on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog, Paul Homewood has been meticulously plotting the Met Office’s predictions against its own recorded data. In one, titled “Met Office forecasts contain a warming bias”, he compared all its running three-monthly forecasts for the first nine months of 2015, made on the basis of “observations, several numerical models and expert judgment”, with what actually happened. Seven months this year, they told us, would be hotter than usual. In fact, six of the nine months were cooler than normal, and October looks like being yet another botched call. Against its frequent claims that we can expect “a general increase in summer temperatures” thanks to “human influence on climate”, the Met Office’s own data show that, since 2006, summers have on average become cooler.

Another of its constant obsessions has been with “extreme rainfall”, as reflected in a report by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin in 2013 headed “Met Office predicts ‘extreme rainfall increasing’”. Yet a recent paper by the Royal Meteorological Society, based on the Met Office’s England and Wales dataset, found there have been “no significant trends” in the “intensity of rainfall” over the 84 years since that record began.

A study by the Dutch met office, again based on UK Met Office data, showed that our greatest wet and dry “anomalies” all occurred long before the last three decades. Homewood quotes the finding in 2008 by Professor Stuart Lane of Durham University, based on Met Office data going back to 1753, that Britain naturally alternates between unusually wet or dry periods, each lasting several decades.

Between the Seventies and the Nineties we saw a “dry” phase, followed by our more recent “wet” phase: none of the floods in latter years was foreseen by the Met Office (as in its famous forecast of a “barbecue summer” in 2009, or its “drier than average” prediction for the winter of 2013/14). Even when its £230,000-a-year chief scientist, Dame Julia Slingo, described the 17.9 inches of rain which fell in three months in 2013/14 as “the most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years”, the Met Office’s own data showed that this was still short of the record 19.7 inches between November 1929 and January 1930.

As remarkable as anything are the graphs on a guest post by Neil Catto, a former Met Office employee, who, as part of his scientific work, has plotted data from a representative sample of Met Office UK weather stations every day since 1998. On every one of his graphs recording temperature, rainfall and much else, the trend line over 18 years has been astonishingly consistent. Despite fluctuations, the overall trend has been flat. The general pattern of our weather has remained remarkably unchanged.

Nothing could better demonstrate just how way off-beam all those fanciful Met Office predictions have been. Yet Catto’s graphs are all based on its own recorded data. It may boast that its forecasts are based on “observation, several numerical models and expert judgment”. But please pull the other one, Dame Julia. On all three counts, you fail.

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