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The UK’s climate predictions from 1991 aren’t looking good

Last week, I looked at the UK’s official climate forecasts from 2002, noting that the expected warming hadn’t come to pass in the decade and a half since the forecast was released. I observed at the time that the series of official forecasts actually dated right back to 1991, when the UK Climate Change Impacts Review Group issued a 100-page report outlining the results of its analysis of entrails relating to future climate. I wondered how the prognostications of this earlier forecast would look 27 years on, with temperatures having risen for roughly the first decade post-forecast but with an little by way of any warming after that.

Fortunately, I have been able to lay my hands on a copy of the report, and I’ve now performed the analysis. The report says:

In the summer season, the climate models indicate that temperature changes should be comparable to the global mean and spatially uniform over the the UK…

The global temperature change is given for 2030 as “0.7°–2.0°C higher than at present” (the range is produced by using climate sensitivities of 2 for the low estimate and 4 for the high; CO2 concentrations used in the forecast look to be in line with the observed values).

Meanwhile, for winters, the report talks of “enhanced warming” and says:

By the year 2030, winters in the UK could be approximately 1.5°-2.1°C warmer than at present (2.3°-3.5°C in 2050).

And there is no doubt that “at present” has the meaning it would have in normal English, rather than any lawyerly evasion along the lines of “it means the 30-year mean ending in 1990”: the values for predicted global warming can be read directly from the graph in the report’s Figure 2.1 (as reproduced below).

So, here’s how it has worked out. First summer temperatures:


So observations are running below what UKCCIRG suggested would happen with a climate sensitivity of 2.

And what about that “enhanced warming” that was expected for UK winters? Here’s how things have panned out.


So the observed warming rate is not even half of what was predicted.