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« Tip jar live again | Main | GWPF calls for inquiry into Met Office »
Tuesday
Dec212010

The Quarmby audit

I am grateful to commenter "hmc" for pointing out that David Quarmby has also produced an audit on the country's response to the start of the cold weather a month or so ago. This includes some further interesting information about the Met Office's advice to government:

The Met Office gave ‘early indications of the onset of a cold spell from late November’ at the end of October, but detailed forecasts of snow were not possible until a few days before the first precipitation. The amounts of snow were generally well captured, although in some areas were considerably underestimated by some weather forecast providers.

I find the quotation marks at the start of this excerpt particularly interesting. What this suggests to me is that Dr Quarmby was advised that such an "early indication" was given, but that he didn't see it himself.

I've emailed to check if this surmise is correct.

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Reader Comments (80)

"were considerably underestimated by some weather forecast providers."...not by corbyn they weren'r

Dec 21, 2010 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Not sure if this helps, but;
NOAA forecasts the Arctic Oscillation 14 days ahead. You can see it in the bottom panel of the graphic. They didn't see the drop coming until 7 days beforehand (second panel).
http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/ao.sprd2.gif

But the Met Office somehow saw it at least 3 weeks ahead of time?

Dec 21, 2010 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

No, this is a barefaced Met Office lie. They published a little map on their website on 28th (?) October indicating that Dec/Jan/Feb would be milder than usual.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

From the Quarnby report:
"Recommendation 1: In spite of the continuing advice from the Met Ofice that severe winter weather continues to have a low probability of occurrence, and that there appears to be no evidence to support ‘clustering’ of severe winters, government should recognise that there are opportunities for additional resources to be committed to winter resilience in England – in highways, railways and aviation – ".

But, there is always a but:
"but that the quantiied beneits and the business case will necessarily reflect this weather assessment."

What does he mean by that? Which weather assessment? What is the "but" clause for?

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterHector M.

Bad copy-paste of the "but" clause, sorry:

"but that the quantified benefits and the business case will necessarily relect this weather assessment.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterHector M.

I don't think it really matters, does it? The fact is that the medium term forecasting is missing/wrong. They don't give it publicly, but I'm sure they do privately. It's no use having a severe weather warning two weeks before it happens. The lead time on purchasing snow ploughs, employing people to drive them and stocking up on salt is probably on the order of months, not weeks. This is why it's stupid to be blaming the Minister (as some newspapers have) for this. Policy decisions made 1 or 2 years ago are the reason we're having problems coping today.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Damn, something happens with the f's in this passage:

"but that the quantified benefits and the business case will necessarily REFLECT this weather assessment.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterHector M.

"It's no use having a severe weather warning two weeks before it happens. The lead time on purchasing snow ploughs, employing people to drive them and stocking up on salt is probably on the order of months, not weeks."

There are a lot of things you can do if you have two weeks lead time. You should be able to get the word out to your emergency people like police and military to get prepared for the mess. You can tell people to stock up on essentials so they can stay home instead of venturing out. You can provide snow driving pointers to as many people as possible (via internet, for example). You can tell people not to drive unless they have snow tires or chains. You should be able to bring in a few hundred tons of salt from the continent in a couple of weeks (remember Dunkirk). You can make arrangements with farmers to use their tractors as temporary snow plows to plow the roads. You can get emergency shelters set up and stocked.

A big part of the problem is that you have a leadership that is absolutely determined not to prepare for anything other than global warming. Fire them and any weather person who states that these cold winters are a function of global warming.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Koch

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:27 PM Robinson

"This is why it's stupid to be blaming the Minister (as some newspapers have) for this. Policy decisions made 1 or 2 years ago are the reason we're having problems coping today."

The minister was holding the parcel when the music stopped. That's politics.

But, yes. Two years ago the government was passing the Climate Change Act and governments of both persuasions have been banging the Climate Change drum for years. The Met Office tells the government and the country what the government wants it to say, and that's the message about climate change wrapped up with computer modelling to impress the unwary.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Hector

When you copy and paste from a typeset document you often lose letters where these appear as ligatures - special characters used for ff fl tty and so on. Fonts sometimes require the use of ligatures to get letter spacing correct.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Hector

I assume the assessment is the statements about cold winters becoming rarer.

Steve

I think the big issue for salt is buffer stocks. Digging around the winterresilience site, i note that they are treating last winter as a worst case scenario.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Off Topic but another idiotic quote to file away for future reference, currently on BBC News site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12042733

Quote from Phillip Eden ex VP of the Royal Society:

"I am often asked whether the last two winters mean that global warming has ended.

This is an important question, because it emphasises how much confusion there is about the difference between weather and climate.

Weather is caused by disturbances within the atmosphere, but climate is controlled by external influences, such as the distribution of oceans and continents, the extent of ice and snow-cover, variations in the amount of energy from the sun, and changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

Climate is the underlying average, or if the climate is changing it is the underlying trend, whereas weather is the noise in the system.

We have always had huge day-to-day and year-to-year variations in our weather, and we always will do, and a couple of cold winters are no more evidence that climate change has stopped than a single summer heat-wave proves that global warming is happening.

What can be said with very little doubt is that, once this cluster of cold winters has finished, we will have another lengthy run of mild and rainy ones, and if we spend piles of cash on snowploughs and de-icing equipment, we may come to regret it."

My respones "not as much as the billions wasted on windmills Phillip".

Dec 21, 2010 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike

I'm sure that the Met Officers are all looking expectantly at their super computer - eagerly waiting for guidance on how to handle their 'PR' problems.

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I believe the following is what the MET outlook for november was as posted on their site on 1st Nov. These pages are usually updated weekly and disappear, but there is a site which records them at
http://forum.netweather.tv/topic/22737-bbc-weather-monthly-outlook/

This is the BBC version, but its origin is the Met Office.


Monday 1 November 2010 to Sunday 7 November 2010


Windy and surprisingly mild
Once the southwesterly winds crank up later on Monday, they're in for most of the week, reaching gale force at times in some exposed areas.

As a frontal zone waves northwards and southwards across the country, so the areas of wettest weather change, but western upslopes are likely to see the highest totals.

Very mild air to the south of the frontal zone has potential to produce daytime temperatures in the high teens and some exceptionally mild nights, while cooler air makes occasional inroads across the north.

That's more likely at the end of the week, as the weather patterns begin to move southwards.

Monday 8 November 2010 to Sunday 14 November 2010


Turbulent weather begins to ease
It will be windy at first with the risk of gales, with the possibility of severe gales in the south and west.

Thereafter, a change to quieter, drier and brighter conditions is expected, although showers are still likely, especially in the north and west, with the driest conditions in the south and east.

After a mainly mild start, especially in the south, temperatures are likely to drop to near normal, with some snow just about possible on the Scottish Mountains.

Monday 15 November 2010 to Sunday 28 November 2010


Less rain, lower temperatures
The westerly airflow is expected to become lighter during the second half of November, allowing the weather to settle down a little.

Rainfall amounts should decrease as a result, especially across the east of England and the southwest of the UK.

Temperatures are expected to start above average, but then to ease down towards the late November average of 8 to 10C later in the month.


Next week
Next week's monthly outlook will take us into the early days of December, but will it be a mild or wintry start to the final month of the year?

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

You have to admire his persistance. Must be in daily contact with the famous Moonbat or drinking from the same bottle of coolaid.

http://www.marklynas.org/2010/12/20/why-is-it-so-cold-in-a-warming-world

Good to see a really in depth analysis of what we are now experiencing by simply quoting suchandsuch a study rather like saying "big boy said this".

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Yer Grace

You've just had a 3.6 earthquake!
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php
and location map at
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Maps/10/0_55.php

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

Half an hour ago I was just reading this in the online scan of Darwin's book - Voyages of the 'Adventure' and 'Beagle'

"If beneath England, the now inert subterranean forces should exert those powers which most assuredly in former geological ages they have exerted, how completely would the entire condition of the country be changed! What would become of the lofty houses, thickly-packed cities, great manufacturies, the beautiful public and private edifices? If the new period of disturbance were first to commence by some great earthquake in the dead of the night, how terrific would be the carnage! England would at once be bankrupt; all papers, records, and accounts would from that moment be lost. Government being unable to collect the taxes, and failing to maintain its authority, the hand of violence and rapine would go uncontrolled In every large town famine would be proclaimed, pestilence and death following in its train."

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

Bishop,

Road salt in the USA seems to cost from $60/ton to $130/ton. At those prices, 20,000 tons of salt might cost a couple of million bucks. It costs very little to maintain stockpiles of road salt and makes a huge difference in keeping the roads passable. Given how cheap it is, it seems that the only way you don't stock pile road salt is if you really think you will ever need it.

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Koch

Good thinking there Steve but in the UK it ain't that simple.
A local authority buys a ton of winter-mobility. Someone may steal it, so you need to guard it. At a minimum you need a night-watchman. Clearly someone needs to manage him. Both need paid. That won't happen in a vacuum. Before you know it, a whole job-centre worth of bodies spring up to support that one ton of grit.
Costs escalate, the local authority needs to cut budgets, the watchman is made redundant, someone steals the road treatment supply. Then the snows come!

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Damian Carrington has a sad piece in the Grauniad, Q&A: Why is it so cold this winter? He reports that

Daniel Adamson, a forecaster at MeteoGroup, agrees (more snow) and tentatively suggest a thaw may begin on Boxing Day.

Fair enough, Boxing Day is still a few days away. Suggestions about the state of the climate in 2100 are less tentative however.

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

A small aside Steve. Too much salt on the roads, in a UK winter, is not as good as you may think.
Take my today, as an example.
I'd bought, from my local Hyperstore, a gallon of winter screen-wash. Didn't read the size 5 font disclaimers on the back though.
My cold-weather protection gave me protection from non-operative windshield protection to an amazing -2 degrees C!!!!!
So I buy ready-mix, visibility secure, get you through the winter protection from my Asda/Tesco/Waitrose/Sommerfield/WTF and all I get is heavily diluted safety gear at uber-inflated rip-off
Rates.
As a result, my washers have been inoperative for a fortnight, the spare screen-wash in my boot hovers between turgid liquid and slush-puppy and I take my life in my hands whenever I seek to add income to my inflated fiscal outgoings!
Within 5 minutes of dual-carriageways driving, my windscreen is inscrutable and smeared with a chloride compound. I can't pull into the thoughtfully provided parking spaces because they've not been cleared of snow and I can't make out their boundaries.
I look forward to supporting those who seek to bring class damage actions against the major supermarket chains who,unlike tobacco companies, don't put visible health warnings on the front of their packaging. I just hope that I'm not one who needs to be compensated.
The more salt the better my car holds the road but the less I can see where the road is!!

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Models, Climate and Weather, Pshaw!
Models strut the cat-walk with Climate. Weather is what real gals and guys wear, day-to-day.

Dec 22, 2010 at 3:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

"DfT does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or usefulness" of information in the Quarmby audit. Could have been written about MetOffice predictions, for that matter. If their information is that doubtful, why bother publishing it?

Dec 22, 2010 at 3:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

O/T

Leader writer in the Telegraph giving a public opinion on his blog...

The hidden result of Cancun: dictators get more gas-guzzling cars and private jets

Short sweet and direct...

Interesting...

Dec 22, 2010 at 4:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

On topic... I wish they would make their mind up... Global Warming is more snow or less?

Global warming may also be having an effect, he added: "We are likely to get more snow because there is more moisture in the atmosphere due to global warming."

Sorry but he also said,

adding that his grandchildren had not even seen snow until last year.

So I am confused. Global Warming gives more snow, but not until some magical point in 2010? I think we have reached the tipping point.

And...

"Unless we have got advice to the contrary we have to build the business case on what we have been told about the statistical probability of severe weather.

Basically they haven't got a clue...

And as someone who lives abroad, severe weather? It is just snow and cold you know. There is nothing severe about it. It is normal winter weather. Just because the UK is not prepared does not the weather severe.

Finally... bookmark this for next December... as I live abroad, and can be totally selfish, here is hoping Mother Nature has the last laugh...

Quarmby said the Met Office remained convinced that the severe cold snap is a one-off phenomenon. "We cannot say this is an annual event," he said.

This is just political influence of AGW adherents on a small local scale UK winter preparation - dilution and uncertainty of actions for what should be solutions to simple problems.

Imagine what the effect will be at a global scale if global agreements kick in big-time?

Total chaos, and more likely lots of people dying and suffering... muddying the waters.

Dec 22, 2010 at 4:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

JC (and I use the initials advisedly) - nice second comment from HostileLogic in your link

I’m offering Rotary Impeller energy farms. They won’t require any wind since they are all powered by my new, compact cold fusion generators that only require two AA batteries.

Dec 22, 2010 at 5:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Remember the 2005 European heatwave anyone? As I recollect this was the harbinger of global warming, the sign of things to come. No bleating about the difference between weather and climate then.Then came the IPPC Apolyctic Revelations 4 in 2007:

IPCC AR4: 2007

"Fewer cold outbreaks; fewer, shorter, less intense cold spells / cold extremes in winter."

"VL (consistent across model projections)

Northern Europe, South Asia, East Asia"


17 §11.3.3.2, PRUDENCE, Kjellström et al. (2007), §11.4.3.2, Gao et al. (2002), Rupa Kumar et al. (2006)


http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch11s11-1-3.html

No mention of the cold winters we could expect to experience as a result of global warming. In short the advice the scientists gave to the policy makers in 2007 appears to have been knowingly misleading if they knew at that time that global warming would cause very cold winters.

Dec 22, 2010 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

From page 5 of the report:


Professor Beddington advises me that the Met Office will shortly be able to make seasonal
forecasts (i.e. up to 3 months ahead) with more confidence, and that this will be incorporated into operational forecasting during 2011. But for longer term forecasting – what is called decadal –while there are advances in understanding the factors driving natural variability, work is still in progress, which depends on sufficient resources becoming available to support the computing capacity required.

They want an even bigger computer, it would seem.

Dec 22, 2010 at 7:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

Hector M (Dec 21, 2010 at 9:28 PM): "Damn, something happens with the f's in this passage."

There's no F in CAGW.

( No "F-ing", geddit? OK, OK, let's just forget the whole thing, right?)

Dec 22, 2010 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Boyce

Anyone want to take a stab at this summers forecast? Given the -ve AO I wonder if it is more likely we'll have a hot dry summer, but if the Jet streams stay this far from the equator maybe more maritime influence wet and mild.

It struck me that the jets seem to have been sat much closer to the equator while we were enjoying mild winters. It looks to me that this allowed the climate system to dump heat by blocking the strongest sunlight at the equator, and now the system has dumped a good portion, the thermostat swung the other way and the jets moved away from the equator allowing more heat into the system again. I have no grand thesis of the control mechanisms, but the system does seem self limiting in either direction until the planet orbit takes us further away from the heat source, probably why the planet never fried before.

Can't have the MET Office talking about natural cycles though can we, too far off message don't you know!

Dec 22, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Prof King was on Ch4 news last night and repeated the same mantra, 'not our fault because we are short of computing power'.

We now know what all the windmills will power, the new Met Office supersuper computer that will generate enough heat to self fulfill its own forecasts and protect the UK from cold winters. ;)

Moonbat will be proud.

Dec 22, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

@ Mike, Dec 21, 2010 at 10:55 PM:
Thank you for posting that statement!

This is the money quote:
"What can be said with very little doubt is that, once this cluster of cold winters has finished, we will have another lengthy run of mild and rainy ones, and if we spend piles of cash on snowploughs and de-icing equipment, we may come to regret it."

Typical establishment! Let the taxpayers undergo misery because of snow and ice in winter, disruptions to their lives and travels do not matter to those who get driven to and from work in big limousines.
They still think that harsh winters are rare and a sign of globull warming anyway.

So yeah, spend more of our tax money on windmills, since they've provided the country with so much electricity already ...
What was the last count? 0.1% of all energy generated?

Dec 22, 2010 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Hi - this is David Quarmby, and I have read these posts with interest! If you havent seen it, read Chapter 12 on Weather Forecasting and Climate Change in the Interim Report (July) of the main Review which the Panel I was leading published - it is on the same website as yesterday's Audit report.

Does global warming mean more snow or less? Global warming means that the probability of severe winters is gradually declining, but when they do come they can still be extreme, and you would tend to get more snow (because of the higher moisture content of the atmosphere from global warming). I am not a meterologist, only a transport economist/planner, so providing I understand what the Met Office are saying and it makes sense to me (so far as I can tell) I will accept it. It doesn't stop me challenging them, however, which I have done quite hard (again), over the question of 'clustering' and the statistical independence of weather severity between successible winters.

The comment about my granchildren not having seen any snow until the 08-09 winter reflected the fact that until then, since about 2000, we have had mild winters with very little or no snow.

Although the long term trends seem established and understood, no one, not even our dear Met Office, can forecast specific weather even probabilistically more than a few weeks ahead. However, the Met Office told the Government Chief Scientific Adviser last week (and me) that by the next winter (2011-12) they should be able to forecast 'seasonally' ie up to 3 months ahead with more confidence than they do now.

The reason for the quotation marks around my reporting what the Met Office had said at the end of October was a) because I was not aware of it myself at the time (having delivered my main Review a couple of weeks before, and was glad to be doing something other than weather - until I was called back on 1 December) and b) because it wsas important (to me) to quote their exact words.

Dec 22, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Quarmby

Hi David

Thanks for you rpost.

let me just make absolutely sure I understand the logic.

If the winter is less severe, that is because of AGW. But if it is more severe, then that too is a consequence of AGW.

The having your cake and eating it argument. I'll try it at the bookies. I;d like 66-1 on Good Old Nag to win and 66-1 on it to lose please. Do our 'scientists' really think we were born yesterday?

What would winters be like if there was no AGW at all? How would we know?

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Prof Quarmby the issue is outwith your report I believe, it is broken down into two parts:

1. The advocacy of the Met Office who are pushing global warming and have for three previous years given us long term forecasts of warm summers and mild winters. They didnt provide a forecast for this year but the data on their website on 28th October indicated a mild winter. I don't believe you have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that there is a warming bias either in the data going into the computer or in the way the computer is programmed to handle the data. If you believe their boasts about short term forecasts then I suggest you do a screen save of the BBC website homepage for you local area for a few weeks and see for yourself the appalling standard of their forecasts.

The second issue, the MetOffice was put in place to provide shipping forecasts and then weather forecasts, business have had six wrong long term forecasts from them in succession, they need to separate their environmentalist advocay role, indeed confine to their private lives, from their role as weather forecasters and lose their climate research function to the universities. The public want better weather forecasts and for all the MetOffice tell us of the difficulties in providing them, we can see for ourselves that people like Corbyn and Bastardi can provide excellent long term and short term weather forecasts, but they aren't ideologically driven to prove AGW. Again you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the environmentalist advocacy of the MetOffice may be getting in the way of their main job, weather forecasting.

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Again Prof Quarmby, I don't want to wrangle with you in the CAGW issue but:

"Global warming means that the probability of severe winters is gradually declining, but when they do come they can still be extreme, and you would tend to get more snow."

We know that there should be more precipitation with warming, but what do you think the odds would be for three consecutive severe winters in a warming world?

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I posted what I believe to be the Met office outlook at Nov 1st. It does not mention cold for the end of the month. This is what it says:

Temperatures are expected to start above average, but then to ease down towards the late November average of 8 to 10C later in the month.

So where is the prediction of a cold end to the month? Anybody?

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Quarmby Audit - Recommendation 1: "In spite of the continuing advice from the Met Office that severe winter weather continues to have a low probability of occurrence, and that there appears to be no evidence to support ‘clustering’ of severe winters, government should recognise that there are opportunities for additional resources to be committed to winter resilience in England – in highways, railways and aviation – but that the quantified benefits and the business case will necessarily reflect this weather assessment."

It is quite revealing that climate scientists at the Met Office have no evidence (or explanation) to support 'clustering' because that means if we do experience a 4th cold winter next year then by the Met Office's own calculation that represents a 160000:1 chance of happening.

The Met Office must be dreading the prospect of a 4th straight cold winter because if they don't come up a robust scientific explanation for 'clustering' of cold winters their reputation will be trashed and heads will roll.

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Why were the Met Office even allowed to stop issuing long term forecasts? Is there no charter of what they are to provide to the government or public?

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterrc

Dr Quarmby

Thanks for taking the time to leave us a comment. There was another post yesterday about the chapter in the interim report.

Could you just clarify for me - you didn't actually see the Met Office forecast from October? A few of us want to see exactly what was said - the forecasts shown on the Met Office website suggest that they were predicting a warm winter at that point.

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:15 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

It is only the MET that are talking about clustering. There are others talking about a trend which may be closer to the mark for future winter prediction. The recent historical warming period I beleive if my memory is correct was caused by less colder winters rather than by increased overall temperatures.
If we are now on the cooling part of the climate cycle then I would expect the winters to be colder more consistently. The problem with the MET predictions is that temperatures only go one way due to mans influence.

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

David Quarmby

Dear Sir, many thanks for posting, it helps greatly. However I have a problem with the explanation regarding the statement ‘early indications of the onset of a cold spell from late November’ at the end of October’.

I understand the reasoning behind the explanation a) but I would appreciate some more detail surrounding b)

1. Whose “exact” words are they? Are they the Met Office words or the words of whoever received the “early indications”?

2. Who was in receipt of the “early indications” at the end of October?

I am aware that you are probably extremely busy, but if at all possible I would appreciate clarification.

Once again thanks for posting.

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Additional comment to Dec 21, 2010 at 10:55 PM | Mike

The quote from the Royal Society dude caught my eye before.

"What can be said with very little doubt is that, once this cluster of cold winters has finished, we will have another lengthy run of mild and rainy ones, and if we spend piles of cash on snowploughs and de-icing equipment, we may come to regret it.""

It's time to put up or shut up. Is that his policy advice? These guys are always whining the they should have a seat at the policy table or that the should "inform" policy. Here's their chance. do they want to be accountable and responsible for policy (don't buy any more equipment) or do they want to be equivicating "on the other hand" scientists who can always smuggly say "well, I allowed for that possibility"?

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

"What can be said with very little doubt is that, once this cluster of cold winters has finished, we will have another lengthy run of mild and rainy ones ..."

That statement is almost self-evidentally true.

If we don't have another lengthy run of mild, rainy winters would they not then claim that the current cluster of severe winters had not yet finished? Or do they mean that this current winter is the end of the cluster?

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

I scraped the Met Office site in October and again in early December and they were clearly forecasting warmer than average temperatures for the UK in October. It is inconceivable that they would have been giving the opposite advice to paying customers in national and local government.

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

RoyFOMR

There's a run on good screenwash when it's cold. I took the precaution of getting in many litres of concentrate before this cold snap took hold. Using it neat it's guaranteed down to -15 degC.

But in the temperatures we've had this last week or so, even that's frozen solid.

I don't agree with you about the salt - it's useless when the temperature is at -10 degC or so as it still freezes. They don't use salt in Finland, for instance, in winter when the temperature is very cold. But everyone gets around just fine with winter tyres, which are compulsory by law.

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

geronimo "We know that there should be more precipitation with warming, but what do you think the odds would be for three consecutive severe winters in a warming world?"

The answer can be deduced from the report without consulting Dr Quarmby again. As recorded in interim report, the Met Office gave the probability of a severe winter as 1-in-20 for any given year (they are assumed to be independent events according to the report). Therefore the odds for three in a row must be 1-in-8000, or a probability of 0.0125%.

But even this is an underestimate because the 1:20 probability is for a severe winter which can include snow, but not necessarily extremely low temperature. The probability of having lots of snow AND low temperature is a lot less than 1-in-20 (again, consult the report). Elsewhere the Met Office have put figures of 1:200 on a winter like 1963 (very cold and very snowy). Let's say somewhere between 1:20 and 1:200 - choose any figure you like. For the purposes of argument, say 1:50. Taking the last three winters, take 2008/9 as 1:20, 2009/10 as 1:50, and (if it continues) 2010/11 as 1:50, and the probability of these in a row would be 1-in-50,000 (0.002%), or likely to happen only once every 50,000 years. The likelihood that this is a freak 'run' of winters, which will just revert to mild again is vanishingly small. Folk who want to believe that something with such a vanishingly small probability has just randomly turned up can believe so if they wish, but I don't want to hear any more from such people about the precautionary principle and probabilities of 70% and 90% etc. Their statistics and the underlying models and assumptions suck.

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

The Met Office are stating they don't have any evidence (basically a robust explanation) for 'clustering' of cold winters. For them it is a question of chance. An independent 20:1 chance of a cold winter (every 20 years).

2 straight cold winters - 400:1 (every 400 years)

3 straight cold winters - 8000:1 (every 8000 years) (what we are currently experiencing)

4 straight cold winters - 160,000:1 (every 160,000 years)

A 4th straight cold winter will blow what is left of the Met Office's credibility out of the water.

In pre-AGW times genuine scientific curiousity would have been kicking in now to offer up alternative explanations for such clustering. There a couple of contenders.

1. Period of low solar activity.

2. AMO and PDO ocean cycles.

The NH could be facing a period of prolonged and brutal winters due to the combination of these two 'natural' factors. Factors that the Met Office have turned their back on in order to sustain their own faith in AGW.

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

andyscrase - posted Dec 22 2010 at 7:54 AM

Andy - it appears the Met Office has 18 members of staff [scientists/researchers] devoted to 'Seasonal to decadal forecasting':
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/our-scientists/seasonal-to-decadal
I hope they're managing to keep busy with their existing super computer, while awaiting the even larger machine Sir David King was campaigning for on Channel 4 News last night.

Dec 22, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuercus

Quercus

Seasonal to Decadal Prediction (Met Office)

Met Office scientists (promos)

Adam Scaife: Adam leads 'seasonal to decadal prediction research' and Met Office Hadley Centre climate model development and carries out 'personal' research on climate variability.

Alberto Arribas: Alberto works on 'improving our understanding' of the relevant processes and dynamical forecasting capabilities at seasonal timescales.

Bernd Becker: Bernd works on 'developing products' from monthly and seasonal ensemble forecasts.

Joanne Camp: Joanne 'develops' seasonal predictions of tropical storm activity in the North Atlantic.

Mike Davey: Mike carries out research on ocean and atmosphere variability and 'predictability'.

Nick Dunstone: Nick is a climate scientist working on 'inter-annual to decadal climate prediction'.

Rosemary Eade: Rosemary works on 'seasonal to decadal climate prediction' with a 'particular emphasis on climate extremes' and tropical storms.

David Fereday: David works on developing and 'improving' the seasonal forecast model.

Chris Folland: Chris works 'part time' on seasonal forecasting, seasonal to multidecadal climate variability, and as an advisor to the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Richard Graham: Richard works in the applied side of long-range forecasting, distilling complex information from climate models into 'user-friendly' advice for planning.

Emily Hamilton: Emily investigates the 'potential' for producing seasonal forecasts of extreme daily weather events.

Sarah Ineson: Sarah is a climate scientist working on 'El Niño Southern Oscillation'.

Craig MacLachlan: Craig works on the 'development and implementation' of the seasonal forecast system.

Anna Maidens: Anna works on 'analysing and calibrating' the output from the dynamical forecasting model for seasonal timescales.

Drew Peterson: Drew works on 'improving' the initial conditions used in the seasonal forecast system.

Holger Pohlmann: Holger works on the 'assessment of the skill' of decadal climate predictions and the investigation of the mechanisms leading to the climate predictability.

Doug Smith: Doug leads the 'decadal climate prediction research' and development at the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Michael Vellinga: Michael works on 'making seasonal-to-decadal forecasts over Africa' better geared towards users, and on irreversible change in the meridional overturning circulation.

Dec 22, 2010 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

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