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« The comedy of fakers | Main | Naked Churnalism - Josh 151 »

Behind the lines

Just a short note written from the Met Office library, where I'm going to spend an hour before heading back home. The day has gone extremely well, with some really interesting exchanges of views, some of which were quite unexpected.

My talk was probably pitched at a level that was a bit too general and not science-y enough, but as ever with these things it was the Q&A that was the most interesting anyway. Richard Betts had invited Martin Juckes to attend and Juckes was the source of several probing questions. (Long-term readers at Climate Audit may remember him as having a long exchange with McIntyre back in 2007 or thereabouts). This led onto an interesting discussion of uncertainty bands and inverse regression. Peter Stott also wanted to take me to task over some of the things I said, and there was a frank, but not unfriendly exchange there too.

It was great to meet Richard and (briefly) Tamsin. Although unfortunately we had less time for informal chats than I would have liked.

Thanks are certainly due to Vicky Pope and Richard for their hospitality. It was a productive and, I think, a very useful day.

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Reader Comments (95)

Politeness to certain 'visitors' does not equate to a 'sea change', let us make one thing clear, what brings the bread home in the MET, is what brought the bread home 10 years ago.

It is still [in the Met Office divination laboratories] predicting and the authentication of the philosophers stone Global Warming and not much else, science is the least of their worries, more computer power and ever extended government budgets, soliciting more foreign funding [EU USA JAPAN etc] and therefore ever greater advocacy and more AGW - and it is a priority.

As the theory of AGW [what there was of it] is now thoroughly trashed and ridiculed.

There is no recanting in the NGO's, public administration - in government circles of the DECC, DEFRA or in the 'houses' of the RED Tories or Lib dhimms/Socialist Labourites. It's back to the EU the power that lies behind London and Exeter.

The junket goes on, this is a play, a dance and the Met Office does lead us up the garden path - just like it has done for 25 years, since it realised where the big money was coming from - you and me.

Speaking politely to polite fellows and making the right noises is all good PR but all it is; is a facade, to think otherwise is to be a fool to yourself.

Napier et al -

Sir Brian Hoskins CBE

Paul Rew

Mike Goodfellow

John Hirst

Julia Slingo

Phillipa Childs

John Neilson

Peter Shortt

Nick Jobling

Rob Varley

Honestly, heavens above - Gold Diggers, pretenders, racketeers and mountebanks inc'.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Mike Haseler Feb 22, 2012 at 7:50 PM

Isn't the truth that secretly, we don't want to do down the Met Office. Really what we want to be able to do is to go onto the forums of the world and be proud of British science and forecasting.

Schrodinger's Cat Feb 22, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I welcome your dialogue with the Met Office and look forward to hearing more about your discussions.
In the meantime, and at risk of being a party pooper, here are some of my opinions about the Met Office.

Just a few years ago, I felt that some of their staff were guilty of political advocacy, pushing the case of catastrophic global warming and the policies that should be adopted by government. I'm pleased to say that they seem to have retreated from this position more recently, though I attribute this more to critism in the media for their BBQ Summer forecasts than a change of heart.
In my view, this says much about the Met Office and members of the Committee. It says very little about justice for the tax payer. I believe that the Met office would benefit most from a change of their entire management team.

We'd all love to be immensely proud of the Met Office.

But somehow, while none of us was taking any notice, it morphed into a CAGW propaganda generator, with weather forecasting bundled together with the generation of computer models to confirm global warming.

Merely replacing its management team would not be sufficient. It needs to be closed down and replaced by new (and far smaller) organisations.

Weather forecasting should be separated entirely from climate modelling efforts and conducted by a moderate team of say forty meteorologists with support staff.

Climate research is an important subject but it has been hopelessly compromised for more than a decade. The only way forward is to start again, completely from scratch, with three or four small teams of capable physicists and statisticians who have had no previous involvement with climate research but who have shown themselves capable of working from first principles.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Tamsin and Richard, we are honoured to have you around here. I'm so glad the day went well, both with the Bish and Dr Wunch. As someone's already said it's harder to be a blithering idiot in face-to-face interaction, compared to pseudonym-strewn blog-reality - well, I think they said something a bit like that :)

There are still some interesting lessons to be had from the uproar about Swindle in March 2007, not just in how Wunch was treated by the film-makers but how others later spun this to make the whole film was worthless. I'm not at all surprised, just from what Richard Lindzen has said about him, that Wunch today came across as sceptical, as any good scientist should, in what he regarded as a friendly environment. The problem with climate science has arisen at some other level - but has amounted to nothing less than deceiving policy makers and the general public. The uproar about Swindle is a case in point, as is the long-running demonisation of Steve McIntyre and many others with a lot to contribute to the scene.

I'm really glad that HSI was defended not just by Andrew but by others who normally live "behind the lines". You could be making a profound change to the culture that feeds into the public debate and I for one am extremely grateful. I look forward to the Bishop's own report.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Well said, Richard Drake (12:37 AM). There are encouraging developments. I am up late reading some of them. One is this sortie by the Bish. Another is the report of the talk by Prof Wunsch. A third is on The Independent's site, a sympathetic report about Prof Lindzen's talk in London: If I recall rightly, you won't like the allusion to the millenium bug as a mistake, but nothing is made of it in the report itself.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Feb 22, 2012 at 11:04 PM | Tamsin Edwards

Thanks for mentioning me. Yes, I would have greatly enjoyed hearing you today. Tamsin off message is my dream.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Dr Edwards, you are my new objective scientist hero!
And I was just about to ask Dr Curry to the Realist's Prom. :)
Oh, the dilemma!!

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Daddis

Maybe because I am old, my starting point is the politeness of Richard Betts and young Tamsin. And others there. Civility, so often absent from the climate debate

Toujours la politesse

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Anderson

I demand a full retina scan and fingerprint swipe...

Obviously the Met Office is a cover for a Torchwood type government agency. Their budgets for more supercomputers are just cover.

Has BH been swapped?

Glad the day went well...

Feb 23, 2012 at 6:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I don't want to be boring but no-one has answered my point:-

Why should we take the MET Office seriously when they have partner / funder status for the ZeroCarbonBritain 2030 Report?

What expertise has the MET Office got in energy generation and use? Why are they diverting taxpayer's funding (even if it is only staff time) to a energy policy advocacy group?

The fact that the Zero Carbon lot are at the extreme wild and loopy end of energy policy debate merely serves to emphasise the point. I wouldn't expect the MET Office to go out on a limb to advocate coal bed methane extraction and generation (nor would I take them very seriously if they did) so why is it OK to give their status as a (supposedly) iconic institution to bolster a bunch of greenie fruitcakes?

Yes it is nice to have bluff laughing Richard and the fragrant Tamsin deigning to come on here but are they entirely content about this? This 'ZeroCarbon' drivel is influencing Government policy (check out numerous pontifications by LoonyHuhne) and that is aggrevating the collosal waste of resources in building "renewables" that are as inefficient as they are expensive and unnecessary.

C'mon Richard and Tamsin! Where do YOU stand on "ZeroCarbon"??

Feb 23, 2012 at 6:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

So no Custard Pies flying around

Feb 23, 2012 at 7:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Indy on Prof Lindzen at the H of C

Feb 23, 2012 at 7:51 AM | Unregistered Commentermarkj

Bishop when you was talking to those Met Office people

Did you pick up any VIBE about them being privatize

Any one mention the recession

Feb 23, 2012 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Meanwhile at El Rancho Scientifico, following on from showing the aerosol optical physics in the climate models fails to consider a second optical process for ~half low level clouds so net AIE is warming/cannot hide AGW, the latest foray is the physical mechanism explaining zero net GHG-AGW.

Climate science's second biggest mistake is to assume 100% direct thermalisation of absorbed IR. The subject has badly misinterpreted the Tyndall and 'PET bottle' experiments, done at constant volume so much of the temperature rise is due to pressure rise. Slacken the bottle top and temperature rise is much less. Will Happer warned of this scientific failure in 1993 but was ignored.

Thermalisation is probably mostly at second phases, mainly cloud droplets with gettered CO2 [also the PET bottle walls]. The working hypothesis is that the extra warming of the clouds as CO2 increases increases convection and precipitation, reducing H2O optical depth to compensate for extra CO2.

The blogosphere is full of shared work as highly experienced scientists and engineers, annoyed at the abject failure of the IPCC consensus, have set out to create the real real science. The MSM is well aware of this. The key question is when will the climate science establishment stop trying to defend the indefensible?

Feb 23, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

I use the expression ' watch what I do not what I say'. The Met Off has 'lost' original data, has persistently under performed physically but over performed verbally, they adjust data without publishing the raw data, their forecasts over 12 hrs are not 100% their forecast over 24 overs are pretty much useless because they lack details, their 5 day forecast is useless and their long range forecast is totally useless. Their motives are suspect.

OK so I'm bitching but I spent too much time around civil servants or sometimes not so civil servants trouble shooting their work. Sorry but I don't buy what they are saying or what they are doing, YET.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

and they did not decry the Hockey Stick even though they should have known it was a fraud !!
How can I trust what they say when I see what they do.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Feb 22, 2012 at 7:37 PM | stephen richards

Feb 22, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Harry Dale Huffman

Unnecessary bile providing no useful contribution to the debate. Please desist. Thanks

In other words, "Hello Mr Kettle, my name is Mr Pot."


Feb 23, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Sadly, the BBC, Guardian, the Australian ABC, the Huffington Post, the NYT and countless others don't see it. Even the Royal Society, University Earth Science Departments and most European politicians have not yet crossed that bridge

Neither has Richard Betts. He is on the same side of the bridge as the other shouting platitudes across it.

How can I believe what you say when I see what you do? Richard.

RB I want you to come here a converse. I am waiting for the moment when you denounce the HS, your senior colleagues, the Climategate team etc.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Feb 22, 2012 at 7:40 PM | Martin A

Hi Martin,

The Bish's talk was "The Hockey Stick Illusion" and was of course his usual talk of his book. As he noted above, on reflection it was perhaps a slightly missed opportunity not to tweak it a bit to give more focus on the nitty-gritty of the PCA issues, as the statisticians in the audience wanted to really get into a debate on that, but that was partly my fault - I should have thought to give the Bish more of a steer that he'd be talking to an audience of geeks who relish the technical detail.

But it wasn't really a problem as he did give us enough to start an argument within the audience - when this happens the speaker can be confident that he's raised a point of genuine controversy. And the point was, it definitely wasn't Montford vs. The Audience - it was a bunch of people having a discussion. And as somebody said here, there were no custard pies!

For me it was really great to prove that it is still possible for two "sides" to come together for a constructive discussion, and even if there is still no actual agreement at the end, that's fine as long as you've actually made the effort to listen to each other's point of view. That's what science is all about.



Feb 23, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Some here are regretting the Kumbaya-ish-ness of this thread and (presumably, I wasn't there) of the Bishop's visit to the Met Office. Well, I would say, a bit of Kumbaya-ish-ness in the AGW blogosphere from time to time might not do any harm... Were Andrew M known to be an in-your-face lobber of grenades, it is unlikely that Richard would have invited him or that he would have been listened to carefully enough to get a debate going among the Met Office people. As the Bishop said last week (?), there is a place for people like him, and a place for people like Delingpole. Just because he is polite doesn't mean he wouldn't have made any critical points.

Also, it is interesting to hear Richard's feedback about the Discussion, and Tamsin's, because it confirms what I would have believed anyway: the Met Office is not a monolith. Lots of people work there, they have different aims and different views. Some of them are presumably very much upholders, and defenders to the death of the Hockey Stick, lobbyists for ZeroCarbonBritain, supporters (or committers) of IPCC shenanigans, etc., and some of them are more open-minded and focussed on the uncertainties in the science. Anything that helps the latter in the internal debates has to be good. Also, I'm sure that many people here would be glad if Richard B went for a theatrical autodafe, denouncing all the Crimes of the AGW movement and so on - but I wouldn't hold your breath. For one, he doesn't see things that way, and for two, it probably would not be all that great in terms of keeping his job ;-).

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:37 AM | Richard Drake

For heavens sake, "honoured" to have them here. That's not typical of your normally lucid comments.

We are not hornoured at all. It's nice to read them both, particular Tamsin, but Honoured. Get outa here.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

So the science is not settled and the debate is no longer one side only. Well done to all concerned with the exchange of views.
It is extremely difficult to get beyond the ideas and concepts already formed in ones mind. It is through those that we get our view of the world. Science always tried to get beyond that situation by bringing a null hypotheses to a theory. The sooner climate science embraces this tenet it will be a true science and the better for all of us. Tell me the weather or climate that denotes no AGW.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

he would have been listened to carefully enough

You don't know if that's a truism. I think, but don't know for certain, that, yes, we do like to see the MO here but not with a false facade. I know they can't denounce their own because if you do so in the Civil service your bonus goes out the window along with your promotions and an other dirty deed your bosses can think of. You see I've been there, done that and got the T-shirt, but, I got out. I got out and was forever true to myself and the fundamental principles of science. You see, that's why I have such a passion for not being bambousled by these people.

It's not that they are lying, they aren't, but they are bieng economic with the absolute truth. Richard Betts, as I said, please come here and parler but don't expect us to be convinced by you. It won't happen in my case.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Richard Betts Feb 23, 2012 at 9:25 AM

The Bish's talk was "The Hockey Stick Illusion" and was of course his usual talk of his book. (...) That's what science is all about.

Many thanks for that.

Richard Betts Feb 23, 2012 at 9:25 AM

In other words, "Hello Mr Kettle, my name is Mr Pot."

I am wondering if you actually read what Harry Dale Huffman wrote [Feb 22, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Harry Dale Huffman]. Stephen Richards' words seemed entirely apt to me in view of HDH's nastiness.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

To Peter Whale:

This shows CO2-AGW << present natural cooling and because there is natural cooling, much 1990's heat gain was probably from one or more forms of natural heating.

[The OHC rise comprises much if not most Global OHC rise.]

And the really great aspect of these ARGO observations, agreed by all to be the only real measure of global warming/cooling, is that I have predicted it as the consequence of the switch from Arctic warming in its 50-70 year cycle, to cooling. The Russians reckon that by 2020, the Arctic will be as cold as in 1900. The mechanism is control of cloud albedo, also the cause of the end of ice ages.

In time the likes of the Met. Office will once and hopefully for all realise that the IPCC 'consensus' is based on four major scientific mistakes which insiders have known to be wrong since 1997 when it was shown that CO2 rises after T at the end of ice ages.

This new Lysenkoism convolved with a new phlogiston ['back radiation', really Prevost exchange Energy, doing thermodynamic work] must come to an end as soon as possible. What makes it worse is that any wind turbine investment we make from now on actually increases CO2 emissions compared without those new turbines. The real green economy will come from a different mix of technologies.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

For me it was really great to prove that it is still possible for two "sides" to come together for a constructive discussion, and even if there is still no actual agreement at the end, that's fine as long as you've actually made the effort to listen to each other's point of view. That's what science is all about.

No it isn't! Science is not a talk shop where both sides throw arguments at one another and then shake hands and walk away. That's not science.

Science is about rational, logical discussion and presentation about the POINTS at hand with the intention of coming to full and final conclusion. Yes it is normally done in several steps but those steps have already been taken from our perspective. The fraud of the climate science community has long since been exposed now is the time for that community to explain scientifically and resolve.

No one from the community has ever fulfilled Steve McIntyre's request for an engineering quality proof of the Global Warming mantra. That's science. All this pussyfooting is achieving nothing. And finally but not least, What's this balderdash about taking another multimillion pound lump of taxpayer's hard earned ( yes they earn it in factorys, out in the cold, taking public abuse faca à face) money to continue the garbage in garbage out campaigne? I cannot think of one IT guy that would advocate buying a bigger computer when the software you are running on the current one doesn't work. Bigger Computers make both good and bad software run faster, that's it. Not better, not more accurately, not more correct.
That's why I think the MO is a waste of space and should be privatised. Your senior managers slagging off Piers Corbyn because he wouldn't give them his method so they could check it was an absolute disgrace. Glad I got that off my chest.

So Richard, please post here. I like to read your comments. No Really.

Incidently, the debacle over the 'hurricane ' of 'oct 87 was one occassion when I defended the MO. Fish was honest with his forecast on the Sunday before. He actually got it as right as could be expected and actually forecast severe gales (possibilty) and afterwards, when the press were saying it was hurricane I was happy to point out that they were wrong and the MO was right. An honest forecast. Honest, that's the key.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

From what I remember, Michael Fish said "We have had a phone call from Mrs Bloggs asking if there is a hurricane on its way. No, Mrs Bloggs, there is no hurricane on its way".

Two hours later half the trees in Kew Gardens had been blown down.

It was that that stuck in people's memories.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

So the science is not settled and the debate is no longer one side only. Well done to all concerned with the exchange of views.

No that is not what has been achieved here. Bish gave a presentation to some members of the MO and invited guests about his excellent book. I doubt that one of those present thought the current climate science proposition has been set aside. RB, Slingo et al have not said that they will set aside their theology/science and allow open minded debate. None of the comments here have been about the science. There is no debate, yet. Hopefully, this little episode is a 'let's look behind the curtain' moment but there is a massive amount of work to be done on both propositions. In the end my wish would be that the MO confess to their lack of professionalism and promise to do better and we, the sceptics and true scientists, can find the proof that AGW is not an extremely urgent-save the world now problem.

Great credit to BH for going. It must have been a very very difficult decision for him

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Martin A

Your right. The phone call came from a woman in France. An English woman. She miss interpreted the french meteo forecast which said something along the lines of " le vente sera extremment fort et dangereux et il pouvait atteindre une force comme un ouragan". MF said "don't worry we will not see a hurricane. He was right about that, wrong about the strength of the wind because the depression deepened explosively as it entered the english channel and the centre sept north over western england to NE scotland with the strongest winds on the eastern edge. But not only did this depression deepen explosively but it also filled extremely quickly. The winds flowing into and then out of the depression were therefore exceptional but not unpercedented. A bit like our current warming spell. So now if the MO were to make an equivelantly honest statement on our current warming they might say "our models do not give accurate forecasts to 100 years ahead and within our current knowledge, past warmings have been similar or equivelant to our current period, we therefore see no reason for panic measures to be put in place by all governments. We will continue to monitor the situation through our new and improved monitoring network which we will be putting in place instead of wasting £millions on another useless computer"

No matter what computer the MO may buy between 2012 and 2100 they will never be able to forecast that particular moment.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards


Incidently, in Dec 1999, here in france, we had 2 massive storms (tempetes). The first one arrived under the jet stream and the meteo missed it completely. It passed through cap finistere, just south of paris and onto the alsace, wiping out electricity pylons, cathedral windows and people as it went. A week later a second, just as strong, tempete arrived under the jetstream, but further south. It created a tidal surge of 7 metres, passed through Bordeaux and onto northern italy. Both storms carried more energy than the english '87 and killed more people and did more damage. The meteo did not demand a bigger computer they just explained precisely what happened. They forecast the second tempete very well indeed but that did not prevent much damage and mayhem.

Hidden inside this second storm were some very violent tornadoes. One guy in central paris went to turn a corner and came head on into the storm and turned back to hide behind the wall he had passed. While he stood there waiting another person was staggering pass, followed by a corragated iron sheet which instantly removed his head.
The BBC made no report about either of these storms.

Feb 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

At the beginning of March two years ago we were heading for France and anticipating some pretty severe weather south of the M25 heading for the Tunnel. It wasn't till the next day in France that we realised the storm had done a flip 1987 and headed in further south than forecast, demolishing large chunks of Brittany on its way. Both French and British met staff duly took a pasting but it's hardly their fault if a storm suddenly changes its mind and decides to go and pester the wrong people!
Fish's big problem was that speaking as a meteorologist he was correct in saying we were not about to get a hurricance; what we did get was what the media — and therefore the man in the street — would probably call a hurricane. Therefore according to the media — and the man in the street — Fish got it wrong and we have another stick to beat the Met Office with.
It would help if we could all agree on a couple of things.
- Let the Met Office concentrate on weather. Climate is a matter for the long-term, not the next 72 hours.
- Stop pretending you can forecast the weather better than about 75% accurately. I get a daily email from MeteoFrance which purports to tell me my local weather. It's not possible since the weather station it uses is 50km away. I get a reasonably reliable guide to temperature, wind and precipitation usually accurate to within half a day up to a couple of days ahead. Beyond that I do as well with guesswork and seaweed (except I'm too far from the sea). "Rain before seven; fine by eleven" is still a pretty good rule of thumb for UK weather!
- Learn what you're being told by people who know that a bigger computer only means you get the same stupid answer about two seconds quicker.
- Try learning from the French about weather warnings and keep them simple and limited.
- Stop your on-air staff from talking about "chilly old nights", "lumps of cloud", and "spits and spots of rain". And get rid of those bloody fly-through maps! Weather forecasts are not supposed to be entertainment.
Anything I've missed?

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Hi Stephen of course you are correct that it was a presentation by Bish of his book and not about the science. The Hockey Stick created by Mann was supposed to be science and was debunked by M&M and chronicled masterfully by Bish to its comatose position now waiting to be resurrected by the faithful.The Met office are to be applauded for looking at its deconstruction and maybe they will look at themselves, this has to be step in the direction for the better.
Richard Betts defends his corner well but is open to others views.With discussion going on within the Met audience there are others who will be a little more critical of what they say and do.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Mike Jackson: the problem with the Met. Office is that the climate models and he weather models share a common code base. Therefore they incorporate the same incorrect physics.

The vastly exaggerated GHG-AGW is offset by double real low cloud optical depth [~10% higher average albedo] and the negative net AIE which has the wrong sign and is probably the real GW mechanism.

So, the heuristic learning of the climate models seems to be being inherited by the weather models too.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

I'm not sure why Richard doesn't get to be "fragrant"...

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTamsin Edwards

Hi again folks,

Since we are talking about forecasts, and the fact that it's actually the same computer model that does both weather and climate, it might be worth mentioning something else we did yesterday.

A colleague of mine who is one of the Deputy Chief Forecasters gave the Bish and myself a tour of the Operations Centre, so he could see the forecasters in action.

We looked over the shoulders of (and in some cases chatted to):

1. The Open Road forecasters working on the contracts for local councils advising when gritting is needed or not (they were having a quiet day!)
2. the World Area Forecaster for the Civil Aviation Authority, who at that moment was busy seeing what the model was forecasting for the position of the jet stream over North America so planes can be routed effectively
3. Forecasters doing low-level weather forecasts for various airspace users including the military
4. UK shipping area forecaster - the Bish was given his very own copy of yesterday's shipping forecast hot off the press, so he could read it to the children to help them go to sleep.....:-)
5. Deputy Chief Forecaster doing the medium range (several days to a month), looking at the model ensembles to see how well the different models and different runs agree with each other
6. Chief Forecaster taking an overview of the whole general situation and communicating with others such as the BBC weather presenters on what the picture is for that day.

Feb 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Mike Jackson Feb 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Anything I've missed?

Yes. Intelligibility.

Someone [eg the Met Office themselves] should analyse the intelligibility of their spoken forecasts. The rapidity, the home-spun terms and the contractions ("englanwells") make them virtually incomprehensible.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A - Certainly for the radio 4 forecasts the Met Office did precisely that, a large study of what people heard and remembered from the forecasts, and made some significant changes which, to me anyway, seem to have been to the good.

Richard Betts: "UK shipping area forecaster - the Bish was given his very own copy of yesterday's shipping forecast hot off the press..." Now THAT is a really nice touch, I am soooo jealous.

Feb 23, 2012 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

for years and years I followed both the shipping forecast and the farmer's forecast on 4 and LW but then I became sick and tired of the political spin coming out of the met off. After today's blogging and reading RB's concilatory tone I went back and read the MO web site again. Haven't done that for a few years now and oh my god it still makes me sick. Sorry Richard but you lot have a long road back to being real scientists, a very long road but I'll keep on trying to rehabilitate my MO opinion.

Perhaps I am damned annoyed because I feel like some nasty bit of work has taken my beloved met off away from me. From the stupidity of the BBC roam around weather map which passes by the forecaster as he tries to keep up, to the head of the MO saying his new model and super computer were going to provide accurate 10 year forecasts from the same daily weather forecast model I feel I have been cheated, treated like an idiot. aaaaarrrrrgh !!!

I will never get over that feeling until something at the MO changes and changes radically and that means sacking all the top 4 tiers of management, dismissing all NGO sympathisers and demonstrating honest science like it use to. And no more damn computers until the model demonstrates some semblance of accuracy rather than the AGW bent it currently has. How many of the last ten years has it forecast above the actual.?

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Feb 22, 2012 at 7:37 PM | stephen richards

Feb 22, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Harry Dale Huffman

Unnecessary bile providing no useful contribution to the debate. Please desist. Thanks

In other words, "Hello Mr Kettle, my name is Mr Pot."

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Richard Betts

OH no Richard, I am not aware of spouting bile at the moment, not to say that I haven't and won't. Sometimes the 'authoroties' say things that really make me spit and you are one of those authorities in my minds eye.

I am forthright, passionate, stubborn sometimes and sometimes impolite but bile comes later and when does stand well clear. I am aware of my short comings in temper control but have mostly controlled it over the years. Now I'm retired and out of the political rat race that I so despised I can really let rip. So no real bile yet I hope, but please feel free to tell me otherwise, I promise I will listen and try harder ;)

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

I would still like to know how the weather forecasts validate the climate models. What parameters are used e.g, precipitation, wind strength/ direction etc, and how is it subsequently defined what the weather actually was over the forecast period?

What level of match is defined as "accurate"?

My suspicion is that given the vagueness of the forecast and the variation in weather over any given forecast area and period it is pretty much always possible to claim some sort of match, but I doubt that such a correlation is actually worth anything.

Feb 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Ooh we will get it right, if only we could have more money, lots more computers and more and more statisticians and more and more statistics please, oh by the way by 2050 it will be 2 deg warmer and by the end of the century it will be maybe up to 5 deg C - that's God's honest truth it's our computer models you see...........................

Met office - opening up? Listening to the other side - there is no counter argument in Disneyworld-Exeter, CO2 is the story and dissent = is not an option. There is more chance of Dawkins taking holy communion, than of Pope, Slingo and Napier owning up and telling the truth.

Feb 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

In the discussion after BH's talk on the HSI, did the audience come to any conclusion?

Feb 23, 2012 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddy


We probably had less agreement on whether the IPCC is pressured to give a particular answer or just an answer, and how political it is (given that some authors were in the room).

We had more agreement on the flaws and limitations of traditional palaeoclimate reconstruction methods and the representation of these flaws in HSI. Most in the room hadn't read it but could see from the talk and discussion that the critics had a point eg about short centering. Martin Juckes defended some recent methods/studies, though I didn't catch all the points he made (he was on the front row, referred to papers he and Bish were familiar with and I wasn't, and people talked over each other a bit).

Hope that clarifies.

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTamsin Edwards

I was at the met office library yesterday collecting a couple of books by Philip jones for my next article on historic temperatures

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

Thanks Tasmin.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

One of the Radio 4 6.30 comedies this week was making fun of how the met office forecasts spend so much time telling us what the weather was like today or yesterday. Can't recall which one but it was quite funny and very true.

Feb 23, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

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