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That Met Office meeting

The Met Office's meeting to discuss the run of poor weather we have endured in recent years has been the subject of considerable interest on the blogs and Twitter, although to tell the truth I can't get that excited about it. I find it a bit odd that the Met Office would want to publicise the fact of holding a meeting anyway. Having done so it's a bit rum to then complain that the media have done what the media do, blowing it up out of all proportion and saying that it's a crisis meeting.

The upshot of all those brains being put together seems to be that it might be something to do with the North Atlantic Oscillation and it might be something to do with Greenland ice melt, as Louise Gray reports in a somewhat strange article here.

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Reader Comments (80)

But have they tried to link the NAO with the last few decades global temperatures in any way? The graph they link to in the BBC report visibly matches pretty well.

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

I suspect the meeting had more to do with setting out the scientific basis of their retreat than the actual weather itself. The fact that the AMO and PDO starts to enter the lexicon is very telling. Suddenly it's a "mixture" of natural and anthro. And the good thing about a "mixture" is they can dilute the man-made component gradually over the years and still be seen to be "correct".

Let them, I say. I'd rather this madness was ended, and if they have to twist themselves into conortions to do it, then that's their lookout.

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

There is a lot in Louise's article to admire

Prof Belcher said both the North Atlantic Oscillation and climate change are processes “we are just beginning to understand”.

Cue all the comments about the science being settled. I expect Gordon Brown will be issuing an apology for calling me a flat-earther back in 2009.

And then we have this

“Climate change may have some role,” added Prof Belcher.

So climate change may cause climate change. There's an insight.

But the climate has always changed and always will but now the climate can change because of climate change. So, in the past when the climate changed, that was not because of climate change but was climate change, but not the climate change that causes the climate to change. Got it.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenternoTrohpywins

Precisely TBYJ, revenge is not victory. Victory will be when we repeal the Climate Change Act and abandon the theory of CAGW. If that means we have to be generous to apostates from the religion then so be it, provided the religion disappears.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

The MET has a fundamental problem.
Their credibility is about as high as Bernie Madoff's.

They have allowed themselves to become a bastion for catastrophist nonsense, especially when headed by Napier (ex CEO WWF-UK). They have failed to quietly given the likes of Sligo a bag of money and told her to go forth and 'spend more time with her family'.

They have become a national laughing stock with their ridiculous prognostications.

I don't know if Richard Betts has raised a word of caution internally, he seems a decent chap.

But any number of corrupted and incompetent organisations have decent chaps and chapesses in their staff.

It is time to buy in a competent commercial weather forecasting service and put the MET on eBay with a £0.99 starting price.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

Pre-publicity. An early press conference with nothing much to say. It does look like this was driven by PR people in the Met Office, perhaps still chastened by the adverse publicity over several years of poor guidance on climate, and the abject failures of their much-vaunted software systems. Out come platitudes about Atlantic temperatures and jet streams, and more, but very little if anything at all about what the voices, from the Software Driven Oracles, have spoken of late.

I think it represents, in a confused and convoluted way, some kind of modest progress.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade


Got it.


Jun 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

There certainly seemed to be much rowing back from the former certainties. Even Shukman's main news report last night suggested that it only might be something to do with us, delivered in that bland, assured way that implied he'd never thought anything else. If only a presenter had the nous to challenge some of this, or at least point out that the official MO line was hitherto very different, and that whole swathes of daft legislation and 'initiatives' have been predicated on it!.

I assume that Piers Corbyn's invitation got lost in the post again...

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:11 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Just as I thought; climatechangeclimatechangeclimatechange. And they're making long term predictions again, as usual on the basis that tomorrow will be the same as today. It will work THIS time, surely?

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

'Loss of ice around Greenland due to global warming.' AMO, PDO, all so much arm waving. What a waste of a day. The only real conclusion seems to be that it has all happened before.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Good news, the Met Office predicts wetter than normal summer weather for the next ten years.

Reality tells us that the Met Office long range predictions are exactly opposite to what happens.

So then we will experiance dryer than normal summer weather for the next ten years.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

Looby Lou says:

"The Met Office do not know exactly what causes the pattern to repeat but predict it will last for another ten years."

Sounds about right!

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Prof Sutton also said meteorologists are working on whether climate change could be a factor in changing the weather pattern.
“As well as such natural processes, we know that weather across UK and Europe is being affected by higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For example, rainfall events have become more intense and this is quite likely linked to a warmer climate. There is also some evidence linking the record low amounts of Arctic sea ice to UK weather, but this evidence is not yet conclusive either way.”

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

It's good to see the Met Office returning to the basics of forecasting:

The Met Office do not know exactly what causes the pattern to repeat but predict it will last for another ten years.

As any student of meteorology will tell you, statistically the most successful weather forecast is: "Forecast for tomorrow – the same as today. Outlook – no change."

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

Just a PR exercise. The logical flaws are blatant, glaring.

Let me make a prediction. Even when they have turned the container ship and finally caught up with what the weather is doing, they will still be, in their minds, right, and WE will still be WRONG. Because our contrarian suspicions of unjustified certainty do not constitute a position in the world of academe and politics.

(And they still won't be able to answer my usual questions.)

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

“As well as such natural processes, we know that weather across UK and Europe is being affected by higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For example, rainfall events have become more intense and this is quite likely linked to a warmer climate. There is also some evidence linking the record low amounts of Arctic sea ice to UK weather, but this evidence is not yet conclusive either way.”

So we KNOW it's being affected by higher levels of greenhouse gases, even though it's only "...quite likely linked..." and the fact that we have "...some evidence..." which " not yet conclusive either way..."

Sounds more than a little bit like trying to fit the evidence to a pre-determined conclusion.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

But we still have crackpots like this in charge of policy.....

"Speaking on Tuesday in Brussels during a during a CBI/EU Corporate Leaders Group event, Davey warned the consequences of inaction in the face of record emission levels were severe, calling on the European Union to adopt a 50% carbon reduction target by 2030.

“There will always be those with a vested interest in the status quo. Who seek to create doubt where there is certainty,” he said. “And you will always get crackpots and conspiracy theorists who will deny they have a nose on their face if it suits them.

“But the truth is this: while forecasts of the future rate at which the world will warm differ, and while many accept we will see periods when warming temporarily plateaus, all the scientific evidence is in one direction."

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

MET Office panic mode is to say the current unforecast weather is now the new future.

So the drought in 2011/12 was the new future, cue high rainfall and full reservoirs within weeks.

4 Cold winters and wet summers, MET 10 years more of the same. Reality will be ????

Beyond 5 days they do not have a clue, much better to admit this rather than trying to say its some new element and asking for more money for a new fancy computer.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Slingo is a cloud specialist. The climate models use ~double real low level cloud optical depth to offset the exaggerated warming from their Aarhenius perpetual motion machine. Therefore high feedback and 33 K GHE are artefacts.

The real GHE is ~11 K, is constant but bistable, hence ice ages. There can be no CO2-AGW because it's the working fluid in the control system that keeps OLR = SW in.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

The Met Office 'does' Climate and Weather.

The ancient Chinese knew that if you 'chase two rabbits, you lose both of them'.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

I thought the whole purpose of the meeting was for the MO and all those academics to say that they need more money to find out what the weather will be. Which was why Piers would have been excluded, because he could have told them the answer for a modest subscription.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

One quote from Prof Sutton is strange:
“A warmer North Atlantic... is increasing the chances of wet summers over the UK and hot, dry summers around the Mediterranean - a situation that is likely to persist for as long as the North Atlantic remains in a warm phase.

I'm not quite sure whether summer includes June, but if it does then it isn't particularly hot or dry. South Eastern France (aka the Riviera/Provence) has had an extremely wet spring/early summer and they have just opened the highest passes in the Mercantour due to the excessive snowfall there. In South Eastern France (around Lourdes) they've just had floods and more snow in the last few days. it could be that the rest of the med is hot and dry but the North Western part certainly isn't.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrancisT

MET Office panic mode is to say the current unforecast weather is now the new future.

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM Breath of Fresh Air

Absolutely. Specially called meetings are a sure symptom of management panic and recognition that the organisation's normal processes are not coping.

They have boasted of the precision of their forecasts via their 100 gazillion megaflop supercomputer and they are now hoping that no-one will notice that picking a playing card at random would have given long term forecasts of equal accuracy.

The MO management are desperately wishing they could quietly sweep the CAGW rubbish under the carpet. But they are stuck with their recent history - plus probably a majority of staff still committed to it.

In April, I speculated on some of the behind-closed doors MO management discussions...

I think I would now add another line or two.

- "How are we going to explain all this bad weather we've been having?"

- "We don't have to explain it - this is England, world famous ever since Julius Caesar for its bad weather. Why do you think the Romans invented central heating?"

- "Yes we do have to explain it - our GCM's prove it should not have happened. We'll have a conference to find how to find out how it is possible to have weather like this even though our models are right"

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Martin A

The recent pretty random announcements by the Met Office do give a strong impression that they are under some pressure from some source.

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

The science is settled but we do not understand it = God exists (we can't prove it) but he works in mysterious ways!

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

It must be something in their tea. All this talk about unusual weather is plain nonsense. 6 June 1944 was nearly called off because of the bad weather, they intended to move it to 19th June, which would have been a worse disaster because the worst storm of the 20th century occurred that day.

When challenged about this a Met Office spokesman at this week's meeting, "Well, of course, we can't rule out an early manifestation of climate change, or, more unlikely, natural causes, who know? We don't."

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"...This “North Atlantic Oscillation” pushes the jet stream south. Usually the channel of winds, that move from west to east, is much further north of the UK. When it shifts south, like it did last summer and is currently doing, it means wet weather from the Atlantic is blown in over the country. It caused a run of wet summers in the late 1950s and early 1960s and in the 1880s. The Met Office do not know exactly what causes the pattern to repeat...."

So this has:
(i) happened before, and is therefore nothing new;
(ii) has happened (1880s) when anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions could not have been the caused.
(iii) has happened (late 1950s and early 1960s) when manmade green house gas emissions were far lower and at a time when global temperatures were falling notwithstanding a rise in CO2 levels;
(iv) has happened when (1880s, late 1950s/early 1960s) when Arctic ice/Greenland glaciers was not at 'record' lows, and hence it would appear that Arctic ice coverage/Greenland glacier extent is not the cause for this type of cold weather, unless of course, they maintain that Arctic ice and Greenland glacial extent was at similar 'record' lows in the 1880s andlate 1950s/early 1960s.
(v) There is some historical evidence suggesting that Arctice ice extent was low in the 1880s (repords from the Admiralty commenting upon concerns at Arctic ice retreat) and in the late 1950s the US Submaries (Nautilus and Skate surfaced at or near the North Pole). Of course, it would be an unpalletable admission for warmists to suggest that Arctic ice extent in the 21st century is similar to that in the late 1950s and 1880s. And of course, to that one could add 1906 when Amundsen conquered the Northwest Pasasage without the aid of satellite photos showing ice extent and withoutt GPS showing his position relative to ice free waters.

Given all of that, I am not surpised by the acknowledgement that "The Met Office do not know exactly what causes the pattern to repeat...." Whilst that it obviously not surprising, one could reasonably have added that it is not likely caused by the level of GHGs since these were substantially less in 1880 and the late 1950s such that the cause would appear unrelated to the level of CO2.

Jun 19, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

This meeting is manna from heaven.

I am currently composing a reply to a patronising DECC letter. Referring to the 'science' it states '...there is no longer any serious doubt on this point...'

Christmas has come early this year!

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterYertizz

richard verney
I think we need to be careful about over-criticism of the Met Office at the present time.
Remember Napoleon's adage,

when the enemy is making a false movement we must take good care not to interrupt him.
Sit back and enjoy, is my advice!

PS - Pedant alert: the word is "unpalatable". Unpalletable presumably is something you can't stack on a pallet.

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

When will the Met Office meet to discuss a run of poor modelling, and how it might have been affected by weather-change?

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The recent pretty random announcements by the Met Office do give a strong impression that they are under some pressure from some source.
Jun 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM Rob Burton


Interesting to speculate what's applying the pressure. Pity we don't have a BH Met Office mole.

The Treasury is always looking for ways to curb spending.

There have been the recent unexplained abrupt departures from cushy DECC posts which might be related in some way.

The fact that the whole CAGW edifice is crumbling and no-one pays any attention to "it's worse than we thought" news anymore can't help.

There can be little doubt that the Met Office will have been organising surveys of attitude of its users/sponsors which will not have made comfortable reading for the top management of the MO.

But the simple fact of persistently cold and lousy weather in the face of predictions of heat waves, malaria in the UK etc etc will be applying its own pressure.

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Magnificent Metoffice send up in this Telegraph blog

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

I had a post on WUWT this morning providing a graphical replication of the UK 'disappointing weather' over the last 14.5 years. Exactly what was the UKMO meeting about, do they ever look at REAL historic data?

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Jun 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Mike Jackson
My post had a number of typos, I did not proof read it.

presently where i am in Spain, my electriicity supply is unreliable. There are short cut outs (sometimes only a few seconds, and frequently not more than 15 mins) many times a wek. On some days, it can be 5 or 6 times a day. Even though usually of short duration, they are annoying since they lose data. I don't type say in word repeatedly storing, so I often post hurredly whilst the going is good. I have in the past spent an hour proeparing post only for it all to be lost shortly before uploading.

The other day we were discussing rainfall. You were suggesting that it was drier when some of the new towns/housing developments were planned and planners may have thought that floods were a thing of the past. However, whilst a decade 9or more ago) ago the spin was climate change was causing a drier climate and that is why there were water shortages, in fact it was getting wetter. The 1971 to 2000 average was slightly wetter than the 1961 to 1990 average. I would suggest that the spin was to cover up governmental failings in failing to get on top of leaky infrastructure and the strain on infrastructure caused by immigration/population rise (say about 10 million more inhabitants with no new reservoirs built to meet increased demand).

Only recently has the mantra changed because of the flooding problem. It is now claimed that climate change is causing more flooding. It is true that rainfall is increasing, but not significantly. The spin is to cover up goverment failings in planning/building regulation. Climate change is a wonderful excuse and can hide any shortcomings there may be in government and local government action, controls and regulations.

The lie has been the spin since the 80s of moving towards a drier climate when in reality since at least the 60s we have been moving towards a wetter climate.

See and follow the link.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

So we have a run of cold winters and wet summers, which are the complete opposite of the predictions from climate modelling, which suggested mild winters and dry summers.

As Louise Gray notes in her article, none of this is unprecedented as the "North Atlantic Oscillation" is putatively thought to have caused similar circumstances in the 1950's/1960's and in the 1880's, but apparantly the conference was all about the "strange seasons". What is so strange about something we have observed for, on several occasions?

“Climate change may have some role,” added Prof Belcher. An equivocal statement if ever there was one. But apparently Louise Gray thinks it ok to report "The high level meeting concluded that climate change is a major factor in colder winters."

Talk about non sequitur. Why doesn't she just make it up? No wait - I think she probably does!

The climate scientists are clutching at straws, the climate predictions made just 12 years ago have been completely wrong and what's more, deep down inside, they know it. They just can't admit it without losing face and credibilty.

The climate scientists should try working as earth scientists in the oil industry for a couple of years, make sweeping, highly confident predictions about where to drill for oil (a much simpler problem than prediction of a chaotic, non-linear climate system with inadequate observations), drill a few dry holes and then learn a bit of humility about the reality of trying to model, and make predictions, of a complex natural system. The only trouble is, no-one in the real world would want to employ such incompetent and arrogant fools that seem to typify the breed of "climate scientists" today.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:02 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

The best article on climate change in the DT is this one by Sean Thomas:

He paraphrases Professor Belcher thus:

“Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.”

This seems to me to be a very fair summation of the Professor's views?

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

nTrohpyWins: "I expect Gordon Brown will be issuing an apology for calling me a flat-earther back in 2009."


Sorry. Didn't mean to shout. I am going to write to him one day and point out (politely but firmly) how offensive that statement was.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

"Interesting to speculate what's applying the pressure."

IMO Lord Donoughue eliciting the response that the whole thing is a myth.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

With the MO and the 'media', it is like a resonance tail-wagging machine. Hard to say who wagged whom first.

"BH Met Office mole."

I guess Barry Woods and Betts himself are the closest.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Registered Commentershub

How about an apology from Manbiot at the same time.
I remember him saying something like, sceptics are worse than holocaust deniers. Now that really was offensive to me and many others I suspect.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC


I think you may have underestimated the importance of this event. It is the first time, as far as I am aware, the Met Office/climate establishment have admitted in public that they do not understand natural variability and the first time, as far as I am aware, that such heresy has been broadcast by the BBC. It is another major step in the right direction.

Noticeable by its absence (up to now) is any suggestion that the MO computer models have been able to even hindcast recent weather let alone forecast it. The unspoken conclusion is that the models don't work. And how could they when the scientists are telling us they don't know what is driving the weather.

The MO do have, in my view, a legitimate interest in improving their longer term forecasting - basically anything beyond a day or two. They are not going to be able to do that without having a proper understanding of what drives the weather over the short term.

That will surely help them understand that CO2 does not drive the weather over the longer term.

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenternoTrohpywins

Jun 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM | FrancisT

Just to complete the results here in the middle (near Perpignan), it has been cold and very humid and the local mountain has only just lost most of its snow.

Jun 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Jun 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM | richard verney

Richard, totally OT but have you thought of using a UPS on your computer? That way the power cutouts are bypassed.

Jun 19, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

noTrohpywins 12:48 pm


Jun 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

“The Met Office's meeting to discuss the run of poor weather we have endured in recent years…..”
Should read
“The Met Office's meeting to discuss the run of poor weather forecasts we have endured in recent years…”
The weather has been as it always is for UK – changeable.

Jun 19, 2013 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Irvine

@Bill: the Met. Office is using the most execrable of weasel word tactics, to try and divert the attention of the Public and Legislators form their scientific failure and waste of resources by pretending that the UK climate has suddenly become changeable because of imaginary CO2-AGW and positive feedback.

Jun 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

richard verney
I confess it was the concept of "unpalletable" that caught my eye!
I picked up the snippet about 65-00 being drier than average from an article by David Rose and haven't actually checked it myself. I think the underlying argument was sound enough and I could add a couple of bits of anecdotal evidence relating to the River Avon and the canals from boatyard owners who have over the last 40 years or so (coinciding pretty well with the rise of leisure boating) been affected at various times by high or low water levels.
I have had cruises on the Avon disrupted three times by high rates of flow in the last six years, something that had not happened in the previous 25. The boatyard I know best (the first to start activities after the Upper Avon was re-opened) unequivocally blames development on key sites affecting flows into the Avon itself and the Arrow so I think I'm on fairly safe ground in supporting the contention that change of land use has been a significant element in increased flooding.
Remember also that Avon flows into the Severn at Tewkesbury and the floods there in 2007 were just the most extreme recent example.
But this is all a sideshow, anyway, though continually knocking down the "global warming" argument for increased flooding should be something we keep on doing.
I'm not sure how far we go down the line of blaming government. I think poor education and a limited understanding of their subject by architects, engineers and others who ought to know what they're talking about combined with the sort of pressure we are seeing in other fields not to rock the boat (that way lies a P45 because "there are plenty of others") is greatly to blame. I could provide anecdotes in this area as well but will refrain.
At the risk of wandering slightly off topic: Too much education at all levels now focuses on giving the right answer rather than understanding why that is the right answer while over the last 40 years or so there has been a gently creeping corruption in the British body politic — perhaps one reason why a sizeable proportion of those who contribute here are ex-pats.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The don't have a clue. Anyone who discusses climate sensitivity is mad.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

I know what the problem is. They are holding their Tiljanders upside down!

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

I met some of the engineers and hydrologists at the "coal face" from the Environment Agency about 8 - 10 years ago. I live near Fordingbridge, Hampshire and we had some severe floods in 1999 and 2001. They provided a poster session and Q&A about the new flood defences proposed. I asked some leading questions, but they did not take the bait at all about climate change, just talked in terms of 100 year natural flood events etc. I was quite impressed by their professionalism and the fact that there was no mention about climate change whatsoever.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

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