Met Office in the News: 29 July 2010

29 07 2010

Following a press briefing yesterday on the publication of the 2009 state of the climate report the most national media have reported on the latest observations consistent with a warming world.  The Daily Telegraph reported that global warming evidence is ‘unmistakable’ whilst Channel 4 reported that the decade on decade evidence of a warming world was ‘stonkingly obvious’.

Cowes Online reports the Met Office helps Cowes Week competitors with our forecast for the sailing event. Our online forecast for Cowes Week is part of a range of forecasts targeted at outdoor events across the UK.  We are also providing forecasts for Goodwood, Cambridge Folk Festival, the England v Pakistan Test Match and the National Eisteddfod.

There has been media interest following a call from Jersey Tourism for the BBC to include the Channel Islands on national weather forecasts. The Met Office supplies weather services to the BBC, including the data on which the forecasts are based, on-screen presenters and forecasting services across BBC output on TV, radio and online. However, the BBC makes the editorial decisions about the areas covered in Network weather forecasts.

Unmistakable signs of a warming world

28 07 2010

The 2009 State of the Climate report released today by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration draws on data from ten key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.

The ten indicators of temperature have been compiled by the Met Office Hadley Centre, drawing upon the work of over 100 scientists from over 20 institutions. They provide, in one place, a snapshot of our world and spell out a single conclusion that the climate is unequivocally warming.

Relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Observations that are all increasing, consistent with a warming world

Observations that are all increasing, consistent with a warming world

Observations decreasing, consistent with a warming world.

Observations that are all decreasing, consistent with a warming world.

Dr. Peter Stott contributor to the report and Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “Despite the variability caused by short-term changes, the analysis conducted for this report illustrates why we are so confident the world is warming.

“When we look at air temperature and other indicators of climate, we see highs and lows in the data from year to year because of natural variability. Understanding climate change requires looking at the longer-term record. When we follow decade-to-decade trends using different data sets and independent analyses from around the world, we see clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world.”

While year-to-year changes in temperature often reflect natural climatic variations such as El Niño/La Niña events, changes in average temperature from decade-to-decade reveal long-term trends such as global warming. Each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the decade before. At the time, the 1980s was the hottest decade on record. In the 1990s, every year was warmer than the average of the previous decade. The 2000s were warmer still.

The 2009 State of the Climate is published as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and is edited by D.S. Arndt, M.O. Baringer, and M.R. Johnson. The full report and an online media packet with graphics is available at:

Met Office in the Media: 28 July 2010

28 07 2010

There has been media interest following a call from Jersey Tourism for the BBC to include the Channel Islands on national weather forecasts.

To clarify our position, the Met Office supplies weather services to the BBC, including the data on which the forecasts are based, on screen presenters and forecasting services across BBC output on TV, radio and online.  The BBC make editorial decisions about the areas covered in Network weather forecasts.

Jersey Tourism have also claimed that daily weather information supplied by them for inclusion in newspapers are sometimes not printed as supplied. The Met Office is not responsible for the collection or dissemination of this weather data.

Why is it more challenging to predict the weather in summer?

27 07 2010

As the school holidays get going across all of the UK now , I thought it would be worth asking our Chief Meteorologist, Ewen McCallum the question “Why is it more challenging to predict the weather in summer?”

This is what Ewen had to say:

Ah! those warm, lazy, hazy days of summer just lying on a beach or even in the back garden with the thoughts of those angry, wet and windy days of winter just a memory.  Our own human behaviour in the summer season is one of the key challenges for the forecaster. We are out and about, having barbecues, putting up the tent or just messing about in a boat. Whatever we do we like to be in the big outdoors, whereas in winter who cares about run of the mill weather because inevitably it is the warm, central heated indoors that is the place to be.

So for most of the public the detail of the weather in summer matters; there is quite a difference between a cool showery day and a sunny warm day at the beach. However for the forecaster it is this emphasis on detail that proves a challenge.

Sure we are good at forecasting severe winter storms, which is a vital part of what we do. We are also excellent at predicting a change of type from cold and snowy to mild and damp.  In other words we have become good at forecasting the overall picture a week ahead and in winter that’s all that matters to most people. However, in summer it’s the detail, ‘stupid’. Will the showers be inland or at the coast, when will the grey mist and fog clear to let the hot sun through; most people do not care in winter but in summer the differences can make or break your picnic.

Yes a four day forecast is overall as good as a one day forecast was 30 years ago but its forecasting for a post code where we need to do further research to become more accurate. In summer when the weather maps are relatively quiet it’s the local effects of the hills and valleys, land and sea and subtle variations in heat and moisture that dominate the weather outcome. The accuracy of a forecast is also dominated by perception and if your summer event is rained off despite being told that it is sunny just down the road, then you are not a happy bunny.

Met Office in the Media: 22 July 2010

22 07 2010

The heavy showers affecting much of the country are continuing to generate media interest across the UK. The Scotsman reported that July’s average rain falls in a day in parts of Perth and this was not the only location to see such heavy rainfall. Hawarden Airport, Flintshire recorded 68.2 mm of rain in 24 hours ending on Wednesday morning, making it the second wettest day on record at this site. Throughout this spell of rather wet weather we have been working hard, together with our colleagues at the Environment Agency, through the Flood Forecasting Centre to make sure that emergency services and planners were fully aware of the potential of heavy rainfall and its associated flooding.

Following comments yesterday that there was potential of a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, the BBC report that experts are considering whether a possible tropical storm could disrupt work at the site of the BP oil spill.

In his latest blog Paul Hudson questions whether 2010 will be hotter than the hottest year on record now that we have seen the decline in El Nino across the equatorial Pacific.  In his blog he claims the 2010 El Nino is comparable to the one in 1997/98 which contributed in the record global average temperatures that year. This is certainly not the case. The recent El Nino is weaker than that in 1997/8 by a considerable margin and so this alone does not explain the very high global temperature observed so far in 2010.  They key point of news here is that 2010 is currently running at the highest on record in NCDC and GISS global temperature datasets and close to the highest in our own dataset.  This is all consistent with our prediction from 2009 that “2010 is more likely than not to be the warmest on record”.

Forecasting the weather for days out

21 07 2010

The next couple of weeks or so sees a range of events across the UK where the weather may play a part. The Met Office is providing event specific forecasts on our website to make sure you can make the most of what ever the weather may bring before you get there.  On our website at the moment you will be able to find forecasts for the Royal Welsh Show, Cambridge Folk Festival, Goodwood, the National Eisteddfod and the Test Matches between England and Pakistan.

The Met Office events calendar will provide detailed weather information for both sporting and lifestyle events taking place and we will update our website with the latest events throughout the year.

Met Office in the Media: 21 July 2010

21 07 2010

Torrential rain caused local flooding across parts of Wales and England yesterday, before pushing north across parts of Scotland overnight. This followed the issue of severe weather warnings for very heavy rain across these areas yesterday.  The BBC reported on flooding in Merseyside and South Wales.

As the Hurricane season continues to cause interest on both sides of the Atlantic, Paul Nunn writes on the Lloyd’s Blog about the Met Office tropical storm forecast for this year, highlighting our prediction of  20 named tropical storms (70% chance of 13 – 27 storms).  There is already some interest in a developing weather system in the Western Atlantic which we and the National Hurricane Service are keeping an eye on.  It is far too early to say whether this will develop into a storm, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.  A blog to follow on this is Jyotika’s Tropical Storms Blog.

The launch of a new Google Earth layer showing the impacts of an average rise in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius is still drawing interest with energysource blog reporting how the map is helping in the desire to open up the science of climate change.

Met Office in the Media: 20 June 2010

20 07 2010

Heavy rain across parts of the UK has generated widespread interest, with the media again focusing on the contrast between warm and relatively dry conditions in the south east and very heavy rain in the north west. The sun reported  on the contrast of ‘Hose ban & flood warning in Lakes’ as the Met Office had issued severe weather warnings for heavy rain across parts of northern Britain. The Herald followed a similar story with ‘New flood warnings as drought alert stays in place’.

Following the Guardian reporting that ‘Last month was the hottest June recorded worldwide’  following the release of figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, AFP have explored what this may mean for the debate around climate change. The Met Office is not yet in a position to release global temperature figures for June 2010 as they are still being compiled. However, these figures support the Met Office prediction, made at COP15 in December last year, that 2010 will more likely than not be the warmest year in the instrumental record, beating the previous record year which was 1998.

Met Office in the Media: 16 July 2010

16 07 2010

The Guardian and many other national media covered the launch of a Google Earth layer showing the impacts of an average temperature rise of 4 deg C. The application has been developed using climate projections from the Met Office Hadley Centre and Julian Rush demonstrated the Google Earth layer live on Channel 4 News.

The Scotsman has reported on the Threat to marine life from warming UK seas.   The weather at St Andrews for The Open has been of great interest. Like Wimbledon the Met Office has on site forecasters supporting the organisers and The Guardian, along with many other papers reported on the challenging weather conditions being experienced by the golfers.  The weather yesterday, St Swithin’s Day has led many papers to claim that we may be in for a disappointing summer.  It is worth remembering that by their very nature, forecasts become less accurate the longer the outlook period is. Although we can identify general patterns of weather, the science does not exist to allow an exact forecast beyond five days. Beyond that, although we can give a rough indication for the outlook,  it is not possible to absolutely promise a certain type of weather.  As a result, looking ahead 30 or 40 days cannot be as precise as our short-term forecasts. The Met Office has made no longer range forecast for this summer.

St Swithin’s Day

14 07 2010

Tomorrow is St. Swithin’s Day and if legend be believed if it rains tomorrow then it shall rain for the next 40 days.  Of course, as with most weather lore there is little truth behind this.  Since the start of records in 1861 there has neither been 40 dry or 40 wet days following the corresponding weather on St. Swithin’s Day. So despite the forecast of a rather unsettled day with showers tomorrow you should keep up to date with forecasts from the Met Office to really find out what weather may be in store for the next few days.


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