What sort of forecast does the Met Office Supercomputer make?

WUWT readers may recall  the story by the Daily Mail about the new supercomputer.

The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain’s worst polluters.

The massive machine – the UK’s most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory – was installed in the Met Office’s headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

With a total peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop — equivalent to over 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is in place today. It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run – enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

The Met Office supercomputer - Image: Daily Mail

With all that power, surely it must produce some quality digital reckoning.

Bishop Hill has located the “supposedly secret” winter forecast sent to the British government. The details of the forecast produced are nothing short of astounding.

Bishop Hill writes:

When the kerfuffle over the Met Office’s winter forecast blew up, I wrote to the Quarmby team to see if they had actually received a copy of the Met Office’s cold-winter forecast, which was apparently sent to the Cabinet Office. It is alleged that the forecast should have provided sufficient warning to the government machine to ensure that everyone was ready for what happened in December.

Today, rather later than I expected, the Quarmby team have responded and have helpfully provided a copy of the forecast:

Met Office Initial Assessment of Risk for Winter 2010/11

This covers the months of November, December and January 2010/11, this will be updated monthly through the winter and so probabilities will change.

Temperature

3 in 10 chance of a mild start

3 in 10 chance of an average start

4 in 10 chance of a cold start

Precipitation

3 in 10 chance of a wet start

3 in 10 chance of an average start

4 in 10 chance of a dry start

Summary: There is an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season.

Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.

Yes that seems clear, doesn’t it? Seeing the numbers produced, personally, I think this less expensive computer, using Digital Advanced Reckoning Technology (DART) can do the job of making odds equally well, using less power, less space, and less money:

DART - Digital Advanced Reckoning Technology

I really love this one:

Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.

I think its been done, something about “March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb” IIRC. But really, I never thought that a “mild end to winter” could be categorized as a “risk”.

But this forecast for the start of winter still doesn’t square with the Met Office map output.

Here’s the Met Office supercomputer enhanced model output forecast from October 2010:

See the story about that controversy here and here

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188 Responses to What sort of forecast does the Met Office Supercomputer make?

  1. Henry chance says:

    Dr. James [snip . . . hey that's not funny or clever and WUWT will not tolerate such pointless insults so cut it out.]
    Hello???

    I suggest you open a U.K. franchise and sell weather forecasts.

  2. Laurie says:

    All is not lost . . . . it can be donated for “cloud computing” . . . .

  3. KD says:

    Classic. As the song goes: “nice work if you can get it….”

  4. MangoChutney says:

    the UK’s National Grid printed this (page 7) in their Oct 2010 report:

    Met Office Weather Forecast
    25. The Met Office have now ceased publication of their long term winter weather
    forecast however their website1 continues to provide long term analyses. For the
    period of December through to February the data presented suggests:
    • a 60 – 80% probability of above normal temperatures
    • a 20 – 40% probability of near normal temperatures
    • a 0 – 20% probability of below normal temperatures
    26. In terms of UK precipitation their forecasts are weighted towards above average. For Europe average temps are typically 0.5-1.5°C above average. For North America
    average temps are up to 2° above average except for a cooler west coast

    http://www.nationalgrid.com/NR/rdonlyres/9721EF19-2BA8-4DBD-880D-90406603C176/43423/WinterOutlook2010_11.pdf

    You’d think the Met Office would be kind enough to keep the national grid informed, wouldn’t you?

    /Mango

  5. RockyRoad says:

    Maybe with all that energy consumption, their super computer is throwing off enough BTUs to make a warmer end of winter a self-fulfilling prophecy. They’re not announcing it because they don’t want to appear culpable.

  6. tonyc says:

    So, their forecast was that the temperatures are just as likely to be warm, average or cold and precipitation could just as likely be wet, normal or dry? That seems to cover all of the bases.

    Not much chance of missing that forecast.

  7. latitude says:

    No one really expects any of these bozos to be able to predict the weather.

    What’s even more amazing to me, is that they can’t even agree on real time temperatures.

    They can’t agree on 2010 being the warmest, being tied, not being the warmest….

    ….and expect everyone to believe they have accurate temperatures from 50 years ago

  8. Charles Duncan says:

    So rather than warning of a cold start, as has been suggested, they actually said it was 60% likely to be average or mild. Dishonest or just covering their backsides?

  9. Twiggy says:

    Are you sure they didn’t mistakenly use the odds for the dog track that day?

  10. J. Glanton says:

    How embarassing. They have the nerve to deliver a report like that. They must think that the politicians are stupid. Oh, wait…

    If I interpret the superdupercomputer report correctly, there is a nearly equal chance for it to be wet, dry, or in the middle; a nearly equal chance for it to be cold, mild, or in the middle.

    It may appear that they are using the stopped-clock theory to justify their massive expenditures and carbon emissions. Clever boys. No matter what the outcome, they can point to this report and say “we predicited it, see, here it is right here on line X”. And to build on that success and get more lines of resolution in the report, please give us another 25 million quid. Then you can have:
    2/10 chance of cold
    2/10 chance of average-cold
    2/10 chance of average
    2/10 chance of average-mild
    2/10 chance of mild

    This is much better, because they don’t have to have that oddball unmatched remainder on the final line to make it look like one prediction has a higher probability of occurence than the others.

    I do give them credit for having it all add up to 10/10. They must have a somewhat competent PhD supervising the grad students.

  11. Doctor Gee says:

    So 1 Whattaflop of computing power basically says that winter surface temperature has an approximately equal probability of being mild, average or cold. Similarly, precipation has an approximately equal probability of being wet, average or dry. Hmmm?!? I predict that the average cloud cover for the next quarter has a 3 in 10 chance of being cloudy, a 4 in 10 chance of being partly cloudy, and a 3 in 10 chance of being clear. Hardly any kW required for that calculation.

  12. Shevva says:

    I wouldn’t laugh, the MET is one of the better UK goverment department’s,

  13. Colin in Mission BC says:

    THAT’S considered a forecast, essentially placing one third probability on each potential outcome? How these people look themselves in the mirror with any semblance of self-respect will forever elude me.

  14. INGSOC says:

    I predict a 1 in 1000 chance that the met office have learned anything.

  15. INGSOC says:

    A further 1 in 10’000 chance that they will admit error. A 1 in 1’000’000 chance that Madame [snip . . *sigh*] gets fired. It’s a dead certainty that we’re knackered.

  16. Ranger Rick says:

    I think they should rename the the supercomputer the “Climate Research Alarmism Prognosticator” of better know as CRAP!

  17. As I’ve just pointed on Bishop Hill, the forecast sent is completely inconsistent with what Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s environmental correspondent (an old friend who blows hot and cold on AGW), wrote in the Radio Times:

    Why didn’t the Met Office tell us that Greenland was about to swap weather with Godalming? The truth is it did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October. But we weren’t let in on the secret. The reason? The Met Office no longer publishes its seasonal forecasts because of the ridicule it suffered for predicting a barbecue summer in 2009 – the summer that campers floated around in their tents.

    The forecast the Bishop has ain’t sayin’ “exceptionally cold early winter” by any stretch of the imagination. So what gives?

  18. AllenM52 says:

    Anthony you may want to take a look at physicsworld.com, because it appears that the computer models will have to use a new starting number for the solar input. Its only 3 tenths of one percent lower, but over a long range forcast small changes could add-up.

  19. Philip Finck says:

    As they say on the cartoon Thomas The Tank Engine, “I laugh and laugh”.

    Why didn’t they just round it of and say aqual chances of a mild, average, or cool start to winter,…… and it will get warmer in March, unless it stays the same, or gets colder; flip a coin……… and by the way, this is all the result of climate change.

    You boys on the other side of the pond are sure getting your moneys worth out of that computer. :(

  20. Ralph says:

    I think my mark-one tossed coin could provide a better forecast.

    .

  21. Dave says:

    That’s pretty funny. Reminds me of George Carlin’s weather forcast. Today will be followed by scattered dark.

  22. walt man says:

    From Piers pdf
    http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews11No2.pdf
    2011 – Another year of weather extremes warns Piers
    “Solar-lunar driven major jet stream blocking will continue through January and the whole of 2011 giving more extreme cold and snowy / blizzardy spells in parts of USA, Britain and Europe though January continuing into February and then not the sort of Spring and Summer the warmists want. “The warmists will fail and fail again to predict what is coming and are now writing scripts to deceive the public into believing that cold is warm by showing you “data” which has had 62% of recording station they didn’t like removed (see videos & link below).
    On Britain & Europe he said (7 Jan) the mild(er) spell now is “as we forecast and it will end from around 12th Jan”.

    15th now what happened to the accuracy, perhaps the moon moved!!!?

    From the met office

    UK Outlook for Wednesday 19 Jan 2011 to Friday 28 Jan 2011:

    The start of this period looks to be relatively settled for much of the UK, with a good deal of dry though rather cloudy weather, but with a risk of overnight frost and fog. More unsettled in the northwest with outbreaks of rain and a risk of gales. Into the weekend and the following week, rather more unsettled conditions are likely more widely across the UK, although amounts of rain in the south should be small. Also, a risk of precipitation turning wintry across more northern and northeastern parts, particularly over high ground, where it is likely to be accompanied by strong winds. Temperatures starting off rather cold, although will recover to near normal, especially in the northwest, before tending to cool off somewhat into the start of next week.
    Still waiting for that blocking 21 jan 2011

  23. So in other words, they gave a 6 out of 10 chance of the weather being warm/normal?

    That is some cold warning….

  24. Phil's Dad says:

    Maybe it will forecast an increase in electricity consumption.

  25. Fred 2 says:

    All that’s missing is a 10-sided dice to generate a really precise forecast. Is there any chance one was provided with the 30 million pound price tag?

  26. RW says:

    At least they went to the trouble to make sure the probabilities added correctly.

  27. DLBrown says:

    Statistically equal chances of having a cold, wet, dry, hot, mild winter. Now that is what I call ‘skill’.

  28. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Julia Slingo of the Met Office is complaining that they don’t have nearly enough computing power. Four times more would be good…
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101230/full/news.2010.685.html

    Unbelievable!

  29. R Dunn says:

    Hopefully, all of the heat it is generating is not going to waste this winter – that and the other hot air in the building.

  30. Bruckner8 says:

    This super computer has played a major role in heightened skeptical awareness. The excesses of its cost and pollution footprint, combined with its complete inability to predict, is Exhibit A for the gross scam perpetrated on the people of the world. This single device has made many more people take pause, and say “now wait a minute…”

  31. Curiousgeorge says:

    I wonder if I could interest them in a subscription to “The Old Farmers Almanac” Small enough to put your bib overalls pocket and uses zero electricity. Oh, also more accurate and detailed . And it’s only $15.95/year + tax!

    But wait! You also get a Free Recipe Calendar and Free Shipping.

    From: http://www.almanac.com/

    Subscribe Today to The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2011 Hardcover Collector’s Edition! Get a FREE Gift Plus FREE Shipping!

    YES! Enter my subscription to The Old Farmer’s Almanac! I’ll pay just $15.95! I’ll receive the 2011 Hardcover edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, plus A FREE GIFT: the Almanac’s 2011 Recipe Calendar, plus FREE SHIPPING! Plus, all the benefits of the Almanac’s Loyalty Program!**

  32. Peter Miller says:

    One thing we all tend to forget is that if we were ever to fight a global conventional war again, these types of bozos would be thrown out on their butt.

    In wartime, you have to have people who know what they are doing when they are running things, in peacetime you can sort of get away with layers of bumbling incompetent bureaucrats.

    The problem is the UK Met Office trough has now become so big with overpaid (with performance bonuses!!) bureaucrats feeding from it that it has taken on a life of its own. But this growing organism needs to be fed, so it uses climate scare stories, the way farmers use fertilisers to get better crop yields.

  33. bob says:

    What a joke. How can any agency in the forecasting business issue a forecast like that? Sombody in Parliament should be putting some crosshairs on the Mets Office. Yes. It needs killing.

  34. Jay Curtis says:

    Are they stupid, or do they just think WE are stupid?

  35. Dave says:

    Maybe it’s a Rube Goldberg supercomputer… it consumes vast quantities of energy to blink lots of pretty lights but not much else.

  36. Retired Engineer says:

    “To err is human. To really foul things up, you need a computer.”

    Unrealistic models, bad input data, and what do they expect for output?

  37. Stacey says:

    Don’t worry the reputation for weather and climate predictions in the UK have been saved and no it’s not mystic Meg, no its not our Gav nor is it Nostradamus.

    Yes! you guessed it, is the one and only Phil Jones weighing in at 15 ounces to the pound :-

    “In an interview with Reuters today, Professor Phil Jones from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia said last year was the world’s second hottest behind 1998 in their temperature record going back to 1850.”

    The boy done good again.

  38. Katabasis says:

    So we now know for sure that the Met Office was lying. What is clear from the above report is that there could have been no “secret warning” given to government to expect a sudden harsh winter.

  39. Tain says:

    It is not the computer’s fault: it is the buffoons using it.

  40. rc says:

    Considering that it was the coldest December in Britain for 100 years this is a woeful forecast.

  41. Pointman says:

    The Met Office computer works exactly as well as all the others …

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/the-seductiveness-of-models/

    Pointman

  42. Bill Jamison says:

    Looking at those numbers another way, the Met forecast predicted a 40% chance of a cold dry start to winter.

    That would have to be classified as a failure in any business.

  43. doug sherman says:

    1 petaflop of calculating power and it spits out whole numbers…no decimals? I feel gypped.

  44. wws says:

    your DART analogy is flawed, it contains the possibility that a skilled operator could actually group his findings with much more accuracy than the Met office is capable.

    You need to specify that the DARTS will be tossed by a chimpanzee from 10 paces to truly represent the skill on display currently.

  45. Mike Jowsey says:

    @walt man says: January 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

    So Corbyn might be out by a week or two. Met office may be able to give reasonable predictions for the next few days, but when it comes to long-range forecasting, they are out by a decade or two. Epic fail.

  46. richcar 1225 says:

    My old bosses would always ask me the risk of a dry hole and I would respond 50-50, either it is a dry hole or not, all the while thinking that they could not handle the truth.

  47. Laura Hills says:

    I’ll send them an evenly balanced dice if they agree to stop wasting my taxes. Darts require skill and are open to experimenter bias.

  48. George E. Smith says:

    Well if you use the stick in the sand method, it’s obvious what happened. All the ruckus caused them to shut down their 1.2 megaWatt room heater; just to save face; and the result was the big ice storm, because of the lack of heat in Britain.

  49. Scottie says:

    Using Met Office techniques, I’ve come up with a real blockbuster of a forecast of my own:

    It will get darker this evening, but there’s a good chance it will become lighter by morning.

    …and not a supercomputer in sight! Pretty impressive, eh?

  50. R. Gates says:

    The Met Office Super Climate computer, after running non-stop for weeks on end came up with the ultimate answer to the puzzle that is the climate…the answer was:

    And your not going to like this….

    42.

    (sarc off, and my thanks to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/answer.shtml)

  51. 1DandyTroll says:

    Huh, but Folding@Home reaches over 6 Peta flops but has less than 350 000 nods consisting mainly PS3 game consoles.

    So essentially for a fraction of the price they get more ‘an six times the speed Met Office’s expensive but “puny” lieeetle ‘puter. :p

  52. APACHEWHOKNOWS says:

    One more time.

    In my humble Apache opinion our cousins up in Chaco Canyon had a better weather, sun, moon prediction system on the rocks of the buttes together with the adobe buildings they constructed, some thousands of years ago. That and no use of energy at all other than a few sticks of wood to keep the elders warm as they studied the shadows and points thereon.

    Insert an Apache four letter word here “—-” for them here.

    Looks to me the only thing they are any use is to spend in useless ways tax money.

  53. richcar 1225 says:

    When the Met was asked about the claim that the current negative NAO may imply twenty to thirty more years of nasty winters they responded:
    “There is a large amount of variability in the NAO… any long-term predictions of the NAO are speculative.” “That said, there are avenues of research being pursued to improve our understanding and ability to make such predictions in the future.”

    You just cant make this stuff up.

  54. Tony says:

    Hmm…

    Question: “What is the ideal average global temperature for earth?”
    Answer: 42

    Not sure we’ve got that quite right.

  55. peterhodges says:

    i wonder if someones hyperthreaded i7 laptop would still beat it in halo

  56. Enneagram says:

    walt man says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Our dear Professor Corbyn perhaps is a secret Druid (at least he looks like one) using a better computing system: Stonehenge.
    No joke: Stonehenge is about real science, the other it is only self conceit. Proofs?: A lot, here in WUWT.

  57. Ian says:

    Up here in the Heilan’s o’ Scotland, we jes look out the windae and mind th auld sayin’ “If ye can see yon hills it’s gonnae rain, if ye canna, it’s rainin!”

  58. Snotrocket says:

    “It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run – enough to power more than 1,000 homes.”

    I really get annoyed with the lazy way of expressing power values as the number of homes that could be supplied. The quoted value here means that a household can run on less than 1.2Kw.

    Well, a friend of mine wanted to protect his household from blackouts by installing a petrol generator, so I installed a 2Kw Wolf. A good generator, and fine for a few lights and watching the TV. Unfortunately, during the adverts we decided to make a cup of tea. Ooops. A 2Kw kettle blew the generator trip!

  59. Jim G says:

    INGSOC

    That computer is physically bigger than the Univac 1108 we used in school in the 1960′s (which by today’s standards would not be equivalent to a PC laptop). But all the computing power in the world will not fix the garbage in-garbage out syndrome. I just love what I assume to be British terms such as “knackered”. Is that like snookered? Don’t believe I have heard that one before.

  60. ge0050 says:

    Who wants to bet the original super computer forecast was:

    .33333333333 warmer
    .33333333333 same
    .33333333333 cooler

    Then someone noticed when they rounded things off, they got:

    .3 warmer
    .3 same
    .3 cooler

    Which didn’t add up to 100%, so they rounded the last item up to get:

    .3 warmer
    .3 same
    .4 cooler

    In other words, the reason they got a higher chance of it being cold was simply due to rounding.

  61. Richard Patton says:

    Don’t be too hard on the MET. NWS does exactly the same thing with their outlooks (ex: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/lead01/off01_temp.gif ) Totally useless in my opinion. It has actually been determined that these forecasts are as accurate as flipping a coin.

  62. latitude says:

    “4 in 10 chance of a cold start”
    “4 in 10 chance of a dry start”
    ====================================================
    6 in 10 chance of a warm start
    6 in 10 chance of a wet start

    So they really did miss it completely…………………….

    ……..and for $30 million

  63. Dr A Burns says:

    “3 in 10 chance of a mild start
    3 in 10 chance of an average start
    4 in 10 chance of a cold start”

    … what we used to call a “two bob each way” bet.

  64. ZT says:

    But, but, the Met Office models are the very same models used in predicting climate (Julia Slingo told the UK parliament so). If this is a precision of a forecast for a few weeks in the future – how can multi-decade predictions be made?

  65. Roger Knights says:

    Doctor Gee says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

    So 1 Whattaflop of computing power …

    Excellent. I hope to see that word used in headlines of future stories about the Met.

  66. Chad Woodburn says:

    I love technology and news about advances like this. Just think, in 20 years our cell phones will have this kind of power (or whatever!).

    What concerns me is that with this kind of computing mega-power behind it, there will be an overwhelming tendency of the alarmist media and advocates to argue that the MET analysis of its data must be believed (even if the data is wrong).

    At least, there’s a 9 in 10 chance that they will argue that way.

    But in reality, they will now be able to have “garbage in … garbage out” with incredible speed and in unbelievable quantities.

  67. George Lawson says:

    The question is, what was the source of the information that led Roger Harrabin of the BBC to report that the MET Office had in fact given that secret report to the government that January was going to be very cold?

  68. DJ Meredith says:

    What would be very powerful right here and now would be a actual observed and after-the-fact result of the Nov/Dec/Jan map above, as individual months or a merged, avg. version. Comparisons are always great fun.

    Then you could really see what you get for 30Million quid.

    Too bad we can’t see what the old computer spit out too, so we could see how those 1000 homes could have better used the energy.

  69. Barry Sheridan says:

    The MET office should turn the conputer (not a typo) off and go home, as for the weather, well we could always ask Piers or just go to sleep and see what the morning brings. It cannot be any worse than this dismal performance.

  70. Russ Blake says:

    Profound stuff!!!

    “Summary: There is an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season.
    Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.”

    I find it absolutely unbelievable that anyone who has completed elementary school could possibly write the two “Summary” sentences quoted above.

    In all of my business experience, which is more than I like to admit, if I were to have received a report with this type of BS, it would have been the last report, and probably the last paycheck this person would have received from me.

    “A COLD AN WINTRY START TO THE WINTER SEASON”

    “THERE ARE SOME INDICATIONS OF AN INCREASED RISK OF A MILD END TO THE WINTER SEASON”

    No $h-t Red Ryder!

    Way to go out on the limb with your forecasts. Very risky indeed. And you need a $30 million computer for this.

    Is it just me, or does it seem like someone should be thrown in jail for a lifetime for trying to dupe the world??

  71. Enneagram says:

    Guess that computer it’s a kind of sophisticated British humor.

  72. Luther Wu says:

    Dear Met Office,
    Please be good sports and donate your supercomputer’s time to folding@home. You might actually help find the cure for Alzheimer’s, cancer and quite a few other diseases.
    At the least, your results will be verifiable and unlike present results, may be of great benefit to mankind

  73. Laurie says:

    R. Gates says:
    January 21, 2011 at 11:08 am
    The Met Office Super Climate computer, after running non-stop for weeks on end came up with the ultimate answer to the puzzle that is the climate…the answer was:
    And your not going to like this…. 42.

    That’s all fine and dandy . . . but even they got it wrong . . . because it is “four too”!

    The first three are Ones like:
    the law of identity (A=A),
    the law of non-contradiction (A does not equal ~A),
    and the law of the excluded middle (either A or not A but not both A and ~A).
    http://www.the-philosopher.co.uk/lawsofthought.htm

    . . . and the fourth . . . which belongs to Ayn Rand
    If there is a contradiction, check your premises!

    I love logic . . . . even better rational reasoning . . . too bad they don’t teach that in school anymore . . . .

  74. richard verney says:

    If that is the forecast sent to Government, it certainly gets the Government off the hook. It is hard to forcefully argue that the Government Minister negligently failed to act on a severe weather warning, nor that the various transport authorities failed to ready themselves for all that white stuff that the Met Office were predicting. That forecast hardly rings alarm bells, does it!
    What an embarassment. Even a junior school child would be embarassed by that sort of forecast. Enirely useless.
    With forecasts like that, this department could be scrapped and would not be missed.

  75. FrankK says:

    Jim G says:
    January 21, 2011 at 11:26 am
    . I just love what I assume to be British terms such as “knackered”. Is that like snookered? Don’t believe I have heard that one before.
    =========================================================

    For the sake of distributing the vernacular worldwide:
    From Wikipedia
    “A knacker is a person in the trade of rendering animals that are unfit for human consumption, such as horses that can no longer work.[1] This leads to the slang expression “knackered” meaning very tired, or “ready for the knacker’s yard”, where old horses are slaughtered and made into dog food and glue. A knacker’s yard or knackery is different from a slaughterhouse, where animals are slaughtered for human consumption.
    “Knackered” meaning tired, exhausted or broken in British and Irish slang is commonly used in Ireland and the United Kingdom. “Knackers” is also British/Australasian slang for testicles [3].”

    In Australia it also tends to mean the latter being so tired that one feels as though one has lost his knackers.

    As in the “UK Met computer is basically knackered.”

    Cheers

  76. Hal says:

    1 petaflop = how many flippidy flops?
    at least they could give this megamachine a name; like “HAL”

  77. richcar 1225 says:

    From the HadCru how are we doing department.
    Hadcrm2 model (2000)
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v407/n6804/images/407617ac.2.jpg
    Current CET:
    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/

  78. ThinkingScientist says:

    The request by Julia Slingo for more money to have a bigger computer is the classic fallacy of trying to predict a complex system by throwing more computing power at the problem. Throwing more computing power at a complex problem such as weather or climate forecasting does one of two things

    (a) Gives you the same answers in a shorter time
    (b) Allows the cell size or time step to be smaller and gets you a slightly diffferent answer in the same time

    If your computer model (code) does not correctly model the physical processes then you will get the wrong answer each time no matter how small you make the cells or the steps.

    Julie Slingo is guilty of the age old problem of trying to argue that if you could just model in a bit more detail you could solve the problem. Dissection ad infinitum…absurd. How fine would the cell size and time step have to be? 1 x 1 m and 1 second? Would that improve the predcition. Of course not – what would improve the prediction is much more input data from measuring stations (more accurate initial conditions) and better modelling of physical processes. It is non-linear Navier-Stokes after all…

    Ask yourself this question: are the long range weather forecasts for 2 months ahead any better now than they were 10 or 20 years ago? I suspect not (and the almost equal probability vague forecast above confirms this), but the increase in available computer power has increased by orders of magnitude in that time. Has it helped – only by delivering the same poor predictions from bigger models. Bigger computers don’t give you better models, they give you faster or bigger models.

    Many years ago in the 1980′s a well know programmer called Les Hatton wrote a series of articles on computer programming for geophysicists. In one of the articles he described his experience working on the then Met Office forecast code (probably running on a Cray back them). He said that when tidying up one part of the code and running some tests he noticed that in the finite difference steps for the main calculations there was a massive bug. Every other step all the terms were accidently zeroed. Excited, he fixed the bug and dreamed of newspaper headlines “Hatton solves problem – British Weather now completely predictable”. Alas, upon testing the code after fixing the bug he discovered that the new “correct” answer was indistinguishable from the results obtained before fixing the bug!

  79. BJ says:

    As a previous boss once said and I quote quite often, “If you computerize chaos, you get faster chaos.”

  80. Mike Hebb says:

    I think the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is at work here. I hope their models have factored into the climate forecast the carbon output contributed by their CPU in order to measure the climate change. It’s got to throw things off if they haven’t.

  81. Cassandra King says:

    Predictions based on assumptions and those assumptions based on dogma and ideology using a very powerful computer. Its like using a computer to predict what a child will do for a living while its still in the womb and basing those predictions on what the parents do at the time, even the most powerful computer would be wrong.
    So what to do? Blur the outcomes as much as possible of course, a gypsy palm reader does this, predict outcomes so widely and inclusive that any outcome can be deemed a successful prediction ie sunny and cloudy with rain and dry spells and some wind at times with a chance of being quite warm and then cool.

    Its easy to go that route because its easier than putting in the hard work and of course you can airbrush out reality to suit a prejudice or entrenched ideology such as CAGW is real and the debate is over. The job of the UKMO is not weather prediction but CAGW theory confirmation, basing all efforts on that ‘truth’ everything else becomes subordinate to the narrative, CAGW is real and the UKMO will prove it and if they cannot they will try harder by fudging the figures and erasing some data and changing other data and egging the pudding and it all stems from a belief. CAGW is real and there is no debate, the UKMO will find the evidence and if no evidence can be found they will invent it because they believe. See how it works?

    The builders of Stonehenge saw the gods in every leaf and hare and fox and cloud formation because they believed, if you believe and if you have invested so much then everything will confirm a belief and nothing will contradict it, its called group think and groups that believe they are serving a higher purpose like saving the world are susceptible to this. The admission of failure and error is hard for anyone to contemplate and for the victims of groupthink it is nigh on impossible, there is a self reinforcing determination to ignore reality and change the evidence to suit the groups entrenched prejudice especially if that group believes it has a higher moral purpose and if sceptics disagree then the groupthink encourages the group attack response.

    People will go to extraordinary lengths to deny reality and continue a false belief and this can and does breed a fanaticism that sceptics cannot understand, there were of course sceptics that opposed the gigantic task of building Stonehenge but in the face of groupthink you can imagine their fate! A wonderful national institution that gave the world modern meteorology has sunk to the level of a whacky cult, a word to the wise America dont let it happen to you.

  82. ThinkingScientist says:

    For those interested in the Les Hatton comments he re-states them here:
    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.leshatton.org/Documents/Chimera_Sep2006.pdf&sa=U&ei=J-w5TbHyI4O0hAetiOWlCg&ved=0CBQQFjAB&usg=AFQjCNEo0tx4WFVnF-6bLT5CpctsfREMUA

    But the original article was in First Break magazine (I seem to remember it was one of the later parts of his programming series of 7 or 8 articles.

  83. Schadow says:

    As ‘Curiousgeorge’ mentioned, the Farmer’s Almanac is heavily relied upon for weather forecasting here in the Colonies. But the most accurate prognosticator turns out to be the caterpillar of the moth, Arctiidae. Called “woolly bears” or “woolly worms”, the caterpillars have a dense black fur which varies in length in proportion to the anticipated severity of the next coming winter. The worms’ fur length last Summer and Fall was especially long and, sure enough, here in Alabama we have had three rather generous snowfalls in late December, and thus far in January, following several years of no snow at all. A couple of low temps in single digits F, too.

    Sometime in March, the famous groundhog, Punxatawney Phil, will be grudgingly pulled from hibernation to see if he casts a shadow. If he does, six more weeks of Winter will be in store. As with the woolly worms, Phil has a fairly formidable record.

    The carbon footprints of these forecasting tools are vanishingly small and, dare I say, provide serious challenges to the Met Office’s output.

  84. JPeden says:

    Russ Blake says:
    January 21, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Is it just me, or does it seem like someone should be thrown in jail for a lifetime for trying to dupe the world??

    No, there’s probably even a consensus of you and me’s, but we do have to compromise, dontcha’ know: fire them before the mob gets ‘em, so they’ll at least have a running start.

    Aside, I just heard on ABC U.S. radio “news” that Vietnam is at “26 degrees” somewhere instead of a usual ~ “60 degrees” [F.].

  85. Roger Longstaff says:

    I predict it will be cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

    Or was it the other way round?

  86. JPeden says:

    3 in 10 chance of a mild start

    3 in 10 chance of an average start

    4 in 10 chance of a cold start

    Increased cold because 4 is higher than 3, you morons!

  87. 1DandyTroll says:

    I do wonder though what that guy in the pic is pondering?

    Hmm, the cheapo pc they got for me at least came with a mouse.

  88. kellys_eye says:

    I have a £50,000 hammer that could ‘fix’ that supercomputer.

    Anyone?

  89. 1DandyTroll says:

    Guy in the pic pondering after calling tech support.

    Hmm, how to turn it off and on again?

  90. Dave Bob says:

    Commenters at Bishop Hill have pointed out the curious use of the word “risk” in these forecasts, as if any kind of weather is risky. An increased “risk” of a mild end to the winter? Heaven forfend!

    TV weather forecasters should adopt the same practice:
    “For the rest of the week, there’s an extremely high risk of clear skies, light winds and temperatures in the mid 70s.”

  91. John Trigge says:

    Where are the complaints about the UK Government accepting this as a ‘forecast’?

    Who is questioning the government about why so much money was spent on the ultrasuperduperradiator to get such a poor result?

    Don’t let your political representatives get away with not questioning the value of the Met Office.

  92. ceasley7 says:

    Sorry, I don’t believe the report. It seems to convenient. They publicly put out something different and the Mayor of London wrote an article in the Telegraph wondering why the Met office got it so wrong and Piers Corbynn right. If the Met office had put out a secret forecast then the Mayor of London would have received it. He didn’t or he wouldn’t have wrote the article. The Met office is lying. Take it to the bank.

  93. Kev-in-Uk says:

    Unfortunately, we must simply accept that the Met Office and all their 1500 cronies are a complete and utter waste of time. What I often wonder is which was the lead criminal in the CRU or MetOffice joint effort to steal from the British Taxpayer?

  94. Laurie says:

    Traditionally, prophets are regarded as having a role in society that promotes change due to their messages and actions.

    In the late 20th century the appellation of “prophet” has been used to refer to individuals particularly successful at analysis in the field of economics, such as in the derogatory “prophet of greed”. Alternatively, social commentators who suggest escalating crisis are often called “prophets of doom.”[3][4]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophet

    Further, I note the life of Nikola Tesla

    Because of his 1894 demonstration of wireless communication through radio and as the eventual victor in the “War of Currents”, he was widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in America.[2] He pioneered modern electrical engineering and many of his discoveries were of groundbreaking importance. In the United States during this time, Tesla’s fame rivaled that of any other inventor or scientist in history or popular culture.[3] Tesla demonstrated wireless energy transfer to power electronic devices as early as 1893, and aspired to intercontinental wireless transmission of industrial power in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project.

    Because of his eccentric personality and his seemingly unbelievable and sometimes bizarre claims about possible scientific and technological developments, Tesla was ultimately ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist by many late in his life.[4] Tesla never put much focus on his finances and died with little funds at the age of 86, alone in the two room hotel suite in which he lived, in New York City.[5]

    The International System of Units unit measuring magnetic field B (also referred to as the magnetic flux density and magnetic induction), the tesla, was named in his honor (at the Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures, Paris, 1960).

    In addition to his work on electromagnetism and electromechanical engineering, Tesla contributed in varying degrees to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar, and computer science, and to the expansion of ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

    Any knowledge and be used to abuse . . . . I will never forget it. . .

  95. H.R. says:

    Doctor Gee says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:07 am
    “So 1 Whattaflop of computing power [...]“

    Excellent!

  96. Just The Facts says:

    R. Gates says: January 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

    “The Met Office Super Climate computer, after running non-stop for weeks on end came up with the ultimate answer to the puzzle that is the climate…the answer was:

    And your not going to like this….

    42.”

    Funny, I like it. Are you starting to come around to the possibility that Global Climate Models (GCMs) might not be particularly accurate yet? Maybe I can help some more…

    “Many atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) and chemistry–climate models (CCMs) are not able to reproduce the observed polar stratospheric winds in simulations of the late 20th century. Specifically, the polar vortices break down too late and peak wind speeds are higher than in the ERA-40 reanalysis. Insufficient planetary wave driving during the October–November period delays the breakup of the southern hemisphere (SH) polar vortex in versions 1 (V1) and 2 (V2) of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) chemistry–climate model, and is likely the cause of the delayed breakup in other CCMs with similarly weak October-November wave driving.”

    ” Clearly, if CCMs cannot duplicate the observed response of the polar stratosphere to late 20th century climate forcings, their ability to simulate the polar vortices in future may be poor.”

    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-651.pdf

    “It is unclear how much confidence can be put into the model projections of the vortices given that the models typically only have moderate resolution and that the climatological structure of the vortices in the models depends on the tuning of gravity wave parameterizations.

    Given the above outstanding issues, there is need for continued research in the dynamics of the vortices and their representation in global models.”

    http://www.columbia.edu/~lmp/paps/waugh+polvani-PlumbFestVolume-2010.pdf

  97. ThinkingScientist says:

    RE JPeden at 12:39

    The Met Office prediction amounts to 40% chance of colder than average and 60% chance of average or warmer than average.

    The further problem is that the categories are undefined. Does “average” mean average +/- 0.1 degree, +/- 1.0 degree or +/- 10.0 degrees? Without that information the prediction is completely useless. Even without pointing out that the probabilities are so close to uniform that it is virtually random anyway.

  98. Jim G says:

    FrankK says: January 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for expanding my engineer’s limited and rather rudimentary vocabulary. I am planning on using this term on from friends at a local sipping event later today to see how many may be familiar with it.

  99. hembury says:

    see pics of the heat emissions from the met office
    http://metofficehypocrites.wordpress.com/

  100. Warren in Minnesota says:

    GIGO

  101. RockyRoad says:

    JPeden says:
    January 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    3 in 10 chance of a mild start

    3 in 10 chance of an average start

    4 in 10 chance of a cold start

    Increased cold because 4 is higher than 3, you morons!

    You’d think with all that computer power they’d be able to predict closer than one significant figure.

  102. Ir'Rational says:

    As a(n ex-)colonial (not Australian), the v.i. “to knacker” means to take a knife to the relevant parts. Appropriate.

  103. John Blake says:

    We have it on deep background from a senior Pentagon official that the US of A’s Marc Kac supercomputer, downloaded from a recent extraterrestrial visitant to the body-shop of Area 51, has means of jiggling Earth’s magnetic pole to cause earthquakes in Haiti, volcanic eruptions in Iceland and the Philippines, plus “blocking highs” disrupting arctic jet-streams over Mother Russia.

    Options traders in Chicago and on Wall Street wait only DARPA’s word to short every commodity in sight, crashing global economies prior to buying up the ENTIRE WORLD at fathomlessly deep discounts when industrial civilization craters. But little does Gordon Gecko know that carbon traders advised by Big Al Gore are on the case, advised since c. 1998 by ETs from Planet Klepto that Briffa, Hansen, Jones, Mann, Trenberth et al. will corner AGW markets in good time.

    Who can prove us wrong?

  104. Tom Eyre says:

    In Nov.2005,on a visit to the U.K., I went with my brother’s Rotary Club to the Met. Office at Exeter.After a tour, escourted by a young lady, she asked if we had any questions.We had been shown their locked computer room,containing, I believe, 3 Cray computers.We had been told of all the data inputs, stations,balloons etc.
    I asked what happened to the final weather forecast output from the computers.”Oh” said the girl” it’s put on the Chief Meteorologist desk so that he can see if it should go out.”

  105. Wes M says:

    Amazing story – They should use that supercomputer to figure out how to solve the economic problems facing both the U.S and U.K.

    I’m not a meteorologist, so I’m coming here (again) to ask about a model made by the “skepticalscience” group here, in which they claim to expose Lord Christopher Monckton’s usage of El Nino and temperature records and trends to explain the warming of the Earth: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=520

    Personally, it looks very suspicious to me. Firstly, what is this “all method temperature index” that is used, and what about the tables for the temperature index slope – They are using models based on 1998-2010 and 2001-2010 for the datasets, with the 2001-2010 showing less warming and they try and explain it away as “HADCRUTV3″ didn’t have Arctic coverage to add into the total. Gistemp seems the worst, with 1.37C a century in the 1998 forecast and 0.73C from the 2001 forecast. Obviously I’m going to ask for some clarification on this article from all of you since I’m pretty sure this is a massively biased study.

    And, in related news, is this what we can expect from this new “supercomputer”? Will it be programmed to use such minimal amounts of data that it will always predict on a warm slant?

  106. Jorgen Overgaard says:

    “. . .A mild end of the winter”. My grandfather used to say “Wonderful spring is soon here.”

  107. peter_ga says:

    Obviously they cannot do seasonal forecasts with any sort of precision.

    Therefore they do not understand how weather works beyond a time-frame of a few weeks.

    However when “experts” pronounce on global warming, they do not annotate their predictions with any sort of disclaimer indicating their total lack of understanding. The certainty with which these predictions are delivered is appalling.

  108. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ Schadow says:
    January 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    As ‘Curiousgeorge’ mentioned, the Farmer’s Almanac is heavily relied upon for weather forecasting here in the Colonies.

    We’re neighbors. N.E. MS ( near Columbus ) . :) We tend to get the weather a day or so before y’all. Expecting another bit of snow in the next 10 days. Very cold today thru next week. Unusual for here, but not unprecedented. Go Tide! :)

  109. David Walker says:

    Of course its not the supercomputer, its the software and the people who write it. The old case of garbage in – garbage out. If you include an AGW warming component in your input, then your forecasts are all going to be far warmer than reality. Seasonal forecasts are going to be hopeless, and even forecasts of the week ahead are going to be biased by this assumption. We saw in Nov-Dec that the Met office could not even reasonably forecast overnight minima and maxima for the next day, often overestimating temperatures by 5 -6 deg. The met office needs a complete overhaul, a purge of zealots, and a return to science.

  110. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ 1DandyTroll says:
    January 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Guy in the pic pondering after calling tech support.

    Hmm, how to turn it off and on again?

    Ctrl, Alt, Del. According to MS anyway. ;)

  111. mojo says:

    GIGO applies to supercomputers too.

  112. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    I would think the reason for the cold winter in the UK would be obvious.

    That supercomputer is throwing off enough heat to generate a mini Hadley cell, leading to cold air being drawn in from the Arctic.

    Turn it off and the UK will warm up again.

    This will be a tremendous sacrifice. The programming staff will be highly upset at having to shut down their really kick-butt World of Warcraft realm.

  113. r says:

    Computer says no!

    Have you seen this sketch from Little Britain?
    Its very funny and perhaps relevant.

  114. 1DandyTroll says:

    What’s the guy in the pic pondering:

    Hmm, that’s funny, it’s still as big as it was in the 50′s.

  115. M. Simon says:

    Why not just simplify? There is an increased chance of weather this week with much more in the months that follow.

  116. Gary Hladik says:

    On the bright side, when not mispredicting the upcoming seasons, the MET supercomputer plays a mean game of chess!

  117. Richard Lawson says:

    The Met Office have not yet forecast their own demise – so there is a bloody good chance it won’t exist in a couple of years time!

  118. Adrian Wingfield says:

    You ask: “What sort of forecast does the Met Office Supercomputer make?”

    Not a very good one. Or, to use the the technical terminology, shite!

    It certainly makes one proud to be British.

  119. Hu McCulloch says:

    With a total peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop — equivalent to over 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is in place today. It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second

    A petaflop would be 1 quadrillion flops, or 1,000,000 billion calculations per second. 1,000 billion flops would be just a teraflop.

    Looks like they may be having trouble counting, as well as forecasting!

  120. DJ Meredith says:

    …They left out a line of output….
    3 in 10 chance of a mild start

    3 in 10 chance of an average start

    4 in 10 chance of a cold start

    7 to 1 on Skeeball in the 5th

    THEY’RE RUNNIN’ ODDS!!!!

    ..No wonder they can justify that much money on a computer….they’re gambling. Also reveals why they won’t let the code out. Would screw up the odds.

  121. One assumes that ‘wintry’ has to do with precipitation (e.g. wintry showers) since ‘cold’ only has to do with temperature. Note the risk is given for cold AND wintry, i.e. higher than normal precipitation coupled with lower than normal temperatures.

    Now, let’s look at the figures. On the face of them, there is a 60% chance that it will NOT have a cold start, and a 70% chance that it will NOT have a wet start. If these were independent variables then we’d end up with the probability of 88% that it will NOT start ‘cold and wintry’. That doesn’t exactly make me think that cold and wintry is very likely. We’re knocking on 90% here so that’s well above ‘likely’ and practically into ‘very likely’ territory in IPCC-speak that we shall NOT be seeing a ‘colder AND wintrier’ start than normal.

    If we ascribe equal probabilities to all outcomes (i.e. assuming the Met Office did no better than throwing darts blindly at a dartboard, or used a random number generator to predict the weather) then we could give 33.33% probability to all three outcomes: cold, average, mild; and wet, average, dry. So the probability that the winter will NOT start ‘cold and wet’ if the individual outcomes are random and equal probability of turning up would be 88.89%.

    Is someone trying to tell me that because 88% likelihood with some error bars (according to Met Office super-dooper prediction) is less than the theoretical 88.89% likelihood of the combination by throwing dice that the Met Office can say with a straight face “There is an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season”.

    “Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.” Increased risk compared to WHAT? Equal probabilities of all outcomes, what you’d get by throwing dice?

    Something like this then:

    4 in 10 chance of a mild end

    3 in 10 chance of an average end

    3 in 10 chance of a cold end

    So with the start figures:

    3 in 10 chance of a mild start

    3 in 10 chance of an average start

    4 in 10 chance of a cold start

    we have 60% ‘chance’ that winter won’t start cold, but an increased ‘risk’ that it will start cold, and 60% ‘chance’ that winter won’t end mild, but an increased ‘risk’ that it will end mild.

    So now we can play this any way we like, and pretend we’re better than throwing dice. If it starts cold the MO say “well, we said there was an increased risk [40%] of it starting cold”. If it doesn’t start cold the MO say “well, we said it was less likely than not [40%] to start cold”. If it starts average the MO say “well, we said it was less likely than not [40%] that it would start cold, and less likely than not [30%] that it would start mild”.

    If it ends mild the MO say “well, we said there was an increased risk [40%] of it ending mild”. If it doesn’t end mild the MO say “well, we said that it was less likely than not [40%] to be ending mild”. And if it ends average the MO say “well, we said it was less likely than not [30%] that it would end cold, and less likely than not [40%] that it would end mild”.

    Whatever happens you can con people into believing that you are ‘skillful’. Think astrology. Or the Delphic oracle.

  122. u.k.(us) says:

    “Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.”
    =========
    So, indications are, there will be a spring !!
    Thanks, for the risk assessment.

  123. LarryG says:

    …. aha…but at the North Pole….41!

  124. There is a discrepancy. On the one hand the forecast is said to cover November, December and January. On the other hand meteorological ‘winter’ is December, January and February. Clearly they cannot be saying that the ‘start’ and ‘end’ of the ‘winter season’ is on November 1/January 31, or December 1/February 28. So this little phrase ‘winter season’ is a complete con. The winter season isn’t fixed to dates: it starts when the weather turns cold and wintry, and it ends weather turns milder and spring. Notice that they say they put the date of the end of winter as ‘beyond this assessment’, i.e. after January 31. Every ‘winter season’ starts when it gets cold (that defines the start) and every winter season ends when it turns mild and spring arrives, whether early or late. Therefore, we can say of every ‘winter season’ “There is an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season, and the winter season will end after January 31 when there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end”.

    What a pathetic statement of the obvious.

  125. old construction worker says:

    Come on guys, give their the new supercomputera break. After all, it sits someplace at the end of a runway somewhere. Doesn’t it?

  126. kcrucible says:

    The supercomputer is their version of “putting a finger on the scale.” It uses so much electricity that warming is sure to follow. ;)

  127. DirkH says:

    I can imagine the puzzlement of the government after receiving this top secret forecast… “Something might happen. Or not.” “Oh thanks. Great advice.”

    What better way to say “wasted taxpayer money”!

  128. R. Gates says:

    Just The Facts says:
    January 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm
    R. Gates says: January 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

    “The Met Office Super Climate computer, after running non-stop for weeks on end came up with the ultimate answer to the puzzle that is the climate…the answer was:

    And your not going to like this….

    42.”

    Funny, I like it. Are you starting to come around to the possibility that Global Climate Models (GCMs) might not be particularly accurate yet? Maybe I can help some more…

    “Many atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) and chemistry–climate models (CCMs) are not able to reproduce the observed polar stratospheric winds in simulations of the late 20th century. Specifically, the polar vortices break down too late and peak wind speeds are higher than in the ERA-40 reanalysis. Insufficient planetary wave driving during the October–November period delays the breakup of the southern hemisphere (SH) polar vortex in versions 1 (V1) and 2 (V2) of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) chemistry–climate model, and is likely the cause of the delayed breakup in other CCMs with similarly weak October-November wave driving.”

    ” Clearly, if CCMs cannot duplicate the observed response of the polar stratosphere to late 20th century climate forcings, their ability to simulate the polar vortices in future may be poor.”

    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-651.pdf

    “It is unclear how much confidence can be put into the model projections of the vortices given that the models typically only have moderate resolution and that the climatological structure of the vortices in the models depends on the tuning of gravity wave parameterizations.

    Given the above outstanding issues, there is need for continued research in the dynamics of the vortices and their representation in global models.”

    http://www.columbia.edu/~lmp/paps/waugh+polvani-PlumbFestVolume-2010.pdf
    _______

    Thanks for those links. I have no doubt that all the GCM’s have major flaws, and that the real root cause is trying to model a system at the edge of chaos.

    Having said that, it doesn’t mean that some level of AGW isn’t happening…it’s just that chaotic influences such as the sun, AMO, PDO, ENSO, etc. can’t be accurately modelled, and so how do you describe the initial and final states of the system if you can’t really model chaos?

    On a side note, I found this little article which ought to make the AGW skeptics roll with laughter. It seems global warming has caused the first rays of sunlight to come up over Greenland this year two days earlier (at least according so some). Read this and have a good laugh:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/20/sun-rise-early-greenland_n_811657.html

    Very strange days we live in…

    with not enough information. I read somewhere that information theory would state that to accurately model a chaotic system would take a computer as large as the system you’re trying to model…with the same amount of energy input.

  129. Al Gored says:

    George Lawson says:
    January 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

    “The question is, what was the source of the information that led Roger Harrabin of the BBC to report that the MET Office had in fact given that secret report to the government that January was going to be very cold?”

    Yes, this is the most important new question raised here.

  130. INGSOC says:

    Ack! I got snipped!!! For shame… I have been meticulous in avoiding the dreaded scissors of decorum, and am devastated that I have transgressed the code, however inadvertently. I realise after some easy research that I misspelled the name of the chief scientist at the Met office, Julia Slingo. I really thought that I had the right name, but erred… Really! I’m innocent! Stop looking at me like that! Oh the horror of it all….

    ;)

  131. Z says:

    If I were to look for positives here, I’d have to say that the Met Office decision making process has improved. They used to know-not, and they knew-not that they knew-not. Now at least they know, that they know-not.

    As for the “censorship” by the Cabinet Office – I fear that was just a simple misunderstanding. Someone in the Cabinet Office probably said: “You can’t publish that garbage!” and the Met Office took it as an instruction, rather than as an assessment.

  132. Bruce says:

    42 was the answer…

    …and now the Met Office wants a bigger better computer to work out if this is in Farenheit or Celsius.

  133. Steve in SC says:

    Bruckner8 says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

    This super computer has played a major role in heightened skeptical awareness. The excesses of its cost and pollution footprint, combined with its complete inability to predict, is Exhibit A for the gross scam perpetrated on the people of the world. This single device has made many more people take pause, and say “now wait a minute…”

    You just have to remember who programmed the little beastie.
    It should come as no surprise whatsoever at the amazing skill on display.

  134. bruce ryan says:

    thanks for giving me a laugh.

  135. GaryP says:

    Many years ago I read that a weatherman could be right 60% of the time by always forecasting, “The weather tomorrow will be like it was today.”

    I assume the same works for a forecast for the next season, so “Spring will be like the spring of last year,” and this will be correct most years. (I’m not sure what they meant by “like” but it was something like warmer or cooler than normal, and wetter or dryer than normal.) If the MET abacus machine cannot equal this naive forecast, it has less skill than graffiti written on a wall.

  136. Merovign says:

    And after a long, uncomfortable silence, the most powerful computer ever designed spit out a single phrase in response: “Who can say?”

    Ironically, a computer that could understand uncertainty might be quite advanced, indeed.

    On the other hand, if it just threw equal chances at every outcome, that’s kind of sad.

  137. It's always Marcia, Marcia says:

    What an absolutely useless piece of machinery in that location. Outrageous waste to be placed at the Met!

    Meanwhile pensioners are freezing to death.

  138. Gary Mount says:

    Ummm, 15 million megabytes is only 15 gigabytes. My 2 year old computer has 6 gigabytes and can be expaned to 12 gigabytes, or 24 if i replace will 4 gigabyte modules.

  139. James Allison says:

    R. Gates says:
    January 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Mr Gates thanks for sharing the ridiculous.
    From the same Huffpost article – i kid you not!

    “Another weird result of global warming may be that satellites speed through air faster due to increased levels of carbon dioxide creating a less dense atmosphere.”

  140. JPeden says:

    ThinkingScientist says:
    January 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    RE JPeden at 12:39

    The Met Office prediction amounts to 40% chance of colder than average and 60% chance of average or warmer than average.

    I know, I was being sarcastic, but it looks to me like what I said is possibly the way the Met actually thinks! Check it out: the only way the Met Office can say it did predict a greater chance of a cold/colder start of Winter, vs mild or average, is if it thinks that it did because 4/10 is greater than each of the two 3/10′s seperately! Which would mean that either the Met is in much worse shape than we’ve imagined, or it thinks we are as dumb as it needs us to be.

  141. Just The Facts says:

    R. Gates says: January 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    “I have no doubt that all the GCM’s have major flaws, and that the real root cause is trying to model a system at the edge of chaos.”

    Agreed, Earth’s Climate System is unbelievably complex and continuously evolving, and GCM’s development is still nascent. But why are we investing a tremendous amount of time and resources reacting to alarming prognostications from these obviously flawed models?

    “Having said that, it doesn’t mean that some level of AGW isn’t happening…it’s just that chaotic influences such as the sun, AMO, PDO, ENSO, etc. can’t be accurately modelled, and so how do you describe the initial and final states of the system if you can’t really model chaos?”

    I am reasonably confident that some level of Anthropogenic Global Warming is happening. Between increases in carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, changes in ozone concentrations and distribution, increases in particulates and aerosols, soot, land use changes, urban heat islands, etc. there seems likely to be a net positive Anthropogenic thermal contribution. However, I have no confidence that these Anthropogenic forces, and particularly CO2, are the primary driver of Earth’s temperature, or are overwhelming Earth’s array of natural climate drivers/variables including…

    1. Earth’s Rotational Energy;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotational_energy
    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/6h.html

    which results in day and night;
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_does_rotation_cause_day_and_night

    influences Oceanic Gyres;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_gyre

    helps drive and direct the Thermohaline Circulation;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation

    especially around Antarctica;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Conveyor_belt.svg

    which is also called the Antarctic Circumpolar Current;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Circumpolar_Current

    and the Arctic:
    http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455&tid=441&cid=47170&ct=61&article=20727
    http://www.john-daly.com/polar/flows.jpg

    Earth’s Rotational Energy also influences Earth’s Polar Vortices;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_vortex

    which “are caused when an area of low pressure sits at the rotation pole of a planet. This causes air to spiral down from higher in the atmosphere, like water going down a drain.”
    http://www.universetoday.com/973/what-venus-and-saturn-have-in-common/

    Here’s an animated model of the Arctic Polar Vortex;
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010000/a010005/vortex.mpg

    and here’s an animation of the currently unformed Arctic Polar Vortex:
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/z500_nh_anim.shtml

    Here’s an animation of the currently unformed Antarctic Polar Vortex;
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/intraseasonal/z500_sh_anim.shtml

    2. Earth’s Orbital Energy, Elliptical Orbit around the Sun, and Tilt:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_orbital_energy
    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/6h.html

    creates seasons;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season

    which drives major changes Polar Sea and Land Ice;
    tba

    the freezing and melting of which helps to drive the Thermohaline Circulation;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation

    On longer time frames in which changes to Earth’s orbit, tilt and wobble called Milankovitch cycles;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    which may be responsible for the periods of Glaciation (Ice Ages);
    http://www.homepage.montana.edu/~geol445/hyperglac/time1/milankov.htm

    that Earth has experienced for the last several million years of Earth’s climatic record:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age

    3. Gravitational Energy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_energy

    The Moon and Sun have significant influence on Earth’s tide;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_force
    http://www.themcdonalds.net/richard/astro/papers/602-tides-web.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide

    as well as the Moon, Sun and Earth’s gravity influences Earth’s Thermohaline Circulation;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convection#Gravitational_or_buoyant_convection
    http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=205

    4. Solar Energy;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_energy

    causes evaporation;
    creates clouds;
    results rain;
    that transfers large amounts of moisture;
    and results in rivers, etc.;

    and evaporation and condensation may help to drive changes in atmospheric pressure:
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/24015/2010/acpd-10-24015-2010.pdf

    5. Geothermal Energy;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy

    especially when released by volcanoes;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcano

    which have been shown to influence Earth’s climate;
    http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/how_volcanoes_work/climate_effects.html
    http://www.longrangeweather.com/global_temperatures.htm

    including in the infamous Year Without a Summer;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer

    which was partially caused by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1815_eruption_of_Mount_Tambora

    and is called a Volcanic Winter:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_winter

    6. Cosmic Forces,
    Cosmic Rays?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray

    7. Magnetic Forces
    tba

    8. Atmospheric Composition
    Aerosols
    Particulates
    Greenhouse Gases

    9. Albedo
    tba

    “Very strange days we live in…

    with not enough information. I read somewhere that information theory would state that to accurately model a chaotic system would take a computer as large as the system you’re trying to model…with the same amount of energy input.”

    Yes, it will likely take an absurd and distant amount of computing capacity to accurately model Earth’s unbelievably complex climate system. And then many generations and orders of magnitude of further computing capacity to account for and analyze the nearly unfathomable number of permutations that must occur in order to accurately predict Earth’s unbelievably complex Climate System over multi-decadal time frames…

  142. Craig Moore says:

    “With a total peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop…”

    With all the accuracy of 1 CowFlop.

  143. jtom says:

    kcrucible says:
    January 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm
    The supercomputer is their version of “putting a finger on the scale.” It uses so much electricity that warming is sure to follow. ;)
    ——————————————–

    I get the feeling the supercomputer is their version of “pull my finger.”
    I also have a feeling that if the computer forecasted a temp of -40, they would want a million dollar grant to determine whether it was centigrade or fahrenheit.

    Finally, just to save them some money, I will offer my standard prediction to the question, what are the odds of rain? 50 – 50. Either it will or it won’t. How could the odds be anything else?

  144. You know that feeling in your lungs when you fall on your back and you get the wind knocked out of you? You try to get your lungs to work and they just seem to have gone to sleep and for a few moments you feel like you are going to die. Well I think I just got that in my brain after reading this post. It wasn’t anything all that unbelievable (at least, not by now) but when there are still lots of people out there who consider skeptics as “anti-science” while having faith in these soothsayers reading a climate horoscope… it feels like something has gone seriously wrong with reality. I mean something more than usual.

  145. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Gary Hladik says:
    January 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm
    “On the bright side, when not mispredicting the upcoming seasons, the MET supercomputer plays a mean game of chess!”

    OF course it does! The people that created the programing KNOW how to play chess.

  146. Douglas DC says:

    An old friend who was a NWS forecaster, said to me one day:”If you have no idea
    it’s always: Partly to mostly with a chance of.”….
    He didn’t need no stinkin’ supercomputer..

  147. LazyTeenager says:

    Well the agenda is to discredit the met office and this is followed by a lot of predictable, breathless commentary.

    But it is all being done in an information vacuum.

    The verbal forecast supplied here has been simplified, I guess, to make it easy for bureaucrats to skim? but it is near enough to useless for decision making. I would make a wild guess and suggest that this forecast is not to be used by the people whose real job it is to prepare for winter.

    Weather is a matter of probabilities and probabilities do allow 2 sixes to be thrown every now and again. People who claim they knew that 2 sixes were going to come up, after the dice are thrown are just attention seekers.

  148. RockyRoad says:

    Wes M says:
    January 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Amazing story – They should use that supercomputer to figure out how to solve the economic problems facing both the U.S and U.K.

    Ok, here ya go:

    3 in 10 chance of a mild recovery

    3 in 10 chance of an average recovery

    4 in 10 chance of a cold recovery.

    The problem isn’t that they’re not using a computer–the problem is that they’re using a computer!

    Everybody with any sense knows that any enterprise, whether it be an individual, family, business, or country, that spends way more money than it earns will have economic problems proportional to the difference in the two figures. It doesn’t take a computer to figure that out.

  149. Bernd Felsche says:

    A “quick” check and that sort of computing power can be bought for less than 20% of the price and consumes about half the power, including heat-pump power. Look on the WWW for “NVidia Tesla”.

    I reckon the green stripes on the cabinets are worth at least £3m ;-)

  150. Gary Hladik says:

    Gary Mount says (January 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm): “Ummm, 15 million megabytes is only 15 gigabytes.”

    Actually 15 gigabytes is 15,000 megabytes. So the MET computer with 15,000,000 megabytes has 15 terabytes of memory.

    Hu McCulloch says (January 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm): “With a total peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop — equivalent to over 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is in place today. It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second.

    A petaflop would be 1 quadrillion flops, or 1,000,000 billion calculations per second. 1,000 billion flops would be just a teraflop.”

    I wonder if the article was using the older british meaning of “billion”, i.e. a million million, instead of the newer one of a thousand million, as in standard Americanese?

    BTW, kudos to Craig Moore for his computing METric: the “CowFlop”. :-)

  151. Gary Hladik says:

    LazyTeenager says (January 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm): “Well the agenda is to discredit the met office and this is followed by a lot of predictable, breathless commentary.”

    Actually, that’s one thing the met office does pretty well all by itself.

  152. joe says:

    doesn’t matter if they have 5,00o of these supercomputers they’ll get whatever “results” or predictions they want just by tweaking the software…and the sad thing is they won’t get any real answers because there are TOO MANY VARIABLES…

  153. Tez says:

    They would have been better off buying the machine that goes PING. Or better still, sell it and lease it back from the company they sold it to and that way it would come under the monthly current budget and not the capital account. Then people at WUWT wouldnt be able to poke fun at the amount it all cost.

  154. David says:

    Schrodinger’s Cat says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:31 am
    Julia Slingo of the Met Office is complaining that they don’t have nearly enough computing power. Four times more would be good…
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101230/full/news.2010.685.html

    Unbelievable!”

    Wow, four times greater. Maybe instead of all this 3 in 10 stuff they could then say a 12 in 40 chance of ….

  155. David says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    January 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm
    Well the agenda is to discredit the met office and this is followed by a lot of predictable, breathless commentary.

    But it is all being done in an information vacuum.

    The verbal forecast supplied here has been simplified, I guess, to make it easy for bureaucrats to skim? but it is near enough to useless for decision making. I would make a wild guess and suggest that this forecast is not to be used by the people whose real job it is to prepare for winter.

    Weather is a matter of probabilities and probabilities do allow 2 sixes to be thrown every now and again. People who claim they knew that 2 sixes were going to come up, after the dice are thrown are just attention seekers.

    Sheesh lazy, we are having a little fun here. BTW your post is reflective, referring to your self you say “I guess”,…”wild guess”…and referring to the MET; “the dice are thrown”

    Sounds like you and the met work alike.

  156. Gary Mount says:

    “Gary Hladik says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Actually 15 gigabytes is 15,000 megabytes. So the MET computer with 15,000,000 megabytes has 15 terabytes of memory.”

    I see where I went wrong. I am used to the modern notation of using Gigabytes instead of megabytes, the old archaic amount of memory they used to have in late 20th century computers.
    Why they could not have used the more modern term Terabyte of ram I do not know.
    As an aside, I used to buy memory for about $40 a megabyte.

  157. John Marshall says:

    Vicky Pope says that her computer is not big enough and wants to update it. It will still produce poor forecasts whatever is spent.

  158. TrevorG says:

    Bill Jamison says:
    January 21, 2011 at 11:00 am
    Looking at those numbers another way, the Met forecast predicted a 40% chance of a cold dry start to winter.

    Actually Bill, it’s a 4/10 chance for cold multiplied by a 4/10 chance for dry. This equates to the probability of it being cold and dry as 16/100 or 16%. Very poor performance by the MET.

    I’d give them a score for this test as 16% as well. A serious failure in my book.

  159. Brian H says:

    Elsewhere (?) a certain James Sexton commented, “While all of the connections haven’t been made, yet, I think its fairly obvious to any casual observer that drywet is a product of warmcold.”

    Sounds like the kind of forecasting the SuperDuperPooperScooperPuter could deal with!

  160. Brian H says:

    P.S. While the Met ‘puter can out-flop mine, my ancient P4 system is maxed out with a Gigabyte of RAM. That “massive 15 megabytes of memory” sounds pretty wimpy.

  161. arthur clapham says:

    A mild end to winter eh? Methinks the cuckoo’s are here already!

  162. richard verney says:

    It is difficult to understand why they use the word “risk” when they are talking of probabilities.
    It would be nice to see Christopher Booker run with this story in his Sunday column. Could be quite a laugh and it would bring to a wider audiance the quality of forecasting from the Met Office and would make more people question uts worth.

  163. Neal Asher says:

    I have to make one correction here. The performance of this computer is not measured in PetaFlops but MetoFlops.

  164. Alexander says:

    It’s late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in British Columbia asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like.

    Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribal community that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the Environment Canada National Weather Service and asked, ‘Is the coming winter going to be cold?’

    ‘It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,’ the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

    A week later, he called Environment Canada’s National Weather Service again. ‘Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?’ ‘Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’

    The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later, the chief called Environment Canada’s National Weather Service again. ‘Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’ ‘Absolutely,’ the man replied. ‘It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.’

    ‘How can you be so sure?’ the chief asked. The weatherman replied, ‘The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.’

    Remember this whenever you get advice from a government official!

  165. Robuk says:

    I thought I would post this again, seems apt for this thread.

    http://s446.photobucket.com/albums/qq187/bobclive/?action=view&current=Spike2.mp4

  166. Beth Cooper says:

    Is the Met supercomputer the one they used in Emerald City over the rainbow?

  167. schnurrp says:

    This is really funny, but seriously isn’t it possible for a meteorological condition to exist where it is not possible to predict an outcome as being more likely than others? On this blog you hear “chaotic”, “ever-changing”, etc. used often in describing climate systems. Maybe the Met computer is smart enough to know it’s limits.

  168. R. Gates says:

    Just The Facts says:
    January 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm
    R. Gates says: January 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    “I have no doubt that all the GCM’s have major flaws, and that the real root cause is trying to model a system at the edge of chaos.”

    Agreed, Earth’s Climate System is unbelievably complex and continuously evolving, and GCM’s development is still nascent. But why are we investing a tremendous amount of time and resources reacting to alarming prognostications from these obviously flawed models?

    _________

    I agree with much of what you say, but here’s probably a current difference between us at the moment. While some people might skoff a the notion that I’m a 75/25 warmist vs. skeptic, that’s about where I place the odds that some level of AGW warming is occurring. But more to your point about models and chaos. I do have faith that the models are giving me general information about trends, though not about the exact timing and particulars. I go back to the analogy of the snowstorm. Imagine you were fairly confident it was going to snow at your house overnight, and wanted to develop a model that would predict exactly when and where the first snowflake would fall on you front sidewalk and exactly how much snow was going to fall. Such a model would be impossible to develop as there are too many interacting and chaotic variables to take into account. That does not mean however, that you can’t be pretty certain, that if the NWS issues a winter storm warning for your area, that you won’t wake up and find some level of white stuff on the ground.

    Such is the case for GCM’s. I think in fact they might be decent at giving us pretty good clues about general trends…i.e. the polar ice will be declining overall leading to a seasonalably ice-free arctic sometime later this century, the hydrological cycle will be acclerating leading to heavier downpours in areas that are prone to downpours, the oceans will be warming, Greenland and Antarctica will be melting, etc. I just happen to think that the chaos in the system from the many excellent other influences such as you’ve pointed add way to much unknown, such that no matter how big the Met office computer gets, and how refined the GCM’s get, they are still inherently dealing with a chaotic system, and as such, they might get better at telling more about the trends, but never about the specifics, and certainly will be horribly wrong about the timing and of course, will never be able to predict those inevitable “tipping” points that exist with any system undergoing chaotic changes.

  169. matt v. says:

    It does not take a fancy computer to see that UK winters and in particular the beginning of winters namely the month of December were getting colder.

    WINTER TEMPERATURES [CENTRAL ENGLAND]

    2007 6.4C
    2008 5.6C
    2009 3.5C
    2010 2.4 C
    2011 NA[ estimate 2.2C to mid january]

    WINTER TEMPERATURES HAVE BEEN DROPPING [4 YEARS ?] IN ROW

    DECEMBER TEMPERATURES[CENTRAL ENGLAND]
    2006 6.5C
    2007 4.9C
    2008 3.5C
    2009 3.1C
    2010 -0.7C

    DECEMBER TEMPERATURES HAVE BEEN DROPPING 4 YEARS IN A ROW

  170. Dave Longly says:

    I’m going to install a Digital Advanced Reckoning Technology board immediately at home for improved weather prediction

  171. Alexander says:

    The problem with the GCMs is that because most if not all use the ‘two-stream’ approximation to the optical physics of aerosols introduced by Sagan** to predict cloud albedo, they wrongly predict aerosol pollution increases albedo of thicker clouds. This allows much higher climate sensitivity for CO2 than is really the case.

    The classic example of the effect of this basic mistake is the ‘warming bias’ of the Hadley model. As each year passes, assumed higher CO2-AGW distorts the prediction upwards. It’s time they got this bit of physics right.

    The clue is to look at rain clouds, dark underneath, higher albedo. Yet they have larger droplets, lower optical depth, so the models predict lower albedo. You correct matters by direct backscattering at upper cloud surfaces. Mie theory predicts this – the second interaction, also reduction of droplet size switches the effect off, making another AGW. This is a game changer: there is now no proof of any net CO2-AGW.

    I suspect the inadequacy of this physics was known to insiders well before AR4 was published. After it was learnt there was no experimental proof of ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling, NASA ‘commissioned work’ to find out why. It concluded there was less water in polluted clouds, the inference being no problem with the physics.

    Twomey, who proved the albedo of thin clouds was increased by pollution but warned this should not be extrapolated to thicker clouds, was given a prize. A NASA web publication replaced Twomey’s correct physics with a plausible ‘surface reflection’ argument; there’s no such physics: http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sgg/singh/winners4.html

    This false premise is widely believed in climate science: it appears to be taught. Until the models are corrected they will always be wrong. Unfortunately, the fix requires the IPCC’s prediction of high-feedback CO2-AGW be rejected as plain wrong..

    **It assumes just internal diffuse scattering, biased in the backscattering direction by constant ‘Mie asymmetry factor’. No-one appears to have realised that Mie’s solution of Maxwell’s equations for the interaction of light with a dielectric sphere assumed a plane wave. The resultant equation appears to fit experimental albedo-tau data but because there’s a second optical process, direct backscattering at upper cloud boundaries, it’s essentially a curve fit with no predictive capability.


  172. Hal says:
    January 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    1 petaflop = how many flippidy flops?
    at least they could give this megamachine a name; like “HAL”

    Video from a recent service upgrade of the Met Office supercomputer

  173. Ted Stewart says:

    That’s outrageous!

    We Brits should use seaweed and a pocket Casio, to forecast the weather, like you guys in the States.

  174. Laurie Bowen says:

    Just The Facts says:
    January 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Thankyou for posting all the references . . . that must have taken some time and thought . . . I look forward to going through them . . . again thank you.

  175. Pamela Gray says:

    My baloney radar is off the charts. I would so be asking for a FOIA request for the actual ticker tape that came out of that big black bank of computers. The 3/3/4 looks contrived to me and completely at odds with what the ‘puter actually spit out. This has “fudge factor” written all over it.

  176. Olen says:

    It must be terrible having to make real world predictions compliant with un proven theory.

  177. Jimbo says:

    Temperature
    3 in 10 chance of a mild start
    3 in 10 chance of an average start
    4 in 10 chance of a cold start

    The Met Office, via Roger Harrabin, put out its side of the story just after New Year with Harrabin stating that:

    In October the forecaster privately warned the Government – with whom it has a contract – that Britain was likely to face an extremely cold winter.
    Autonomous Mind

    Parlimentary question and answer:

    Chris Heaton-Harris: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what account his Department took of the October 2010 Met Office forecast of a mild winter in preparations across Government for the winter of 2010. [33063]

    Mr Maude: The Met Office provide the Government with regular updates throughout the year to inform short, medium and longer term planning. In late October, the Met Office advised that temperatures during November and December were likely to be average or colder. This information was shared with Departments as part of a wider review of winter preparedness.
    Source

    All bases covered. ;O)

    Read more:
    http://autonomousmind.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/government-vs-met-office-forecast-row-heats-up/
    http://autonomousmind.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/bbc-spins-that-met-office-got-winter-right-just-kept-it-secret-from-public/

  178. r says:

    Even if the prediction is 100% that it is going to rain, it could rain for 5 minutes or 5 hours and still be right.

  179. r says:

    War is peace
    Freedom is slavery
    Ignorance is strength
    Wet is dry
    Warm is cold
    Pink is the new black
    40 is the new 30
    Bankers steal money from taxpayers and it is good.
    Little people fail to file a 1099 and they go to jail.

    I just want to know what my chocolate ration is.

  180. R. Gates says:

    r says:
    January 22, 2011 at 9:53 am
    Even if the prediction is 100% that it is going to rain, it could rain for 5 minutes or 5 hours and still be right.

    _____

    Well, let’s be clear about this…GCM’s give probability ranges as to when events will occur. Each indivudual GCM does this, and then of course we can take the average of all the GCM’s combined to give a general range. For example, the Arctic is projected to be ice free in the summer sometime this century, say from 2030-2100 approximately. If the Arctic became ice free in the summer in 2020 or in 2200, you could make the case that because it was due to the chaotic nature of the system that the event fell outside that original projectced range, just as if the forecast was for rain to start between noon and 2 p.m. and it started at 11:30 or 2:30…was the forecast wrong, or is this simply the nature of trying to model a chaotic system? Likewise, if it rained at 7 p.m. that night, you could easily make the case that that rain had nothing to do with the original forecast as it was too far out of the range.

    I think, in general, GCM’s have the trends pinned down pretty good (as far as the current forcings added to the models go). I think the GCM’s will get better as the dynamics of more forcings are better understood, i.e. additional solar, cosmic rays, longer frequency ocean cycles, etc.. I also think that as in any chaotic system there will be “tipping points” that simply can’t be known, are impossible to model, and will cause the models to be grossly inaccurate once those tipping points are passed. This is exactly the nature of any chaotic system. The much faster rapid decline in Arctic Sea ice for example, could be one such tipping point. If it continues to decline faster than any GCM projected just a few years ago, this represents a tipping point that was not predictable and means the models will get further and further off thereafter.

  181. Marlene Anderson says:

    @ Dave: George Carlin’s ‘hippy dippy weather man’ also came immediately to mind for me as well.

    The Met’s hippy-dippy winter forecast: cooling temperatures becoming warm towards spring.

  182. Theo Goodwin says:

    The name “Chaos Theory” was and is extremely unfortunate. It it no less unfortunate that one of the first applications was to weather or climate.

    No natural system is more or less chaotic than any other natural system. The adjective “chaotic” does not apply to nature. The adjective applies to the set of mathematical techniques known as Chaos Theory. Get it. Nature is one thing but the languages and tools used to describe and investigate it are entirely another thing.

    Chaos theory is a mathematical technique that can be applied to any natural system. If you do not believe that, just google “chaos theory application.” Chaos theory has been applied in many areas of research including heart rhythms. No one believes that ordinary heart rhythms are chaotic, right? You are correct. They are not. But Chaos Theory is useful in understanding them.

    So, could we please stop pleading that climate science and climate modeling are so dang difficult because climate and/or weather are chaotic? If some genuine appeal can be made on the basis of the difficulty, it would be that only Chaos Theory offers mathematical techniques of the sort needed in climate/weather science AND THAT IT IS ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT TO APPLY CHAOS THEORY IN THIS ARENA.

    So, if you are a climate scientist who makes excuses on the basis of Chaos Theory, what you must explain to justify your excuses is why it is that Chaos Theory is so dang difficult to apply when it applies darn well in many other areas of science.

  183. R. Gates says:

    Theo Goodwin says:
    January 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm
    The name “Chaos Theory” was and is extremely unfortunate. It it no less unfortunate that one of the first applications was to weather or climate.

    No natural system is more or less chaotic than any other natural system. The adjective “chaotic” does not apply to nature. The adjective applies to the set of mathematical techniques known as Chaos Theory. Get it. Nature is one thing but the languages and tools used to describe and investigate it are entirely another thing.

    Chaos theory is a mathematical technique that can be applied to any natural system. If you do not believe that, just google “chaos theory application.” Chaos theory has been applied in many areas of research including heart rhythms. No one believes that ordinary heart rhythms are chaotic, right? You are correct. They are not. But Chaos Theory is useful in understanding them.

    So, could we please stop pleading that climate science and climate modeling are so dang difficult because climate and/or weather are chaotic? If some genuine appeal can be made on the basis of the difficulty, it would be that only Chaos Theory offers mathematical techniques of the sort needed in climate/weather science AND THAT IT IS ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT TO APPLY CHAOS THEORY IN THIS ARENA.

    So, if you are a climate scientist who makes excuses on the basis of Chaos Theory, what you must explain to justify your excuses is why it is that Chaos Theory is so dang difficult to apply when it applies darn well in many other areas of science.

    ______
    Hmmm…well, for those who would like a real brief introduction to Chaos Theory as it applies to both weather and climate models and forecasting, I would offer up this:

    http://climlab02.meas.ncsu.edu/mea719/MEA_719_lectureset-5-Feb03-chaos_and_ensemble-predictability.ppt#296,25,Lorenz Attractor

    No climate scientist makes “excuses” on the basis of Chaos Theory. That is simply an absurd statement. It is well understood that there are far to many variables interacting in far too many ways, with unpredictable “tipping points” that can change a system very very fast. We know that the climate can and does “tip” into new regimes rapidly, as evidenced in the paleoclimate record. This “tipping” is a hallmark of a chaotic system.

    The most important research right now is trying to really pin down how sensitive the climate really is to CO2 (and any related postive feedback such as increased water vapor, polar amplfication, methane release). Climate scientists know that the GCM’s are only going to indicate trends and not specifics and there will be inevitable surprizes along the way because it is a chaotic system that is quite deterministic but also quite unpredictable in specifics.

  184. R. Gates says:

    Another excellent link to a recent presentation of Chaos Theory as applied to both weather and climate models and forecasting:

    http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~ekalnay/Chaos-Predictability-EnKF-WMOtalk.pdf

    A great read for those who would like to begin to understand both Chaos Theory and how it relates to both GCM’s and ensemble forecasting.

  185. Just The Facts says:

    R. Gates says: January 22, 2011 at 5:34 am (Edit)

    “I do have faith that the models are giving me general information about trends, though not about the exact timing and particulars.”

    What is this “faith” and what part does it play in science?

    “I think in fact they might be decent at giving us pretty good clues about general trends”

    Why would you think that flawed models [insert equivocations here, e.g. might, decent pretty good, general, etc.] give us with directionally accurate results?

    “I just happen to think that the chaos in the system from the many excellent other influences such as you’ve pointed add way to much unknown, such that no matter how big the Met office computer gets, and how refined the GCM’s get, they are still inherently dealing with a chaotic system, and”

    Agree, at present we cannot accurately model Earth’s Climate System, much less predict its behavior decades into the future.

    “as such, they might get better at telling more about the trends,”

    I don’t understand this at all, and the snowstorm analogy doesn’t help. Snowstorm predictions are based on relatively few variables and over a very short period of time, and it’s still an inaccurate science. Why would introducing a plethora of additional variables and increasing the prediction time period by 3 or 4 orders of magnitude, be likely to tell us anything about long term trends?

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