Warm Bias: How The Met Office Misleads The British Public

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/met_office_forecast_computer-520.jpg?w=334&h=260&h=334

By Dr. Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation

Met Office 2008 Forecast: Trend of Mild Winters Continues

Met Office, 25 September 2008: The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year.

Reality Check: Winter of 2008/09 Coldest Winter For A Decade

Met Office, March 2009: Mean temperatures over the UK were 1.1 °C below the 1971-2000 average during December, 0.5 °C below average during January and 0.2 °C above average during February. The UK mean temperature for the winter was 3.2 °C, which is 0.5 °C below average, making it the coldest winter since 1996/97 (also 3.2 °C).

Met Office 2009 Forecast: Trend To Milder Winters To Continue, Snow And Frost Becoming Less Of A Feature

Met Office, 25 February 2009: Peter Stott, Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Despite the cold winter this year, the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future.

“The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”

Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years

Met Office, 1 March 2010: Provisional figures from the Met Office show that the UK winter has been the coldest since 1978/79. The mean UK temperature was 1.5 °C, the lowest since 1978/79 when it was 1.2 °C.

Met Office July 2010: Climate Change Gradually But Steadily Reducing Probability Of Severe Winters In The UK

Ross Clark, Daily Express, 3 December 2010: ONE of the first tasks for the team conducting the Department for Transport’s “urgent review” into the inability of our transport system to cope with snow and ice will be to interview the cocky public figure who assured breakfast TV viewers last month that “I am pretty confident we will be OK” at keeping Britain moving this winter. They were uttered by Transport secretary Philip Hammond himself, who just a fortnight later is already being forced to eat humble pie… If you want a laugh I recommend reading the Resilience Of England’s Transport Systems In Winter, an interim report by the DfT published last July. It is shockingly complacent. Rather than look for solutions to snow-induced gridlock the authors seem intent on avoiding the issue. The Met Office assured them “the effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK”.

Met Office 2010 Forecast: Winter To Be Mild Predicts Met Office

Daily Express, 28 October 2010: IT’S a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear. The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years… The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began

The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.

Met Office Predicted A Warm Winter. Cheers Guys

John Walsh, The Independent, 19 January 2010: Some climatologists hint that the Office’s problem is political; its computer model of future weather behaviour habitually feeds in government-backed assumptions about climate change that aren’t borne out by the facts. To the Met Office, the weather’s always warmer than it really is, because it’s expecting it to be, because it expects climate change to wreak its stealthy havoc. If it really has had its thumb on the scales for the last decade, I’m afraid it deserves to be shown the door.

A Frozen Britain Turns The Heat Up On The Met Office

Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 9 January 2010: Which begs other, rather important questions. Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this?

A Period Of Humility And Silence Would Be Best For Met Office

Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times, 10 January 2010: A period of humility and even silence would be particularly welcome from the Met Office, our leading institutional advocate of the perils of man-made global warming, which had promised a “barbecue summer” in 2009 and one of the “warmest winters on record”. In fact, the Met still asserts we are in the midst of an unusually warm winter — as one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

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Ian L. McQueen

MODERATOR
In the heading, if the Met Office is singular and present then the verb should be “misleads”. If in the past, “misled”.
You may delete this message.
IanM
REPLY: That was exactly the headline at the GWPF, http://thegwpf.org/uk-news/2073-warm-bias-how-the-met-office-mislead-the-british-public.html
But in deference to our readers, I’ve made the change to “Misled” – Anthony

The Total Idiot

(facepalm) “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.” (/facepalm)

Jay

What?
“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded.”
Already recorded, at least now they are admitting that they make up the numbers as needed !
-Jay

John R T

Why are data not in chronological order?
On this side of the pond – Costa Rica – I am accustomed to apparent chance/random recitations. However, I have come to depend on WUWT for orderly accounts.
best wishes for a thoughtful Advent, John

Robert M

Look people, you have to understand that the temps outside your front doors are simply raw (data), and will not be accurate until adjusted and homogenized. Next summer after everyone forgets how cold it is, the Met will discover some heat that ya’ll are missing now and it will turn out that this winter is not nearly as cold as you are experiencing…
/sarc

Henry chance

Must be a stuxnet bug running loose in their computer. It is cold and wet. Not hot and dry.

Richard K

A period of humility and even silence would be particularly welcome from the Met Office. No, no, no. I want to hear all their predictions, every single detail and them explain the minor difference was cause by the Y2K bug or Wikileaks.

The mixing of (expensive giga) gifts, politics and science, better rather naive scientists will always end up as bad news for science.

Jeff

it only makes sense, if you are trying to measure the “warmest winter” then taking the top 15 measurements over the course of 150 days of winter makes sense … of course if you are looking for the “coldest winter”, then taking the fifteen lowest measurements would also make sense … seems like you could have both the warmest and coldest winter in the same year which of course tells us nothing about the average … thats some solid scientific method you’ve got there …

steveta_uk

I really hate it when misleading stats are used by the anti-AGW brigade in the same way that the warmista do.
Example:
“The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”
Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years
Since 30 years before 2009 means “since 1979”, there is nothing about these two statements that is contradictory, so why is this labelled “Reality Check”?

P Wilson

What is wrong with the Met office?
They make the available evidence fit the CONJECTURE, rather than allowing the evidence to form a proposition.
This method is that favoured by TV magicians and dubious salesmen

P Wilson

That should be added to – the evidence is also exaggerated to fit the conjecture

Paul

You’re re-reporting something that’s becoming a bit of an urban myth there. The quote that Dominic Lawson repeated was from a comment to a blog and didn’t come from the Met Office. That’s not the way they work out seasonal averages at all, but the myth seems to be developing a life of its own.
[ryanm: yes, this one has triggered my bull-crap meter. Dominic replied to my email asking where he found that quote. He said he didn’t remember. Sigh.]

P Wilson

The Met *staffer* ought to be informed that December, January and February are winter months. November is still an autumn month.

Trevor

OK….there are a couple things in this article that confuse me. the following is at the core of my confusion:
“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average.”
1) The data has already been recorded and yet in the next sentence it’s stated the readings take place between November and March. It is currently still December so how can the numbers be recorded for 3 months that haven’t even happened yet?
2) They produce an average based on the highest 15 reading between November and March. So they base everything from 15 readings over a period of 5 months? And they only look at the highest readings? No wonder they call it the hottest ever when they completely ignore the cold temperatures like they don’t exist.
If I have read the article wrong please let me know and help relieve my confusion.

pablo an ex pat
Grumpy Old Man

Yes, Let’s hear the Met Office predictions and the explanation how they got it so wrong. If I turned in work of this quality, I’d be sacked but the higher up the pay scale you go, responsibility matters less. This is what’s wrong with our country wether it be defence spending, transport, social services or weather forecasting. Time to get sacking – gross incompetence – your fired! (Apologies to the AGW cultists).

Jeremy

I read this from someone elses link in another thread, and yeah, I could feel the burn.

Travis B

““This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”
It would be nice if the above absurdity could be confirmed as a real Met Office staffer and not someone being malicious, because WOW…that is a pretty huge mozza ball hanging there. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is truly how they determine their average…..but to actually spill that can of worms seems almost too good to be true.

James Sexton

And what is most bothersome, is that they never ask themselves why they are consistently wrong in this regard.

“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”
Last time I looked at a calendar November was still in the Fall, not the Winter. Has global warming changed that?

“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded.”
I’m sorry; I have to be misreading this – are we at the point of climate by dictate now?
The method described, taking the highest 15 temps between November and March and averaging them, does not seem to be a sound way of determine the average temperature of winter. Why not just average all the data in the winter months? Why they counting using November and March data when in the UK (according to wikipedia) winter is defined by meteorologists as December, January, and February?
These people are criminal.

I’m still impressed that Piers Corbyn is able to predict the MET office forecasts, before the MET office cooks them up ,sorry, publishes them:
“Standard meteorology will consistently underestimate the lengths of cold periods and will grossly underestimate the severity of blizzard and snow deluges at times.”
(From: http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews10No37.pdf)
Piers also predicts the weather better than the MET office. Admittedly that particular bar is not set very high, but credit where credit is due.
Meanwhile ‘Prof’ Julia Slingo indicated to the UK parliament that the climate models must be correct, because they share code with the MET office weather prediction program…
“At least for the UK the codes that underpin our climate change projections are the same codes that we use to make our daily weather forecasts, so we test those codes twice a day for robustness”
(see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/387b/38724.htm)
There you have it: buffoonery and talent – and where does the UK government go for advice?!

Phil.

steveta_uk says:
December 20, 2010 at 9:23 am
I really hate it when misleading stats are used by the anti-AGW brigade in the same way that the warmista do.
Example:
“The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”
Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years
Since 30 years before 2009 means “since 1979″, there is nothing about these two statements that is contradictory, so why is this labelled “Reality Check”?

Exactly, you beat me to it!
Another example:
The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.
Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began

Again a prediction for a three month period, DJF, is not contradicted by a extremely cold month. In 62/3 the snow started on Boxing Day and Jan/Feb were brutal, there’s plenty of time yet for a real ‘Reality Check’!

David A. Evans

That 15 warmest was someone having a laugh. I was surprised at Dominic Lawson picking it up when it was so obviously a piss-take of the Met Office.
DaveE.

Dave F

Are you sure you don’t want to use this picture instead? 😉
http://cheezburger.com/BrideOfDracula96/lolz/View/3916661760

LeeHarvey

@Ian L. McQueen- If you’ll permit an aside, I believe that the headline is in line with the standard British English practice of referring to a plural group (team, office, group, etc.) as a plural entity even when it’s referred to by a singular noun.

Fred from Canuckistan

I think the comment made by Admiral Bruce Fraser, CinC aboard the flagship HMS King George V as they closed in on the Bismark when his Met Officer handed him a forecast claiming the gale they were then battling through was easing when it patently was getting worse – “They trouble with you Bl**dy boffins is you refuse to look out of the scuttle!” (Scuttle – Naval term for that round thing with glass in it on ships…) I think the Met Office has now become so dependent on their CRU developed “Model” they no longer look at reality. I may be no mathematician or “climate scientist” – but as I have always understood “averages” it is the median value found by taking the highest and the lowest numbers in a set and ‘averaging’ them to find out what the middle value is… If you’re only measuring the hottest or the coldest – that’s bias and in my profession is known as “Expectation Bias” – I only take note of the things I expect to see or want to see…
But don’t expect the Met Office to acknowledge any bias or error – they’re Civil Servants and they NEVER admit an error.

J. Knight

The Met “misled” the public, but it is the media which dumbs them further down. For instance, in 2000, an article in the Independant, quoting Met officials assured everyone that snow would be a thing of the past due to warmer temps in winter. Now the Telegraph comes along today and assures everyone that snow is consistent with global warming. As if snow would occur with warmer temperatures.
Now who’s to blame for the mess? The Met, the Media or the public. I place the blame on the public because it should be quite apparent that the Met and Media are both full of crap, and the public should believe their lying eyes. Unelect these fools, my British cousins, and quit buying global warming propaganda rags like the Telegraph and Independant. Of course, I not picking on my British cousins, as we could do more here in the US as well. We’re working on it!

P. Solar

steveta_uk says:
>>
Since 30 years before 2009 means “since 1979″, there is nothing about these two statements that is contradictory, so why is this labelled “Reality Check”?
>>
Because 1963 and 2009 makes TWICE in a thousand years. It also makes it twice in 200 years, twice in 100 years (as we can pretend to know it was when we did not have records.) and even twice in fifty years if you like.

Bryan A

“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”
The last time I checked, Winter doesn’t begin until December 21’st, at the solstice. November temperatures are part of Autumn.
Get the seasons right before you publish data concerning them.

I am tempted to make some glib comment or sarcastic barb. The moderator would be forced to snip most of them so I won’t bother. The great sadness in this met office mess is that normally sound science has been subverted by ideology and pseudo religious faith away from evidence based deductive reason. I do believe the civil servants and politicians would better serve the public if they left entertainment to the professionals.
[ryanm: my filter is pretty low at the moment, try your best to be witty & snarky]

Anthony
can I nominate the following for Quote of the Week:

“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

I mean WTF. No. Really. WTF.

Ed Moran

Jay @9:19,
I don’t think The Total Idiot was being totally truthful.
He/she might just possibly be in a sarcastic mood!
Mind you, after the lies and propegander of the warmists over the last twenty years, it may be fact. They’ve done worse! 10:10 anyone?
Ed

Don’t blame Met Office scientists, blame their bosses, giving the orders that computer models are superior to any mortal, they must be followed to the last iota.
Data is essential, but models are more toys of super computer age than the fundamentals of science. Science is unlikely to make radical steps forward guided by computer models, that can only be achieved by the reasoning of an individual.
There are many individuals doing just that, and my small contribution (right or wrong) can be seen here: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC-CETfiles.htm

Rhys Jaggar

So the first question is this:
WHY, given that CET has been measured since 1659, can a standard CET ‘temperature’ not be used as the basis for measurements?
This article shows that the Met Office have changed the mechanism of assessment in a manner which is inappropriate. Namely simply picking the hottest days rather than the average temperature……..
I think you will find some even larger humble pie come Januaryh 2011 as the CET for December 2010 is going to smash through all the 20th century records and 2010 is already showing up on the HadCET graph as being BELOW THE 1961 – 1990 average for the whole year. By a significant amount………
The time has perhaps come to set up a new set of input parameters, including solar, oceanic, stratospheric, lunar and planetary, not to mention the potential for modification based on volcanic eruption (which will no doubt become predictable in time) etc.
Perhaps based on the concept of biphasic oscillations of different amplitude and periodicity.
Rather than starting the scare at the start of a 20 year warm phase………

We Want Piers Corbyn in the Met Office
We Want Piers Corbyn in the Met Office
Chanting mantras sans evidence is what warmistas do. So I’ll add the evidence. Because I really would like to see him there. I really don’t like Julia Slingo.
Piers Corbyn says he’s been right 85% of the time; he predicted the coldest winter here for about 100 years, well before it started; Boris Johnson Mayor of London believed him and therefore London is prepared; Piers is not alone…
The lack of satisfying explanations gets Leif upset – but hey, it works, and when that means having help at hand where needed, it’s the evidence that matters, not the explanations… and you only need enough evidence to show people you’re not phony, because then it’s time for action.

David A. Evans says: December 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

That 15 warmest was someone having a laugh. I was surprised at Dominic Lawson picking it up when it was so obviously a piss-take of the Met Office.

Can you give evidence please?

Vince Causey

Jeff says:
December 20, 2010 at 9:23 am
“it only makes sense, if you are trying to measure the “warmest winter” then taking the top 15 measurements over the course of 150 days of winter makes sense … of course if you are looking for the “coldest winter”, then taking the fifteen lowest measurements would also make sense … seems like you could have both the warmest and coldest winter in the same year”
I was going to same something similar. The other inconvenient truth about this interesting statistical technique, is that if you have a warm two weeks at the start of November, then all the following readings from December through March are discarded. But why choose November as the starting point? It isn’t even a winter month.
Still, I’d like to see them announce ‘warmest winter on record’ after 3 more months where the mercury barely breaks above freezing. It would be worth suffering their hubris just to hear the reaction. At that point, most people will realize that the met office is run by people who are completely clueless on even the most basic tenets of recording temperatures.

Mike Spilligan

I’d like to add to Dominic Lawson’s “A period of humility and even silence…..” by asking: Please could we have our money back?

Grumpy old Man

When exactly did the Met Office stop their 3 monthly forecasts because on their own admission the forecasts were wildly inaccurate?

Baa Humbug

Yeah but didn’t the wags at the Met Office receive bonuses totalling over a million bucks earlier this year? Imagine if they got close with their predictions, they would have walked away with the national gross domestic product. Count yourselves lucky you poms, your country could have been in debt by now.

JEM

Steveta_uk
Perhaps you should re-read. If we are to presume that the coldest winter was 62/63 then we shouldn’t have anything close to it for another 1000. Or so said the Met. The silliness is in the original prediction as within 50 years it appears we are bearing in on another winter of similar severity.
This is where the utilization of sweeping statements – deliberately done in order to foster fear – is a problem. Now – if we statistically get a winter that achieves parity with the 62/63 winter, are you willing to agree that the Met has no idea what it is talking about?

Rob Wilson

For some reason there seems to have been a lull in global warming alarmism in the mainstream media, including nothing from the Telegraph’s Louise Gray for over a week now. To be honest i’m starting to worry about her – she could be trapped under a snowdrift somewhere; Or maybe she’s still cycling back from her holiday in Cancun?

Brian H

DAE;
Don’t think so. Remember that the models use a median, not an average, for each day’s measurements. Medians just care about highest and lowest.
Dr. P.;
“begging the question” is indeed relevant, but you’re not using it properly. It means committing a tautology, assuming the conclusion in the premises.

Thanks to that lunatic Huhne, Britain is expected to provide 30% of its power via “renewables” by 2020. He plans to reach this target primarily by wind power.
The 3149 turbines we currently have are providing 0.1% of our electricity as I write this, just when we need it most in cold weather. The national power supply is currently creaking with a demand touching 60GW, and pulling almost 2GW across from France via the interconnector.
Huhne proposes to build another 10,000 – at enormous cost. That means, added to current capacity, and being generous, we can assume that wind will provide 0.5% of the country’s energy needs in similar weather conditions.
Can someone, ANYONE, please explain to me how this is supposed to work? Or how civilised society is supposed to function in the UK if Huhne gets his wish?

P Wilson

Paul says:
December 20, 2010 at 9:29 am
If that is so, it ought to have been verified by now. It does seem excessive, even for the activists at the Met Office

John from CA

Snively MET Office Staffer admits to skewing temperature records — invents warmest winter on “record”. I wonder if NASA taught the MET Office how to do this as they have just invented the warmest year on “record”.
Maybe, as Willis pointed out in his last post, the models are so messed up that they just think its hot outside.

Jimbo

They should have listened to the Siberian Swans rather than their multi-million pound super computers which produces failed forecasts even faster than before.

Daily Telegraph – 19 Oct 2010
“The birds fly 2,500 miles from Russia each year to escape the freezing winds blowing behind them. According to folklore, their early arrival signals the start of a long, harsh winter. …..James Lees, the reserve warden, said: “Forecasters have predicted it will be just as cold this winter as last and the Bewick’s’ early arrival could support this, and could even mean we are in for an even colder winter this year. “