Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Met Office: The More you Delve, the Cloudier it Gets.

I won't hide the fact I like this furore over the Met Office forecasts. I've long since consigned their usability to the dustbin of history and tend to look at Meteo Charts or Satellite Images myself and make an educated guess as to the weather in my local area.Can I plug here one of the services the Met do get right, which is providing the animated Satellite images. They are a usefull tool, which tells me temperatures are going to plummet overnight. If I was going to make a prediction, I'd say that tomorrow the far North of Scotland will see snow, the Northern UK and Midlands would have an outside possibility of snow, with Southern England experiencing rain. Pretty similar to the Met's own forecast (except they don't mention snow in England), with not a supercomputer in sight.

The thing the Met get wrong is the politics it engages in. The more you delve into things, the cloudier it becomes. It now seems before the winter there were various different forecasts either predicting a warmer winter, or a colder one. This is an old game, where you make various conflicting predictions and then quote the correct one historically when the true forecast comes to light.
This is forecasting, supposedly a science, reduced to a confidence trick. The Met's computer models should work sucessfully and predict the weather with enough accuracy that they shouldn't need to resort to such tricks. If they don't, then lets accept the fact and modify the models to make them more accurate, or ditch the expensive hardware altogether and go back to manual predictions by humans.

Talking of politics, the Met Office on its own website has this page on Climate Change. To me this is wrong, especially because the information is provided in a very biased way and explicitly states that climate change is caused by human activity. In fact they say CO2 levels have soared, when in fact they have only increased by fractions of a percent of atmospheric content. Natural cycles and other natural causes are dismissed. In fact the same old rhetoric is spouted as you'll hear across the Man-Made-Global-Warming camp. Its wrong for a public body like the Met Office to become embroiled in what has become a political rather than a scientific argument. The science is not settled, there is no definitive link between increased CO2 and human activity, nor is there a definitive link to say increased CO2 causes global warming rather than is caused by it.
The Met Office is paid to be an objective weather forecaster: no more and no less. It is failing to be objective and be a weather forecaster of any merit. Maybe its time for a change of management.

2 comments:

  1. That is exactly the point Delphius. I made a similar point earlier today that the MO should get back to weather forecasting and leave the politicised agenda behind.

    http://autonomousmind.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/bastardi-dont-disband-the-met-office/

    As you say, it's time for a change of management.

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  2. Yes, its definately time for a change.

    If someone like me can predict the weather accurately without supercomputers and the like, then why do we have to pay the millions we do for something that is patently useless?

    The Met should smarten up and get it's long-range computer models fixed. I don't care what they put into it, as long as it starts to predict the weather with more accuracy.

    What they need is someone in charge who is focussed on the goal of accurate weather forecasting, not politics.

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