Staff at the UK Met Office and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom continue to communicate erroneous information on the changes of heat content within the climate system. On December 30 2008, the UK Met Office website published the news article
The article reads in part
“2009 is expected to be one of the top-five warmest years on record, despite continued cooling of huge areas of the tropical Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as La Niña.
According to climate scientists at the Met Office and the University of East Anglia the global temperature is forecast to be more than 0.4 °C above the long-term average. This would make 2009 warmer than the year just gone and the warmest since 2005.
During La Niña, cold waters rise to the surface to cool the ocean and land surface temperatures. The 2009 forecast includes an updated decadal forecast using a Met Office climate model. This indicates a rapid return of global temperature to the long-term warming trend, with an increasing probability of record temperatures after 2009.
Professor Chris Folland from the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “Phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña have a significant influence on global surface temperature. Warmer conditions in 2009 are expected because the strong cooling influence of the recent powerful La Niña has given way to a weaker La Niña. Further warming to record levels is likely once a moderate El Niño develops.”
These cyclical influences can mask underlying warming trends as Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, explains: “The fact that 2009, like 2008, will not break records does not mean that global warming has gone away. What matters is the underlying rate of warming – the period 2001-2007, with an average of 14.44 °C, was 0.21 °C warmer than corresponding values for the period 1991-2000.”
Until and unless the major weather and climate groups can more accurately present accurate global warming/cooling assessments, the news media will continue to miscommunicate reality to the public and policymakers, as discussed, for example, in the Climate Science weblog Erroneous News Article In The Times. As I wrote in that weblog
“The writers of the Time article, and other journalists who write similar misinformation, damage the liklihood of responsible environmental actions as a result of their overstatement and erroneous communication to the public and policymakers of climate science.”
This communication of misinformation is not isolated to the media but is embedded within the climate science community, as illustrated by the December 30 2008 UK news release. Indeed, to assume that a La Niña can mask warming that otherwise would occur ignores the obvious that the La Niña is an integral part of the climate. Its controls on the global average temperature illustrate that other effects besides the radiative effect of added CO2 exert a major influence on the climate system.
Finally, the documentation that the UK Met Office is working as a political advocate is obvious from their webite. For example, they write (see)
“The Met Office offers world-leading expertise to help you make strategic decisions about weather and climate change impacts. We offer an understanding of the future through risk analysis and long-range forecasting, enabling you to make better informed decisions.”
and (see) where their training overview writes
“The scientific evidence is overwhelming — our climate is warming. These changes will affect all organisations.
To plan effectively for the future, influencers and decision-makers in Government and the public sector need to understand how the climate will change and how this may impact their organisation. The new Met Office climate change seminars will equip you with the knowledge of climate change you need to:
- Make the best decisions for your organisation, so that the plans you make today safeguard your future success in a changing climate.
- Using the latest research from the world-leading Met Office Hadley Centre – the authoritative voice on climate change – our seminars will build an understanding of why and how our climate is changing and the likely impacts.
- Focusing on how we can plan for the future, our seminars also explore some of the options available for organisations to reduce (mitigate) and prepare for (adapt to) climate change.
What you’ll learn
By the end of our seminars, you will:
- understand why and how our climate is changing and the likely impacts
- be equipped to dispel scepticism about climate change in your organisation and ensure your colleagues’ engagement
- know the steps you need to take to factor climate change into the decisions you make for your organisation
Who should attend
This seminar is designed for professionals in Government and the public sector. It’s particularly appropriate for those with responsibility for, or interest in, planning, projects and policies. No prior scientific training is required.”
The UK Met Office would benefit by reading the book The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics by Roger A. Pielke Jr. in order to recognize that they are clearly “Issue Advocates” rather than a government agency that is presenting the diversity of perspectives on the climate issue to policymakers and the public.