Comments On UK Met Office 2008/2009 Winter Forecast

Climate Science discussed the lack of skill in this winter’s seasonal forecast for the United Kingdom; see

Comments On UK Met Office Press Releases On Climate [published on December 11 2008]

Follow Up On UK Met Office Long-Term Forecasts [published on December 16 2008]

The UK Met Office has now reported on this winter; see Coldest winter for a decade. In this report they write

“The cold weather has been in contrast to the run of very mild winter temperatures that have been recorded over recent years.

Natural variability of climate means that the UK will continue to see spells of colder weather at times. Although, if it had not been for the general warming already observed in global temperatures, this winter may well have been even colder.

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.”‘ 

This claim that “if it had not been for the general warming already observed in global temperatures, this winter may well have been even colder” is a scientifically flawed claim. They provide no explanation for this statement. As we have emphasized on Climate Science (e.g. see) it is the regional circulation patterns that dominate weather patterns including warm and cold periods. A slight few tenths of a degree change in the global average surface temperature hardly would have made much of a difference in this recrnt cold period.

The forecast by Peter Stott also should be viewed with caution. His statement that “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”  hardly should be seen as skillful based on the poor performance of the ability of the UK Met Office to accurately predict the cold snowy winter in the United Kingdom this year. One cannot expect skillful decadal forecasts if seasonal forecasts do not have skill.

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