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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Met Office Forecast: April 2012 “drier than average”

The Met Office is quite right to state that the limits of accurate weather forecasting tend to stretch no further than five days into the future, yet it does still produce three-monthly forecasts that are not widely publicised. That its most recent one was not drawn to the public’s attention is just as well, for its 3-month outlook issued on 23 March stated the following:
‘The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for April May June as a whole, and also favours April being the driest of the 3 months.’
If April is to be the driest of the three, then keep your boats and inflatables at the ready, for as of 25 April an article on the Met Office site stated that the month to date had been the 9th wettest April recorded in the UK, with the wettest being in 1910. Yet more heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow, so in some areas at least (it is already the case in Sheffield) a new record is likely to be set.

Meanwhile, the ice prophet Piers Corbyn has this week followed up on his dire prognostications regarding the forthcoming “coldest May in 100 years” for central and eastern Britain and parts of western Europe, stating that:
‘Solar Climate Change is happening now. The Sun is entering a ‘muddled’ magnetic state. ‘Little Ice Age (Maunder-Dalton) circulation patterns are emerging and more rapid world cooling is taking over.’
Corbyn ‘clarified’ his remarks further stating: 
“The Sun’s magnetic field is getting into a muddle as one half of it changes out of step with the other and this muddled behaviour is likely to become very marked in MAY.”
With dire warnings such as these, Corbyn had better hope that this gamble pays off, and does not once again leave him with egg on his face. Irrespective of his forecasts and statements regarding global cooling, the sea level continues to rise and the volume of ice on the planet continues to decrease. Meanwhile, science attempts to grapple with understanding the complexities of the climate system, and the Met Office to produce accurate forecasts beyond the current five-day limit. Corbyn may be right to emphasise that solar influences are not accorded sufficient weight in weather and climate forecasting, but he is wrong to believe that he possesses the key to long-term forecasting, for his past failures show that he does not. However, what would be interesting would be for an analysis to be carried out of his forecasts versus those of the Met Office over the past decade to ascertain which proved to be more accurate. 


  1. Hello Durotrigan, There is another possibility in what you are saying. What if Piers forecasts are a work in progress and when your dealing with such a complex issue you can't be expected to get it right all the time. If you'll take my advice I'd bear with him with his 20 years of global cooling forecast. To predict a cold May and for it to look like it is going to at least threaten to be is surely more than a shot in the dark. I mean who'd pick May for a cold snap if they were trying to make money. Cheers, Ed.

    1. Hello Ed. Having followed the debate about the relative merits of Corbyn's approach on Paul Hudson's blog for a while, I do appreciate that there is some interesting work to be done on examining the impact of solar magnetic flux upon the stratosphere and the circulation of the jet stream. Weak solar radiative output associated with low sunspot numbers in recent years does seem to have led to a frequent blocking of the jet stream in the northern hemisphere, with interesting consequences for the weather in the British Isles. If Corbyn does score a hit with his coldest May in a century forecast, then perhaps it will persuade other forecasters to pay more attention to the sorts of influences that he identifies as the primary drivers of our weather and climate system.

  2. The key to Corbyn's approach is the Hale magnetic cycle of 22 years combined with moon moderating influences. Mentioning the moon normally triggers ridicule. The 22yr Hale cycle correlates nicely with temperature whereas the 11yr Schwabe sunspot cycle doesn't. You can have a situation where there are an increasing number of sunspots but because of magnetic linkages the temperature still drops. Conductivity is really important. Then there is the moon which has an approximate 18yr declination cycle which means it is positioned further north and south at times. When further North it through the force of gravity pulls the jet stream further south and the cold air above that is over the UK. Even when at it's furthest North point the moon is still south of the UK hence pulling the air down like a sheet from the North. Like a tug of war it pulls on the atmosphere. The atmosphere is made of gas and water. Gas responds like a liquid to gravity (hence our atmosphere clings to the planet due to earth's gravity) and water obviously is a liquid. So if we know that the sea tides are moved by the moon then we also know that there will be an air tide too. In addition because of a molten core to the earth an earth tide. What Piers goes on about is the combination of the cold moon cycle with the cold magnetic part of the Hale cycle, they coincide at times at other times the are both in their warm phase and everything in between. In the 90's when we were at our max warming the moon and sun were at the warmest part of their phases and then they started to move towards the coldest point. According to Piers this will be in approximately 2030. You may have seen graphs showing temperatures leveling out and dropping a little. The antarctic is above average for ice coverage and the arctic is catching up. It's behind due to the insulation of the sea. The arctic ice is on water whereas in the antarctic most of it is on land. As you may know it is warmer in the winter by the sea because the sea holds it's temperature better than the land. I hope this is food for thought, cheers Ed.

    1. Ed, thank you for taking the time to provide an exposition of the basis of Corbyn's approach. Although unorthodox, they are interesting ideas which are worth examining. It will be interesting to see how the weather pans out over the coming month. It is certainly unusually cold for this time or year at the moment, and last night witnessed a frost where I live.


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