In late 2009 the UK Meteorological office solemnly warned the world that it expected 2010 to be warmer than 1998, the hottest on the instrument record. (“Climate could warm to record levels in 2010”, Met Office, December 10, 2009)
A bastion of global warming theory, the Met Office went on to say that a record warm year is “not a certainty”, as the el Niño cycle then developing in the Pacific may give out early, and was referring to 2010 as a whole rather than the first few days of the year in the UK. But the release’s timing was most unfortunate as it had barely been issued before Britain was literally buried in snow, and exceptionally cold conditions had grounded airline traffic and stopped public transportation systems.
This proved too much even for the BBC which has faithfully reported the greenhouse line. In an interview gleefully shared around the growing network of sceptic newsletters and blogs Met office head, John Hirst, was grilled by a BBC presenter over these forecasts (broadcast January 7, 2010). The interview shed little light on the issue but it is by no means the first time the Met Office has issued a doubtful seasonal forecast. The UK’s The Independent newspaper estimates that the Met has failed to predict wet summers for the past three years; and that its annual global forecast predictions have been wrong for nine of the last 10 years (“Met office deserves to be shown the door”, The Independent, January 19, 2010). In 2009, for example, the office forecast a “barbecue summer”, only for the actual summer to be cooler and much wetter than previous summers.
The Met Office is hardly alone in making poor seasonal forecasts, incidentally. In 2007 the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, which is definitely not pro-warming, issued an analysis of seasonal climate predictions by the country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, which found that the overall accuracy of the predictions is just 48 per cent. (“World climate predictors right only half the time”, June 8, 2007). There is no reason to think anyone has a better success rate.