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back to article Toy Story: Mystic Met needs swanky new kit, swoon MPs

The Mystic Met has bewitched MPs who have recommended the forecasters are given the swanky new supercomputer they want. Despite the meteorologists getting 10 of their last 11 winter forecasts wrong, MPs say the Met needs to improve its communication and PR, rather than its scientific methodology. Amazingly, MPs even blame the …

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Joke

Just give the old one...

An extra gig of RAM, and maybe upgrade it to a 64Gig SSD drive...

^_^

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Anonymous Coward

No coincidence...

... that since they started incorporating "climate change" into the model that their forecasting accuracy has gone to shit.

Better off getting your forecast from organisations which use NOAA data as in my experience it is considerably more accurate over short, medium and long-term forecasts. Whether they have "climate change" incorporated into their models I don't know but the Met Office has been worse than useless for the last decade.

NB - I think its pretty bloody obvious that more than doubling the human population over the last 50 years has an effect on the environment. However I'm no longer convinced that the IPCC or any of the other agencies dependent on public funding are doing anything other than scaremongering to keep their gravy trains running smoothly.

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Re: No coincidence...

"... that since they started incorporating "climate change" into the model that their forecasting accuracy has gone to shit."

I can't do much better than to refer to the first post by Michael M, with the word 'journalism' replaced by 'comments'. I fear neither will come to pass.

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Re: Re: No coincidence...

"I can't do much better than to refer to the first post by Michael M, with the word 'journalism' replaced by 'comments'. "

Ah - oh dear - it was deleted by 'a moderator'. It started along the lines of 'We can comment - a novelty" but I suspect it was pointing out some possible irony in the line

'At issue is whether policy is founded upon evidence and rational arguments, or whether pre-determined policy requires the manufacture of sympathetic "evidence"'

..that did for it. Ah, such fragile vanity...

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Happy

50% chance of rain

in other words - it might rain; it might not! :)

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Anonymous Coward

The outlook is for fine weather...

...except when it rains.

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Priorities?

They appear to be letting the observational network falling into disrepair and their forecasting certainly hasn't been too good lately. Shouldn't they resolve these data and modelling problems first? A supercomputer isn't going to help much if the basics aren't there in the first place.

In the mean time, I have a quad core processor which is underutilised at the moment and I would be happy to join in if they wanted to set up a distributed processing scheme.

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A new faster computer will help them to get the forecast wrong much faster and it won't help them in their CAGW stance.

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So if they're wrong 10 times in 11 using the system they have now, why don't they just use a cheaper, more accurate system that I just happen to have handy?

<Hands them a coin to flip.>

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Meh

Who even knows what they mean

The long range forecasts are so vague as to be useless.

Slightly above average, slightly more rain than average. In the main, they don't even tell us what the average is and what the slightly value represents.

Weasels!

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FAIL

£200,000 salary (including bonuses)

I assume he hasn't had any bonuses for the past ten years?

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Boffin

Could anyone explain to me why *returning* the number of observation stationss

to 1975 levels would not be classed as "low hanging fruit" with which to improve the accuracy of the weather forecast?

Not necessarily in the *same* places (IE siting the new ones to bring about the *maximum* reduction in uncertainty).

Of course this will be *running* (IE for the foreseeable future) expenditure rather than capital spending.

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Joke

Old met joke

Our new supercomputer will allow us to predict the weather 24 hours ahead with 72% accuracy. Unfortunately, simply predicting that "tomorrow's weather will be the same as today's" achieves 75% accuracy.

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Mystic Met

Brilliant!

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Coat

Weather forecasting in the British Isles is easy, innit? you just need some damp seaweed because the weather is so predictable.

At least the Met Office actually collect data and forecast, and get it right pretty perfectly for the lead times that the inherent unpredictability of Atlantic weather allows. Comparing the Met Office to private forecasters is a bit like comparing a blogger to a journalist- 'why do we need journalists to report news - I can read talk to peoople down the pub and read news on Google and regurgitate it with my own opinion attached for free!'

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IT Angle

Thanks for the political spin...

Now can we have an article on why the Met Office need a supercomputer for their forecast models, rather than just using a distributed grid? And while you're at it an article on the difference between *weather* forecasting models and *climate* models would be appreciated too, as there seems to be a lot of confused people round here (including on your writing team). This is meant to be an IT news site after all, not the Daily Mail.

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Uh huh

Recommended reading:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/19/1066069/-A-brief-guide-to-the-scientific-consensus-on-climate-change

As for the Met - I suppose privatisation would improve the quality of forecasting and keep costs down in the same way privatisation has improved service delivery and kept costs down for utilities, rail, other transport services, dentistry...

Oh, wait. It hasn't. Service quality and availability drops, strategic planning disappears, prices increase.

So that's a good plan then, isn't it?

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FAIL

"consensus"

I recommend this instead: http://petitionproject.org/

I'm not sure science by voting is the way to go. I've yet to see anyone bother explaining the various hot periods (farming on Greenland during the viking-era e.g.) of the past.

IMO, we must address the issue of over-population first. Once we get a more balanced population, then we can look at our CO2 emissions (hopefully we will still emit enough to keep the plants growing).

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Mushroom

Re: "consensus"

Oh dear - this comment -> "I've yet to see anyone bother explaining the various hot periods (farming on Greenland during the viking-era e.g.) of the past". Greenland is not the world - climate and weather are two different things etc etc. How many times does it have to be said before the dimwits get it? It is irrelevant if one area of the world was warmer/colder x years ago, the average is a different thing and local effects prove nothing either way.

Although the met office 4C map could be seen as scaremongering when no one knows for sure if/when we get a temp rise that big it is clear that global changes in temperature do not uniformly affect local conditions (Who'd have thought it!) I was surprised by the predicted 16C rise in some areas from a 4C rise overall however. Might help you understand the local/global difference a bit better - but then again you probably think its all a 'conspiracy' and will retreat back inside to put the tinfoil hat on.

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Media

For an insightful analysis of what the media can do do the forecasts produced by the Met, I refer to last Fridays' The Now Show on Radio 4 (still available as a podcast and iplayer)

As the MP report says "many countries make much greater use of probabilistic information in their forecasts than we do, even in their broadcasts"

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Anonymous Coward

Sympathetic evidence

The manufacture of sympathetic "evidence" is terrible. I'm shocked that organisations that do that kind of thing.

Thank goodness all the writers at the Register are good humoured and base all their articles on evidence and rational arguments.

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What is a correct weather forecaste?

It is highly unlikely that we will ever be able to predict that there will be a 10 minute shower over central Oxford at 10.20 tomorrow, which will deposit 1mm of rain. But I get the idea that's what some people expect.

Actually the Met get their forcastes pretty well right most of the time, the weather is however very dynamic, and subject to change. Macro features such as The Jet Sream, El-nino, or the Azores High have vast effects on the weather, but how, when and why they change is not fully understood, something that appears stable, can move in a few hours and divert the course of a front from running over the north of Scotland to dashing up the channel instead, although more likely move 50 miles south.

Once you understand the variability you can appreciate the accuracy, the forcaste was correct, just not the location and globally the UK isn't that big, so if weather predicted in London actually occurs in Newcastle, big issue for a tiny human, but not for the earth.

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Coat

Re: What is a correct weather forecaste?

"...Once you understand the variability you can appreciate the accuracy..."

Or the inaccuracy. It does work both ways. Also, it might actually give the lie to anyone professing to be able to predict climate patterns 30, 50, 100 years from now. The Met has not been reluctant to tie it's flag enthusiastically to the AGW mast, so by extension feels it's perfectly okay to confidently predict climate change over such large time spans (an entire generation, for instance).

"...10 of their last 11 winter forecasts wrong..."

I guess that would be the 'settled science' at work, then. I'll get me coat...

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Coat

Distributed and local

How about a distributed model linked with a local weather station? So not only helping with processing but with data collection? Probably cheaper to provide free kit to 10,000 voluteers than fund a new supercomputer.

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Facepalm

Chaos

The weather is a chaotic system.

Even if we know the precise differential equations to simulate it, the real weather will diverge from our calculated prediction simply because we can't measure the current state of the weather perfectly. Any error in our measurement of the current weather, however tiny, will be magnified with time. Predicting weather weeks/months in advance is foolish.

Meteorologist Edward Lorenz stumbled upon this phenomenon in 1961 while running computer simulations of convection cells.

As an aside, I hope those mini-weather-stations on a pole that I keep seeing by the roadside aren't used to collect met-office data. How are you meant to get reliable wind and temperature data with big trucks whizzing past!

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Thumb Up

I prefer to follow Mark Vogan's blog for my long term weather nowadays as he accurately predicted the last 3 winters...

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Weather-and-Climate-Through-The-Eyes-of-Mark-Vogan/368502778051

Highly recommended!

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>> "We note that the climate model did not accurately predict the extent of the flattening of the temperature curve during the last 10 years," MPs noted, but the Met Office replied that: "what the early models predicted has largely come to pass", and MPs agreed."

I note that the use of quotes here is odd because these are not the words used in the report. Namely it was one MP that asked that question and the wording is different. I didn't see where the MPs agreed either - plus the response by the Met Office was about 30 times longer than that.

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Anonymous Coward

The weather is so variable I don't know why they really bother trying to forcast it with such accuracy since the errors are then just more obvious. They can't (and will never really be able to) say what the weather tomorrow is going to be like other than a rough estimate so why they even bother with 5 days ahead or even more is beyond me.

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Facepalm

39 minutes in

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01c6kr7/Archive_on_4_Attention_All_Shipping/

OOOOOOh you can type in sw and it magically become south-west and swy becomes south westerly. Your computer are very clever....I wish mine could do that. Really.

You couldn't make it up. And this time I haven't.

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Facepalm

ah, the Met Office!

I was wondering what the other Met, the Metropolitan Police, had to with weather forecasting.

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