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Report: UK climate authority predictions have been ‘too warm’ this century

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

A BBC weather forecaster is claiming that the United Kingdom’s Met Office’s method of predicting annual increases in global temperatures may have a “warm bias.”

The BBC’s Paul Hudson said that the yearly climate predictions made by the UK climate authority have been “too warm” for thirteen of the last fourteen years.

The Times reports that in “December 2012, the Met Office gave a ‘best estimate’ based on computer models that the global temperature would be 0.57C warmer than the 1961-1990 average of 14C… Last month, it said that a ‘central estimate” of real measurements up to the end of October showed an increase of 0.49C in 2013.”

“This makes 2013 provisionally the 9th warmest year in data which goes back to 1880,” Hudson, who worked for the UK’s Met Office for 15 years, wrote in his BBC blog. “This compares with a headline anomaly prediction of 0.57C.”

“It means that so far this century, of 14 yearly headline predictions made by the Met Office Hadley centre, 13 have been too warm,” Hudson added. “It’s worth stressing that all the incorrect predictions are within the stated margin of error, but having said that, they have all been on the warm side and none have been too cold.”

Hudson also notes that the Met Office’s 2009 prediction that half the years between 2010 and 2015 would be hotter than the hottest year on record — 1998 — is dead wrong.

“The Met Office believe one of the reasons for this ‘warm bias’ in their annual global projections is the lack of observational data in the Arctic circle, which has been the fastest warming area on earth,” Hudson wrote. “They also suggest another reason why the global surface temperature is falling short of their projections is because some of the heat is being absorbed in the ocean beneath the surface.”

Climate scientists have been struggling to explain why global temperatures have not significantly risen in the past 17 years. Some have argued the excess carbon dioxide has been absorbed into the oceans, while others argue that natural climate cycles have had a slight cooling effect on the planet.

“Attention in the public debate seems to be moving away from the 15-17 year ‘pause’ to the cooling since 2002,” writes Dr. Judith Curry, the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.

“This shift and the subsequent slight cooling trend provides a rationale for inferring a slight cooling trend over the next decade or so, rather than a flat trend from the 15 [year] ‘pause’,” Curry added.

“As Paul says, there is evidence that incomplete global coverage of the available temperature observations may have led to an under-representation of regions that were unusually warm,” a Met Office spokeswoman told the Times.

This revelation about the UK Met Office’s “warm bias” comes after Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Richard Lindzen told the UK Parliament that “doing nothing for 50 years” about global warming is preferable to cutting carbon dioxide emissions that are believed to warm the Earth.

“Whatever the UK is deciding to do vis-a-vis climate will have no impact on your climate,” Lindzen warned, “It will have a profound impact on your economy.”

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