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Author Topic: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK  (Read 7918 times)

RaenorShine

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BBC article on the summit outcome

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22959578

Quote
The UK's recent run of damp summers could be down to a cyclical warming of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Explaining the cold winters of 2010/11 and this past spring were more of a challenge, said the scientists. Dr James Screen from the University of Exeter said that a more complicated basket of factors was involved.

"The cycle we've been talking about in the north Atlantic seems to be more important for controlling summer weather in the UK, our current understanding of the role of Arctic sea ice is that it is more important in controlling winter weather."

So the message seems to be we think things will return to normal .......

Neven

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2013, 09:25:54 PM »
But they have the lowest SEARCH SIO June Report prediction for NSIDC September extent:



 :o
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RaenorShine

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2013, 09:51:40 PM »
This has been getting a lot of attention in the UK today. The story about the meeting occurring has been in the top 10 most read stories on the BBC for most the day.

The Independent has some more quotes :

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/stand-by-for-another-decade-of-wet-summers-say-meteorologists-8663024.html

About the changes to the AMO

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Climate change may be intensifying the natural cycle and may prolong it, but it is too early to say for certain, Professor Belcher said.

“Now we are beginning to unpick and understand, we can design experiments to understand whether climate change is playing a role. It could be, we just don't know - but we now have a clear research path to investigate this,” he said.

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Summing up, Professor Belcher said: “The key question is what is causing the jet stream to shift in this way? There is some research to say some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream, but this loading may be further amplified by climate change.”

The funny thing is that understanding the jet stream and the ocean thermohaline circulation is critical to the UK weather, without it we freeze in the winter and melt in the summer.  Changes to this as a result of Climate Change have been discussed for years. I remember seeing a BBC horizon show on this 10 years ago http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2003/bigchill.shtml.  Its surprising that its thought of as a new idea.

Jim Hunt

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 10:10:24 PM »
More from the Met Office's own blog on the subject:

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Today’s [workshop] included sessions which looked at the weather patterns and their potential causes in three recent seasons – the cold winter of 2010/11, the wet summer of 2012, and this year’s cold spring.

Professor Stephen Belcher, Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre and chair of the meeting, said: “Ultimately what we’ve seen in each of these seasons is shifts in the position of the jet stream which impact our weather in certain ways at different times of year.

“The key question is what is causing the jet stream to shift in this way? There is some research to say some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream, but this loading may be further amplified by climate change.”

There are a number of possible factors which could be ‘loading the dice’, including declining Arctic sea ice, solar variability, long-term ocean cycles, and other long-term cycles of natural variability.

A slightly different emphasis than the BBC's? Interestingly (unless I blinked and missed it) the list of attendees doesn't include anyone on the Hadley Centre's own list of "Climate, Cryosphere and Ocean scientists", or any such experts from beyond the UK.
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RaenorShine

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2013, 10:47:09 PM »
More quotes in the Guardian from participants, particularly on Arctic Sea Ice. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/18/climate-uk-weather-summer-rain

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Dr James Screen, who studies how melting sea ice impacts on the jet stream at the University of Exeter, said: "There has been a lot of talk about declining Arctic sea ice playing a role in our weather patterns, but really that's just one aspect of changes in the Arctic climate – which has seen rapid warming compared to other parts of the world. Those changes mean there is less of a difference in temperature between the Arctic and tropics, which could impact the position of the jet stream."

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Len Shaffrey, a climate modeller based at the University of Reading who is also currently investigating possible links between Arctic sea ice retreat and European weather, said: "There are some fascinating science questions emerging about the influences on our weather, for example, from natural variations in ocean temperature. There is also some evidence that the record low amounts of Arctic sea ice have influenced patterns of European and British weather, but this evidence is not yet conclusive either way."

I could see that conclusive proof (30 years for a climate trend?) may come too late, things are starting to change fast (in my amateur eyes anyway).

CraigsIsland

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 12:17:53 AM »
Good quotes posters.  8)

Those being quoted probably want to be extra careful with what they say; collectively though, the comments could be melded into "something's up, we don't know exactly what's causing it." And offer nothing on human caused probabilities.

In my very amateurish opinion, I think 3-5 years of observing the jet stream behave with clear examples of impacts as distinctly differently in years past will help scientists (and public perception of a problem) corner the causes of its meandering form lately.

wili

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 10:36:49 AM »
" 3-5 years of observing the jet stream behave with clear examples of impacts as distinctly differently in years past will help scientists ... corner the causes of its meandering form lately."

Doesn't that depend on the science being funded. In the US and Canada things are not looking good on this front. How is funding of relevant science faring in the UK and Europe?
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Jim Hunt

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 01:10:16 PM »
And in the interest of balance, here's the ToryGraph's take:

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The high level meeting concluded that climate change is a major factor in colder winters.

Reading further down the Met Office blog I came across an article I'd missed on my recent travels, which perhaps helps explain why "Those being quoted probably want to be extra careful with what they say":

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Over a period of several months the Met Office has been involved in dialogue and answered a series of questions on the subject of the use of statistical models in relation to the global temperature record.

The Met Office’s Chief Scientist, Julia Slingo, has written a discussion paper on the subject – you can now view the Executive Summary and a link to the full paper in an article on our Research News pages.

Publication of this paper follows a guest article recently published on the Bishop Hill blog site, where one of the people with which the Met Office has been speaking with – Doug Keenan – makes a series of accusations about the Met Office and its science.

As Julia Slingo puts it in her discussion paper:

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The global mean temperature at the surface of the Earth is often used as the primary indicator of climate change, and often as the only indicator in many discussions. National and international negotiations on climate change tend to focus on ways of limiting global mean surface temperature rise to no more than 2°C, this being a goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, in addition to surface air temperature, there are many other key indicators that can help to gauge the state of the climate, drawn from observations of the atmosphere, the oceans, and the cryosphere (snow and ice). The compilation of the eleven indicators shown in Figure 3 has drawn on the work of over 100 scientists from more than 20 institutions, and provides a more comprehensive assessment of the state of the climate than global mean surface temperature alone.
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RaenorShine

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 03:34:16 PM »
I can see the reasons why they need to be careful.  Long range forecasting has been causing them issues for a while now, and the denier-sphere is quick to jump on anything which might be seen as slightly over estimated in projections. For the quiet life estimating with a conservative bias is a lot easier to do. From a risk management perspective its exactly the wrong thing to do, you need to know the worst case scenarios with probabilities) so that you can try to mitigate against them in part or full.

I think that the 3-5 year timeframe is probably right Craigsisland, although by then the ice-free transition (for the summer at least) is likely to be complete. The evidence of the change in the jet stream will be worldwide, so changes over America and Asia will support research nearer to home.

Trying to predict outcomes in the medium term for a chaotic system undergoing change is like trying to hit a moving dartboard from a boat in rough seas.  I don't envy their job.

Jim Hunt

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2013, 12:00:35 AM »
Somewhat belatedly, I've just come across this video of Stephen Belcher explaining what was discussed at the Met Office's "unusual seasons workshop" on the 18th:



"No-one in the world can answer these questions"!

There's a post on the Met Office blog about it too.
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Neven

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2013, 03:47:49 PM »
"No-one in the world can answer these questions"!

Stephen Belcher obviously doesn't know the ASIF yet!  ;)

Thanks for the vid, Jim. I'm glad Belcher mentioned Arctic sea ice after 4 minutes. Nothing about snow cover unfortunately.
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Jim Hunt

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2013, 06:03:08 PM »
I've now received some interesting feedback from Dr. James Screen of the University of Exeter, who gave a talk about Arctic sea ice at the Met Office "unusual seasons" workshop.  In brief:

Quote
Arctic sea ice is only one of many factors that we know influence the position of the jet stream and thus, UK weather.

Unfortunately his recent papers on the topic all seem to be paywalled  :(
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dorlomin

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2013, 10:39:58 AM »
I can see the reasons why they need to be careful.  Long range forecasting has been causing them issues for a while now, and the denier-sphere is quick to jump on anything which might be seen as slightly over estimated in projections
Or they have a much wider focus of influences than the posters on a specialist sea ice forum might? Between them they will likely have decades of human hours in researching the UKs meteorology.

We see 'extreme weather' in early summer and winter when the sea ice impact is at its most negligible so there are likely to be other things at work as well.

A good example would be the work of Mike Lockwood looking at links between changes in UV in the sun and the boreal polar jet.
http://www.eiscat.rl.ac.uk/Members/mike/publications/pdfs/Sun_Climate_final.pdf

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"If you haven't got blocking, then the jet stream brings the mild, wet westerly winds to give us the weather we are famous for."

But, he added, if the jet stream is "blocked", and pushed further northwards, then cold, dry winds from the east flow over Europe, resulting in a sharp fall in temperatures.
"This... 'blocking' does seem to be one of the things that can be modulated by solar activity," he said.
Recent studies suggest that when solar activity is low, "blocking" events move eastwards from above north-eastern North America towards Europe, and become more stable.
A prolonged "blocking" during the most recent winter was responsible for the long spell of freezing conditions that gripped Europe.
Written observations from the period of the Maunder Minimum referred to the wind coming from the east during particularly cold winters, which strengthened the team's "blocking" hypothesis.
The way in which solar activity affects the behaviour of blocking episodes is linked to the amount of ultraviolet (UV) emissions being produced by the Sun.
Solar UV heats the stratosphere (20-50km above the surface), particularly the equatorial stratosphere. This results in a temperature gradient, which leads to the formation of high level winds.
"The change in solar activity undoubtedly changes the stratospheric winds," said Professor Lockwood.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8615789.stm

Its an enormous topic, fiendishly complex. Like feeling the elephant blindfolded. If what you know the most about is arctic sea ice, you will feel that one part of the elephant to be the most important.
Take it for granted you are wrong.
Just try to work out what about and why.

Neven

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2013, 11:56:52 AM »
Yes, it's also important to not overlook the impact of snow cover loss during spring and summer, which I think is even bigger than Arctic sea ice loss (for now).
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dorlomin

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2013, 02:20:33 PM »
Yes, it's also important to not overlook the impact of snow cover loss during spring and summer, which I think is even bigger than Arctic sea ice loss (for now).
Good point. It is so such a huge area that even the experts disagree quite a bit.



Trenberth is not quite so sold on it so we all have to keep an open mind. From a scientific perspective its awesome to watch such major science being done almost live. But from a human perspect its far from good that so much is happening that we have not really fully nailed down yet.  :-\
Take it for granted you are wrong.
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dorlomin

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2013, 11:31:57 AM »
After a dog of a spring we are having an awesome summer. The 'stickiness' of weather is now taken for granted by everyone. When a weather type sets in it really seems to hang around for a while. Some amazing springs and autumns and some awful summers. Now a poor spring and several days running of 30+ weather for summer.

What is notable with this is the high pressure is centered over the UK, our hottest weather is usually when the high is over France bringing up hot African air across the Med and into Souther UK.

Not a lot of chatter about global cooling these past couple of weeks.
Take it for granted you are wrong.
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RaenorShine

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2013, 12:14:29 PM »
Not a lot of chatter about global cooling these past couple of weeks.

No but this summit keeps getting bought up occasionally, saying that we're not having a wet summer as predicted by the Met Office.  Another case of the media reading the headline, ignoring any caveats and running with it.  The summit never said that we'd have a wet summer every year, just that we may be more likely to have them in the next few years.

Anne

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Re: UK Met Office Summit on unusual weather patterns in the UK
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2013, 05:05:05 PM »
Michael McCarthy's take on the UK weather in today's Indy is about right.

Covering a Downing Street climate seminar in 1989:
Quote
<snip> I was doorstepping the meeting, as we say in journalism – waiting outside in Downing Street – and eventually Jim Lovelock ambled out. I went over to speak to him followed by a posse of TV reporters, one of whom, an American, stuck a microphone in the Lovelock face and demanded: “Professor Lovelock, waddle be the first signs of global warning?”

Jim Lovelock uttered a single word. He said: “Surprises.” The TV reporter was bemused. He said: “Waddya mean, surprises?” Jim Lovelock said: “We had a hurricane here recently. It was a surprise. There’ll be more. Good day.”

In the years since that encounter I have grown ever more convinced of the wisdom of Lovelock’s brusque response, indeed it is the single wisest thing I have heard in two-and-a-half decades of covering the climate issue.

Laurent

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