« Previous | Main | Next »

A poor August ends another disappointing summer

Paul Hudson | 15:22 UK time, Wednesday, 31 August 2011

UPDATE at 3pm on Friday 2nd September.

UK provisional statistics for Summer 2011

• Across the UK, the mean summer temperature was 13.6 Celsius, which is 0.4 Celsius below the long term average.

• The UK mean summer temperature was similar to 1998 and the coolest since 1993, when it was 13.4 Celsius.

• The UK average rainfall for the summer was 267mm which is 18% more than the long term average for the season which is 227mm.

• As far as sunshine is concerned, there were 489 hours this season, 96% of the long term average which is 510 hours

ENDS

August has once more turned out to be a disappointing month. Overall, the UK has received 126% of the normal August rainfall, and it's been much duller than normal with only 76% of average sunshine. Averaged across the UK maximum temperatures were 0.8C below normal.

Provisional figures also show that it's been the coolest UK summer (June, July & August) since 1993.

But locally, figures from the Met Office weather station at Linton-on-Ouse indicate that summer has actually been very close to average.

Total summer rainfall recorded at the station was 174mm, compared with the long term average of 169mm.

The summer average temperature was 15.48C, the same as in 2007. The station's average is 15.43C.

Just down the road at Church Fenton there's been 498 hours of sunshine this summer, very close to the average of 494 hours.

In spring, I wrote an article, which you can read HERE summarising the various summer forecasts on offer.

Of all the long range forecasts I read, only Piers Corbyn at Weather Action can claim success with his summer forecast.

But let's not forget what the climate records show - glorious springs often deteriorate into unsettled summers - and this year has been no exception.

Looking ahead into September, there's no indication of a decent spell of warm settled weather, with the unsettled theme likely to last for the foreseeable future.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Piers strikes again! Love him or hate him, you can't dismiss him!

  • Comment number 2.

    The summer hasn't seemed disappointing to me so far. The very dry spring made growing stuff hard work (carrying lots of water). The rainfall through the summer has been enough so most of my crops have done well. It has been pleasantly warm without being hot - no heating on or fires lit. Hardly any sign of summer storms. I do hear plenty of people moaning about how poor the weather is, which is a waste of time - we get what we get, so just find the best way to enjoy it. I just wish the forecasts were reliable enough to trust. :-)

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Paul: as 1993 was the year global temperatures were affected by the Mt Pinatubo - esp in the Northern hemisphere. If you exclude 1993 - what is the previous coldest summer?

  • Comment number 4.

    It's good to have you back again Paul!

    Once again, the UKMO have published "provisional" figures before the end of the month. I really don't understand why they find it necessary to do that - why not just wait until the end of the month?

    The CET figure for August is still showing +0.1c for August, but that usually gets revised downwards.

    What with the reasonably good weather during Spring, it doesn't seem to have been a bad year really. No major flooding yet!

    Despite the overall above average rainfall this month, I believe that some parts of the country are still suffering from "drought" conditions.

    As all of the recent blogs were closed, I posted my final prediction of the July HadCRUT3 figure on the old "2010 Global temperatures 'a dead heat' with 1998" blog, which for some reason was still open.

    The global prediction was 0.42c +/- 0.05c, compared to the actual figure of 0.459c.
    Current indications based on the AQUA CH5 anomaly suggest an August UAH figure of about 0.32c, compared to last month's 0.372c, although I wouldn't be surprised if it is lower.

  • Comment number 5.

    We grow produce in the vale of york and i keep local weather records for my villages in and around South Milford, just to the east of Leeds.
    My rainfall figures are much lower than those quoted. I have been trying to find a local station to back up my findings.
    At last i have..... http://www.sherburn-aero-club.org.uk/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=71
    This site shows that at Sherburn In Elmet they have had 98.2 mm of rain in the three month period, much the same as my 97.8 mm at home.
    I have not seen offical Church fenton figures but again looking at Cawood 101 mm during the period it seems that a "shadow" to the east of Leeds as occured.
    We have never had growing conditions as bad (dry) in over 50 years.
    In march we recorded 7.2 mm April 1.2mm may 34.4 mm June 29.8 july 29.6 and August 38.8mm , most of the August rain fell in the thursday to Saturday period last week.
    These totals are very very low. The other main issue is that from June to August the rain fell in very small amounts and never gave the soil a drink. This made crop growing very difficult. We had many windy days and the water that did fall was lost in 36 hours.
    Overall our sunshine looks about right but we have had some very cold nights during the period.

  • Comment number 6.

    As I have said before I rate Piers Corbyn on the longer range forecasts. It will be interesting to see what he is forecasting for winter. I find that after the August Bank holiday it is Christmas before you know it. And I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

    Good to see you back on the telly Paul and looks like you found a bit of sun. Hope you applied plenty of protective cream.

    Still no signs of global warming in my back yard, I am pleased to report. In fact with every scientific announcement the threat seems to recede. So I have bought a bigger 4x4 this year. Need to keep pumping the CO2

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 7.

    A new propaganda campaign from Al Gore:
    http://climaterealityproject.org/

  • Comment number 8.

    Summers becoming more average. It's a sign of global warming. The dullness will have led to our nearby deep oceans not getting the sunlight they need to prevent another cold winter.

  • Comment number 9.

    At Staveley, between Sheffield and Chesterfield, I have measured 105.9mm rain in the last 3 months, a quarter of that falling on 2 days last week. The leaves are dropping off some trees here it has been so dry.

  • Comment number 10.

    Yes, another mediocre summer, seeming worse perhaps because of what appeared "normal" between 1989 and 2006 (bar odd years).

    Interesting comments about rainfall. It seems to me to have been, above all, erratic in this respect. Here, fairly long dry spells were interrupted from time to time by rather wet ones (including local flooding so severe, potatoes were washed out of one field), but neither type of weather was really dominant.

    Near average temps or not, subjectively, a summer mean below 16c is pretty abysmal by any standards and some of the nights, even in July, have been truely autumnal- probably below the plant growth threshold temp of 6c!

    Given the climatic probability of a cool summer following a warm spring, I hardly think Piers Corbyn is to be congratulated for his insight.

    We await September.

    But what I am really waiting for is for all the usual collective derision and vitriol normally reserved for the Met. Office when they are wrong, to be heaped on such as Bastardi, Acuweather and the like. I'm not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well in Sunny Sheffield a very dry summer ninth driest since 1955 temps just below normal so close to average.
    Once the most uninteresting summers I've known.
    As John says Autumn started very early here due to lack of rain.
    As Piers one lucky strike makes a forecaster not.

  • Comment number 12.

    Pleased to see Piers has been given a good report
    Has anyone heard what has happened to the study of long range forcasts set up by Roger Harrabin? If Paul has noted Piers success perhaps he has seen some of the others.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is what was said back on 11th.May 2011

    "The draft protocol for the test is available on the Weather Club website (theweatherclub.org.uk). If all goes to plan, we will launch in the next few months and deliver results over the next four years, starting with 24-hour forecasts and leaving the seasonal ones until last. The project will be funded by BBC News and the data crunched at the University of Leeds, UK.

    So who will take part? Obviously the Met Office - the UK's National Weather Service and provider of forecasts to the BBC - is in the frame. It's one of the world's most prestigious forecasters, one of just two that supply weather forecasts for global aviation (the other is in Kansas and is run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It has been massively influential in the World Meteorological Organization and is one of the leading bodies researching climate change.

    So far the Met Office has been largely supportive - I suspect it is confident that it will acquit itself well in short-term forecasting. It has been more ambivalent, though, about seasonal forecasting. The organisation was famously embarrassed by the criticism it received in the UK media for its April 2009 forecast of a "barbecue summer". The summer was indeed warmer than usual, but the Met failed to predict that it would also be unusually rainy.

    The Met Office still produces seasonal forecasts but no longer publishes them. It is studying our protocol and will decide later whether it will allow its seasonal forecasts to be judged.

    The pressure is on, though, because maverick independent weather forecaster and climate-change sceptic Piers Corbyn, who runs the company Weather Action, has publicly volunteered to submit his seasonal forecasts to testing."

    I wonder if Paul has seen some preliminary results?

  • Comment number 14.

    " If all goes to plan, we will launch in the next few months and deliver results "

    Presumably things didn't go to plan and the global warming bedwetters hae found their forecasts turned out to be nonsense, while the sceptical realists like Piers Corbyn and Joe Bastardi continue to lead the way.

    That'll be why no results have been published.

  • Comment number 15.

    Just noticed

    "The project will be funded by BBC News and the data crunched at the University of Leeds, UK."

    Perhaps Paul has seen some of the preliminary data.

  • Comment number 16.

    The article I am quoting from was written by Roger Harrabin in the New Scietist
    He is not very complimentary towards Piers Corbyn :-

    "The pressure is on, though, because maverick independent weather forecaster and climate-change sceptic Piers Corbyn, who runs the company Weather Action, has publicly volunteered to submit his seasonal forecasts to testing.

    Corbyn is secretive about his methods. At a public discussion meeting in the historic Royal Institution theatre in London, just above where John Tyndall performed his seminal experiments on the greenhouse effect, he claimed that anyone betting £1 on his 2010 winter forecast for central England would have made £14 profit. If we can make the Weather Test work, we will be able to assess his abilities in more conventional terms.

    So who else will join? The steering group that I chair - comprising the chief executives of the Royal Meteorological Society and Royal Statistical Society, the independent forecaster Philip Eden and other senior scientists - will invite forecasters employing different methodologies so the results can be of long-term benefit to science as well as the general public. Corbyn, for instance, claims to be able to discern solar and lunar influences on the weather in a way that is not recognised by the Met Office. We'll be able to put such claims to the test."

  • Comment number 17.

    Pingosan,

    You missed off the bit of the quote which said "over the next four years", and that was only for 24 hour forecasts, so it isn't clear when we will see any results for anything longer term.

    My own opinion, based on nothing very scientific, is that UKMO forecasts over 2 days ahead aren't really worth reading. By the time the BBC has got hold of them, they are even worse, because they don't update as often as the MO.

    I did think of doing my own accuracy survey for specific locations but I found that it was not easy to obtain actual figures for the corresponding location.
    For example, on the MO forecast web pages, in the North East, the MO provides forecasts for 14 locations but actual figures for only 3 locations, and only 1 of those corresponds to an actual forecast location, i.e. Boulmer.
    No doubt it is possible, if you do a lot of digging, to find the corresponding figures, but it's too much work. The MO should be doing this as a matter of course, and publishing them, otherwise accuracy claims cannot be justified.

  • Comment number 18.

    What I probably should have said, rather than "aren't really worth reading", is something like "should only be used as a rough guide".

  • Comment number 19.

    QV, they've released August at 15.4 !!!!!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh, welcome back Paul hope you enjoyed the break.

  • Comment number 21.

    #19. - ukpahonta wrote:
    "QV, they've released August at 15.4 !!!!!!!"
    I think that ranks it joint 147th coldest out of 353, so well below median.
    Although, it has to be said, 0.1c warmer than last year!
    After reaching 9.77c in May, the CET 12 month rolling mean has now fallen back to 9.51c, compared to the 1961-90 mean of 9.45c.

  • Comment number 22.

    interesting, and welcome back Paul.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hilarioous that the metoffice - sorry should give them their full title 'Metoffice weather and Climate Change' - declined to give a forecast

    What on earth are we wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on if all they can do is tell me what the weather 'may' be like in 2 days time

    Give Piers the job - should save us a few hundred million - as Im sure he would do it for a very reasonable sum

  • Comment number 24.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/massive-taxpayer-backed-solar-panel-manufacturer-goes-bankrupt/ Suppliers to uk companys, i dont think this story will be on the bbc very much.
    Where did you get your's from paul?
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/44365972?__source=RSS*tag*&par=RSS

  • Comment number 25.

    "Hilarioous that the metoffice - sorry should give them their full title 'Metoffice weather and Climate Change' - declined to give a forecast

    What on earth are we wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on if all they can do is tell me what the weather 'may' be like in 2 days time"

    We give them money for their supercomputers and staff, which they use to create forecasts to sell privately to make more money. The taxpayer gets absolutely nothing that can't be worked out by looking at raw GFS output.

    Yet more snouts in the trough.

  • Comment number 26.

    Do we have an indication of what to expect this winter yet from any of the various sources?

  • Comment number 27.

    A forecast for this winter is the same as last year. If it becomes fact then some question as to atmospheric warming of CO2 which is still rising regardless of the attempted reduction of human CO2 output through fossil fuel use.

  • Comment number 28.

    Just come across a fine little weather site based based at Milford Docks in Pembrokeshire that some may find usefull:
    http://www.milfordweather.org.uk/

    Just for info.

  • Comment number 29.

    What we in Lincolnshire have been saddled with this August is thick cloud cover which has lowered the temperatures, and imposed a miserable dull outlook.

    Perhaps Henrik Svensmark's theory of Cosmic ray nucleation of low level clouds holds more water than some scientists would like.

  • Comment number 30.

    Piers Corbyn was not the only one who got it right Paul. You fail to mention James Madden from the voluntary weather organisation Exacta Weather.

    http://www.exactaweather.com/UK_Long_Range_Forecast.html

    Not only did they forecast below average CET for June, July, and August, but they also forecast the grey skies with above average rainfall with torrential rain and floods, and back in January may I add. Give credit when credit is due Paul.

    Here is some of the forecast details as you obviously never read it

    http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/news/north-east-news/2011/04/10/north-east-makes-the-most-of-the-lovely-weather-79310-28487833/

    “But, sun worshippers have been warned to make the most of the hot weather as long range forecasters say the outlook for summer is gloomy. James Madden said judging by solar activity and the current ocean atmosphere, the UK could see more rain and a dip in temperatures in June, July, and August. He said: “based on the factors covered, the summer as a whole could unfortunately be colder than average with above average rainfall. “In my opinion, odds of a barbecue summer this year are slim.”

  • Comment number 31.

    Three cheers for Piers on another correct forecast too!

  • Comment number 32.

    Since the CLOUD output I find myself looking up more often now and have noticed a discrepancy between forecasts and actual weather.
    As an example ITN news last night and SKY news this morning gave a clear day with clouds coming in this evening for unsettled weather over the weekend and yet I've hardly seen any blue sky yet today, in the East Midlands just continual low cloud cover with the occasional break.

  • Comment number 33.

    ukpahonta,

    I often find with weather forecasts that they can be completely wrong as a result of relatively minor temporal and/or spatial errors.
    For example, heavy rain may be forecasted for a specific location between 13:00 and 16:00, but it either occurs a few hours later or earlier, and/or in a different location.
    Now to the forecasters, this may appear to be a quite accurate forecast, i.e. the event occurred, albeit at a different time and/or location.
    However, to the person using the forecast, it appears totally incorrect.
    The problem in assessing the accuracy of forecasts will be in defining the temporal/spatial limits.
    For example if a forecaster says there will be heavy rain somewhere in the East Midlands today, then if it rains anywhere in the region during 24 hour period, then the forecast is 100% accurate.
    On the other hand if the forecast is for a specific location within a shorter time range, and that doesn't happen, then the forecast is 0% accurate.
    My attitude is that forecasters shouldn't pretend that they can forecast more accurately than they actually can.
    Since the UKMO don't appear to monitor every location for which they provide a forecast on line, I don't understand how they can claim any level of accuracy for that location.

  • Comment number 34.

    If the Sun or GCRs had a dominant impact on UK climate I would expect the CET to exhibit an 11 year cycle. I don't see one and in fact many of the coldest years/seasons occuring in the past happened during periods of much higher solar activity.

    ENSO affects global temperature significantly but I haven't seen a plausible case for it having any substantial impact on UK temperatures.

    So I don't really understand these forecasts for summer 2011 being based on the Sun or ENSO. The Sun was equally quiet in spring this year and we were in a La Nina, so why would we not expect a very cold spring based on this kind of forecast? In fact spring 2011 turned out to be the warmest spring on record.

    That's a temporal inconsistency. There are also geographical inconsistencies. For example if you were to predict the cold 2010/2011 UK winter based on the Sun and the La Nina, then why would those conditions not also affect areas of Canada and Greenland, which had quite a warm winter in comparison?

    More tellingly the even colder 2009/2010 UK winter occured in the context of the entire northern hemisphere having globally the 5th warmest winter on record.

    It is for the above reasons that I expect UK seasonal forecasts based on ENSO and the Sun to fail in the longterm.

  • Comment number 35.

    What amazes me the most is the forecaster giving you the time sequence through the day and for example this morning saying most of the UK apart from Scotland and the far North starting off fine with clear skies, 08:00, and you look out of the window at cloud. Sort of switch off for the rest of the forecast then because it's failed straight away.
    Perhaps the forecasters should have a quick look out of the window before going on air, you know, provide some empirical back up to the modelled output.

    Probably a different situation entirely but the mean temperature for August was sat at 16.4 for a week or two then dropped to 15.9 for the last few days and then is adjusted to 15.4 at month end. Not saying that we would notice a 1degree difference in temperature but if most of the month was at a mean of 16.4 then for the mean to end up at 15.4 after the last couple of days, then the last couple of days temperature would surely be noticeable.

  • Comment number 36.

    The area of the UK is tiny compared to a global comparison and there are a lot more factors that the Sun and ENSO including, dare I say it, CO2 to a minute effect. What can be determined though, IMHO, is the trend, so for a quiet Sun and negative ENSO I would expect an overall cooling background to be apparent in localised conditions.
    I thought http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-extreme-russian-pakistan-linked-meteorologically.html was a good example of explaining how conditions come together to set up trade winds and eventually to cause weather.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ Quake 34

    have you noticed that if it is unusually hot in one place it almost invariably unusually cold in another place? Seems to me that this reflects the fact that there is only so much heat energy in the earth system at any given point in time and the heat energy, which manifests itself only in part as surface temperature, is pushed around the planet by weather systems and ocean currents. CET is a regional data set. There is no reason why a regional data set should show a correlation with GCR's which if they have an effect are only likely to show on the global scale. Nir Shaviv explains the GCR effect here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1n2oq-XIxI&feature - For those true believers who say there is no other explanation for global warming than CO2, you need to see this

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 38.

    The Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing, has apparently resigned over the paper co-authored by Roy Spencer:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/
    So far, there seems to be no indication that the paper has been retracted, even though Wagner claims, in retrospect, that it was "fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal".

  • Comment number 39.

    #35. - ukpahonta wrote:
    "Probably a different situation entirely but the mean temperature for August was sat at 16.4 for a week or two then dropped to 15.9 for the last few days and then is adjusted to 15.4 at month end. Not saying that we would notice a 1degree difference in temperature but if most of the month was at a mean of 16.4 then for the mean to end up at 15.4 after the last couple of days, then the last couple of days temperature would surely be noticeable."
    The daily provisional CET figure tends to be overstated because it is based on the first minimum figure of the day, i.e. the one in the morning, after midnight. If the second minimum is lower than that, it is not taken into account until the end of the month.
    Also, remember that CET is based on measurements at only 3 locations, Rothhamstead, Pershore and Stonyhurst, so the temp. in other parts of the country could be completely different and it wouldn't be reflected in CET.

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh, one more thing. I haven't checked, but a low mean CET could result from the absence of any high night time temperatures, so you wouldn't necessarily notice during the day.

  • Comment number 41.

    37. - Spanglerboy wrote:
    "have you noticed that if it is unusually hot in one place it almost invariably unusually cold in another place?"
    That is demonstrated well in the following Ryan Maue map:
    http://coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/extreme/gfs/current/raw_temp.html
    Looking at the map you would be hard pressed to evaluate the overall global position, but of course "warmists" tend to concentrate on the "hot" areas, while "sceptics" pick on the "cold" areas.

  • Comment number 42.

    I notice UAH result for August is posted as +0.325
    We await QV's comment and prediction for this month's HadCRUT
    Perhaps Paul will produce his normal monthly comment

  • Comment number 43.

    NeilHamp,
    I was waiting for Paul to create a blog specifically on UAH.
    My prediction above turned out to be quite close, although I have to admit that it includes a "fiddle factor", since at the moment UAH is coming out about 0.1c higher than would be expected based on recent AQUA/UAH relationships.
    I am not yet in a position to make my final (most accurate) HadCRUT3 prediction, but based on AQUA CH5, and UAH, I am expecting something between 0.45c and 0.49c.
    As it would seem odd that HadCRUT3 would go up when UAH has gone down, I anticipate that it will be at the lower end of that range.

  • Comment number 44.

    quertyvuiop #31 wrote :
    "Three cheers for Piers on another correct forcast too"

    And three boos for an incorrect one last winter.


    9&11 above - John of Stavely & thepit

    Your comments re premature leaf fall are interesting. It is surprising how often this happens particularly in the South Yorks/ N midlands area. Some years, trees like birch drop in mid summer due to drought and often re-green again in "autumn". So this is due to water stress - not an "early autumn" as such.

    An extreme example I remember from 1995(a very warm dry summer) : a horse chestnut near here lost all its leaves in August but re grew them complete with second crop of flowers in autumn! It then shed again as normal later on.

    Premature shedding is often caused by drought or other stress. Normal autumnal leaf drop is triggered by falling mean temp. and reduced day length in varying degrees according to species. It is not generally a sign of "topsy turvy" seasons - though often reported as such in the press and widely believed to be so by the public.

  • Comment number 45.

    42. NeilHamp:

    The UAH global figure puts some perspective on the UK averages.

    Where temperatures in the UK were -0.4C below the long term average in August, globally they were +0.33C above it. This reminds us that the UK, including Northern Ireland, covers about 0.05% of global surface area.

    That UAH August figure places 2011 year-to-date (simple Jan-August averages) as the 6th warmest in their record.

  • Comment number 46.

    QV @39

    Thanks for that explanation, it's something that has been bugging me for a while.

  • Comment number 47.

    Forecasting the jet stream:
    http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=natla_250

    Indicates, if correct, where the weather is coming from before it hits us.
    Early next week from the US mid continent travelling up the Canadian Eastern coast. Later next week it changes and comes down from Northern Canada. Mild going colder later?

  • Comment number 48.

    Regarding these long term forecasters:

    What Paul says Piers Corbyn expected this summer, weather wise, were "spells of unsettled weather for much of the UK"... We 'always' get spells of unsettled weather in the summer in the UK. Was Corbyn any more specific than that?

    And I note that Joe Bastardi's forecast for minimum Arctic sea ice extent (5.5 million km2 at the lowest) went bye-bye about two weeks ago. It's currently around 4.7m km2 and still melting. He's going to be off by an area about four times the size of the UK.

    Joe has not learned Piers' strategy for successful long range forecasting: keep it vague.

  • Comment number 49.

    #45. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "Where temperatures in the UK were -0.4C below the long term average in August, globally they were +0.33C above it. This reminds us that the UK, including Northern Ireland, covers about 0.05% of global surface area."
    That is true, but I believe that "global warming" predictions were supposed to result in warmer/drier summers in the U.K. Of course there will always be exceptions, but if the exceptions become the rule, something is wrong with the predictions.

    "That UAH August figure places 2011 year-to-date (simple Jan-August averages) as the 6th warmest in their record."
    Again, that is true, but I don't think you should place too much faith in UAH, since it is currently running higher than the other anomaly series.
    Based on an estimated HadCRUT3 of 0.46c for this August, that would put the average to August in 11th place, and if HadCRUT3 doesn't change for the remainder of the year, the final annual figure would also be in 11th place.
    In order for this year to move into 10th place, the monthly anomaly would have to be over 0.485c for the remainder of the year.
    Of course, that is not out of the question, since at the moment the trend is up.
    It will be interesting to see whether the fall in UAH represents the first sign of a change in that trend.

  • Comment number 50.

    #48. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "And I note that Joe Bastardi's forecast for minimum Arctic sea ice extent (5.5 million km2 at the lowest) went bye-bye about two weeks ago. It's currently around 4.7m km2 and still melting. He's going to be off by an area about four times the size of the UK."
    But of course, as you pointed out, the U.K. only represents 0.05% of the planet's surface area! (Yes, I know that is unfair).
    I agree with you about the vagueness of long range forecasts. I would personally like to see more "concrete" numbers which could be used to make a valid comparison.
    I have never personally been terribly impressed by J.B. either, as some time ago, he appeared not to distinguish clearly between UAH and HadCRUT3 anomalies. He also appeared to be attempting to estimate UAH from AQUA CH5 anomalies directly, which was too simplistic.

  • Comment number 51.

    49. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "...I believe that "global warming" predictions were supposed to result in warmer/drier summers in the U.K. Of course there will always be exceptions, but if the exceptions become the rule, something is wrong with the predictions."

    Yes, you could say that the UK isn't exactly a model for AGW theory proponents to point to for verification. Globally the projections are going more according to 'plan'.

    As for UAH: actually their data this year isn't too dissimilar to GISS, which paints a more reliable picture of Arctic conditions. The oddest discrepancy is the one between UAH and RSS, imv.

    It's not looking like 2011 will make the HadCRUT3 top ten. Especially if La Nina conditions return in the next couple of months. To be fair to Gavin Schmidt, who said in January that 2011 would easily be inside the top ten warmest years on record, I'm pretty sure he was referring to GISS data (because he works for NASA, after all).

    If so, then that looks like a fairly safe bet. It's currently in eighth place.

  • Comment number 52.

    "To be fair to Gavin Schmidt, who said in January that 2011 would easily be inside the top ten warmest years on record, I'm pretty sure he was referring to GISS data"

    To be fair also, the chances of GISS not showing warming is pretty remote :-)

    They do seem to be the warmest of the warmists out there!

  • Comment number 53.

    #51. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "It's not looking like 2011 will make the HadCRUT3 top ten. Especially if La Nina conditions return in the next couple of months. To be fair to Gavin Schmidt, who said in January that 2011 would easily be inside the top ten warmest years on record, I'm pretty sure he was referring to GISS data (because he works for NASA, after all).
    If so, then that looks like a fairly safe bet. It's currently in eighth place."
    If the GISS anomaly remains the same as the July figure for the remainder of the year, the annual anomaly would be the 9th warmest on record.
    I am not sure if I would define that as "easily" within the top 10, although it
    would be necessary for GISS figures to fall quite a lot for it to fall outside
    the top 10, so it will probably come down to the definition of "easily".
    If he had not used that word, there would probably be no argument.

  • Comment number 54.

    The world went through a natural warming period, due to the temperature of the sun and orbit of the earth around it, the last decent summer we had was 2006, but that fizzled out early. We are paying through the nose for Carbon Management, it is damaging our industry and is a total waste of time and money. Global warming = Weapons of mass destruction, evidence that has been distorted.

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm wondering where the summer averagte figure of 13.6 comes from? If you visit http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/cetml1659on.dat the figures for June, July and August are 13.8, 15.2, 15.4. A crude average of these three totals is 14.8 - way above the 13.6 quoted by Paul.

  • Comment number 56.

    54. Sheffield_city wrote:

    "The world went through a natural warming period, due to the temperature of the sun and orbit of the earth around it..."

    The period of recent warming coincided with a reduction in solar energy reaching the earth's surface.

    The earth's orbital cycles have changed very fractionally in that time and in a way that should have caused, if anything, a barely noticeable 'cooling' effect.

    Neither of these suggestions explain the observed warming in any straightforward way.

  • Comment number 57.

    55: 2011, Mick Glaves

    I think that's CET you're referring to, which covers a region of central England. UK temps cover the whole UK, including N Ireland and offshore islands as far as I know.

  • Comment number 58.

    Newdwr54 # 56

    you say 'The period of recent warming coincided with a reduction in solar energy reaching the earth's surface.'

    If you are talking about TSI there has been little fluctuation. But your statement goes beyond that. It shows in fact that you are the only person on the planet that fully understands the effect of clouds on climate as the amount of heat energy emitted from the sun that reaches the earth and most importantly the oceans is modulated by cloud cover. There is indication that cloud cover was relatively low when the earth experienced some mild and by no means unprecedented warming at the end of 20th century. There is also evidence that clouds are modulated by solar activity - not just TSI. So your statement rings a little hollow except in the church of the true believers

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 59.

    Mick Glaves,
    Yes, as newdwr54 points out, the figures you are quoting are for CET, which covers only 3 locations in England.
    I am fairly certain that the figure which Paul is quoting is from the UK datasets, which don't go back as far as CET but which are more detailed.
    These are not easy to find on the UKMO website, since they reorganised it, but here is a link:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/datasets/#
    Click on the symbol for UK Mean Temp. and you will get a list of years from 1910, with monthly and seasonal values. The value for summer 2011 is 13.65c
    The reason this is lower than that for CET is obviously because the latter doesn't include Scotland or even Northern England. The equivalent figure for the Midlands is 14.85c, which is much closer to CET.

  • Comment number 60.

    I have been looking at the relationship between the AQUA CH5 anomaly and UAH/RSS and HadCRUT3 for September, based on the years 2002-2010, which is as far back as I have AQUA CH5 figures.
    It is interesting that while there is normally a fairly strong positive correlation between AQUA CH5 and UAH and RSS, i.e. over 0.9, the figures for September are lower, at only about 0.8.
    Also, while the correlation between AQUA and HadCRUT3 is normally not as strong, in the case of September, it is actually slightly NEGATIVE. Otherwise, in theory, HadCRUT3 goes down slightly as the AQUA CH5 anomaly goes up.
    In practice however, this isn't really the case, and seems to be due to the fact that September 2010 had a relatively high AQUA CH5 anomaly while that for HadCRUT3 was relatively low. If 2010 is excluded, the correlation is actually positive, albeit very weak at only +0.32.

  • Comment number 61.

    as a follow-up to my post # 58, Roy Spencer has some interesting comments on clouds at - http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/09/a-primer-on-our-claim-that-clouds-cause-temperature-change/#comments -the one thing that is clear is that we humans do not have anything like a full understanding of clouds

    as Roy says '....and I suspect there are effects on cloud formation we have not even discovered yet.'

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 62.

    Not surprisingly Piers got the overall forecast right as he uses the analysis of Solar effects and lunar modulation to arrive at his regularly proven results.

    The recent CERN experiments (not computer models) also point clearly to a greater solar influence on our climate via the production (or not) of cloud cover.

    Comic Ray Flux has now been proven, by repeatable experimentation, to have an entirely natural influence on climate. As a consequence, anyone trying to understand past (and future) climate change must consider the whole effect that the sun has on climate, not just the relatively small variations in the total irradience (which is the only solar influence most modelers consider). This implies that some of the 20th century warming should be attributed to the sun, and that the climate sensitivity is on the low side (around 1 deg C increase per CO2 doubling).

    Is it not time to divert more research funding in this area of measurement and pure science ?
    20 years have been wasted already on expensive efforts in 'fitting up'
    mankind for all climate change. The 'jury' is getting very suspicious that the true reasons for the invention of AGW have little to do with improving the lives of mankind but more to do with the 'improvement' of a ruling elite and the development of absolute control over the masses by carbon (ie Energy) control and management.
    'I'm afraid we are going to have to put up your taxes again, but I'm sure you realise that it is for your own good - now pay up'

  • Comment number 63.

    I believe the melt peaks during the middle of September, but it appears that in parts of the Arctic the freeze is already under way

    http://www.rowtothepole.com/latest-news/

    “Whilst the horizon looked more promising what was noticeable was the rate at which the water was freezing. The leads from yesterday hadn’t closed up with ‘bergs but had, in fact, started to freeze. In some places what was free flowing water was now 25-30mm of ice.”

    “Our day at the pole” 28th August 2011

  • Comment number 64.

    mjmwhite,
    Of course, the name "rowtothepole" is a bit of a misnomer, since they are not going to the North Pole, or even the current Magnetic Pole, but only what used to be the Magnetic Pole, when it was further south and therefore easier to reach.
    Of course, according to a recent "Horizon", there may be several Magnetic North Poles soon, so it will be possible to pick and choose.
    And I don't think that "they" will be able to blame that on "global warming".

  • Comment number 65.

    To jazznick # 62

    Yes, I can see what you mean about the "elite" and "fitting up" the world for climate change.

    The problem I always have with your viewpoint is that I just can't see how any politician in their right mind- particularly in an affluent democracy- would consider advocating the deeply an unpopular, painful, near impossible to achieve and byzantinely complicated task of guiding the entire world away from a massively carbon dependant economy with colossal and powerful vested interests, into an experimental and potentially unworkable non carbon alternative, unless they were pretty convinced of the validity of the scientific arguments that it was essential to do so.

    I can see that now the process is slowly getting underway and there are, inevitably, hungry packs of capitalist dogs exploiting every which way money can be extracted from a new regime and its hapless victims (the public), would convince you that it is all a terrible mistake and a fiendish plot to make money.

    But, surely, it would be very much easier for anyone already with, or nursing any hopes of power wealth and influence, to ignore the boring old "boffins" anxieties and pander to the populist notion that "what do they know - can't even get the weather forecast right" and just continue to feed the public with unbridled consumerist dreams and get voted in. After all, by the time the s*** hits the fan, they'll be long gone and happily retired or cremated.

    But, I guess, if you prefer to be seduced by siren doubters and mavericks rather than the conventional scientific establishment - it's up to you.

  • Comment number 66.

    jkiller # 56

    the political classes are only concerned with power. The hopeless and hapless Cameron only espoused his blue is green nonsense because he thought it would win him votes. And look what happened. He is sharing power with the Numpty party. Please do not confuse politics with science. Even with the overwhelming support of the media, the scientific establishment and every braindead celeb on the planet AGW is a theory that does not fly. It ain't happening in the real world where we weary mortals live.

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 67.

    I don't see how you can conclude AGW is not happening unless you've got a time machine and have seen the future climate already.

  • Comment number 68.

    Quake. You can remote view or Astral travel. Or put more simply use your intuition. Science hasn't got the answers to everything.

  • Comment number 69.

    "I don't see how you can conclude AGW is not happening unless you've got a time machine and have seen the future climate already."

    I think quake makes a fair point.
    However, I do object to scientific speculation, (presented by the media as fact) being twisted into ludicrous policy decisions by our political leaders. I find it particularly annoying that the European led race to reduce CO2 emissions is influencing energy and planning policy here, when the rest of the world haven't signed up to anything similar despite 20 or 30 years of summits and 'negotiations'.

    At worst, global warming appears to be tracking the lower end of model predictions. I would have thought that that in itself, would be sufficient reason to take a breath and see if the skeptical view of 'natural' warming has any legs.

    Clearly, if global warming is a natural response to higher solar activity (or PDO/AMO or any combination) then we should see this moderated over the next 10-20 years. If not, then the world at large will be forced into a more cohesive and organised response in terms of cutting emissions.

  • Comment number 70.

    It seems that the biggest problem with long term weather forecasting is that some people remember what was forecast. (Climate scientists get off scott free with 'in a hundred years time' predictions.)
    It appears that JB and Piers Corbyn are rated by Paul Hudson. Since PH knows more about the weather than all of us put together, I think attacking their competence is unjustified. While I'm sure they get it wrong quite often, they probably get it right more often than random chance would suggest.

  • Comment number 71.

    jazznick @ #62

    I feel I have to interject at this point just to clarify one point:

    "Comic Ray Flux has now been proven, by repeatable experimentation, to have an entirely natural influence on climate."

    This is simply not true. I draw your attention to the CERN CLOUD press release accompanying the recent Kirkby et al paper, where they concluded:

    "This result leaves open the POSSIBILITY (my emphasis) that cosmic rays could also influence climate. However, it is premature to conclude that cosmic rays have a significant influence on climate until the additional nucleating vapours have been identified, their ion enhancement measured, and the ultimate effects on clouds have been confirmed."

    In other words, there are still several more steps to take before it can be said with certainty that GCR's could impact on climate at all, let alone to any significant degree.

    The following article at Realclimate discusses the details of the Kirkby et al paper:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/08/the-cerncloud-results-are-surprisingly-interesting/

    Paul

  • Comment number 72.

    It seems to me that the Jet Stream may well have proved to be a key factor in influencing the weather over Britain this past summer.

    Some parts of the world have experienced abnormally hot and dry conditions e.g. parts of the USA, leading to higher than average temperatures, whilst North-west Europe has experienced the opposite.

    Not a reason to prove climate change theory but sufficient to emphasise the constant variability of our weather patterns.

  • Comment number 73.

    newdwr54@51 said . .
    "Yes, you could say that the UK isn't exactly a model for AGW theory proponents to point to for verification. Globally the projections are going more according to 'plan'."

    Can you elaborate a bit on the 'plan'.

    "As for UAH: actually their data this year isn't too dissimilar to GISS, which paints a more reliable picture of Arctic conditions. The oddest discrepancy is the one between UAH and RSS, imv."

    I thought GISS didn't have any equipment 'up north' and relied on some sort of grid averaging? It seems very odd that here in Britain we can have such massively different weather conditions from East to West, over a mere 50 miles or so and yet the GISS averaging technique in the Arctic region is very rarely challenged anymore. Perhaps this points more to the idiosyncrantic nature of British weather rather than a problem with GISS.

    "It's not looking like 2011 will make the HadCRUT3 top ten. Especially if La Nina conditions return in the next couple of months. To be fair to Gavin Schmidt, who said in January that 2011 would easily be inside the top ten warmest years on record, I'm pretty sure he was referring to GISS data (because he works for NASA, after all)."

    I'm sure he was referring to GISS. If la nina does return, I doubt there will be enough time for it to show up in the atmospheric temps before December. Incidentally, I think JB predicted the possibility of return to la nina some months ago, while others were expecting either neutral or el nino conditions. Maybe he will get this one right.

  • Comment number 74.

    @ Quake 67

    'I don't see how you can conclude AGW is not happening unless you've got a time machine and have seen the future climate already.' The corollary of which is that we cannot conclude that AGW is happening unless we have a time machine. A bit like the promise of life after death. Never bought into religion and not going to start now.

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 75.

    Paul Briscoe # 71

    I agree. It is important to remain objective in face of all the evidence. The CLOUD experiment is a first step. It is a pity that it has taken so long for climate scientists to do a real experiment. No doubt it will take another 10 years to take the next step.

    Pity you then link to an advocacy site.

    Sorry null points for that

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 76.

    @ Lateintheday # 69

    spot on. Our political classes have the hubris to aspire to be 'world leaders'. Sacrificing the British economy on the altar of AGW orthodoxy makes them chumps, not world leaders. Their primary responsibility is to look after the interests of the citizens of the UK. Adopting policies that lead to fuel poverty for individuals and make manufacturing for industry even less competitive is sheer folly.

    A warmer climate would be generally beneficial for the UK. But as humans cannot control the climate that is in the lap of the gods.

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 77.

    @ Quake # 67

    apologies for the multiple posts but it seems we only have to wait 17 years for the divine signal

    see http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/9/5/santer-says.html#comments

    Ben Santer (and 16 other distinguished members of the high clergy) have spoken

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 78.

    So far the temperatures are consistent with AGW. The last decade is warmer than the previous one, etc. There is nothing temperatures can do to prove global warming. Lets say temperatures in the next decade go up 0.5C - would that prove AGW? No.

    Like most scientific theories you can't prove them, you can only potentially disprove them. Physically as CO2 keeps rising it will have an increasing warming effect on the earth, so the bar of "normal" temperature is going to increase over the 21st century.



    Re GISTEMP and extrapolating anomalies. Temperature anomalies are well correlated even over the UK:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/anomacts/

    Note that single months show a more variable anomalies across the UK. Seasons show less variation, years a lot less. As soon as you go to trends over say 10 year periods the correlation between regions is much better.

  • Comment number 79.

    Spanglerboy @ #75

    "Pity you then link to an advocacy site."

    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion regarding Realclimate. However, I fear that it stems not from an objective and valued assessment but rather from the fact that scientists actively researching the field are not saying what you want to hear!

    Paul

  • Comment number 80.

    Paul Briscoe

    you mean like this email from M Mann taking exception to a blog by our host Paul Hudson in which he had the audacity to cast doubt on the AGW authordoxity

    'extremely disappointing to see something like this appear on BBC. its particularly odd, since climate is usually Richard Black's beat at BBC (and he does a great job). from what I can tell, this guy was formerly a weather person at the Met Office.

    We may do something about this on RealClimate, but meanwhile it might be appropriate for the Met Office to have a say about this, I might ask Richard Black what's up here?

    mike'

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 81.

    Quake, your link to the MET reports 5km grid data points for the UK wheras according to Skeptical Science, "GISS data is relatively coarse grained, as individual grid cells above 80N may include station data interpolated out to as much as 1200km".

    Not sure if that means what I think it means.

    Anyway, my point was simply that typically, the weather forecast for Wales, North West of England and NW Scotland is often quite different to that of Lincolnshire and South East England. This, despite our islands being so small.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 78. Quake, that's weak even for you. That statement is also 100% compatable with the null.

  • Comment number 83.

    Spanglerboy @ #80

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the quote you refer to was made at Realclimate. I think it was a private email by an individual who occasionally contributes to Realclimate articles. Scientists, like all of us, are entitled to their own personal views and Michael Mann's comment reflects how aggrieved scientists justifiably feel at the way pseudo-science is given equal coverage to real scientific research in the media.

    As for Paul Hudson's blog posts, they are clearly not intended to express opinions, but rather to inform on all points of view, so I think in this particular case Michael Mann was incorrect to believe that Paul was intentionally casting doubt on the science of AGW.......... probably because he doesn't know the blog as we do!

    We could go on forever saying "oh yes it is, oh no it isn't!", but I don't have time for that just now. Suffice to say that I judge individual articles on their merits - what matters to me is the scientific content of articles and that is where Realclimate, written by scientists who really know what they're talking about, scores over other sources every time.

    Sure, your sources will undoubtedly tell you that Realclimate is an advocacy site....... but has it not occured to you that your own sources could be guilty of advocacy of their own?!

    Paul

  • Comment number 84.

    What is the null hypothesis?

  • Comment number 85.

    @83

    "written by scientists who really know what they're talking about"

    Except for statistics where none have any formal training.

    Except for data integrity, where none have any formal training.

    Except for data sotrage, where none have any formal training.

    Except for compliance with FOI's, where they either don't have formal training, or they choose to ignore it.

    Need i go on Paul?

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 84- hmm.

    In this case the Null is that co2 is not the primary driver within climate, but that natural drivers are- but you already knew that.

  • Comment number 87.

    The null hypothesis could have been that the recent warming is natural in which case I was going to argue that we know that null hypothesis can't be true.

    I presume you mean the null hypothesis is the primary driver of recent warming, rather than the primary driver in general. Does this equate to the null being that most of the warming in the past few decades is natural?

  • Comment number 88.

    Labmunkey @ #85

    Let's not start that again! Science has progressed successfully for centuries without researchers having formalised "training" in the things you listed. Also, as we discussed previously, there are many complex reasons why data handling across different institutions has not been standardised. Your comments fail to properly reflect these factors.

    Furthermore, despite all of your various assertions, NONE of the much-publicised problems you allude to have actually undermined the findings of the papers in question - you may believe they have, but those are just your opinions and are completely contradicted by reviews with far more authority on these matters than you.

    You might also want to do a search on QA systems at universities. Last time I checked, UEA was considered to have the best QA practice in the UK......... which blunts your message somewhat!!

    Paul

  • Comment number 89.

    Paul Briscoe # 83

    yes I know that there are advocates on both sides and I can recognise them. I don't like the echo chambers on either side of the debate. Psychophants don't do it for me whatever the colour of their underpants. I am interested in science though, and the scientific method. If you think the people that run RealClimate are scientists rather than advocates then that is a matter for you (but it does say a lot about your own ability to be objective). Anyone else who is in doubt can simply visit RC and see how the dissentient voices are dealt with. Or probably not as anyone who dares to challenge the dogma is excluded.

    smoke me a kipper

  • Comment number 90.

    Spanglerboy @ #89

    If you believe, as you appear to, that the science of AGW is fundamentally flawed and that the consensus amongst scientists is a conspiracy, you will inevitably believe that any site which backs up the science is guilty of advocacy........ how could it be anything else if there's a conspiracy?!

    You claim to be interested in the science and scientific method, yet you don't appear to see that the majority of arguments used by sceptics are fundamentally flawed. If the folks at Realclimate allowed all of this nonsense to be posted all over their forum it would be completely impossible for meaningful scientific discussions to take place. After all, there are plenty of other places where you're free to post almost anything you want! Meanwhile, pro-AGW bloggers will tell you that "inconvenient" posts frequently get removed at sites such as WUWT.

    Personally, I prefer smoked mackerel, so perhaps we should just agree to disagree!

    Paul

  • Comment number 91.

    @ Paul # 88

    This..

    "Last time I checked, UEA was considered to have the best QA practice in the UK......... which blunts your message somewhat!!"

    .. literally left me speachless Paul. Honestly, completely dumbstruck for a whole minute.

    UEA has the best QA practice in the UK, are you KIDDING me?!??!

    If you honestly think that then i'm really not sure what to say.

    As for typical university QA procedures- i can sum them up in one word; abject.

    As for the stats analysis, i think there's plenty of evidence out there to support my view that performing research based largely on statistical analysis would benefit from some statistical training- your attempt to 'excuse' this by shoe-stringing this facet to other research is weak. Lest we forget the recent spate of papers showing errors in the statistics of climate scientists.

    I think too, as shown with the hockey stick, that it does blunt the message somewhat.

    @Quake #
    Ah, good i thought you were being facitious, apologies.

    Erm, in this case i think the Null is that the majority of the recent warming is natural (i don't argue that the co2 will have an effect, it's the degree here that's the sticking point).

    So i think the Null would probably put the co2 forcings into the very low percentages, though to be fair- tying feedbacks into this will be tricky.

  • Comment number 92.

    Labmunkey @ #91

    "If you honestly think that then i'm really not sure what to say."

    I don't think that, it is what the UEA website stated. It's hardly likely that they would lie about it, is it? As I've stated before, QA is not the universal panacea you would have us believe.

    "As for typical university QA procedures- i can sum them up in one word; abject."

    I wouldn't expect you to think anything else, as it appears that you perceive anything which doesn't fit in with your own "model" to be somehow inferior! In truth, though, all it really reflects is your unrealistic expectations and your inability to see that your rigid model is not directly applicable to every other situation and challenge.

    "As for the stats analysis, i think there's plenty of evidence out there to support my view that performing research based largely on statistical analysis would benefit from some statistical training."

    With respect, even I studied some statistics as part of my degree - you are doing the scientists a grave injustice if you attempt to portray them as clueless in that regard. That is not the point here. There is certainly an argument for consulting statistical specialists if you are undertaking a type of research which calls for a novel statistical approach to the data analysis. However, it is only technical knowledge of the science which can ensure appropriate experimental methodology and interpretation - statistical experts cannot provide this.

    Don't get me wrong. No scientist is perfect and, as Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, no paper is perfect either. However, it is oh so easy to be wise after the event. It is also the case that science progresses by learning from past mistakes. So for every paper you have ridiculed, there are others where the criticism has been addressed - that is the way scientific research works in the real world.

    "....your attempt to 'excuse' this by shoe-stringing this facet to other research is weak. Lest we forget the recent spate of papers showing errors in the statistics of climate scientists."

    The same types of issues undoubtedly exist in all scientific research. The differences here are twofold:

    AGW science is in the spotlight far more than other branches of science.

    Some individuals and organisations are keen to find any stick they can to beat the climate scientists with!


    ......... and of course the recent "spate" is but a tiny proportion of the total output of climate scientists. Given that the individuals at Climateaudit are specifically

  • Comment number 93.

    I see that the problems with cutting off posts still hasn't been completely resolved!

    My last post should have finished thus:

    ......... and of course the recent "spate" is but a tiny proportion of the total output of climate scientists. Given that the individuals at Climateaudit are specifically targeting pro-AGW papers looking for flawed statistical analysis and data handling, it is actually surprising that they haven't found more!

    Paul

  • Comment number 94.

    @ Paul

    "I don't think that, it is what the UEA website stated. "

    My god(s) man, seriously?

    "I wouldn't expect you to think anything else, as it appears that you perceive anything which doesn't fit in with your own "model" to be somehow inferior! In truth, though, all it really reflects is your unrealistic expectations and your inability to see that your rigid model is not directly applicable to every other situation and challenge"

    -- Heh, not quite. I'm originally from a research background, worked in cGMP for 4 years, back to GLP for 4 and I’m now back in research. I'm fully aware of the limitations of QA, i have adopted, designed and rolled out QA systems at ALL levels and have more than a passing familiarity with the levels of QA required at each stage and type of research.

    Without exception, i have not come across an academic, or academic institution who understood even the most basic tenants of QA.

    Now I’m not talking about double signing, one-copy print outs with master sheets or anything daft like that- but basic analysis 'run' integrity- correct application and use of standards, proper recording of results and data storage, analysis etc etc.

    You may brush these off as irrelevant (as it suits our position), but they are VITAL for the science to hold up to any sort of scrutiny. I can only speak to my experience of course, but there is absolutely nothing to suggest that UEA has anything approaching a valid QA structure and to the contrary, a significant amount of evidence to point to the contrary? Do you really need me to go through the list again??

    Re the statistical analysis, you actually (though accidentally) raise a good point. Most scientists do get basic training in statistics (the core sciences, I’m not too sure about the fringe ones- having not experienced them myself) and on a whole, many are at least, competent at basic statistical practice.

    However, the main issue from my experience is not the ACTUAL use of the statistics itself- the calculations as it were, but the selection of the TYPE of analysis, the data screening and integrity procedures- this type of thing is NOT covered in your typical science degree stats course and is exceptionally important if your work involves large amounts of data from disparate sources.

    Sound familiar? Flippancy aside, it is not the actual stats that they are routinely getting wrong (as you point out, few errors have been found), it is the correct application and selection of the an

  • Comment number 95.

    LabMunkey @ #94

    You will have noticed that I haven't contributed much to this blog recently, partly because I'm busy, but also because sitting for long periods at my computer aggravates a back problem. Consequently, I want to draw this exchange to a close. Also, you and I will never agree on this as I am convinced that, perhaps unwittingly, you are simply using this as another stick! What really conerns me about your contributions on this subject is the lack of real balance and your failure to take account of the "human" element.

    From what I can see, most academic institutions now have QA procedures for research (it is often a prerequisite to getting grants), but this is a far more recent development than in your sector because of the reduced commercial pressure. Also, the systems in place are necessarily far more general than yours. For instance, the University of Reading research QA documentation states:

    "The quality of the research itself is assured primarily by external peer-review of the research outputs. In contrast, assurance of the quality of the research processes is achieved by the University’s internal Quality Assurance in Research (QAR) system."

    The point is that until recently there was very little pressure for most academics to conform to any standards and it is in the personality of such people to do their own thing - they are a breed (and I should know as I was one of them and know plenty of others)! This hasn't hampered research in the past. In fact, it is the independent minds of these people that makes them so good at what they do - the human element you ignore. In my experience, research scientists are not tribal, they are fiercely competitive. This competitive angle helps to maintain high standards.

    With the huge increase in public demand for data, it has now become obvious that there is a need for more formalised data archiving, but you can hardly blame scientists for having adhered to an older system that worked for them! Things change and what matters is that data is publicly available into the future.

    Paul

  • Comment number 96.

    @ Paul,

    Sorry to hear about your back.

    I think half the problem is that we unwittingly antagonise each other from the off and then end up taking much longer than necessary to get to the actual cruix of the matter. Apologies for my part in that.

    You're right about the commercial pressures resulting in the shift towards a more, accountable, form of science. You are also right that many academics will adhere to the 'old' method until they are replaced (in time, through natural change), however i can only (attempt to) assure you that i am not using this as a stick.

    I have seen first hand and at great expense, the problems that come from not adhering to SOME form of QA. Of course the degree's and applications will be different across fields and disciplines, but the basic core parts are the same.

    Quoting the UEA page will do little to allay my fears especially given the evidence presented in the inquiries (if you can call them that).

    As for general academia, i (unfortunatley) spend half my working life unpicking and correcting the errors that academic institutions have made during my research. Often (unfounded) assumptions are made, incorrect analysese are applied and other errors abound. This is often in published research.

    You're right that academia have progressed fine without QA. However MANY falses starts have occured due to easily preventable mistakes.

    I am not arguing to replace the old system of research, only to augment it.

    As for the UEA QA system in particular, i am unaware of any external hostile audit being performed on them- especially the climatic research department (to which we are discussing).

    Internal audits or grant application audits do not count as frankly, even a trained monkey could pass those (as one types now...)

  • Comment number 97.

    LabMunkey continued

    I agree that choosing the most appropriate statistical techniques and data handling is important. It is for this reason that involving a statistical specialist is probably a good idea. I also agree that scientists frequently don't do this, although involving statisticians isn't always as easy as it sounds (I did have an article on this subject, but I can't place it at present). So, in my experience, scientists often use techniques which have already been applied to similar work in other papers. To this extent, having Climateaudit breathing down their necks probably helps the quality of the science!

    However, let's not forget the points I made earlier: that none of the flaws in data handling and statistical analysis have impacted on the findings of papers and our understanding of the science; that the problems you describe are NOT peculiar to climate science; that scientists are competitive and constantly on the lookout to find flaws in competitors' work; that the scientific process is self-correcting, meaning that flaws uncovered in one paper are tackled in the next.

    No, scientific research is not perfect, but it does deliver results.

    Paul

  • Comment number 98.

    on my word. the spelling people. the humanity....

  • Comment number 99.

    @97.

    Paul, the antarctic paper when reanalysed by a stat's trained scientist DID materialy change the results.

  • Comment number 100.

    LabMunkey

    Our posts crossed! Thanks for your comments as #96.

    I don't disagree with you on the need for some standardisation in academic research so that it is more fit for the modern World. I can also understand how someone such as yourself, working in an environment where everything is standardised, would find the apparently haphazard approach used by many academics quite aggravating!

    However, I would warn against too much interference, as I fear that this would stifle the creative streak and free thinking. As I stated above, they are a breed with a particular psyche - one that might well not fit well into other branches of life but is perfect for what they do!!

    Also, despite the much publicised problems with particular papers, it should not be forgotten that these people do indeed have a far better understanding of their chosen subject than the rest of us. They are worthy of far more respect for their work than they tend to be given by the vested interests that inhabit the internet.

    Paul

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.