Carbon Brief recently ran an interview with the Met Office’s Chief Scientist, Prof Stephen Belcher. The interviewer brought up the subject of the Met Office’s updated UK climate projections, due to be released some time in 2018, known as UKCP18. The last projections were published in 2009 (UKCP09).
CB: The Met Office will be launching the next set of climate change projections for the UK, known as UKCP18, later this year. What can we expect from them, and how will they be different to the last round?
SB: So UK Climate Projections 18, UKCP18, will be the next generation of climate predictions for the UK. And they’ll be used by a range of researchers and consultants to understand potential impacts of climate change on the UK. The UKCP18, as you say, will replace UKCP09. So it’s a 10-year update. So one of the things that will be improved is the overall modelling that sits behind it has moved on enormously in those 10 years. And the observations that we use as part of the modelling have another 10 years of data, showing more of a climate change signal and, of course, the improved data improves the modelling. So there’s a general quality improvement.
So basically, bigger, better, supposedly more accurate climate modelling, along with another ‘ten’ (not sure how he gets that figure; looks like nine to me) years of data. What’s changed you may ask?
In addition to that, we’ve got several new angles and dimensions to the UKCP18 that we didn’t have before. So I think there are two main ones and the first one is that UKCP09 primarily gave evidence about average climate and how that might change, whereas I think the agenda has shifted now. People really want to know what are extreme events going to look like. How is their flavour going to have changed in a future climate? So CP18 will give much more evidence about seasonal climate and the range of possibilities that might encompass. So a headline message from UKCP09 was that summers will become hotter and dryer, but a question we may want to ask is, well, how many of those summers might be really hot and really dry and how many might be rather wet, disappointing summers? Similarly with cold winters, we’ve had a reasonably cold end to the winter this year. Are they going to disappear completely? Well, of course, not. But they’re going to be gradually replaced by more warmer, wetter winters. It’s those kind of changes in the extremes that I think people are looking for. So UKCP18 might have some of that information.
The agenda certainly has changed. With no significant overall UK warming since about 2005, the emphasis has switched from changes in mean temperature to a supposed increasing threat of extreme weather attributable to man-made climate change (droughts, floods, ‘exceptional’ hot days, ‘exceptional’ rainfall, ‘exceptional’ stormy weather, even ‘exceptional’ cold weather!).
Extreme weather is the new climate change and this is supposedly what interests the public most – how that extreme weather is becoming more extreme as a result of global warming. I would suggest that the British have always been very interested in the weather and now climate scientists are exploiting that fascination by attempting to attribute supposed ‘exceptional’ weather to anthropogenic climate change – because the British public has got bored with 13 years and counting of non-existent warming. But there’s been no shortage of ‘extreme’ weather – from record cold in Dec 2010, to record flooding in 2014, to the ‘hottest June day’ since 1976 in 2017 (recorded, naturally, on the tarmac at Heathrow). Britain’s buzzing with weather extremes.
But getting back to the boring stuff, Belcher informs us that, even though we can still expect to get colder than average winters in the coming years, winters will, on average, become wetter and milder. The Met Office tweeted today about their own study which appears to confirm this trend in Scotland and northern England:
CB: And we’ve seen a recent paper – yesterday, in fact – a couple of papers, talking about how there’s been a weakening of AMOC over the past 50 years, or 100 years or so, and that could potentially have great impact on the UK. So how do these new projections deal with something like that? Or is that too new, in a way, for it to be incorporated?
SB: So, more generally, we try and capture those variations and their effect on the climate in two separate ways. The first is when we’re trying to understand what might happen over the next few years, we can use the variations in the AMOC to initialise simulations and account for that initial state or weakening of that. And that, therefore, represents that impact on the weather. In UKCP18, the way we would treat it is that we run a whole bunch of simulations and they will have AMOCs in different phases at different times, so the spread of possibilities is partly due to the AMOC variability.
Huh? Not much of an answer really. If AMOC slows significantly in the coming decades, British winters are likely to get a lot colder than we’ve been used to since the mid 1970s. They’ll also probably become drier as easterlies start to dominate and the influence of the warm Atlantic wanes. But this is the complete opposite of what Belcher is saying the Met Office’s UK climate projections 2018 predict for winters over the 21st century. Belcher notably fails to even mention the possibility of the progression into a grand solar minimum starting as soon as 2020. This is a glaring omission for a climate scientist, particularly a chief scientist in charge of a publicly funded organisation which is tasked with informing us about possible future trends in British weather based upon scientific observations and current scientific knowledge. As far as I can see, the Met Office’s climate projections are still based upon GCMs heavily biased in favour of GHG warming, which fail to adequately account for natural variability such as cloud cover variance, AMO/NAO/PDO cycles, AMOC variability and solar variability.
To me, this is scandalous because it effectively means that UK public institutions will not be prepared for possible cooling of the British climate and our so called ‘Conservative’ government, in thrall to the Sustainability Monster (aka the Green Blob), will take this as further justification to push full speed ahead with its virtue signaling climate mitigation measures which are driving electricity bills sky high for consumers – not to mention, wrecking the environment and decreasing the reliability and robustness of our national energy supply. The Perfect Storm of industrial and social decline in Britain is looming and the Met Office is busily steering us straight into its cold black heart.