THERE is a growing controversy over the credibility, and indeed trustworthiness, of the Met Office’s UK temperature records, which are used to measure how much the climate has warmed, as well as announcing supposedly record and other high temperatures every time there is a heatwave.
Last week in TCW I took a close look at RAF Coningsby, which the Met Office claims holds the UK’s highest temperature on record of 40.3C set last summer. As I showed, the siting of the thermometer there is totally unsuitable for any climatic purpose, as it is far too close to the runway and other concrete areas. According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Coninsgsby rates only as a Class 3 site, which they say can lead to temperatures being overestimated by 1C. (There are five classes, with Class 1 being high quality and Class 5 junk.)
There are other serious doubts about that Coningsby ‘record’. An investigation by the Daily Sceptic last year, discovered that the ‘record’ coincided with the landing there of several Typhoon jets. According to the Daily Sceptic: ‘At least three Typhoon fighter jets were landing at RAF Coningsby around the time when the brief UK temperature record was declared at 15:12 on July 19 last year from a measuring device situated halfway down the runway. Following a Freedom of Information request, the Daily Sceptic has obtained portions of the log books of four pilots flying from the base that afternoon, casting considerable doubt on the record that made headlines around the world. At 15:10, the temperature suddenly jumped by 0.6°C to hit the 40.3°C record at 15.12. Within 60 seconds, the record temperature dropped back by 0.6°C. At the time, the Met Office claimed that verifying the record had been a ‘rigorous process’ and that all data was accurate.’
It is abundantly clear that any reputable organisation would not declare such a record when there was even the slightest doubt. But this is the Met Office, and other serious questions are being raised about the quality of their temperature data.
As I noted last week, four other stations hit 40C that day. One was Heathrow, about which we need to say little. How any scientific organisation can use data from a thermometer next to the runway there and keep a straight face is a mystery. Another of those four was RAF Northolt, a few miles from Heathrow. The temperature readings there are just as questionable, though not because of the proximity to the runway. No, the problem there is that the thermometer is close to the busy A40. According to Google Earth, it is within 20 yards, and the WMO would therefore classify this as a Class 4 site, which the WMO say can artificially raise temperatures by as much as 2C.
RAF Northolt and the A40, with the location of the thermometer circled
St James’s Park in central London recorded 40.2C that day, the same as Heathrow. It has been established that temperatures within London are artificially raised by at least two degrees by urbanisation, which says all we need to know about the reliability of Heathrow. The thermometer at St James’s Park has another issue: it is with a few yards of a concrete path. According to the WMO, this fact alone means that St James’s Park is also a next to junk status Class 4 site.
The St James’s Park site
Another site that regularly appears in the Met Office’s ‘hottest spots’ is Porthmadog in North Wales. It has now been discovered that the weather station there is close to a row of bushes to the north and east, which makes the place a lovely suntrap. Again, the WMO has strict rules about this proximity to vegetation, and they say that also makes Porthmadog Class 4 (for more detail, see here).
I mention Porthmadog for a good reason. I asked the Met Office if they knew about this poor siting; remarkably they admitted they did, and then had the nerve to say that ‘Class 4 is an acceptable rating for a temperature sensor’!
I could go on, as there are other examples being given to me all the time about poor siting. For instance, a Scottish record temperature was claimed last year at Floors Castle in the Borders. It has been pointed out since that the thermometer there is in a walled garden, and these enclosures were built because they raise ambient temperatures!
It is apparent that many of the Met Office’s weather stations are hopelessly affected by urbanisation, airport effects or simple poor siting as described above. All these issues act in the same direction, to artificially increase temperatures. Think of Heathrow, for instance. Sixty or 70 years ago it was little more than a grass field; compare that with the Heathrow of today, with miles of runways and taxiing areas, jets taking off every minute or so, car parks, terminals and other infrastructure.
If the Met Office is to retain any credibility, it needs to exclude all these dubious weather stations from its database, and use only the ones that meet the WMO’s Class 1 specification.
To use such low grade sites is bad enough. To do so knowingly is even worse.
Not such a flaming June
THE Met Office have declared that last month was the hottest June since the start of records in 1884. They consulted their oracle, the supercomputer, which rather predictably told them that climate change was to blame.
What they forgot to mention is that they have records going back much further, to 1659, and these tell a totally different story. This of course is the Central England Temperature series, CET, which is based on high quality rural stations, not thermometers next to airport runways and busy roads or in the middle of big cities, which the Met Office UK dataset uses.
According to CET, the hottest June was not this year, but a long time ago in 1846. Indeed, this June only ranked fifth, with 1676, 1822 and 1826 also being warmer. This inconvenient fact demolishes the theory that climate change drove this year’s heatwave.
They also made a big play about last month being hotter than ‘even June 1976’. They are being particularly disingenuous here. June 1976 actually began with relatively cool weather, and the heatwave really only got going in the last week of the month. It lasted into the middle of July, and was much hotter and longer than anything seen last month. You need to look at both June and July to draw a proper conclusion about the two years. In contrast, this June did not set any exceptionally high daily temperatures; instead it was basically sunny and warm throughout most of the month.
The cause of last month’s hot weather was, as is always the case in summer, a lot of sunshine. In fact, it was the sunniest June since 1957, the result of largely anti-cyclonic conditions. In other words, WEATHER not CLIMATE.
While Britain was basking under high pressure systems, Greenland was stuck throughout the month with low pressure which brought snow, and lots of it. As a result, the melt season has still barely got going, and the ice cap has grown by 100 gigatonnes during the month when it would normally be losing ice. Was that also due to global warming, Met Office?
For most people, the weather last month was thoroughly pleasant. For the Met Office, it was another excuse to catastrophise summer weather.