Sunday, July 29, 2012

Predicting Rains during London Opening Ceremony: How a Laptop beat Super-Computers

This is part of our continuous coverage of the on-going duel between the UK Met Office and Piers Corbyn on the accuracy of their weather forecasts during the Olympics.
London has seen its warmest week of the year leading up to the start of the Olympics, but is the warm weather here to stay or will the Olympics be a complete washout?
The UK Met Office promises dry and shiny weather all through the Olympics while we have Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and owner of Weather Action who predicts a damp and rainy.
And the winner is.... Piers Corbyn.  Here is what the man himself says in his website accepting congratulations from people all over the world.


"We are very pleased. We made one forecast and one forecast only 42 days ahead and our call was for thundery downpours likely, based on predictable aspects of solar particle activity and lunar  modulation.

The Met Office made many forecasts based on shed-fulls of computing power and deluded Co2-warmist meteorology funded by shed-loads of taxpayers money. Their last call was for 'dry'.

The power of our physics-based Solar Lunar Action Technique was confirmed by serious thundery downpours in many places and one hit the evening's proceedings. The failure of standard meteorology earth-centered 'models' in the face of WeatherAction predicted solar-driven 'Red warnings' is laid bare.

Thundery rain and deluges will cause difficulties for most of the Olympics and the Met Office will underestimate the problems. WeatherAction will make key warnings available free.

Our full August forecasts for Britain & Ireland, Europe and the USA spell out important changes through the month including dramatic shifts in the jet stream which show the world is heading for 'A little Ice Age' while the UN and failed CO2 warmist alarmism is pointing the world in the wrong direction.

"I am glad, and the world is lucky, that the rain stopped for the later part of the evening and the truly fantastic production by Danny Boyle and his team and the opening moment by Her Majesty the Queen.

One can see that without the hard work and honest application of science by the pioneers of the industrial revolution the United Kingdom would not be what it is, the English language would not be the language of the world and London would not have hosted the Olympics three times. If the delusional anti-science of CO2 warmist alarmism is not stopped this greatness of Britain will be lost.


London Olympics bracing for rain & hail just as Piers Corbyn, Weather Action predicted

This is part of our continuous coverage of the on-going duel between the UK Met Office and Piers Corbyn on the accuracy of their weather forecasts during the Olympics.
London has seen its warmest week of the year leading up to the start of the Olympics, but is the warm weather here to stay or will the Olympics be a complete washout?

The UK Met Office promises dry and shiny weather all through the Olympics while we have Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and owner of Weather Action who predicts a damp and rainy

Rain, maybe hail forecast for Olympics spectators


Bad weather news for the Olympics: Rain, cooler weather and even hail may be returning to London.
U.K. weather forecaster the Met Office says there will be heavy thunder showers across central and east London on Sunday afternoon, with hailstones also a possibility.

The forecaster predicts that the thunder and showers will clear later Sunday, and that Monday will be mostly dry.

More rainclouds, however, are forecast for Tuesday through Thursday. Temperatures, too, will drop this week, hovering at or below 20C (68F).

London has enjoyed bright and warm weather of up to 30C in the week leading up to the Olympics, after enduring weeks of rain.
Also read our related posts: Click the Title to Read

London Olympics Weather Forecasting Duel: UK Met office and Piers Corbyn ties 1-1

Saturday, July 28, 2012

London Olympics Weather Forecasting Duel: UK Met office and Piers Corbyn ties 1-1

This is part of our continuous coverage of the on-going duel between the UK Met Office and Piers Corbyn on the accuracy of their weather forecasts during the Olympics.
London has seen its warmest week of the year leading up to the start of the Olympics, but is the warm weather here to stay or will the Olympics be a complete washout?

The UK Met Office promises dry and shiny weather all through the Olympics while we have Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and owner of Weather Action who predicts a damp and rainy.  

The UK Met Office tied with Corbyn 1-1  but only just. The organizers of the London Olympics also got very fortunate with the weather for the opening ceremony. A rainstorm passed overhead before the ceremony began, but it left as quickly as it came. Talk about lucky breaks, especially when you build an open-air stadium in London in the summertime. By 8:45 p.m. in London, 15 minutes before the Ceremony was set to begin, the rain had stopped. At 8:55 p.m., it started again. On and off and on and off.

Considering that Piers Corbyn made his forecasts more than 40 days in advance, this was forecasting at its really best and he could be considered a trifle unlucky for missing the mark by a whisker the very first day of the Olympics i.e. rain not washing out the ceremony. 

But the race is not over. In fact, it has just begun with 15 days left for the Olympics. And Piers Corbyn apparently hold the edge in the rounds ahead as observed in the 5 day forecast by Weather Channel.  Matt Dobson, senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association tells us why:
"The weekend will be cooler than we've seen recently, with some sunshine on Saturday, but showers on Sunday, and then next week it's back to square one, with lots of rain around, all over the country. There will be drier interludes, but it will be like the weather we had become used to, looking ahead for a week to 10 days."
The reason for the poor weather returning is that the jet stream, which had moved away north, is heading south again.

Its presence unusually far south earlier in the summer brought the wettest period of April to June on record, heavy rain and widespread flooding.

Its move to the north brought a spell of more traditional summer weather, which is on the way out.
Some Awesome Photos courtesy The Daily Mail

Also read our related posts: Click the Title to Read

Friday, July 27, 2012

Global Warming at the London Olympics

This is what global warming looks like.

The last time London hosted the Olympics was in 1948. King George VI opened the games at the end of July in 35C weather.

After 74 years of unprecedented global warming, the forecast high in London for Sunday is 19C – a cool down of only 16 degrees coming on the heels of the worst first half of summer on record.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Hindu: Reading the rain is like science fiction

The weather is a non-linear chaotic system which makes its events random walks, that in turn  makes its prediction an entirely elusive exercise over long periods. Any prediction of weather over 5 days falls off in progressive increasing errors for every day added. The monsoon is one of the extreme examples of the vast challenges in predicting the weather. 
Climate is average weather over a long period and thus makes it also a non-linear chaotic system. The claim therefore of global temperatures will increase by 4-8 deg C is one of the most bogus claim in science. Nonetheless, we find NGOs like Oxfam, ActionAid, ChristianAid etc repeating these bogus claims without batting an eyelid. They even audaciously claim they have competence in Climate Smart Agriculture. The single most significant climatic variable that affects agriculture is the monsoon. And yet, none of these jokers even attempt to forecast the monsoon. This article in the Hindu makes it evident that even before forecasting the monsoon we need to understand the phenomenon better.

It is time NGOs realize that LIES are no substitute for effective advocacy!
 Courtesy: The Hindu
This year, the monsoon is really playing hide-and-seek. With large parts of the country receiving deficient rainfall, fear of a drought looms large. The Indian weather office had predictably said it will be a “normal” monsoon, but, so far, it has been far from normal. 
Today when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in its second term, is suffering from low credibility, a failed monsoon could well become a political tipping point. The scars of a failed monsoon and the ensuing hardships are hard to erase in the minds of voters especially when the next elections are simply one season away. The constant litany from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) of a “normal monsoon” only pushes decision makers to a slumber that they need to be woken up from, if rural India’s distress is to be minimised. 

This angst over whether the monsoon will bring rains has become an annual occurrence but the sad reality is that the weathermen are just not able to predict its arrival, spatial distribution and departure accurately. They are not to be blamed since the science of the monsoon remains a black box, a mystery that has not been understood despite huge developments. 

Indeed, it is high time Indian scientists collectively told the government that since they can’t forecast the extremes, it is really meaningless to forecast the monsoon. The need of the hour is to go back to the drawing board to first understand the phenomenon of the monsoon and then, if ever we understand it, attempt to forecast it. 

Issue of models
Forecasting the southwest monsoon is not easy. Till date in the 137 year history of the IMD, which operationally forecasts the monsoon, it has never succeeded in correctly predicting the extremes. In a rare and candid admission Dr. Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the IMD, New Delhi, for the first time admitted that 
“prediction of extreme events is a problem since models [they use] tend to normalize things.” 
This means that despite best efforts, the IMD will never be able to forecast a drought or flood for the country as a whole. 

To put this in perspective, in the last 137 years the Indian weather office has never ever been able to predict a drought. Look at the basic statistics. In the last 100 years, more than 85 per cent of the time the monsoon has been normal. So the chances of a normal monsoon are always high. In the last two decades, the IMD has invariably only forecast “normal” monsoons despite the huge variations India has witnessed in bad years like the massive flooding of 1994, and the droughts of 1987, 2002, 2004 and 2009. 

Experts say a forecast is only good if it can pick up early signals and warn of impending hazards so that policymakers and farmers in particular can prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. To make a point in its self-praise, the IMD always points out that from 1989 to 2000, 11 years in a row, it predicted a “normal” monsoon and it “turned out to be normal.” But a closer examination reveals that more often than not, even in this “golden period” their prediction was also actually way off the estimated margin of error allowed in the model itself. 

The flaw possibly lies in the statistical model that the IMD uses to make its predictions. The current model is still not good enough. A numerical model considered more accurate is still cooking. Interestingly, for the 2012 season, the new numerical model imported from the United States actually predicts a surplus. 

Interestingly, the world over, scientists find it very tough to forecast weather patterns months in advance, so in a way it is commendable that the IMD puts its reputation on the block and makes an operational monsoon forecast. Most others only do this as an academic exercise. According to India’s leading atmospheric scientist, J. Srinivasan of the Indian Institute of Science,
“no agency in the world has ever been able to predict an ensuing drought or flood for the Indian region.” 
So should we not stop giving lollipops of a “normal” monsoon to the people? 

Understanding the monsoon
The southwest monsoon is that life giving phenomenon which releases on the Indian land mass 80 per cent of the total annual of 105 cm of rainfall that India receives. Every year between June and September, moisture laden winds blowing in from the Indian Ocean rejuvenate the parched Indian countryside. The monsoon arrives without fail, but forecasting it months ahead is a nightmare. 

Much more difficult is to give early estimates of when the breaks are likely to occur during the season. Farming, especially crop sowing, is very dependent on the timing of the rainfall. In any given year, if rainfall climbs more than 10 per cent above a long-term monsoon average, floods ensue. If it declines more than 10 per cent below average, a drought is declared. Slippage in either direction brings misery. For example, a drought in 2002 shrank India’s GDP by an estimated 5.8 per cent. 

It may come as a surprise but the monsoon arrives without fail and has never delivered less than 60 cm of rain in the last 137 years of official records. But its spatial and temporal variation is vast, a fact which befuddles scientists. 

“Every year the monsoon is peculiar in its own way,” says Dr. Srinivasan. “We need to understand how the clouds develop during the monsoon and how they are born and how they die and this we need to understand very badly because due to global warming, monsoon is going to change and we need to know how it will change.” 

Now in an effort to erase the blemish of not forecasting the monsoon accurately, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is launching a new five year “monsoon mission” at the cost of about $75 million to better understand this complex ocean and atmospheric phenomenon. The monsoon of 2011 was an eye-opener for forecasters. The IMD had forecast that it would be a bad monsoon with rains possibly being less than 90 per cent of the long-term average, but at the end of the season, the rains turned out in excess of the long period average. Hence, in a first of its kind admission as part its end of season report, it said that it was “not very accurate” in its forecasts.
“The monsoon remains a scientific mystery,” admits Madhavan Rajeevan, a monsoon specialist, in the MoES, adding, “We are accumulating more questions than answers.” 
Shailesh Nayak, a geologist and secretary in the MoES says, 
‘‘understanding the monsoon will be major priority in the next five years.” 
In this new Monsoon Mission, efforts will be made to understand it using the numerical models developed by the United Kingdom Meteorological Office and the American model called Climate Forecast System developed by National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) that combine data from ocean, atmosphere and land for providing long range forecasting. Mr. Nayak admits that “current prediction capabilities are inadequate” and an effort will be made to improve high performance computing. 

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune will take the lead in deciphering the seasonal forecasts, while trying to predict the active and break periods of the monsoon. Mr. Nayak says the bottleneck is a shortage of trained scientists. According to his estimate, in the next five years India needs about 1,200 skilled meteorologists. There are only about 350 now. 

It is also widely acknowledged that even though the monsoon is a repetitive annual event, accurately predicting the natural variations is like finding a path through a minefield because the chaos of the tropical oceans and atmosphere is very hard to understand, let alone model and forecast.
It is this cracked and parched minefield that the UPA has to walk across ably to ensure that the misery of the failed monsoon does not become a contagion that might sweep it out of power. Today, India’s economy may not be “a gamble on the monsoon,” but the rains do lift the mood of the nation. And today the mood is flagging. 

(Pallava Bagla is a correspondent for Science, and Science Editor of NDTV. The views expressed are personal.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Will rain washout the London Olympic Opening Ceremony? UK Met Office pits itself against Piers Corbyn

Come 27th July, the London Olympics kick off with its Opening Ceremony. Weather can play a spoiler. The Chinese demonstrated during the last Olympics that they had the technology to even chase away the rain successfully. This time it is different since here it is the British we are talking of! 

So what’s the weather like for the opening ceremony? Weather forecasters are divided. On one hand we have the UK Met Office who promises of dry and shiny weather. On the other hand we have Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and owner of Weather Action who predicts a damp and rainy day. So on the opening day of the London Olympics itself we are fortunate to watch one of the most fascinating duel as a sidelight to the Opening Ceremony. 

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has been recently receiving alot of flak for their monsoon prediction going awry. But compared to the UK’s Met office’s track record, they should come out smelling like roses.  The IMD possesses a success rate of 22% which means at least one of four of their monsoon forecasts possess the probability of getting it right. Last year, the IMD even forecasted successfully a rainless day for the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. 

In contrast, the Met Office has hardly any success to flaunt though their prediction that global temperatures will rise by 4% by 2100 is extensively used by climate alarmist to generate hysteria. This despite the Met Office possessing the most sophisticated and expensive super-computer on earth. Even more ironical, the Met Office Directors draw a salary even higher than those drawn by UK’s Prime Minister and are thus the highest paid civil servants in the UK. So we can draw some consolation it is not only in India where incompetence is often rewarded. The UK, our former colonial masters leaves us far behind to claim the first prize for this dubious distinction. 

Christopher Booker of the Telegraph perhaps best gives us the best graphic description of their incompetence as perhaps only he could:
“First it was a national joke. Then its professional failings became a national disaster. Now, the dishonesty of its attempts to fight off a barrage of criticism has become a real national scandal. I am talking yet again of that sad organisation the UK Met Office, as it now defends its bizarre record with claims as embarrassingly absurd as any which can ever have been made by highly-paid government officials...

The reason the Met Office so persistently gets its seasonal forecasts wrong is that it has been hi-jacked from the role for which we pay it nearly £200 million a year, to become one of the world's major propaganda engines for the belief in man-made global warming. Over the past three years, it has become a laughing stock for forecasts which are invariably wrong in the same direction...

In line with IPCC theory, its computers were programmed to predict that, as CO2 levels rose, temperatures would inevitably follow.”

 So what makes the Met Office a national joke? Here are some samplers: 
-     In 2007, the UK Met Office warned we could see "the warmest year ever", just before global temperatures plunged by 0.7 degrees Celsius, more than the world's entire net warming in the 20th century due to the effect of a super La Niña!  The gaffe provoked headlines like “The Met Office fries while the rest of the world freezes”

-       In 2009-10, the Met Office promised UK a “barbecue summer” which turned into a damp squib as temperatures plunged due to heavy rains. In the event, July was the wettest on record in England and Wales.

-       From 2008-2009 to 2010-11, three years consequently, the Met Office predicted a "mild winter" for the UK only to eat crow.

-       The 2010-2011 forecast seasons was particularly severe for the reputation of the Met Office, as UK winter which they forecast to be “mild” turned out to be the coldest for over 100 years. This when climate sceptic meteorologists of the likes of Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather; Jonathan Powell of Positive Weather Solutions and Piers Corbyn of Weather Action hit the bulls-eye right. To save themselves further blushes, the UK Met Office gave up seasonal forecast of winter altogether and this is why they gave no such forecast for the winter of 2011-2012.

And their list of fumbling appears unending. This summer the Met Office predicted record warmth and droughts (no surprise). Instead what the UK got was the record seasonal cold and worst floods in over 100 years (no surprise here too). It provoked articles as in Times:
“Let us make our position crystal clear: We are against this weather," the venerable newspaper wrote in an unsigned opinion piece. "It must stop raining, and soon."
The Guardian wrote that,
“Met Office spokeswoman Sarah Holland was apologetic, saying in an email that while the weather was disappointing, ‘unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it.’”
Another newspaper observed:
“The Met Office has explained that the persistent damp is likely due to a fluke of the jet stream, which normally migrates north of Britain in the summer but, this year, has refused to budge. (Yes, this could be due to climate change.) Instead, it’s hovering over the country, drizzling rain like a shower head in a bad hotel.”
The Met Office’s bête noire is the brillant but eccentric Dr. Piers Corbyn, a meteorologist and climate skeptic. He is the brother of bearded Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn. Piers Corbyn works in an undistinguished office in Borough High Street, London. He has no supercomputer. Armed only with a laptop or a pocket scientific calculator, huge quantities of publicly available data and a first-class degree in astrophysics, he gets it right again and again. His short term forecasts i.e. below 7 days has nearly a 100% success rate; medium term forecasts i.e. below a month a success rate of 85% and long term i.e. above one month forecasts has a success rate of about 60%. Head to head against the Met Office, Corbyn has nearly a 100% success rate.   
42 days before the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Piers Corbyn predicted rains while the Met Office predicted clear skies. A week before D-Day, while Piers Corbyn stood firm, the Met Office lost their nerves and revised their forecast to rains. Then a few days ago, while Piers Corbyn continued to stand firm, the Met Office once again did a somersault to revert make to their clear sky forecast. A media report describes their latest about turn:
The Jetstream, the bad guy of Britain's washout summer, is heading back north, raising hopes of warmer, sunnier weather just in time for the Olympic Games.

The soggy weather system, which normally flows to the north of Scotland, has been sitting over southern England for the past three months, bringing virtually non-stop rain with it.

New data from the Met Office suggests the situation is changing, however, and by Saturday the jet stream will be closer to where it belongs.

The retreat of the jet stream will allow a ridge of high pressure to exert its influence over southern parts of England, bringing warmer, sunnier weather. Northern and western parts are out of luck, however. They will experience what the BBC calls "changeable" weather.
The change in the jet stream means the Olympics, which start on 27 July, may avoid the washout which everybody thought was inevitable.

The BBC, which uses Met Office data, predicts for the week of Monday 23 July- Sunday 29 July: "Changeable conditions will continue into the following week. However, there are now signs that the unsettled weather will become more focussed towards northern and western parts of the United Kingdom. This will result in drier, more settled conditions in the south with some brighter, warmer weather."

Rain isn't exactly rare in London this time of year.  The average August in London receives just under two inches of rain. London just set a record for the wettest June on record, and July is off to a wet start. 

Many events won't be impacted by the rain. Swimming, diving, basketball and gymnastics all compete indoors. 

However, track and field events can quickly change in the rain. Field sports like hockey, rugby sevens (demonstration sport until 2016) and football/soccer become different, and sailing can be downright dangerous in poor weather. 

Beach volleyball is one of the events that would be most impacted by weather. Even though players are accustomed to dealing with "the third player," rain and wind do take away some of the advantages of the better athletes.
So good times ahead. The first competition for the London Olympics starts tomorrow, the Opening Ceremony - the weather forecast competition.

What is going to transpire? 

Can a bloke beat the super-computers of the UK Met Office with a laptop?

Watch this space!

The Dust Bowl: 2012 vs. 1930s

"Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes." - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
There have been many comparisons between 2012's growing drought and the 1930's Dust Bowl. Both happened in a time of economic downturn. Both are accompanied by stunning images of dry, withered land. Both have sparked deep concerns about the state of the environment and whether our land and lifestyles are sustainable. 

However, there are huge differences.
"In terms of percent area of country affected by drought (as measured by the Palmer Drought Index), the 1930's Dust Bowl decade is the worst drought on record by spatial area," 
says Richard Heim, a meteorologist and drought expert with NOAA's National Climactic Data Center.  

The Dust Bowl was not solely caused by drought.  It was a complicated conflux of three factors that combined to create a natural disaster of epic proportions: weather, poor farming practices, and lack of environmental understanding. In essence, the Dust Bowl was a perfect storm of a natural disaster.

We're going to take you back in history to the Dust Bowl, the worst drought in recorded U.S. history, and explain what happened meteorologically, agriculturally and culturally. 

The Dust Bowl term is used to describe the massive dust storms that formed in the Plains during the 1930s. Unlike the dust storms that form in Arizona or New Mexico that last only a few hours, these storms lasted days and affected dozens of states.

What:  A period of severe drought and dust storms.
Where: Plains states though Texas and Oklahoma bore the brunt of the damage.
When:  1930s, particularly 1934 and 1936.
Impact: Major ecological and agricultural damage to American prairie lands

The "why" of the story is the hardest to explain because it's a combination of weather, environmental and educational factors. We start with the weather angle.
"In July of 1934, 80 percent of the country was affected by drought," says Heim. "At its peak the drought went from the West Coast, to the Great Plains, to the Midwest and the East Coast."
Desertification was an issue during the Dust Bowl years. A desert is defined as an area that receives less than 10 inches of rain a year. Some cities went several years in a row with less than 10 inches of precipitation, thereby becoming, by definition, a desert.

The area is known as semi-arid and is naturally prone to drought and high winds. In fact, early settlers referred to it as the "Great American Desert."

For decades, farmers worked the same plots of land and didn't use any of the techniques we now know will help keep farming from depleting the resources of land: crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops and techniques to prevent wind erosion.

Massive dust storms, referred to as "black blizzards," enveloped Plains towns. The dust storms lasted for days, and sometimes the dust  reached East Coast cities like New York and Washington D.C.

The region's natural defenses are critical to its survival during drought. That leads us to the next contributing factor for the Dust Bowl: lack of environmental understanding.

Farmers plowed deep into the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains displacing the natural grasses. The native grasses of the Plains were deep-rooted and kept the high winds from blowing away soil. They also trapped moisture.
"Farmers basically plowed up the land, plant the crops, let them grow," reports NOAA drought expert Heim.  
"So when the rains did not come there was no vegetative coverage to hold the land down. The wind would pick up the dirt and create these massive dust bowls."
In addition, cotton farmers left fields bare during the winter or burned what was left in the field to control weeds. That stripped the land of remaining nutrients and eliminated surface vegetation, which would help keep moisture in place and keep the soil from blowing away in high winds.

While we can never stop a drought or any other weather event, we have learned a lot since the Dust Bowl.
In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created government programs to mandate better stewardship of the land. The Civilian Conservation Corps began to restore the natural balance by planting trees. We put systems in place to conserve soil and educate farmers about crop rotation and other modern farming practices.

  • Large percentage of Americans were farmers.
  • Sustained drought.
  • Farmers stripped land of natural defenses (native grasses).
  • Unsustainable farming practices.
  • Smaller percentage of farmers.         
  • Sustained drought, but not as widespread as 1930s.
  • Decades of replanting of native grasses, trees.
  • New farming practices.                                                    
"My sense is it still has a long way to go in terms of duration and severity," says The Weather Channel's Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro.
"Now if it's a long hot dry summer, which it looks like it will be, and this persists into the winter and next summer, then you're starting to rival the expanse and duration of the 1930s and 1950s. But it's not there yet."