One Swan Can Cause Havoc to the Weatherman

The Met Office is becoming more precise with the passing of years.

They have now dismissed claims that the coldest winter for fifty years is coming, after developing the world’s most accurate three-month forecast.

Adam Scaife, Head of Monthly Decadal Prediction at the Met Office, said that our late autumn and early winter is more likely to be milder and wetter than average. However, there is an increasing risk of a colder-than-average end to winter because of the effect of El Nino on the global climate.

Predictions of the coldest winter for decades were based largely on the earlier-than-usual arrival at a lake in Gloucestershire of a single Bewick’s swan from Siberia.

‘In recent days we have had easterly winds which could easily have helped them in migration,’ Professor Scaife said. ‘That is the more simple explanation, rather than it having any long-term weather forecasting powers.’

Professor Scaife, a leading climate scientist, said the coming winter was less likely to be as cold as 2009-10, when El Nino caused temperatures to plunge to their most severe for thirty years.

In the meantime, the Met Office has developed the world’s best long-term weather forecast, capable of predicting the average temperatures for a three-month winter period to seventy per cent accuracy. The increase in computing power allows it to zoom in to a greater detail in sea and atmospheric conditions, so it can take into account much smaller changes in the Gulf Stream and Arctic sea ice coverage that can have powerful impacts on our climate.

The improvements also allow forecasters to model the North Atlantic oscillation – a see-saw in weather patterns across the Atlantic that determines whether the UK has a wet, windy and mild or dry, calm and cold winter.

Professor Scaithe said, ‘What we are trying to do is fill the gap between five-day weather forecasts and long-term climate predictions. We want these climate predictions months and years ahead to be of benefit to society.’

These are admirable words coming from a learned and distinguished scientist, but despite all his knowledge and experience in this field the weather can be a mysterious quantity, rebellious and often unpredictable. Global conditions are terribly misleading at times and can, as a result, create no end of problems.

His positive outlook is commendable, as to the way man will eventually be able to somehow win the monumental fight to predict the destructive consequences created by unforeseen circumstances that often turn science on its head.

Let us, however, give the professor the benefit of doubt and applaud his achievements so far.

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