April 10, 2013

Met Office Admit "Our Climate Is Being Disrupted by the Warming of the Arctic"

According to ITV News this evening:

The Met Office is calling a meeting of top scientists to look at the "urgent" question of whether the warming of the Arctic is affecting UK weather.

In an interview with ITV Professor Julia Slingo OBE, chief scientist at the United Kingdom's Met Office has been commenting on the evident changes in the Great British Climate over the last few years. Julia told ITV (amongst other things) that:

It's not proven yet, we've a lot more research to do, but if you look at the way in which weather patterns have behaved over say the last four or five years, we're beginning to think that there is something happening, that in a sense our climate is being disrupted by the warming of the Arctic that we've observed very dramatically since 2007.

The early evidence from the work we've done suggests that in winter and spring the warmth of the Arctic is tending to set up cold, easterly, dry winters. The sorts of things we've seen certainly this year, and of course in 2010. In summer the case is not proven at all.

When asked:

What do you feel in your bones, so to speak.

Julia replied that:

It's hard to believe that the changes that are going on in the Arctic so dramatically since 2007 aren't going to affect our weather patterns. My gut feeling is that it's very likely that what's happening in the Arctic will affect our climate.

We need to get to grips with it, and quickly, because if this is how climate change could manifest itself then we need to understand that as a matter of urgency, which is why I believe we should pull together the best scientists to really see how do we detect an influence of the Arctic on the jet stream and on our weather patterns around the world. It's a really urgent question.

ITV News also interviewed Professor Jennifer Francis of the Institute of Coastal and Marine Science at Rutgers University. Jennifer told ITV (amongst other things) that:

This change in the Arctic is something that the system hasn't seen, certainly in recent history. I have to believe that it's very likely that the changes in the Arctic are affecting the large scale circulation patterns in the Northern Hemisphere.

You can watch a recording of those conversations via the link to the ITV News web site at the top of this article, which also includes a report from the Barneo ice camp near the North Pole.

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Comments on Met Office Admit "Our Climate Is Being Disrupted by the Warming of the Arctic" »

April 11, 2013

Paul Beckwith @ 2:52 am

I hate to say to the British Meteorological Office and Julia Slingo that we (AMEG = Arctic Methane Emergency Group http://www.ameg.me/ ) told you so. Members of our group met with you and our "reason for being" has been to inform the public and scientists that we have an extremely urgent situation on our (humanities) collective hands. Having said that, our members, specifically scientists Peter Wadhams and myself and many others in our group have a good understanding of what we are up against. In my case, this exact topic is my PhD thesis. Even my second year climatology students are very well versed on what is happening in the Arctic and how it is affecting the jet stream circulation patterns and extreme weather events. As are all the people that follow my Sierra Club Canada and Elephant Journal and Sam Carana's Arctic news blogs that I often post to. Getting people to listen to us has been the problem. Nobody seems to comprehend the extent of the risk that humanity is exposed to with collapse of Arctic sea ice and snow cover resulting in Arctic albedo collapse.

Jim @ 5:40 am

Hi Paul,

Do you suppose Peter is now on Julia's short list as we/she attempt(s) to "pull together the best scientists"?

For readers unfamiliar with the debate Paul is referring to, we mentioned it last year in our article entitled "Why Should I Care Where The Arctic Sea Ice Went?"

Hopefully the answer to that question is now self evident.

Paul Beckwith @ 6:29 am

Hello Jim,

I sent heads-up emails to the AMEGers so I am hoping that they, specifically Peter Wadham's is involved in these talks with the Met. Office. Also I have sent out friend requests on facebook to the ITV people…

I encourage any readers here to friend me on facebook to get more info…

Regards, Paul

April 13, 2013

Jim @ 9:06 am

I phoned the Met Office first thing on Thursday morning, and asked whether as a member of the local media I might have a quick word with Julia Slingo about her newly announced "climate change science task force". They assured me Julia had far too much work to do to speak to me, and suggested I put my questions in writing. This is what I wrote to them:

Firstly can I ask that you advise me of any obvious errors and/or omissions that you may spot in [my two most recent] articles ASAP?

As you can see, the first one has been picked up by AMEG already, which leads me into my most immediate questions:

1. AMEG are saying things like "John Nissan and Peter Wadhams and other of the British based AMEG people have presented to [Julia] and many others in panels in the British Government on this exact issue over the last year and have been basically ignored, and even worse ridiculed.". I have said in response that "It does indeed look at first sight like a major U-turn". How does the Met Office see things following the ITV News item last night?

2. What form will Julia's attempt to "pull together the best scientists" take?

3. Will Peter Wadhams be invited to take part in those proceedings?

4. Whatever the answer to 3, what will be the selection criteria for "the best scientists". By way of example, is it anticipated that this will be a UK or European or international effort? Are "engineers" of whatever flavour welcome, or is it strictly "scientists" only?

The Met Office replied with a reference number and a statement that:

Due to work loads, we are unable to provide point-by-point answers to particularly long enquiries, and we cannot to enter into ongoing debates. Nevertheless, we aim to respond to every query put to us where necessary and aim to respond within 28 working days.

I then put the same questions in writing to the UK's Department for Energy and Climate Change. They haven't answered those specific questions yet, but they have assured me that their recent statement to me on the thorny topic of "climate change" here in the UK "still stands":

There is increasing evidence that melting Arctic sea-ice may affect Northern Hemisphere weather patterns by influencing the position of the jet stream. Many other factors also play a part in determining weather in the UK and Europe. In particular, warm North Atlantic sea surface temperatures (as we are currently experiencing) are connected with above average summer rainfall in the UK.

April 27, 2013

SenseWillPrevail @ 8:54 pm

1. How can you equate "It's not proven yet, we've a lot more research to do," and "early evidence " with "Met Office ADMITS"?

2. You can't just phone a company and ask for "a quick word" with senior staff. Julia Slingo is the Chief Scientist – she IS probably inundated with questions from both inside and outside the organisation.
Would a Chief Scientist be expected to respond more quickly to MP's questions or "local media"?

3. Your questions about selection criteria etc are valid, but 28 days is normal now for such responses (e.g. DECC are also not dropping everything to compile an answer) – a little patience is called for here.

I'm not making light of the Arctic situation, but you are making in appropriate assumptions responses and you're coming across as desperate to be involved, and I'm just not sure why?

4. "Are "engineers" of whatever flavour welcome, or is it strictly "scientists" only?".
What good would engineers be, in trying to assess changes to ocean and atmospheric currents on the scale of the jet stream or the Gulf Stream?

5. Where has AMEG been "basically ignored, and even worse ridiculed." Specific examples please.

April 28, 2013

Jim @ 11:05 am

Hi SWP,

To answer your points in sequence:

1 – I faithfully transcribed Julia's words from the ITV interview. What spin would you prefer to put on "My gut feeling is that it's very likely that what's happening in the Arctic will affect our climate."?

2 – I can, and I did. I also faithfully reported what happened next.

3 – Thanks for your kind words. How I'm "coming across" is something you've constructed in your own mind. My mileage may vary.

4 – That was a reference to both "geo-engineers" and the eleven global professional engineering institutions who stated 18 months ago that "The technology needed to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 already exists."

See also the DASIM project.

5 – You'll have to ask Paul and/or AMEG that question. I don't speak for them.

May 2, 2013

Jim @ 2:34 pm

More from AMEG for you SWP. Noting that Prof. Carlos Duarte is visiting The White House they have recently announced that:

Governments must put two and two together, and pull out all stops to save the Arctic sea ice or we will starve.

May 14, 2013

Jim @ 11:58 am

I have now received a response to my initial enquiry from The Met Office. It reads as follows:

Meetings, such as that mentioned in the interview with Prof. Julia Slingo on ITV News to discuss the impact of the reduction in Arctic sea ice extent on UK weather, are held regularly as part of the ongoing scientific research process on this and other topics.

With regards to this meeting, the Met Office plans to hold an informal workshop on the potential influence of the changing Arctic on mid-latitude weather systems. We expect to hold it within the next 2-3 months and with UK leading scientists in the area plus 2-3 international experts. It will be a Met Office Academic Partnership event involving our partner universities – Exeter, Reading, Oxford and Leeds. This type of meeting is fairly routine, as leading scientists from different institutions regularly meet to discuss issues as part of the normal collaborative approach to scientific research.

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