the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

John Hirst – Models Predicted Temperatures Would Stop Rising!

Posted by Jeff Id on January 7, 2010

I received this link from L. Gardy LaRoche by email. A reporter from the BBC takes offense with John Hirst getting a bonus for predicting global warming and a mild winter right before the huge cold snap we’re having. The Met office is actually famous for predicting every year will be the warmest on record with hot summers and mild winters, it’s so bad that the only prediction which holds any water is the prediction that the Met office will predict warm weather next year as well.

So this reporter, armed with a few inconvenient facts, goes after John Hurst until at the end John states flat out that Met models predicted that temperatures would flatten in recent years. That’s all great, except that they keep predicting warmest year ever and keep missing the mark. If the models predicted flattening of temperatures, why would they keep predicting warming?

The clip is about 6 minutes with the interesting bit at the end:

Click to Link to Video

So which is it, is MET not being honest about predictions or are they not being honest about the models?

39 Responses to “John Hirst – Models Predicted Temperatures Would Stop Rising!”

  1. Carrick said

    John states flat out that Met models predicted that temperatures would flatten in recent years.

    LOL. What nonsense.

    Actually I think that’s a flat out lie. If then understanding for the flattening of temperature is the ENSO activity, the model’s can’t capture the ENSO at all (otherwise you’d see spectral peaks in the model temperature output at e.g. 4.7 years). I believe the explanation is in the fact that the model spatial discretization is around 250-km, so the smallest scale you’re likely to see is at circulations on the order of 1000-km in extent, and reliably more like 2500-km.

  2. HotRod said

    He’s not quite ‘a BBC reporter’ btw, Andrew Neil ( is a very irreverent and experienced journalist and editor, with a bias for taking on the Establishment. He edited The Sunday Times for 11 years.

    Good piece.

  3. artwest said

    I love the latest spin by Met Office apologists like Monbiot, that although the MO said that this winter would be warmer, the fact that they also said that there was a one in seven chance of it being colder meant they were right!

    This ability to come up with predictions which can never be wrong does suggest that, when the cull comes at the Met Office, many given the chop will have bright futures as fake psychics.

  4. Viv Evans said

    You ask:
    ‘So which is it, is MET not being honest about predictions or are they not being honest about the models?’

    That’s easy – they’re not being honest, period.
    It was enjoyable to see Mr Hirst squirm for all his inflated earning’s worth.
    However, IIRC they never predicted – not in 1999, nor later – that temperatures would flatten out.
    Each year was predicted to become the hottest evah – and when it didn’t, they hid behind such expressions as ‘we said there would be a 50-50 chance’.
    “009 will go down as their most infamous yet – after predicting a ‘barbecue summer’ which was a total wash-out, and cold, they predicted a mild winter, warmer than recently, a bit humid … and here we are, record low temperatures, record amounts of snow all over the country, not just in a few regions, for a length of time already which we haven’t seen for 30 years, so far.

    As far as I’m concerned, Andrew Neil ought to have made him squirm much more, for much longer!

  5. David_WS said

    Hirst claims in the interview that the Met Office predicted the flattening off of temperature rises in the last decade. Does anyone in the blogosphere have any verbatim predictions from the Met Office or from their modelling or from any other source concerning the period 1999-2009 that would confirm or deny what Hirst said?

  6. stan said

    Someone needs to file an FOIA request for the documents containing the predictions re: flatter temps.

  7. aylamp said

    There are some Met Office statements reported in the thread at the top of this page.

  8. mrpkw said

    Baghdad Bob lives !!

    “Nothing to see here!!!”

  9. Vinny Burgoo said

    Nice find. Worth watching in full. What a numpty.

    And note that, despite all the awards for short-term forecasts that Mr Bonus Numpty kept trying to puff, the Met’s short-term forecasts are shit too – or they are for where I live. Presumably there are other parts of the country (the SE, no doubt) where the forecasts are so good they push the average up to award-winning levels. But that’s no use to us here. Again and again, if we’re told it’s likely to be frosty or rainy, it’s not; if dry, non-frosty weather is forecast, it’s frosty or rainy. If they don’t know, they shouldn’t say. (I’m talking mostly about the daftly detailed and localized online Met forecasts; the regional forecasts hardly ever mention this area.)

  10. timetochooseagain said

    The key here is which models he is talking about, and how far ahead they were forecasting. Both that models can be fudged after the fact to match recent temps and that they have generally overestimated warming when they couldn’t do so, are true.

    This was a Met Paper and probably is what he refers to:

    Smith, D.M., S. Cusack, A.W. Colman, C.K. Folland, G.R. Harris, J.M. Murphy (2007) Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model Science, 317, 796-799

    Note that most of the last twelve years without warming had already happened when they “improved” the models and “predicted” the pause. Before they knew the pause had happened, they couldn’t “predict” it. Note also that this paper predicted that warming would “resume” in 2009. This does not seem to be happening, so the fudged models will have to be fudged again.

  11. kmye said

    Seems like this should (not that I expect it is) be easy to fact check. Is there any resource online that would have past Met model predictions archived? Just the end results, if nothing else?

  12. PeterS said

    The only reason they are now saying the models predicted a flattening of global temperatures is because it’s just one of many scenarios they can and do produce. It’s like the IPCC models. There are several of them all predicting different increases in temperature. So, which one of them is correct? None of them of course, unless it’s by pure coincidence one of them hits the mark. We won’t know until the years roll on. So, they are all just guessing. Might as well throw darts. If temperatures over the next few years rise again, they will switch to anohter modeled scenario. If they fall much more, then they will switch yet another. They are playing games and we know it. Trouble is the public by and large don’t.

  13. alf said

    Maybe the focus is to much on temperatures and not on total global heat content [if it can be put that way], Is there a good rebuttal to this data?

  14. Hoi Polloi said

    Hirst & Co still believe the people will actually buy this crap. When you look without sound one can see the desperation in his body language…

  15. DG said

    Technically Met O did predict the last 10+ years of flat/dropping temperatures……in 2008. Just ask them 🙂 Of course now that they’ve removed all archives previous to 2007. there’s no way to check previous “forecasts”.

    TTC has it right, except that Met O says they correctly predicted 2009 right down to two place; what a coincidence! However, unless they’ve found some missing heat via parking lots and barbecue grills, their prediction(?) for 2009 being in the top 5 warmest years in the history of mankind will fail.

    I don’t put anything past these weasels.

  16. Hirst failed to really answer why they had predictions (inclusive of this winter) wrong when others had it right. He spun like a top on that without ever directly responding.

    He also made the statement that their 3 to 5 day forecasts were very accurate ( most good farmers are as well) and that long term 50 – 100 year forecasts was a highly developed science. I take issue with the latter. He and others may think they understand the climate that well, however, NO ONE really does at this point in time. On the other hand…. propaganda regarding such has become a highly developed skill.

  17. John M said

    You can still get those UKMet global predictions by using the Wayback machine.

    Here’s one.

    To get the others, just substitute the desired year in the URL where this one says 2004. I think most of them are available.

    I don’t know for sure why the UKMet removed them from there web site, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that their predictions were consistently high. I had been tracking these at the Climate Audit Message Board, but that may all be lost, since the info on the Message Board wasn’t a high priority when CA went to a new server.

    I did post the results once at WUWT, and here’s what I had:

    John M (14:54:58) :
    Year….mean forecast …actual … year hottest?
    1999 …….0.38 …………0.33 …………..No
    For those who don’t want to look back at the original post, the last column is whether UKMet predicted the coming year would be the “warmest ever”. Also note that the “actuals” are as presented in their yearly summary. Their master database has had several adjustments, and currently has slightly different values. For 2006, their forecast differs from what they state was their forecast in the following year, perhaps because they converted their previous forecast to an adjusted dataset (real clear huh?).

    So bottom line, UKMet consistently over predicted global temps over the last ten years. Maybe they’re now trying to claim that their forecasts show a “leveling”? If so, why hide the evidence by removing it from their web page?

  18. Jeff Id said

    Nice job John, I was hoping someone could do it.

  19. braddles said

    Here’s a history of Met Office global forecasts, comparing forecast to reality (well, HAD CRU reality). In nine of the last eleven years, they have overpredicted warming. There is a systematic bias towards overprediction. There have been no significant underpredictions.

    year…forecast…actual Temp. Anomaly
    1999 ……0.38…………0.33
    2008……0.37…………0.28 (adj later to 0.32)

    In 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and now in 2009 the Met Office predicted that the following year would be either the hottest or the second hottest on record.

    The Met Office routinely claims that their predictions are vindicated, because the error ranges around each prediction overlaps the actual temp.

    Note that earlier predictions cannot be confirmed, because they have since been removed from the Met Office website. They had been collected over the years by a commenter (John M?) at WUWT.

  20. Squidly said

    John M,

    I find it interesting that one, only one forecast was lower than actual (2002). That runs at 90% forecasting a warmer temperature than actual. I am no statistician, however, this speaks to me as warm biased without any other possible explanation, otherwise, should that figure not be near 50%. Does this also speak directly to invalidation of their forecasting as a whole? Even a 1 of 10 is within the margin of error (simple lucky guess), so it could be thrown out by itself, which would produce a 100% warm bias forecast. And obviously, their “next year hottest” prediction were 100% failure.

    I think the speaks pretty clearly to their forecasting ability. 100% junk science! .. or perhaps more accurately, 100% fraud!

  21. DeWitt Payne said


    1. It’s Joe Romm. That should give you pause to start with.

    2. He misinterprets Cazenave 2009 as well. Cazenave 2009 does in fact report that sea level is increasing, but the rate has slowed since 2003 and most of the increase is attributed to melting of parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as well as other land based ice, not thermal expansion.

    3. If the heat is in fact going into the ocean below 700 meters, it’s unlikely to be coming back any time soon. The equilibration time of the deep ocean is measured in millenia, not years or decades.

    4. 0.77 W/m2 sounds like a lot, but when you spread it out over 2000 meters of depth, the temperature change is about 0.02 degrees C or about 0.003 C/year.

    So that heat may be “in the pipeline”, as Hansen would put it, but it’s a really long pipe.

  22. PeterS said

    Yes, long term climate prediction is no better than junk science. The issue though is a lot of money is wasted on this junk science. I wouldn’t mind if they continually developed better and more accurate models on the ay. However, it appears they are getting worse not better. SO, either they are doing some wrong with the science, or they are committing a fraud. Either way we must know the truth and the junk science stopped.

  23. HotRod said

    A photo for Hirst’s wall:

  24. JohnH said

    This is the nearest I can find to a forecast of leveling off, trouble is its after the event but not unexpected for UK govt dept spin

    Global warming: Met Office predicts plateau then record temperatures

  25. Frank K. said

    Regarding the skillfulness of climate forecasts, a relevant article by Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. can be found here.. The money quote:

    “Climate forecasts (projections) decades into the future have not demonstrated skill in forecasting local, regional, and global climate variables. They have shown that human climate forcing has the capacity to alter the climate system, but we should not present these model simulations as forecasts. To present them as forecasts is misleading to policymakers and others who use this information.”

  26. Peter B said

    #24: interesting article.

    It says that in 2007 the Met Office gave a 50% chance that from 2010 on, temperatures would exceed those of 1998 – and that after 2014, the likelihood of that would be “even higher”.

    My bet is that the present flat trend will continue for another 5 years at least – maybe even with cooling. If so, we will have had about 15 years of no significant warming. Can we hope that then, finally, a few people will begin to consider that they didn’t know what they were talking about?

  27. JohnH said

    #26 Pete B I am guessing this is the last roll of the dice, they are embarassed by the recent flatlining of temps and are hoping that if they say temps are now going to rise the dice wil fall the right way in the next few years. Risky policy as they know deep down their models are useless but really their only hope for regaining credibility (if they ever had any).

  28. The Ego Has Landed said

    The Met Office-Hadley projection for 2000-09 was +0.3C change in line with the projection of 0.3C per decade change until 2100.

    Compare that to the 2000-09 UAH recorded change of +0.006C.

    No, the Met Office did not predict that the past decade would see no change in global temps.

  29. Peter B said

    #28 Doesn’t that graph allow the Met Office to say that a flattening is still “consistent with their projections” until around 2025 or so?

  30. telecorder said

    Bit OT — Not sure if you’ve seen this but a nice post mentioning your blog’s part in Climate Gate..

  31. The Ego Has Landed said

    #29 The Met Office graph omits negative changes in the modelled results for the decade concerned. When this data is included you see a decadal rise of +0.3C, as prjected for the other decades in this century. The modelled results definitely show no flattening over 2000-09.

  32. Hank Hancock said

    They have model runs that permute every possible weather scenario. When picking from an almost infinite number of model outputs, it is possible to say “our models predicted flattening temperatures.” It is like permuting every possible outcome of a roll of dice then claiming 7 was predicted following a roll of 7. No matter what is rolled, it was predicted. This is how the MET can claim such incredible accuracy in their predictions.

  33. […] there are no temperature stations in Bolia.The Met Office continues its propaganda with claims warmest year ever means temperatures will remain flat – another worthless conundrum (oh and I’ll have that performance bonus thanks says the […]

  34. JamesG said

    It’s so flexible this global warming. The Met office in 2006 predicted a dry year and it was the wettest ever recorded. Undaunted they released a report that said the wetness was due to global warming. There are also oddballs on the net telling us all not to be fools – surely we know that global warming is predicted to cause a change in the gulf stream followed by colder weather. Of course he was right that there was/is such a fringe theory, roundly criticised by the ocean experts Wunsch and Seager but some numbskull somewhere can always bring up this idiotic theory/myth that warming can cause cooling. And there’s always someone else who’ll point out that more water vapour in the air causes more snow or who’ll remind us scathingly, like Bill Maher did “it’s climate CHANGE”. So in summary it causes warmth, cooling, snow, droughts and floods but we just don’t know which it’ll be.

  35. londo said

    “Here’s a history of Met Office global forecasts, comparing forecast to reality (well, HAD CRU reality). In nine of the last eleven years, they have overpredicted warming. There is a systematic bias towards overprediction. There have been no significant underpredictions.”

    That may mean though that year by year they get the “weather” correct if I may call the various indexs (like el Niño or la Nina, PDO, artctic index and so on) correct and the year to year overprediction originates from a completely wrong assessment of carbon dioxide influence on climate.

  36. […] John Hirst – Models Predicted Temperatures Would Stop Rising! I received this link from L. Gardy LaRoche by email. A reporter from the BBC takes offense with John Hirst getting a […] […]

  37. Tom Forrester-Paton said

    Notwithstanding the mantra of the The Met Office to the effect the “weather isn’t the same as climate”, and the fact that it itself honours this stricture more in the breach than in the observance, it cannot escape the following reasoning:

    It chooses to be in the business of predicting both climate and weather;
    So does Piers Corbyn
    Piers Corbyn’s predictions of medium-term weather are skilful;
    The Met Office’s predictions of medium-term weather are not;
    The Met Office predicts AGW catstrophe;
    Piers Corbyn does not.

    Conclusion – all other things being equal, trust Piers Corbyn’s climate predictions before those of the Met Office.

    I choose Corbyn only because of the recent prominence his predictive skill has enjoyed – and because of his splendid hair – I am sure others have been equally skilful.

  38. […] The Air Vent […]

  39. […] John Hirst – Models Predicted Temperatures Would Stop Rising … […]

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