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« Gray lady | Main | Keeping the heat out »

Hot spot or not - Josh 335

It is good to see Christopher Booker writing about the 'hottest day of the year' in the Telegraph again. Paul Homewood's excellent posts, on which his article is based, are well worth reading.

The story starts here, with more here, and Booker's first article, followed by more doubts, some Met Office spin, then a belated response, comment moderation, and finally more Met Office spin. It's quite a saga.

Anyone would think they are trying to hype every possible weather event they can. I wonder why?

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (78)


"if you replace a temperature sensor with a long time constant (liquid -in-glass) with a sensor with a short time constant (electronic) you will get records"

Not to mention the instant recording of such maxima. Before long, every jet turning round at that end of the runway will create a new record...

Jul 12, 2015 at 7:10 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Stephen Richards: Thanks for your comment. What I was alluding to was that the money we pay for the MO is being spent on more powerful computers in a desire to 'prove' their belief in AGW. AFAIK the MO uses the same models to determine weather as they do to model 'climate', and if they can't get the climate right ('what pause?'), what chance they can get the weather right.

Now, to test my theory I monitor the BBC weather forecast on the BBC News web (supplied by the MO) where I can put in my postcode and get a fairly local forecast. I check it out five, three, two and one day out and compare each day's forecast with the previous one and then, with the actual. In the times I've done this I have yet to be able to plan, say, a garden party with any degree of confidence and usually, the forecasts have often changed dramatically over the days and then, usually turn out to be wrong - especially of late when I've been trying to plan for rain.

Jul 12, 2015 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Government selects panel to review the future of the BBC.

Jul 12, 2015 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn Response times of thermometers

For routine meteorological observations there is no advantage in using thermometers with a very small time-constant or lag coefficient, since the temperature of the air continually fluctuates up to one or two degrees within a few seconds. Thus, obtaining a representative reading with such a thermometer would require taking the mean of a number of readings, whereas a thermometer with a larger time-constant tends to smooth out the rapid fluctuations. Too long a time-constant, however, may result in errors when long-period changes of temperature occur. It is recommended that the time-constant, defined as the time required by the thermometer to register 63.2 per cent of a step change in air temperature, should be 20 s. The time-constant depends on the air-flow over the sensor.

[my bold]

I wonder whether the temperature sensors at Heathrow (or anywhere else) follow the WMO guideline. I wonder how well-controlled the airflow over the sensor is at Heathrow (or anywhere else).

Jul 12, 2015 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

It can't have been that hot the other day. I don't believe The Sun newspaper has run "Phew! What a scorcha!" for years as a headline. The BBC does it as part of their TV News Headlines instead.

It is a sad reflection of modern standards, when The Sun newspaper is a more reliable source than the BBC.

Comedians Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse did a spoof foreign news TV weather forecast 15+(?) years ago when the forecast was always "Scorchio!". BBC news forecasting about the weather is now more scorchio, than anyone would have thought possible, especially on another cool damp July evening in England.

If French Air Traffic Controllers are looking for a time to go on strike to get maximum worldwide news coverage, Nov/Dec 2015 seems optimal. Diverted flights could divert to Heathrow, to warm the place up a bit.

Jul 12, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Billy Liar, I expect the Met Office have a special security spotlight trained on their thermometers at Heathrow, which they can turn on at will to check for any tampering.

Jul 12, 2015 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Harry Passfield, if you have the dedication, another interesting experiment might be to examine the temperature predictions over time. That is, are the ~5 day predictions significantly warmer, or cooler, than the predictions for the same date 4,3,2, or 1 days in advance, as the day approaches.

I'd wondered about spending the time to do this myself, but decided that I regard the Met Office weather predictions as essentially honest (but limited, obviously), unlike what comes out their climate-related collaborators. (I phrase that last part carefully to avoid offence to the good Dr. Betts, who I regard as honest).

Jul 12, 2015 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

michael hart, I agree, I wish they would concentrate on improving their 5 day forecasts, and extending them to a whole week.

Apart from the Met Office, everyone can remember David Viner's "children won't know what snow is" forecast. The hot summer of 1976 seems to have been forgotten by the Met Office, when it comes to big events, but nobody had home video equipment then, so most surviving footage is well secured at the BBC.

Jul 12, 2015 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"essentially honest (but limited, obviously), unlike what comes out their climate-related collaborators. (I phrase that last part carefully to avoid offence to the good Dr. Betts, who I regard as honest)."

Excuse me?

Jul 12, 2015 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Here's another paper:

Reflected shortwave radiation and wind speed are routinely measured on many automatic weather stations and therefore available for the new scaling and air temperature correction.

... the radiative error is a strong function of the surface albedo ...

The combination of incident solar radiation and low wind conditions leads to significant errors in air temperature measurements when using a sensor installed in a naturally ventilated radiation shield. These radiative errors tend to be particularly large over snow-covered surfaces (up to 10C).

Since the peak at Heathrow, as stated by the Met Office, coincided with a period of strong sunshine there might be grounds for considering that the ensuing rapid temperature rise was a radiative response in the sensor.

Does anyone know whether the UKMO use sonic anemometers for temperature sensing, thus avoiding radiation effects on sensors, or do they correct for any radiation effect?

Jul 12, 2015 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I'm not sure which bit you disagree with, Athelstan, if I interpret your comment correctly. So I'll elaborate briefly..

I think the Met Office weather forecasters have every reason to try and be honest and correct. They are rumbled too quickly by people who care if the forecasts are bad.

I think Dr Betts is honest in his approach to his comments about climate that I read at BH. I may not always see it his way.

I think some external collaborators (and some internal) to the Met Office are dishonest in what they say about climate. They are probably most dishonest with themselves, but that may take them more than 5 decades to discover for themselves, not 5 days.

Jul 12, 2015 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"I think Dr Betts is honest in his approach to his comments about climate that I read at BH. I may not always see it his way."

Betts and honesty, the two travellers who never meet. Walk the walk and talk up the supposition and to what end?

Soft sinecure, easy money paid to spin the myth and to ride on a government high horse "save the world" but at what renting asunder the industrial fabric binding the nation - that's sheer insanity.

Circles, circular arguments and on the international circuit of partners in climate sophistry. All advocates and bolstered by justification of "we group think, therefore we are right". A growing expertise in casuistry and misdirection, the climate doom mongers are specious gurus and all peas in a pod.

And if we delve into the ethics of all of this, we step off the cliff of truth and fall down into damnation and lies.

Jul 13, 2015 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

John M

Don't be a silly vvabbit: please calculate the difference in lapse rate and temperature between Heathrow , elevation 25 meters, and Green Park, elevation 25 meters, before gibbering further.

Jul 13, 2015 at 4:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The Telegraph had another piece on this yesterday -

Met Office defends 'hottest July ever' claims amid raised eyebrows, by Sarah Knapton, (Science Editor), who gave the last word to the Met Office:

However the Met Office insisted that the data was reliable and the weather station met international requirements for temperature monitoring.

“It is reasonable to ask whether Heathrow, as a major international airport, can provide a reliable climatological record,” added Mr McCarthy

“But the instrumentation and station enclosure are managed so that they meet the standards required by the MetOffice and set out by the World Meteorological Organization.

“The site has been operating for 66 years and provides an excellent long observational series for west London.”

So that's okay then. Once an grassy airfield, now an expanse of concrete, tarmac and air-conditioned terminal buildings, with an average of 2 jet aircraft movements per minute, and UHI isn't even worth mentioning.

The Met Office used to be a bit of a national joke, but Slingo and her climateers have turned it into an international embarrassment.

Jul 13, 2015 at 8:13 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus


Does that mean we can see the calibration record for Heathrow then?

See how they maintain measuring standards.

Jul 13, 2015 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

"The Met Office said a sudden break in the cloud allowed temperatures to soar to record levels, but others are not so sure"

It woz a break in the clouds wot done it

The Muppet Office never fails to disappoint. Words cannot describe these people adequately!

Jul 13, 2015 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered Commentercharmingquark

Micky - don't be daft, they will have chucked out the raw data years ago.

Here's a map of Heathrow in 1948, just one year before the Met Office station was installed. The runways had been constructed, but little else.

Jul 13, 2015 at 8:47 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

George Osborne is cutting back Military spending. So no real need for Centralized Meteorological Intelligence Defense Data.

So he can privatize the Met Office.The BBC and other UK media organizations can buy their weather forecasting service privately .

Jul 13, 2015 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Yes, but you realise organisations like the BBC will only buy their weather data from "approved" sources that conform to their Mann Made Global Warming (tm) beliefs.


Jul 13, 2015 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman


Yes sorry about that lapse in judgement. I hadn't taken my Common Sense Suppression pills.

Jul 13, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

"organisations like the BBC will only buy their weather data from "approved" sources"

Mailman thats the whole point
Difference between Thatcher and Cameron is Maggie didn't have the Internet.

Radical Conservatism is about opening Public Services to the Private Sector
You can buy your own weather probe or a Drone for a few hundred pounds plant it anywhere that will continuously monitor and then the clever bit it routinely upload its Data not to some junior scientist in a white coat but straight onto Twitter or Facebook for immediate human or automated analysis.Makes private large scale Meteorology viable.

The Internet will eventually wipe out Public Sector Broadcasting and Public Sector Weather forecasting.Who needs the BBC when you got Youtube and Netfix and who needs the Met Office when you got Twitter.

Take out the BBC and the Met Office and you take out the two biggest Cheerleaders for Climate Change.That why they are both desperately clinging on promoting it ,politicizing the weather ,looking for relevance in a world that has left them behind.

Jul 13, 2015 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

The Heathrow met station has been in operation since 1949. I cannot believe that the instrumentation has not changed. No doubt the UKMO would charge a fat fee to release that information but it is critical to determine whether the so-called record of last week at Heathrow could have been exceeded in the past but without the knowledge of the operator.

Jul 11, 2015 at 11:53 PM Billy Liar

It should be FOI-able.

Jul 13, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Don't be a silly vvabbit: please calculate the difference in lapse rate and temperature between Heathrow , elevation 25 meters, and Green Park, elevation 25 meters, before gibbering further.

I assume you meant to gibber something other than the same elevation for the two sites, but just so we don't end up down an Eli-like vvabbit-hole, are you talking about the lapse rate that is ~5-10 deg C/km and depends on humidity?

Although my guess is that you are only trolling, can you enlighten us on how this is supposed to advance the discourse?

Jul 13, 2015 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

JJohn ggibbers on.

Jul 13, 2015 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Recursive Russell

Jul 13, 2015 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

In my region, even the BBC weather girls admit that rural temperatures will be "3 or 4 degrees" lower than the urban figures shown on the chart, so as urbanisation expands, we can presumably expect overall temperatures to increase without any extra inputs.

Jul 13, 2015 at 10:27 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"a sudden break in the cloud allowed temperatures to soar to record levels"

Thank heavens we never get a whole day like that. Er...

Jul 14, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Billy, if it is any help; the maximum and minimum thermometers in use in 1939 were made in accordance to BSI Specification 692-1936 which I gather had bulb diameters of 0.45 inches for the Max and not exceeding 0.65 inches for the Min. Another general requirement was that the scale was to be such to 'permit estimation to 0.1 F without difficulty'.
If you could find someone with a good maths brain they might be able to come up with an estimate of the time constant from the BSI standard?
My guess is that there is / has been someone in the met-office whose whole life has been dedicated to considering the question that you pose and I guess that the met office will not have strayed too far off the straight and narrow, having said that life is sadly just one big compromise :-(

Jul 19, 2015 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterChas

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