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Austerity? Not For The Met Office

November 3, 2014

By Paul Homewood






The news that the UK Met Office is to splurge £97 million of taxpayers’ money on a new super computer shines a new light on just how much they are costing us all. Of course, it was only five years ago that they spent £30 million on their last computer, which has dismally failed to make any improvement to their forecasting.


In an age of austerity, however, it is disturbing to find that, far from cutting back, government funding has actually been rising in the last few years. According to their Annual Accounts, government funding has increased by 8% between 2011/12 and 2013/14. Meanwhile, their commercial income has actually dropped slightly.



Below are some of the highlights.


£ million
£ Million
% Inc
Govt 163.2 175.5 7.5
Commercial 32.5 32.2 (0.9)
Staff Costs 87.4 95.2 8.9
No of Staff 1850 1929 4.3



Meanwhile, remuneration for the four executive members of the Board has been steadily rising. The costs below include salaries, bonus and pension contribution.


% Inc
J Hirst Chief Exec 235 245 4.3
N Jobling Chief Financial Officer 110 130 18.2
J Slingo Chief Scientist 190 230 21.1
R Varley Operations Director 105 115 9.5
TOTAL   640 720 12.5


It is very revealing that their commercial income has been falling, indicating that the private sector are not as impressed with their forecasting ability as the Met Office themselves believe.

The time has surely come to put an end to this bloated bureaucracy, and put the meteorological work out to tender. As James Delingpole puts it:


“Give us your money because we’re the Met Office," seems to be its motto. Well I wouldn’t. I think it would be make far more sense to scrap its contract and put the role of the British government’s official climatic and meteorological forecaster up for tender. I’ve no doubt there are any number of smaller, more efficient, less parti pris, fully private organisations which could do a much better job for a lot less taxpayers’ money.


It would certainly sharpen up their forecasting if they knew they might lose the contract if they kept getting it wrong!


Meanwhile, the Hadley Centre and all associated climate change work should be shut down forthwith. After all, we keep being told the science is settled.





Met Office Annual Accounts

  1. November 3, 2014 2:33 pm

    Reblogged this on the WeatherAction News Blog and commented:
    Well said Paul. I note Lamb’s call for more historic research continues to go unheeded whilst the seemingly bottomless pit of computer modelling funding continues unabated. Despite the increasing divergence of observations and projections, the Met Office have bought the answer that errors only come from not having enough computing power which is the panacea to all climate conjectures. ‘Yes the patient has not responded and has gone cold, draw more blood’.

    The spending approach resembles the sickness and overconfidence of an empire about to fall. Tesco’s profligacy also comes to mind.

  2. quaesoveritas permalink
    November 3, 2014 3:54 pm

    The Met. Office say that the new computer will “cement the UK’s position as a world leader in weather and climate prediction” and:

    “The new supercomputer, together with improved observations, science and modelling, will deliver better forecasts and advice to support UK business, the public and government. It will help to make the UK more resilient to high impact weather and other environmental risks.”

    I don’t know what “better forecasts” means, but the MO press release concentrates on the fact that it will be capable of more frequent and detailed forecasts, which is not the same as greater accuracy.

    The forecast accuracy should be monitored by an independent body and not the Met. Office, as they cannot be relied upon to be unbiased.

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    November 3, 2014 4:18 pm

    Of course they can spend more money, it is not really for Weather Forecasting, it is to support the Government’s “Climate Change” position.

  4. Delphinitaly permalink
    November 3, 2014 4:26 pm

    It will enable them to get the forecast wrong much more quickly

  5. November 3, 2014 4:27 pm

    Someone interviewed on Radio 5 live from the MetOffice said “It will improve the forecasts a little bit” – may not be exactly the quote, word for word but it is pretty close. I only need a measly few thousand pounds to build a computer model to hind cast it slightly better.

  6. Le Gin permalink
    November 3, 2014 4:53 pm

    Sorry all, this is slightly o/t but relates to some recent post re global carbon reductions, or lack thereof…

    I have been referred to this webpage
    in a discussion I was having about carbon emissions and China. How can coal consumption have decreased whilst carbon emissions have increased?

    Thanks to anyone who responds…

    • November 3, 2014 5:36 pm

      It sounds as if there is a supply glut, leading to low prices. A bit like OPEC, China want to restrict production to keep prices up, as they are losing money. They have also introduced a tariff on imports.

      Coal output in China was pretty much flat between 2012 and 2013, and this seems to be continuing, because of a slow down in growth of the steel and cement sectors.

      This all a far cry from China actually cutting coal use, which the Sierra Club are implying.

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        November 3, 2014 5:38 pm

        2012 and 2014 !?

      • November 3, 2014 5:59 pm

        Yes, I’ve compared over a two year period.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      November 3, 2014 5:37 pm

      That is a Greenpiece report – but could be correct, because China’s economy has not done well in 2014.

      Also (and you will have to find this yourself – I don’t have time), the government is trying to reduce air problems and is trying to consolidate power production into more efficient plants. As they do this the smaller (worst) burners of coal are shut down. I’m sure there are other things going on too. For example, are the data reliable? Likely not.

      In the old USSR, some places reported colder temperatures than actual so the allocation of fuel could be increased. So I’ve read – I wasn’t there. (After those places no longer needed an allocation from the gov.; the temperature returned to a higher (true) reading. And some no longer reported, and when many “very cold” places dropped out of the record – the country average increased. Warming! So it is reported.

  7. John F. Hultquist permalink
    November 3, 2014 5:15 pm

    The odd thing is this: Many folks replace their computers at intervals of 4 or 5 years. I usually spend about the same amount and get a much better computer. The MET Office is spending 3X what the last one cost.
    The quality of their computer is the least of their problems. They could scrap the computers and use “analogue years” and do a better job.

  8. cornwallwindwatch permalink
    November 6, 2014 4:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.


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