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Climate Monitoring Since The Little Ice Age

July 19, 2022

By Paul Homewood

Meanwhile the jokers at the Met Office don’t seem to have realised that their temperature records begin at the depth of the Little Ice Age, or appear to have heard about Urban Heat Islands:

image

It is mid July 2022. We are currently experiencing a significant – at the time of writing provisionally record-breaking – heatwave for the UK. Red weather warnings for extreme heat are in force for large parts of England and forecasts indicated a real possibility of temperatures reaching up to 40°C in some areas. Indeed, this temperature has already been exceeded. Whether or not records are broken, a key part of the work that we do at the Met Office is climate monitoring, an important aspect of which is the ability to put current weather into historical context. Climate monitoring serves many functions: It can effectively communicate the relative severity of an event; it can indicate how frequently such extremes are likely to occur; and it can monitor how the character or frequency of extremes are changing over time. In order to properly understand the risks from climate change, a key research question climate monitoring can help us to answer is, ‘What are the current weather and climate hazards, risks and impacts that should be expected in the UK and globally?’. To address this question, we must look to the past, and the scientific effort goes back further than you might think.

Making history

In 1663, Robert Hooke stood before the relatively newly formed Royal Society and proposed ‘A method for making the history of the weather’. Hooke and other notable scientists of the time were actively developing instruments capable of making meteorological measurements of wind, rain, air pressure, humidity and temperature. These were the early anemometers, rain gauges, barometers and thermometers of the time1. In his paper, Hooke recommended what should be measured and how it should be recorded, including ‘a scheme at one view representing to the eye the observations of the weather for a month’ and implored his colleagues to undertake such measurements. From a modern climatologist’s point of view, arguably one of the most important advances by Hooke was his recognition that if systematic and consistent measurements were made across the country, or even across the world, then an international perspective on the weather could be obtained, for the benefit of humankind. 

Image reproduced from the Royal Society Wilkins Lecture (1950):  https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rspa.1950.0071

Image shows a climatological report from Reading University in 1935, showing many similarities to Hooke’s original scheme. (Met Office Archives)

Unfortunately for Hooke, he never saw the realisation of this idea and it was nearly 200 years before such national and international networks came into being in the middle of the 19th century, at around the time the Met Office itself was established. However, the climatologists of today remain hugely thankful to Hooke and his contemporaries’ pioneering work and the work of all those that followed, which heralded in the era of instrumental measurements of the weather. Their work has meant that we have been able to construct instrumental climate records spanning over 350 years for the UK, and global records spanning over 150 years. 

https://blog.metoffice.gov.uk/2022/07/19/climate-monitoring-through-historical-data/

57 Comments
  1. Don Bogard permalink
    July 19, 2022 6:03 pm

    Illustrated for US on attached graph (Word)

  2. Steve permalink
    July 19, 2022 6:07 pm

    38 C in the sun on tarmac in London this afternoon according to my car thermometer. 28 C inside my house in the shade. But only a 6m road and no aircraft running jet engines around.

    • dennisambler permalink
      July 19, 2022 6:12 pm

      Seems like Heathrow delivered for them, claiming I think 41C. Breakfast news on R 2 yesterday made the amazing claim that it was going to be “hotter in the UK than anywhere else in the world”.

      • 186no permalink
        July 19, 2022 6:28 pm

        I fail to see that temperatures of 40c+ have not occurred in the UK during summer many times – unrecorded – before especially given the vast amount of concrete laid during and since WWII – and how many British FI GP at Silverstone in June have had track temperatures way above that..?

  3. dennisambler permalink
    July 19, 2022 6:09 pm

    They have been fiddling with the CET and now have two data sets, one current and one “legacy”. Very slight rise in the graph line and some of the rankings have almost imperceptibly changed, plus they stopped using segments, making it more difficult to quickly check.

  4. July 19, 2022 6:22 pm

    A rather surprising article by the BBC on Heathrow”s ‘Heat island effect’:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44980493

    • that man permalink
      July 19, 2022 8:51 pm

      Yes, I was also surprised at the frankness —for the BBC, that is. I quoted part of it in Telegraph comments.
      However: ‘ “Planes make a negligible difference,” says Professor Williams.’ sticks out like a sore thumb. Huge turbofans on takeoff thrust, and reverse thrust on landing, must make a measurable difference to the overall mix, however slight.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        July 20, 2022 1:30 pm

        It may be different now thanks to covid and incompetent foreign ownership, but in the 90s I had a job that took me to the runway cafe in between the 2 runways and incoming flights were coming in every minute in the peak and with flights leaving at a similar rate so Williams is lying or incompetent.

      • dearieme permalink
        July 20, 2022 10:38 pm

        Easy to check: just look at lockdown figures when the planes weren’t flying. Did he cite such evidence?

  5. Broadlands permalink
    July 19, 2022 6:45 pm

    Whenever a new record temperature is reported it is useful to find out what the older record was, how much higher… and when and where it was recorded. Often times it was recorded many years earlier sometimes at a different location and before significant urban heat island effects. Or before AGW CO2 could conceivably been the “control knob”. Placed in context the new record may not be much at all. But, that doesn’t fit the agenda?

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      July 20, 2022 9:57 am

      Agree.

  6. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 19, 2022 9:27 pm

    Ah…Hooke was obviously not a a member of WEF who seem to be controlling everything these days.

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 19, 2022 10:26 pm

    The climate reanalyzer anomaly chart for today is interesting viewing, I’ve downloaded a copy.
    It’s just a localised freak weather event.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 20, 2022 7:27 am

      And that’s the point I don’t get. It wasn’t a “normal” summers day made much hotter by climate change. This was hot air from North Africa pulled northwards. Was it hotter than before because of climate change? Nobody seems to ask that question. It seems perfectly plausible that the air brought north happened to be particularly hot for reasons that have nothing to do with climate change and that it was brought north for reasons that have nothing to do with climate change then heated by UHI in some areas.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 20, 2022 8:14 am

        Yup, the right questions, but to me it seems that in recent years we just see more pressure patterns where NAfrican air reaches us faster and more directly so gets less opportunity to be moderated, together with more sunshine/less cloud over the UK.
        Why that happens, no doubt alarmists will attribute it to man made climate change, but it’s more likely just natural variation/chance.

      • July 20, 2022 8:55 am

        Part of the answer may be that recorded warming has affected mainly northern temperate and polar regions: the tropics seem to vary relatively little in most of the earth’s variations. Hence, it’s very unlikely that, given the mechanism of the heatwave, it’s any hotter than similar events over historical time.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        July 20, 2022 12:19 pm

        Since we get maybe 1-2 such events each high summer, that’s only 150-300 in the past 150 years. There’s no reason to think we’ve had the warmest possible Saharan air before now in that few episodes. As is pointed out there’s lots of variables – how hot the Sahara is, how quickly it arrives, what happens on the way, etc. It works be interesting to see if North Africa was particularly hot a few days ago?

  8. StephenP permalink
    July 19, 2022 10:49 pm

    Would it be possible to do an evaluation of the official weather recording stations similar to the one done be Anthony Watts in the USA?
    IIRC there were quite a number of stations that had been compromised by changes in their surroundings over the years, such as areas concreted over, warm air discharges from air conditioning units and increased traffic. Some weather stations that were originally on grass in rural airfields which had been developed to take large jet airliners.
    I wonder how many of the weather stations would comply with the original official specifications, i.e. on grass, away from concrete/tarmac roads, new building development and growth of surrounding trees .
    Also the use of electronic temperature measurement at frequent intervals means that temperature spikes of short duration are recorded whereas the mercury thermometers took longer to react so gave a more smoothed result with fewer spikes.
    In Somerset we have had a day and a half of hot weather followed at lunchtime by the proverbial thunderstorm, with the temperature now down to 17 C and forecasting a max 24 C and min 13 C over the coming week.
    So a blast of hot air from the Sahara for a day and a half is indicative of climate change?
    The lack of rain is more worrying, although farmers are getting stuck into cereal harvest and are pleased at not having to dry the harvested corn.
    Livestock farmers are not so pleased with the lack of grass regrowth after grazing.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      July 20, 2022 1:58 am

      That was done in Australia and the result was that 48% of the official BOM sites failed to meet the requirements (as listed by the BOM). See https://kenskingdom.wordpress.com
      The official list was (from memory) about 800 but the BOM uses a subset, then homogenises the results (in one case by including figures from a site 1,000 kms from the target).
      My local BOM site (a private home) is sheltered by shrubs and trees to the SW (where most of the cold winds blow from) and is less than 3 metres from the house A/C outlet.

    • jazznick permalink
      July 20, 2022 9:08 am

      StephenP

      Watts did an analysis of the oft quoted Gravesend site to show how compromised it was !

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/18/how-not-to-measure-temperature-part-93-the-hottest-weather-station-in-the-uk-cited-by-the-bbc-has-some-interesting-exposure/

    • George Lawson permalink
      July 20, 2022 10:55 am

      Perhaps if those who know can list the addresses of the official weather stations across the country, those of us who are interested in this site could do a check on the weather stations in their locality and feed the information on the site to a national register kept by Paul or someone else.. Do you agree Paul? If so, all we need is the addresses and a list of standard questions about each site that we volunteers can provide to form a standard comprehensive list of sites. The list could be a very valuable tool for we sceptics, and would cost nothing to provide. Incidentally, does anyone know whether RAF Coningsby is an official site ?

      • StephenP permalink
        July 21, 2022 11:14 am

        I have found a Met Office source for the location of their synoptic weather stations:
        http://Www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-synoptic-and-climate-stations
        However when I enter the coordinates into Google maps the location of the weather stations seem rather odd.
        For example the local one at Yeovilton is shown as being right next to the runway.
        Maybe we need some local knowledge or more accurate Lat/Long coordinates as I haven’t been able to see the weather station from the coordinates given.
        Any suggestions?

      • StephenP permalink
        July 21, 2022 11:24 am

        It would be interesting if someone living locally could get a photograph of the location of the weather stations.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 21, 2022 7:24 pm

        George, first up https://wow.metoffice.gov.uk p.s. go to “filters” and tick registered sites as well.
        Secondly have a look at this which will give you coordinates for google maps as well as an assessment of most sites.
        https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/index-page-surface-stations-project/
        Also this https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/historic-station-data
        Now as a specific example of one I visited yesterday (it is a secure site but I know some of the staff there) Go to google maps and put in detailed coordinates 51.133498, 1.343390 Switch to satellite view and zoom in to see the weather station compound. Yes it is smack bang next to a car park. I parked in the third bay from the end and my exhaust pipe was less than 4 metres from the Stevenson screen. And the Met Office consider this near the port of Dover a “quality” site. It is typical of vthe truly crap sistes they have for climate evaluation purposes.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 21, 2022 7:34 pm

        to Stephen P check out my reply to George. Meanwhile for Yeovilton use
        51 00 23N 02 38 34W in google maps and switch to satellite view. The Red Kite should be right on the weather compound. And yes very close to the runway simply because that best meets its original intended aviation purpose.
        The fact that it is crap for climate purposes is irrelevant apparently.

  9. Coeur de Lion permalink
    July 19, 2022 11:12 pm

    Noted that Plymouth suffered a murderous 26degsC with rain and Edinburgh a lethal 29degsC. So we can relax.

  10. July 19, 2022 11:26 pm

    So a blast of hot air from the Sahara for a day and a half is indicative of climate change?

    In the minds of deluded CO2 obsessives, yes. It’s all good propaganda for the masses.

  11. StephenP permalink
    July 19, 2022 11:30 pm

    Incidentally, would the weather station in the photograph pass the specification for a weather station, as it is close proximity to a wall and the rain gauge looks as if could be influenced by the trees at the edge of the photo.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 20, 2022 8:19 am

      There’s official metadata if you search.
      https://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/support/siteratings

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 21, 2022 7:52 pm

      The World Meteorological Organisation standards are here. https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10616#page=25
      Go to page 69 for graphics (it is a long document)
      Very, very few UK Met Office sites meet Class 1 but hey that doesn’t seem to concern the “experts” at the Met Office. They are happy to quote totally inappropriate sites that were intended for aviation purposes and had nothing at all to do climate.
      The Met Office was part originally part of the MOD hence most sites have military connections.
      The only really reliable data set is the Central England Temperature record. The Met Office are currently doing their best to screw that up though.

  12. cookers52 permalink
    July 20, 2022 8:47 am

    The Met Office got a forecast correct, they had to sometime.
    They will be unbearable, they will be smug about how right they were.
    However such smugness is often shortly followed by utter disaster.

    • July 20, 2022 9:05 am

      They had to rely on a few dodgy stations to just creep over the magic 40C figure.

  13. HoxtonBoy permalink
    July 20, 2022 8:59 am

    95f in Ledbury but dropped to 66f as we crossed the mountains into Wales. Followed by a massive downpour. I blame climate change.

  14. July 20, 2022 9:02 am

    “Coningsby is a large, thriving village on the A153 Midlands to East Coast road. It is within easy reach of Horncastle, Boston, Sleaford and Lincoln. The river Bain flows alongside the village, which is on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens. In the Domesday survey, Coningsby was a prosperous place with ten fisheries.

    Some of the best and earliest vegetables are grown in the sandy soil of the parish”

    Sandy soil + concrete + tarmac = sun trap

  15. July 20, 2022 9:45 am

    Coningsby the village is also less than half a mile from the military airfield at RAF Coningsby

  16. ThinkingScientist permalink
    July 20, 2022 9:57 am

    From their own website:

    What is the definition for a UK heatwave?

    A UK heatwave threshold is met when a location records a period of at least three consecutive days with daily maximum temperatures meeting or exceeding the heatwave temperature threshold. The threshold varies by UK county.

    My italics – 3 days? Did it meet the criteria on Sunday?

    • Phil O'Sophical permalink
      July 20, 2022 11:54 am

      And what are the criteria for it being a DEADLY heatwave, as we were told by crystal ball adepts in the press, even BEFORE it had started? How many and what type of deaths qualify? And was it? Unsupervised children in open water do not qualify.

  17. July 20, 2022 10:07 am

    You can search on the UK Met Office’s Weather Observation Website WOW for the actual sites and see their recorded data :

    https://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/sites/search

    So, searching for Heathrow produce 3 results :

    Heathrow 12004 Observing Site View site page

    London Heathrow Airport 949146007 Airport and Heliport

    London Heathrow 270 approach b57d2f63-c95d-eb11-8fed-0003ff595f97 Vantage pro

    *

    Only the Heathrow 12004 result is listed as an “Observing Site”

    So, clicking the “View Site Page” link on the right takes you to :

    https://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/observations/details/?site_id=12004

    Where you can select the Table tab and then yesterday’s start and end dates ( 19 July ) and then click Update Table

    At 13:00 we see the recorded temperature at Heathrow of 40.2 ( media reported as 40.3 )

    No such luck for Coningsby, where the search produces only one result :

    Coningsby 7008 Observing Site

    The Update Table for Coningsby on 19 July shows :

    https://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/observations/details/?site_id=7008

    The highest temperature shown in the Coningsby data table for 19 July is 39.7 at 15:00

    The media are reporting 40.3 for Coningsby.

    Just like the Met Office’s Observing Site at Heathrow, the Observing Site at RAF Coningsby is right next to the runway too …

  18. George Lawson permalink
    July 20, 2022 10:59 am

    Perhaps if those who know can list the addresses of the official weather stations across the country, those of us who are interested in this site could do a check on the weather stations in their locality and feed the information on the site to a national register kept by Paul or someone else.. Do you agree Paul? If so, all we need is the addresses and a list of standard questions about each site that we volunteers can provide to form a standard comprehensive list of sites. The list could be a very valuable tool for we sceptics, and would cost nothing to provide. Incidentally, does anyone know whether RAF Coningsby is an official site ?

  19. Ben Vorlich permalink
    July 20, 2022 11:19 am

    I’ve noticed there’s been a lot of playing down the heatwave of 1976 in the MSM when “reporting” on these 2 hot days. “Just 12 days over 30 something degrees”.
    I was working in the Medway Towns area 1975-76 and in my memory it was warm and dry from the summer of 1975. I went by bus to work passing a farm with an old fashioned duck pond. I watched it gradually dry up day by day over the winter and spring. I also remember that the heat lasted a lot longer than just 12 days. I’d moved elsewhere by the time Denis Howell had been “Minister for Droughts” then “Minister for Floods”. I only found out recently that he was also “Minister for Snow” in 1978-79. He had a lot of weather related roles

  20. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 20, 2022 12:09 pm

    From Roy Spencer via wuwt.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 20, 2022 12:25 pm

      Exactly. What we had was a large unequal distribution of heat, not record heat. It seems to me that the geographic lications of such unequal distributions must be pretty variable in terms of location. If so, then there’s no reason to believe the UK shoukd have experienced the variation that “centres” on the UK before. That depends on the positions of the various highs/lows. So it’s just random.

  21. Stephen Castle permalink
    July 20, 2022 12:30 pm

    Weather systems are too complex to be understood by measuring and modelling, climates even more so. We know too little. The UK Met Office forecasts show the limitations of these methods which are better than informed guesses and are, at least, based on real world observations.
    The models used by the people predicting accelerated global warming as a consequence of increased CO2 in the atmosphere are purely hypothetical. There is no observable evidence which cannot be explained by other causes. I would suspect that the sun and our distance from it are more likely causes of changes.

  22. Ben Vorlich permalink
    July 20, 2022 2:18 pm

    Totally Off Topic

    Does anyone know the reason why http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ has been reporting zero Solar PV output all day?

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      July 20, 2022 3:55 pm

      Have you checked outside to see if the sun is still shining?

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      July 20, 2022 5:12 pm

      I was sort of hoping that they’d all been fried yesterday

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      July 20, 2022 5:49 pm

      5. 40 pm solar 7.7% 2.29GW https:grid.iamkate.com

  23. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 20, 2022 3:14 pm

    Someone on Guido’s ‘farewell to Boris thread’ has posted a clip of a tweet from Rowlatt hoping that he’ll be able to control the climate….
    (But I don’t seem able to paste the image…)

  24. Gamecock permalink
    July 20, 2022 4:00 pm

    ‘Red weather warnings for extreme heat are in force for large parts of England and forecasts indicated a real possibility of temperatures reaching up to 40°C in some areas.’

    Which makes them very happy. You know they love this stuff.

    ‘a key part of the work that we do at the Met Office is climate monitoring’

    Cirrusly? What instruments to you use to monitor climate?

    Is that why they don’t call it the Meteorological Office any more, they measure climate and not weather?

  25. July 20, 2022 7:25 pm

    A very good observation of the advance in 17th C science. In the 1670s Hooke collaborated with Sir Christopher Wren on the design of clockwork recording instruments to provide serial data. This was at a period when concern over weather was tilted in the opposite direction, due to the later christened ‘Mini Ice Age’ . There was no consensus over causes as now; Hooke and Wren were part of the desire to apply scientific methods to try and understand
    underlying causes.
    Note that their method was to collect historical data in that effort, not to form a model based on dubious physical assumptions. This is exactly the method employed by Paul, and was the method employed by Newton – first make the observations, then carry out analysis.
    The antithesis of this is the methodology carried out by the key-tapping mumble bunnies and their babble-monkey collaborators. The reduction to a climate model based on crude ‘steady-state’ reasoning, leads to a model based on the dominance of a single variable, CO2 with a simple cellular atmospheric structure and diffusion between cells. This would have had Newton livid with rage – there is no sign of such limited reasoning in the pages of his ‘Principia Mathematica’ Newton was not the progenitor of the ‘clockwork universe’ – it was a later generation of Continental mathematicians who either weren’t very good physicists or could not solve the very obvious problems Newton raised. So they plumped for ‘software’, linear algebra and to hell with physical rigour.
    There is no doubt that the urban ‘heat island’ effect has been grossly underestimated by the mumble bunnies and has a major influence on the construction of a proper model.

  26. July 20, 2022 7:40 pm

    A top medialand climate scientist speaks Professor Adil

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