Reminder: 2007 Met Office Global Warming Prediction Falls Flat

  • Date: 14/09/15
  • Paul Matthews, IPCC Report blog

In 2007, a team of Met Office scientists predicted there would be 0.3°C warming during 2004-2014. This prediction has turned out to be wrong.  We are almost into 2014 and there has been no warming at all since 2004.

Smith et al (2007): 0.3°C in 10 years

In 2007, a team of climate scientists from the UK Met Office led by Doug Smith wrote a paper “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model”, published in the journal Science.  Although published in 2007, the paper made predictions for the decade 2004-2014. (Presumably the work was started around 2004 and it took some time for the paper to be published). The paper made claims about the “skill” of the model, for example “Having established the predictive skill of DePreSys…

The Smith et al paper made the following specific predictions:

  • There would be 0.3°C warming over the decade 2004-2014
  • At least half of the years after 2009 would be warmer than the record year of 1998.

Note that at that time, 2007, the warmest year was thought to be 1998; subsequent adjustments to the method made 2005 warmer than 1998.

The predictions were spread far and wide. They were included in a Met Office Press release, and a glossy brochure on “Informing Government policy into the future, with the almost obligatory scaremongering background pictures of black clouds and people wearing facemasks.  Vicky Pope gave a talk on these predictions, saying that “these are very strong statements about what will happen over the next 10 years.”

And of course the faithful media reported the story without questioning it.

These predictions have turned out to be wrong.  We are almost into 2014 and there has been no warming at all since 2004. Of the years since 2009,  none of them have broken the record of 1998 according to HADCRUT3 data. Using HADCRUT4, 2010 is warmer by a meaningless 0.01°C (that’s one tenth of the error estimate). 2011 and 2012 were cooler and it’s now clear that 2013 will be cooler also.

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