Weird weather: Can computers solve UK puzzle?

The existing supercomputer of the Met Office

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Met Office

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The Met Office recently announced an update to its existing supercomputer (pictured). But even more money for computer science would be appreciated, says prof. Palmer

A great climate scientist has asked for more investment in climate calculation to explain the recent turbulent UK climate.

Professor Tim Palmer of the University of Oxford said that there are still too many unknowns in the weather forecast.

And in the month in which the launch of SpaceX took the headlines, he said that only one billion of the company could transform climate modeling.

Short-term weather forecasts are generally very accurate.

And the long-term trends of rising temperatures are not in doubt.

But Prof. Palmer says that many puzzles remain unsolved: take the recent strange weather in the UK, with the wettest February recorded followed by the sunniest spring.

  • Forecasts anticipate the supercomputer by a billion pounds
  • May was the sunniest month in the UK

Deadly jump of time

Meteorologists have been stunned by this unprecedented meteorological leap – and especially by the extraordinary amount that the May sun has surpassed the previous record.

This year’s figure was 13% higher than the previous record – it’s like the winner of the 100 meters leaving opponents behind 11 meters.

Some blame climate change, but the Met Office says there is no concrete evidence of this so far.

The professor. Palmer told BBC News: “It would be really valuable for us to have a greater knowledge of how climate change is affecting weather patterns like this.

“Has climate change been implicated in the recent strange climate? We do not know. “

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PA Media

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The Met Office declared February 2020 to be the wettest February ever

He agrees that spatial observations have greatly improved our understanding of the climate.

But he complains: “It is very frustrating to see space attracting so much attention when we cannot be sure what will happen to the climate on Earth.

“If only we could secure one of their billions for computer modeling it would be of great help.”

So what do we know so far about the recent British weather oddity?

Jetstream blocked

Well, here’s what’s clear: the strong current flow in the south west of England during the winter has blocked the succession of Atlantic storms that have flooded the UK.

The Met Office successfully predicted wet winter in its seasonal forecasts, but failed to predict the sudden jump in a dry spring when the jetstream was shrouded in the UK, keeping the weather sunny.

In a global debate about chicken and eggs there is the question of why the jet stream did this.

Some scientists believe it is affected by conditions in the Arctic, which is heating up faster than anywhere in the planet, due to greenhouse gases. But this is disputed.

The professor. Palmer said the jet stream appears to be influenced by a climatic phenomenon known as the Indian dipole, an irregular current that oscillates in the Indian Ocean. This has also been blamed for fires in Australia.

But what is influencing the Indian dipole? Or is it completely natural?

Scientists know that ocean currents from across the world can affect our time – but did the water around the Chagos archipelago really set off a “spring barbecue” in Britain’s grateful blockade?

“There are very strange things in the tropics,” added prof. Palmer. “The question is,” is it natural? “And we’re still not sure.”

Scientists are planning to rerun UK climate models in recent years and remove the heating element of CO2 emissions from the math puzzle. This should offer at least a better understanding of the British climate.

Unlock secrets

The professor. Palmer admits that it is surprising that this exercise has not been done before. But of all the uses of extra money for climate research, he thinks that the most useful spending on climate research could be to unravel the secret of clouds – one of the most intractable climate mysteries.

If the warmer weather leads to more low-level clouds, this will bounce off radiation and cool the Earth. If it leads to more high-level clouds, this will trap heat.

In fact, said prof. Palmer, a recent cloud modeling exercise suggested that if we are unlucky, global temperatures could rise by 5 ° C after CO2 levels have doubled, an absolutely inhospitable level for humans. The conclusion had previously been ruled out with different analyzes.

“We need to understand these processes better,” he says.

“Normally in science you learn about the system in the studio by doing laboratory experiments. With Earth’s climate, there is no laboratory experiment you can do.

“The climate model is the only tool we have to understand what future is in store for humanity as a result of climate change.

“Spatial observations tell us what’s going on now, but climate models tell us what’s going to happen next year, next decade, next century.”

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