UPDATE 8/20: For whatever reason, Frank Abel has completely taken down his post. Most likely it did not amuse some particular persons.
==================================We all know that seasonal forecasts looking 90 days or so into the future are not easy to make and have considerable uncertainty. But that hasn’t kept some bold meteorologists from going out and issuing 3-month seasonal forecasts that even include the week-by-week weather development for the period, and claiming up to 80% probability they will be right. I’m not aware of any technology that would allow that.
And who can forget the forecasts of “barbecue summers”?
Increasingly a number of serious meteorologists are now getting annoyed by these crackpot crystal ball forecasts, which are eagerly spread by the media and never turn out to be correct.
One vocal critic is German meteorologist Frank Abel here, who is a weatherman at MeteoGroup Deutschland GmbH in Berlin, part of the biggest private European weather company.
Abel took two prominent summer-2011 forecasts made by 2 popular German meteorologists back in March and May respectively, and tells us today how they panned out. Abel:
In summary what they did get right was (like with a horoscope) purely by chance.”
He then quotes the Institute for Weather and Climate Communication (IWK) in Hamburg concerning the forecasts made by the 2 meteorologists.
Frank Böttcher of the IWK told me what he thought: ‘What does that tell us? Their projections are worse than if they had been picked randomly.”
Indeed Abel and dozens of other meteorologists had gotten so fed up with the dubious seasonal forecasts that they banded together back in April and drew up the so-called Hamburg Declaration on Longterm Prognoses, which has since been signed by well over 100 meteorologists. Here it is in English (my translation):
Hamburg Declaration On Longterm Weather Prognoses
by the Meteorologists of the 6th Extreme Weather Congress
We, the signers of the Hamburg Declaration, do hereby declare:
Long-term prognoses for approaching seasons are among the major targets of meteorology. Generating these prognoses are still at the very early stages of development. For producing such prognoses, research institutes are using super computers, without which, from today’s scientific perspective, it would be impossible to calculate the long-term developments. The results provide information on the monthly-basis anticipated deviations from the mean value and the probability of their occurrence. Such forecasts are currently possible only for very large extended regions.
Using today’s state of the art science, only the following type of forecast for June would be possible: ‘With a probability of 65%, it will be 0.3° to 0.5°C cooler than normal in southern Germany.’ Considerably more accurate forecasts for weeks and days for specific local areas, in the view of the undersigned, are not meteorologically and scientifically tenable and thus serve to damage the reputation of serious meteorologists. Thus the undersigned hereby request that making and publicizing of such prognoses, which give the public the incorrect appearance that it is possible to make accurate forecasts with our current level of knowledge, be avoided.
Well how about that – 65% probability a forecast for a period only 2 or 3 months into the future will be correct? Now what should that tell us about forecasts made for 5, 10, 20, 50 or even 100 YEARS down the road? Precisely – also just “horoscopes”, and them actually happening would be “purely by chance.”
Declaration On Climatic Forecasts
I now propose a Declaration on Climatic Forecasts. Serious meteorologists admit that seasonal forecasts are tricky and fraught with huge uncertainties. So isn’t it only appropriate that climatologists stop fooling the public and admit that their decadal and 100-year forecasts are also highly uncertain?
And please spare us the bullcrap that weather forecasts and climate prognoses are completely different. If anything, for obvious reasons, climatic prognoses are even far more difficult and thus uncertain.
One only has to consider that there is absolutely no agreement today among scientists on the strengths of forcings from the vast array of factors that act on our climate.
Science begins with honesty.
For German readers also see: Peter Braun at klimazwiebel.blogspot.com.