Climate Change: Met Office Defends Predictions

The Met Office has been forced to hit back after its five-year weather forecast was seen to imply that global warming had "stalled".

The weather forecaster  originally explained global temperatures were still at record levels - and predicted to be above average - but that the rate of rise had slowed.

"Global average temperature is expected to remain between 0.28°C and 0.59°C above the long-term average during the period 2013-2017, with values most likely to be about 0.43°C higher than average," a statement issued on Christmas Eve said.

Some newspapers and broadcasters took that to mean that global warming had stopped - effectively proving that the sceptics on climate change were right.

This, the Met Office has insisted, was not the case.

A second statement attempted to clarify the position: "The latest decadal prediction suggests that global temperatures over the next five years are likely to be a little lower than predicted from the previous prediction issued in December 2011.

"However, both versions are consistent in predicting that we will continue to see near-record levels of global temperatures in the next few years.

"This means temperatures will remain well above the long-term average and we will continue to see temperatures like those which resulted in 2000-2009 being the warmest decade in the instrumental record dating back to 1850."

The Met Office statement went on to explain it had done its data measuring using a new tool.

"The updated decadal forecast is the first to make use of our latest climate model, HadGEM3. The fact that the new model predicts less warming, globally, for the coming five years does not necessarily tell us anything about long-term predictions of climate change for the coming century."

Forecasts of continued global warming are driven largely by increasing levels of greenhouse gases.

Experts warn that, without efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, the world is on course for temperature rises of 3C to 5C this century alone.