One thing we have learnt this week – weather prediction

Rub_al_Khali_002This week I heard a short radio interview on weather prediction.  The Metoffice in the UK are trying to use the North Atlantic Oscillation to predict the winter weather.  Weather prediction is nothing new, people have been bending twigs and staring at birds, cows etc for years.  Up until now the scientific world has had about as much success and accuracy in weather prediction.  In the words of Bruce Cockburn “history repeats itself but its never the same”.   You could say the same about the weather.  In principle you should be able to look at past patterns and see if they offer clues to the current weather.  This is what the Metoffice have been trying using the North Atlantic Oscillation which appears to determine whether we in the UK have a mild or hard winter.  They reckon to have got to the stage of a 60% accurate prediction 1 year ahead.

This got me thinking about whether this has any relevance to energy use.  Many people have thought that climate change might make the UK warmer and therefore may have some benefits.   My minister is one of these people (at least in the past).  The problem is that this may not be the case.  Our summers maybe wetter and if the gulf stream shifts our winters maybe colder.  Or milder/colder depending on the North Atlantic Oscillation.  The problem is no one can say at the moment, but it would be useful to know as soon as possible.  The UK’s buildings are badly insulated as it is and a programme of insulation on a mass scale might well be required.  The type of renewable energy systems we choose might vary depending on the future and the grid may need reinforcement depending on the type of weather we are going to face.

Neil

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