Home > Catastrophism, Climate Change, Data, Global Warming, Omniclimate, Science, Skepticism > Met Office Atmospheric Models Cause International Chaos – Why Am I Not Surprised?

Met Office Atmospheric Models Cause International Chaos – Why Am I Not Surprised?

The old computational forecasting wizards at the Met Office are behind the decision of closing so much of Europe’s airspace.

Of course they are.

(yes, it’s “well-proven” models, no direct measurement, the works!)

From the Herald Sun:

German airlines Lufthansa and Air Berlin said the decision to close much of Europe’s airspace was not based on proper testing. They said that their aircraft showed no signs of damage after flying without passengers.

The decision to close the airspace was made exclusively as a result of data from a computer simulation at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London,” Air Berlin chief executive Joachim Hunold said.

The “Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London”? Here it is, at the Met Office:

When a volcano in its area of responsibility erupts, the London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), based at the Met Office, runs the NAME atmospheric dispersion model. This, and similar models, are well proven and we can use them to predict the spread of pollutants following a chemical or nuclear leak or even the spread of airborne diseases. In this case we use the dispersion model to forecast the spread of volcanic ash plumes.

The London VAAC forecaster provides the location, start time, release height and the top and bottom of the plume (if known) and the model is run. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Output from this model is in a map-based graphical format, and can detail expected ash concentrations over a large region. The forecaster uses this detail to prepare the volcanic ash advisory message with the expected positions of the ash plume for up to 24 hours ahead.

The Advisory message is then used by aviation authorities to decide whether airspace needs to be closed to prevent aircraft encountering volcanic ash.

Note how the Met Office washes its hands from any decision, and yet in all those years with NAME, it has apparently decided not to complement the model results with in-situ measurements. A “revolutionary” idea brought forward at present by Lufthansa itself…

Not one single weather balloon has been sent up to measure how much volcanic ash is in the air.” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walter added. “The flight ban, made on the basis just of computer calculations, is resulting in billion-high losses for the economy […] In future we demand that reliable measurements are presented before a flying ban is imposed.”

  1. 2010/05/06 at 00:20

    Met Office scientist just interviewed on BBC Radio4′s Today, quite boring really, he simply defended their work, what else were they expecting?

  2. 2010/05/03 at 20:40

    “Not one single weather balloon has been sent up to measure how much volcanic ash is in the air.” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walter added. ”The flight ban, made on the basis just of computer calculations, is resulting in billion-high losses for the economy […] In future we demand that reliable measurements are presented before a flying ban is imposed.”

  3. 2010/04/20 at 06:21

    Met Office scientist just interviewed on BBC Radio4’s Today, quite boring really, he simply defended their work, what else were they expecting?

  4. Bernd Felsche
    2010/04/20 at 01:53

    Giovanni Bisignani may consider a suggestion to add VAAC London staff to IATA’s no-fly list as being too crazy to be allowed on a commercial aircraft.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267257/Iceland-volcano-eruption-UK-flight-ban-LIFTED-tomorrow.html

  5. 2010/04/19 at 19:41

    Leave it to the Met!
    This is too funny…I cannot contain my Schedenfreude!

  6. 2010/04/19 at 18:27

    Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: low-carbon electricity generation
    The Lancet, Volume 374, Issue 9706, Pages 2006 – 2015, 12 December 2009

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)61715-3/fulltext?version=printerFriendly (just register for free copy)

    The authors model ‘health benefits’ using three ‘models’. POLES, GAINS and and a WHO-based model.

    So these guys are pretending to know the exact health benefit of installing solar panels on your roofs.

    Expect to see all this lined up in the next IPCC report.

  7. ScientistForTruth
    2010/04/19 at 17:15

    Since aircraft have been flying around volcanoes for decades, not to have threshhold levels (say, 100ug per cbm continuous; 1mg per cbm not exceeding one hour; 3 mg per cbm not exceeding 2 minutes etc) is unforgivable. This is therefore simply an ‘own goal’. It is negligence by the regulators (not only financial regulators guilty of this, then).

    This is a self-generated problem. There was, after all, an International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aircraft Safety, in Seattle in 1991 NEARLY 20 YEARS AGO, see here for Proceedings:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pKY_VLqMTgsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22volcanic+ash%22+aviation+safet&lr=&cd=6#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The paper by Przedpelski and Casadevall states:

    “The greatest threat to aircraft and engines is presented by “new” clouds (within hours of eruption) that contain large concentrations of ash particles…The ash particle size distribution in volcanic eruption clouds should be documented. In addition, engine and (or) combustor tests should be sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish threshold values for “safe” levels of ash concentration and the “safe” range of combustor temperature. This information, combined with updated dispersion and theoretical fallout models (and with improved cloud tracking) can establish when an ash cloud ceases to be a flight hazard. These efforts will enhance aviation safety and reduce air traffic delays resulting from volcanic activity.”

    The regulatory authorities (and the engine manufacturers) have had decades to perform actually very simple and controllable experiments, and so enact the recommendations from the international symposium. Rather, it appears that they focused on detection and avoidance rather than thresholds, and so we have the unacceptable situation we have today. The same type of thing occurred when London had an unexpected snowfall in 2009: not a single London bus ran that day. Strangely enough, this sort of invocation of the precautionary principle (if in doubt do nothing or shut everything down) is nothing more than a cop-out, and it is interesting to note that the more businesses are required to do ‘risk assessments’ the more the precautionary principle is employed, not the less. Risk assessment today seems to be more a process of risk identification and avoidance, giving more and more excuse to shut activities down rather than properly manage the risks.

    If the regulators did not actually perform the relevant experiments to determine what ash concentration thresholds are commensurate with acceptable aviation risk (say, similar to other risks) – experiments that CAN be done in the lab on multiple engines in controlled conditions – ESPECIALLY after that International Symposium 19 years ago, then they have saddled the world with the problem we are facing today. The fact that many seem to want to avoid doing properly conducted experiments with copious real world observations with robust physics is a drift back to the Aristotelian method where dogma, theory and dialectic took the place a proper evaluation of the real world. This is where we have arrived at in climate science, to a large degree.

    This is a complete fiasco that could have been avoided by the application of proper scientific method.

  8. 2010/04/19 at 14:41

    BBC reports that there is ‘zero tolerance’ on ash.

    ” ‘No tolerance’ rule for volcanic ash”:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8629609.stm

    [Quote] “Over the weekend, [our observations] have detected dust in the atmosphere and on the ground,” the Met Office said on its website.

    “A research aircraft has recently encountered dust during its flight, albeit in fairly low concentrations.”

    And, no matter how low the concentration, aviation authorities will not reinstate normal control over airspace while the ash cloud is still there.

    A spokesperson from from Nats, the UK’s air traffic control authority, told BBC News that there was “no threshold” for concentrations at which volcanic ash was acceptable…Whether to open or close airspace is a decision for national aviation authorities, but all European nations abide by the rules set by ICAO, which recommends implementing a no-fly zone if volcanic ash is detectable in airspace. [end quote]

    Theoretically, therefore, if we have sensitive enough detectors we will always find SOME volcanic ash everywhere in the world. If the only safe threshold is the threshold of detectability, we could soon see all aircraft banned at all times the world over as instrumentation and thus detectability improves. What utter stupidity. There surely has to be an ash density below which the risk to passenger aircraft is acceptable (say, commensurate with other normal hazards), for example 100ug per cubic metre continuously and 1mg per cubic metre for periods not exceeding one hour.

    To adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach is like the Royal Society’s definition of ‘Dangerous Climate Change’ which is that there is no safe limit for climate change. All climate change , however miniscule is always ‘dangerous’:

    “There is no such thing as ‘safe’ climate change…Any level of climate change will be dangerous”

    Whilst it may be exceedingly difficult (or philosophically impossible) to define what is ‘safe’, i.e. to define the boundary where it becomes ‘dangerous’, the problem is not solved by eliminating the category ‘safe’ and therefore defining the whole universe of possibilities as ‘dangerous’. That neatly avoids the problem of having to define limits of acceptability, but it is crass stupidity as well. Since climate has changed ever since the world began, by the Royal Society’s definition it will have always been dangerous.

  9. 2010/04/19 at 13:59

    “Not one single weather balloon has been sent up to measure how much volcanic ash is in the air.” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walter added. ”The flight ban, made on the basis just of computer calculations, is resulting in billion-high losses for the economy […] In future we demand that reliable measurements are presented before a flying ban is imposed.”

    Gee, I wonder if, in the future, we can demand that reliable measurements are presented before a CO2 ban is imposed, too?

  10. John DeFayette
    2010/04/19 at 12:50

    An aside; this I like: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” I would swear it was tame to start with; who’d I offend now??😉
    John

    • 2010/04/19 at 12:53

      John – every comment here is moderated. It’s my personal war against the spammers.

  11. John DeFayette
    2010/04/19 at 12:42

    Words cannot express the revulsion I feel any more whenever I read these words spewed from a politician’s lips: “…based on science.” Here is Euro-tecnocrat Siim Kallas telling us that Nanny will not let us go out without our mac because “science” shows that we could catch cold and DIE.

    “There cannot be any compromise on safety” when deciding when to open European airspace, said Siim Kallas, the European Commission vice president in charge of transport, as some airlines press to be allowed to fly.
    The decision “must be based on science,” he said.

    My faith in any politician’s even understanding science, or more specifically, risk assessment and real-world testing, has vanished as a direct result of the IPCC and the gang’s shenanigans. Talk about crying “wolf.”

  12. Luke Warmer
    2010/04/19 at 11:49

    Maurizio

    In relation to the modelling topic, there’s an interesting paper on Hawkeye and perceptions of reality by Harry Collins which states “There is a danger that Hawk-Eye as used could inadvertently cause naïve viewers to overestimate the ability of technological devices to resolve disagreement among humans because measurement errors are not made salient. For example, virtual reconstructions can easily be taken to show “exactly what really happened.”” See http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/evansrj/hawkeye-final-submission.doc

    And I also recommend you (and everyone) read Myanna Lahsen’s “Seductive Simulations” paper – Lahsen, M. (2005) Seductive Simulations? Uncertainty Distributions Around Climate Models. Social Studies of Science 35/6: 895-922.

    Finally, I’m sure you’re already on the case, but:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/international-news/828-italian-senate-calls-for-re-assessment-of-cimate-policy-ipcc-science.html

    • John DeFayette
      2010/04/19 at 13:00

      I had no idea my government could actually do anything right! Is that LEADERSHIP I see coming out of Rome?

      Watch out folks, here comes the Second Enlightenment!

  13. 2010/04/19 at 11:10

    Perhaps when this story really gets out, and the massive personal and business disruption is weighed, folk will begin to realize just how foolish this reliance on computer modelling is, especially in the field of climate science. There is more and more reliance on the results in the virtual world than the real world, and fewer and fewer comparisons between the virtual and the real world. We now have the ridiculous spectacle of climate scientists saying that they have ‘lost’ have the ‘supposed’ heat that is ‘supposed’ to have been trapped in the atmosphere by the ‘supposed’ greenhouse effect, and its ‘supposed’ feedbacks.

    The current generation, brought upon computer games, CGI, virtual reality and Second Life, must think that playing around on computer tinker toys is more realistic than getting out there and making proper observations. The fact that few if any confirmatory real world measurements are taken is astonishing. Moreover, there is no threshold against which measurements can be assessed – for example, what mesh screen the particle size is, how many micrograms per cubic metre etc. Here we have the precautionary principle again – to save the trouble of considering all the likely impacts and how acceptable the risks can be, just do nothing or cancel everything. A flying ban for one or two days in order to assess the risk IN THE REAL WORLD is acceptable, but the present situation is a complete farce.

  14. papertiger
    2010/04/19 at 08:14

    Spot on Omni. As usual. Merkel’s team is waking up to the new reality.
    Only good things can happen from this.

  15. 2010/04/19 at 08:06

    Nic – the most idiotic pseudoscience True Believer can write a comment like yours anywhere on the web. E.g.:

    There is more to homeopathy than dilution, but that wouldn’t interest you because it may rob you of the opportunity to froth at the mouth. Why am I not surprised?

    Now if you don’t back your sentences with anything tangible, how can the average reader tell the difference between you and the most idiotic pseudoscience True Believer?

    That’s why I say, please do give it a try

    • Nic
      2010/04/20 at 00:18

      Absolutely true,Omnologos…and it applies to you,in spades,as you choose to act like the most idiotic pseudo-science True Disbeliever. You chose to lead off on this topic,and you chose to lead with a superficial,facetious attack on one contributor to the information stream on the sole basis that that contributor was in the business of atmospheric modelling and projection..without discussion of validation,or the sequence and network of observation that goes into making up the advice.

      “..it[the MO] has apparently decided not to complement the model results with in-situ measurements”

      Apparently? D’ya reckon they might be part of broader information network?

      • 2010/04/20 at 06:19

        Nic – you’re still in grandstanding mode. A little less of rethorical questioning, and a little more content would help us mere mortals…

  16. Nic
    2010/04/19 at 06:32

    There is more to this than modelling,but that wouldn’t interest you because it may rob you of the opportunity to froth at the mouth. Why am I not surprised?

    • 2010/04/19 at 06:47

      hehehehe…

      Nic – please give it a try. It wouldn’t hurt to deal with reality for once…

      • Nic
        2010/04/19 at 07:11

        After you…your needs are clearly greater. hehehehe

  17. Sean Wise
    2010/04/18 at 23:28

    So this is really just a dry run to see how much damage you can inflict on an econmomy through blind acceptance of Met Office computer models?

  1. 2010/04/28 at 22:18
  2. 2010/04/21 at 03:40
  3. 2010/04/21 at 01:23
  4. 2010/04/20 at 17:21
  5. 2010/04/20 at 01:30
  6. 2010/04/19 at 21:36
  7. 2010/04/19 at 17:24
  8. 2010/04/19 at 16:27
  9. 2010/04/19 at 16:24
  10. 2010/04/19 at 15:54
  11. 2010/04/19 at 06:25

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