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|The Westcountry based Met Office has
secured a momentous agreement from weather groups around the world
to change the way they gather climate change information to ward off
criticism from sceptics over recent data scandals.
It is also planning to re-examine more than 150 years of temperature
data in a bid to regain public trust in climate science following
reports about alleged errors and suppression of data.
The latest move by the under-fire Met Office, which has faced
criticism after predicting a mild winter, hard on the heels of
forecasts for a "barbecue summer" that never was, hopes to regain
public trust in climate change research.
The Exeter-based weather centre says the re-analysis, which was
approved at a conference in Turkey earlier this week, is timely and
it does not expect it to reach a hugely different conclusion about
the impact of global warming.
However, the reassessment by an international group of experts could
raise questions over its previous reports which became embroiled in
controversy because of the Met Office's association with the
University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, which has been
at the centre of the data storm.
A Met Office spokesman said:
"This effort will ensure that the data-sets are completely robust
and that all methods are transparent."
It added that "any such analysis does not undermine the existing
independent data-sets that all reflect a warming trend."
The Met organisation is spearheading the move to clean up the
science which monitors global warming, by calling for its
international counterparts to take on the "grand challenge" of
measuring land surface temperatures as often as several times a day,
and allow independent scrutiny of the data, making it more
It comes after the climate change movement became embroiled in a
barrage of criticism over claims that scientists tried to cover up
historical data which did not fit in with theories that the world is
getting consistently warmer.
The latest move to measure land surface would go some way towards
answering demands by sceptics for access to the raw figures used to
predict climate change.
Last night, MEP Giles Chichester, who has been among critics of the
Met Office, said: "It all sounds a bit like closing ranks against
the sceptics, but if it leads to better science, then I have to
The proposal was approved in principle by some 150 delegates meeting
under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation in
Antalya, Turkey. It comes after e-mails stolen from a British
university and several mistakes made in a 2007 report issued by the
UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prompted
public debate over the reliability of climate change predictions.
Sceptics claim scientists have secretly manipulated climate data and
suppressed contrary views – allegations that have been denied by
researchers and the climate change panel.
But the Met Office said current measurements were "fundamentally
ill-conditioned to answer 21st century questions such as how
extremes are changing and therefore what adaptation and mitigation
decisions should be taken."
Earlier this month, the Met Office's own Professor John Mitchell
found himself in the spotlight after he approved a report by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which failed to take into
account a "Medieval warm period", in about 1000AD, when some believe
the Earth's temperatures equalled those of today.
But the Met Office insisted the issues had been properly handled,
and said Prof Mitchell's role was to co-ordinate the compilation of