BoM rain predictions “totally useless”

We are talking here about the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) “National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook”. The BoM produces these predictive maps every month looking ahead for the next three months. I have for some years been critical that these Outlook maps are too often grossly wrong when compared to the rain anomaly maps National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook produced by the BoM, 100 days or more later of course.
See my pages where Outlook maps are juxtaposed with real world rain anomalies. The quote of “totally useless” in my post headline comes from an article on ABC Online news, ABC being our Govt. owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

How is it that our National Meteorological body, costing how many millions each year, can turn out such useless rubbish every month in these Outlook press releases. This is staggering.
It is also staggering that our media has faithfully parrotted the BoM “totally useless” Outlooks, every month for how many years now. Is there not one journalist out there with eyes and ears open who might have noticed rain periods somewhere that were at odds with an earlier Outlook ? Not one ? in all those years.
There are also many State Agriculture/Enviro/Resource Departments that publish and refer to these Outlooks as if they have real meaning and usefullness and have done for years and still do. Has one of these highly paid State bureaucrats ever questioned these BoM Outlooks ?
Here we are in a National “water crisis”, would we not expect pronouncements on rainfall Outlooks by the BoM to have a greater connection with reality.

Last Update: Wednesday, May 16, 2007. 2:14pm (AEST) ABC Online
50pc rainfall predictions useless: scientist
By Sarah Farnsworth

A Melbourne scientist is critical of how the weather bureau forecasts for future rainfall.

Professor Andrew Vizard, an epidemiologist specialising in agriculture at the University of Melbourne, has looked into the ways farmers can benefit from rain forecasts.

Professor Vizard says weather bureau predictions of a 50 per cent chance of rain are “totally useless”.

“Unfortunately there is no system in Australia that has a lot of skill and so it is hard for forecasts to provide value to farmers and industry,” he said.

The weather bureau predicts future rain by assessing sea temperatures and using the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).

Professor Vizard says all the bureau comes up with is predictions of a 50 per cent chance of above average rainfall every season.

“That is not saying much and you can’t extract value from that. We need to invest money into researching some new lead indicators that better predict forecast for seasonal rainfall in Australia,” he said.

But he says all is not lost, with access to historical rain fall records, there can be reliable estimates on the likelihood of seasonal rain.

“The Bureau of Meteorology has a fantastic mine of historical data which is of great use, and it needs to be farmed more,” he said.

“I think it is just the MET is working in an extremely difficult area that requires more investment.

“Essentially if all the lead indicators can do is make minor deviations away from a 50 per cent chance of rainfall, and it appears that is all they can do, we have to search for new ways beyond just sea surface temperature and the SOI index.”

3 comments to BoM rain predictions “totally useless”

  • Beachgirl

    The Bureau of Meteorology should reply to the ABC article.

  • Unlikely, I think the BoM would feel safe that their media people will hose down any chance the story has of catching on in other media. I do not know how the story slipped through the ABC usual PC filters.

  • See this new webpage and read the very good pdf report which is out for review, “Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific
    Forecasts,”
    June 19, 2007

    Abstract

    In 2007, a panel of experts established by the World Meteorological
    Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme issued its updated,
    Fourth Assessment Report, forecasts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
    Change’s Working Group One Report predicts dramatic and harmful increases in
    average world temperatures over the next 92 years. We asked, are these
    forecasts a good basis for developing public policy? Our answer is “no”.

    Much research on forecasting has shown that experts’ predictions are not useful.
    Rather, policies should be based on forecasts from scientific forecasting
    methods. We assessed the extent to which long-term forecasts of global average
    temperatures have been derived using evidence-based forecasting methods. We
    asked scientists and others involved in forecasting climate change to tell us
    which scientific articles presented the most credible forecasts. Most of the
    responses we received (30 out of 51) listed the IPCC Report as the best source.
    Given that the Report was commissioned at an enormous cost in order to provide
    policy recommendations to governments, the response should be reassuring. It is
    not.The forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific procedures.
    In effect, they present the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics
    and obscured by complex writing. We found no references to the primary sources
    of information on forecasting despite the fact these are easily available in
    books, articles, and websites. We conducted an audit of Chapter 8 of the
    IPCC’s WG1 Report. We found enough information to make judgments on 89 out of
    the total of 140 principles. We found that the forecasting procedures that were
    used violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves,
    critical. We have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts to support
    global warming. Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more creedence
    than saying that it will get colder.

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