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BBC drops top IPCC source for climate change data

Lawrence Solomon
Financial Post
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The British Broadcasting Corporation has put its weather forecasting contract out to tender – the first time since its radio broadcasts began in 1923 – after taking heat from the public for a string of embarrassingly inaccurate long-range weather forecasts. The UK Met Office, the government-owned meteorological department that has had the BBC contract for almost 90 years, is a partner with the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University of Climategate fame. CRU and the UK Met Office jointly provide the climate change data that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relies on.

The BBC’s decision comes amid one of the fiercest winters in decades that has left the country unprepared for the snow-related chaos it has seen. In August, the Met Office had forecast a mild winter. Last summer, the BBC had again been embarrassed: Thanks to the forecasts it had received from the UK Met, the BBC had warned its audience of an “odds-on barbecue summer” that instead was cool and rainy. In both cases, the BBC has faced outrage from a public that had been misled by the information the BBBC had provided it.

Many blame the UK Met Office’s abysmal forecasts record on a climate change bias. The BBC’s own climate correspondent, Paul Hudson, who for a decade had been a UK Met forecaster, believes the UK Met’s problem could stem from flawed computer models at its Hadley Centre, which provides data to the IPCC.

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