The Telegraph: The BBC has been accused by the Met Office, its own forecaster, of making “unrealistic” claims that climate change will make Britain like Madeira by the 2060s and allow farmers to grow pineapples.
Tom Heap, the Countryfile presenter, said the Government’s own research suggests that in 50 years time “there is a pretty good chance” Britain will look like the semi-tropical island off Africa. Broadcasting from the popular holiday destination for Costing the Earth on Radio 4, he suggested that British farmers will be able to grow papaya and prickly pear within decades.
But the Met Office said it would be “impossible” for the future climate of the UK to equate to the present-day climate of Madeira in the 2060s. Dr Richard Betts, the top climate change scientist at the forecaster, said it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect a climate like Madeira by the 2060s. The Met Office’s intervention comes after a BBC weather presenter admitted overlooking compute predictions of thunderstorms and forecasting a clear, sunny day on Sunday.
Although Madeira is a maritime climate like the UK, it is a lot hotter in the summer and warmer in the winter. In the most likely scenarios, the Met Office climate change predictions for the Government forecast temperatures in the UK to increase from the 1961 to 1990 average of 10 to 17C in the summer to 15 to 22C by 2080. This is comparable to Madeira’s summer temperature range of 19 to 23C but would not happen until well into the 2080s, with the hottest temperatures only in the south of the country.
Also, in the winter UK temperatures are set to increase from below freezing to 6C to between 3 and 10C by 2080, much cooler than Madeira where the climate is between 15 and 17C.
Dr Betts said pockets of the UK might approach the temperatures of Madeira “in the most extreme circumstances”. But he pointed out that Madeira is off a huge land mass, that includes the Sahara, and has different daylight hours so the climate for growing plants will always be different. “It is inaccurate information,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our predictions do NOT say the UK will be like Madeira in 2060.”
In an email to Carbon Brief, a fact checking website on climate change, the Met Office said it would be impossible for the UK to be like Madeira by the 2060s. “Significant changes to the UK climate are expected as a consequence of global climate change by the 2080s, but even the biggest projected changes under the highest emissions scenarios do not provide evidence that this would resemble today’s climate of Madeira, and certainly not by the 2060s,” wrote Mark McCarthy, a Met Office climate impacts researcher.
The BBC was forced to apologise earlier this week after ignoring computer forecasts from the Met Office predicting showers across the South East of England. Dr Peter Carey, a Cambridge-based ecologist who contributed to the BBC programme, explained that certain areas of the UK could become like “cooler, wetter parts of Madeira” by “the 2060s to the 2080s”. He said people are already starting to plant bananas, palm trees and apricots and it will become a lot easier to plant even more exotic fruit like pineapples because of a warmer climate and lack of frosts.
“It looks like the southwest of England, Wales, northern England, Scotland are going to become a lot warmer, so maybe 5-7 degrees [Celsius] warmer than they are now, but also wetter, or as wet, and that will mitigate the effects of the temperature. In fact the climate will become quite like the Azores or Madeira,” he told the BBC.
Radio 4 said the “Madeira effect “was clearly identified in the programme as Dr Carey’s interpretation, not that of the Met Office.”
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