“Left – Old school weather forecast, bright and sunny. Right – New style weather forecast designed to look like fear and destruction. It’s called summer.”
This is the caption of a post that has gone viral on social media, showing two maps of the UK – one allegedly during a previous hot spell and one apparently before the current record heat wave.
However, the comparison has drawn anger from the met office Meteorologist who designed the currently used heatmaps.
said Aidan McGivern The Independent The post was “incredibly frustrating” and said the image on the right, allegedly a recent forecast, had been tampered with.
“This misinformation distracts from the Met Office’s forecasts, warnings and advice on how to behave safely during what is truly an unprecedented period of extreme temperatures,” he said.
He also explained why the heat scale colors were updated last year.
“The color scale was designed for accessibility reasons — for color-blind people like me, it’s easier to distinguish different colors when there’s a gradient from light to dark, rather than just hue changes,” McGivern said, adding that the colors aren’t would have done was altered to instill fear.
“Because the darker reds correspond to temperatures that are above the UK temperature record [38.7C in Cambridge in 2019]they were only ever destined for the hottest parts of the world,” he continued.
“I never thought I would end up seeing her in the UK. The manipulated image has these darker reds, but with much lower temperatures, which is what the map says, which is why it looks like the image is fake.”
“When we designed the new colors in fall 2021 it was just parts of the Middle East and North Africa [greater than] 39°C,” said Mr. McGivern.
Speaking of temperatures across the UK on Monday and Tuesday, he said: “We have never recorded temperatures this high. It is the first time the Met Office has predicted 40C in its forecasts, which would be well above the previous-time temperature record.
“A lot of people are still talking about the summer of 1976. It was an extraordinary summer – it remains the sunniest summer on record and there was a huge impact from the drought. However, on the hottest day of 1976, the temperature peaked at 35.9C. We have far surpassed this during more recent heatwaves, for example summer 2003 (38.5C) and summer 2019 (38.7C) . This week is expected to be even hotter, peaking on Tuesday.”
He also suggested that extreme weather this week caught meteorologists by surprise.
“In 2020, I worked with Met Office climate scientists to produce a forecast for a typical summer heatwave in 2050,” he said.
“At the time, I was shocked to see that the climate models projected 40 degrees Celsius for 30 years in a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to continue unabated. I never thought I would actually be forecasting 40 degrees Celsius in the UK in the summer just two years later.”
Asked if reporting on the weather has become increasingly more political than that climate crisis deteriorated and the attitude of some sections of the media and the general public towards climate science has hardened, Mr McGivern said the fake map was “just the latest example of a vocal minority trying to spread misinformation in response to the science-based weather of the… Met Office dissemination and climate forecasts”.