Piers Corbyn gave a glimpse into his methods of long-range weather forecasting yesterday. Corbyn can claim an extraordinary degree of accuracy for predicting extreme weather events. So much so, it makes the professionals look stupid. Corbyn's WeatherAction is a successful private business, with farmers, big insurance, and other serious players increasingly shunning the taxpayer-funded Met Office in preference to his forecasts. He's been banned by the bookies from betting on his own forecasts.
Clearly, something significant is going on. Corbyn has found a correlation, one that has eluded the experts. So what's behind his SWT, or Solar Weather Technique? Infuriatingly for supporters as well as critics, he won't publish the details. But we know more today than we did yesterday, following a climate conference he organised yesterday at Imperial College to help publicise SWT.
The Corbyn Method
"Standard meterology deals with transient events", he said. "It's very good at doing a day ahead." [Are you sure? - ed] "But these are easy questions. We want to solve harder ones."
For weather events, Corbyn identifies bursts of solar particle and electromagnetic activity he calls SWIPS. These can be predicted deterministically, he claims, although he won't disclose his method. The key is not the 11 year cycle, or even fluctuations in total solar irradiance (TSI), but the 22 year Hale Cycle in magnetic sunspot activity, which indicates changes in activity in solar wind. The team had also noticed a lunar modulation - probably two factors. When the Moon was in the Earth's slipstream, its elevation influenced the climate. There were also other magnetic factors. All these influenced the jet stream, and in turn, weather.
Corbyn also said his team looked back at past weather events and found that most fitted a similar pattern.
"Mathematically in phase space, states are nearly always repeated. Similar states are (nearly) repeated at predictable times. It works because external forcing factors are more important than internal weather noise (transients) on reasonable time scales, of only about 4 days. The changes in energy flow are big - that's why it actually works."
He said that he'd unconsciously adopted a quantum approach. "We generate rules that enable us to look back. Harry Fairbrother, a mathematics lecturer at Imperial College and chair of the former ASTMS, came to one of my events - and he said, 'I think you do it by some sort of approach like quantum mechanics'. I said 'I do, but I don't think of it as quantum mechanics.'"
In addition to an 85 per cent success rate, Corbyn's WeatherAction says it can do more, but is hampered by resources.
"We can now do endgame forecasts for tropical storms - we can say what the storm is going to do if there's a Red Spike."
"With modification of the computer equations of standard meteorology, a new SWT-NWP [numerical weather prediction] approach could be developed to improve and extend current TV weather forecasts to 10 days ahead, with the same accuracy as we now have for 24 or even 12 hours in advance. It requires changes in thinking, investment, and a bit of imagination".
Corbyn earned a pre-emptive strike on Radio 4 from the BBC's environmental activist Roger Harrabin, who helped rewrite the corporations's guidelines on impartiality for green issues. Harrabin was at the conference Corbyn organised yesterday. Much more on this in a follow-up story. ®