April sunshine totals 1981-2010

Figure 1

The sunniest place on average in the UK in the period between 1981 and 2010 is Shanklin on the Isle of Wight with 201.4 hours. In fact most of the climate stations in the top 17 can be found on the English Channel coast somewhere. On the southwest peninsula the fall off in sunshine the further away from the coast you are looks to be around 10%. The Met Office provide these 1981-2010 average in their DataPoint web service and are not neither straightforward to download or to parse, because they’re all in XML format and come as individual files for almost 300 locations. The things I have to go through for a climate story.

Figure 2

I contacted the Met Office at Jersey yesterday and asked them what their record highest April sunshine total and got this tweet back.

Figure 3

I make their total for the same period 249.5 hours, yesterday they had another 2.5 hours taking them up to 252.0 hours. I’ve tweeted the Met Office at Jersey and asked them to check their total, but so far have had no response. As far as I can see I’ve done the maths correctly, and my old maths teacher Mr Brightmoor I’m sure would have been proud of me. The 1981-2010 average for Jersey is 196.5 hours in April, so that makes the latest anomaly just over 28% above the average.

Figure 4

Met Office DataPoint changes

The Met Office have just announced a big upgrade to their DataPoint web service. I can see they have made many changes to the service, which in my opinion has been dying a death ever since it started around five years ago. They seem to like the idea of Big Data, but what I would like to see from them is MORE FREE DATA*, but there is absolutely no mention of any additional new data in their press release. By more free data I mean climate, observational and forecast data, because at the moment the service provides precious little in the way of satellite imagery or any detailed NWP data, I would like to think that’s all about to change, but I very much doubt it. In a recent request on the DataPoint Forum the Met Office asked:

The Met Office is currently evaluating how data users interact with environmental data held on DataPoint and we would like to hear your views on your experiences of using API data services, what aspects are important to you and what changes you would like to see?

I replied with the following comments:

If you mean by ‘environmental’ climate and observational data then Data Point continues to disappoint and I quite rarely run the applications that I developed to access data from it.

Observational data I get by using OGIMET to download SYNOP data. From that I can glean rainfall and sunshine totals, and extreme temperatures from across the whole world not just the UK and in real time. The ADDs web service run by NOAA provides me with the latest METAR and TAFs. I scrape the latest lightning information from Blitzortung. The latest analysis and forecast (fax) charts form the Met Office I get from Wetterzentrale. I scrape high-resolution satellite (tiled) images every 15 minutes from the Met Office and do the same for weather radar. I use OGIMET to look at the GFS NWP output at 3 hourly intervals, it’s not quite the same as getting your hands on the values like you can from DataPoint though. I use the Met Office for Daily CET data, as well as daily UKP (why can’t this be daily) and monthly EWR. I download polar sea ice data from the NSIDC, I download reanalysis gridded data for MSLP and air temperature from them well in NETCDF format, along with the latest ENSO data and the NAO and PDO indices. I shouldn’t forget the UAH and GISS global temperature data, although I do pick up CRUTEM4 data from the Climate research unit at the University of East Anglia, who also provide me with the Objective Lamb Weather Types for the UK.

So as you can see DataPoint as it is at the moment, almost pointless for either UK or global environmental data.

You could improve it of course, in fact very quickly, by the addition of hourly rainfall totals and perhaps 5 minute SFERIC data (forget the static image). Daily climate data from all the UK climate sites that the Met Office don’t publish would be extremely useful, perhaps this could be achieved by publishing the National Climate Messages at 0900 and 2100 each day.

Why not publish all hourly UK SYNOP & NCM data in a similar way to how OGIMET do it – this data is from a proper network of operational stations and so much more useful than the millions of observations collected by WOW. If I require observations for all SYNOPS in Poland for a specific day from OGIMET you just create a URL like this:

http://www.ogimet.com/cgi-bin/getsynop?begin=200912150000&end=200912152359&state=Pol

Just maintain an hourly SYNOPs archive on an FTP server – it really doesn’t have to be anymore complicated than this to work.