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At the start of 2015, climatologists around the globe were predicting significant meteorological effects as a result of strengthening El Nino patterns.

The bottom line was that it was predicted to be one of the strongest for many years and that in turn may lead to exceptionally unusual weather in many parts of both the northern and southern hemispheres.

However, by the middle of the year the position was starting to look rather less clear cut. Although the El Nino effect was clearly very pronounced it didn't seem to be a yielding quite the meteorological catastrophes that had been predicted earlier on.

For example, during the southern hemisphere winter, rainfall levels were higher than normal in some areas but lower in others. Overall, it wasn't immediately apparent that the predicted effect had materialised and certainly not to the degree anticipated.

In the northern hemisphere, the position is rather more complicated. Parts of Northern America have been affected by drought conditions but in some cases these conditions have persisted now for some years and have their origin at a time when El Nino was not doing anything particularly noteworthy.

In southern and parts of Eastern Europe, as well as areas of North Africa and the Middle East, there have been exceptionally high temperatures although in central and Northern Europe, the summer has been the rather traditional 'damp squib' with lots of grey rain and if anything slightly lower than the usual temperatures at the peak summer period.

In the southern hemisphere, meteorologists are now forecasting more significantly noticeable effects later in the year although these must be viewed in the context of some of the dire predictions at the start of mid 2015 which, by and large, haven't been realized. By contrast, in the northern hemisphere, some meteorologists are now suggesting that far from getting hotter, as a result of global warming, parts of Northern Europe and North America may be heading for a new 'mini ice age' of cooler and wetter summers and harder freezing winters.

Quite how that last forecast equates to the overall picture of apparent global warming is far from clear.

For farmers, machinery traders, agricultural specialists and even the general public, understanding the weather is critically important. While few people expect or demand particularly accurate medium to long term forecasting, the public's tolerance of what proves to be woefully incorrect meteorological forecasting is being stretched to breaking point.

It's not that long ago that some climate scientists in the late 20th century were forecasting that some cities on the eastern seaboard of the USA could easily be submerged by rising sea levels within the first two decades of the 21st century.

Of course, it is easy to criticise scientists dealing with such a notoriously difficult to understand and complicated subject such as global weather. It is a thankless task and nobody remembers when they are right but they are pilloried when they are wrong.

However, it's perhaps incumbent upon them to avoid what some perceive as the rather overly enthusiastic tendency to rush out gloomy prognoses for the weather and instead to openly acknowledge that our understanding of these things is still relatively embryonic.

If that lesson isn't learned, there is the very real risk that they will be perceived like 'the boy who always cried wolf' with the result that the critically important need to take society with them in the recognition of the need for environmental change in order to mitigate some elements of climate change isn't achieved due to lost credibility.

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Source by Eby M

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