5. Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the exceptional amount of rain this autumn has stimulated research into the causes of periods of heavy rain; whether any lines of research useful for forecasting such periods are being developed; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. W. J. Taylor)
The exceptional amount of rain in recent months has been the subject of careful study in the Meteorological Office, but there is still no reliable method of undertaking the necessary long-range forecasting.
Research continues and is not without promise, but the problems involved are extremely complicated.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
Would my hon. Friend agree that it would be a great help to poor people in the West Country to make preparations against floods if they could know which seasons are likely to be bad ones from a rain point of view? Is he aware that considerable research is going on in Germany and the United States of America into long-range weather forecasting? Will he make a priority in the Meteorological Office of bringing the matter forward?
§ Mr. Taylor
It would indeed be a great help to people in the West Country, and in the rest of the country, to have more accurate, or probably longer-range, meteorological forecasts. The problem will be solved ultimately, we think, but it will probably take years of research to do so. The whole world must be studied and more observations are needed from many parts, especially the tropics and the southern hemisphere. The high atmosphere must be further explored—for example, by rockets and satellites—and elaborate calculations, using the most advanced computers, are likely to be necessary. A report on long-range weather forecasting is being prepared by a Commission of the World Meteorological Organisation and will be discussed at a forthcoming meeting. The possibility of advancing the subject by international effort will be fully considered.