Losing it


Europe map according to BBC Weather Foreacst S...
Europe map according to BBC Weather Foreacst Service (Photo credit: Cea.)

This has not been a great week for the “Yes” campaign in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum.

Rational folk might put the reason why the campaign has hit trouble is because it has tried to fudge some pretty basic economic questions about the implications of Scottish independence and has been caught out doing so.

But, it seems, some leading supporters of Scottish independence have discovered the real reason – the BBC weather forecast.

Bella Caledonia, quite a big blog in Scotland, writes this:

the BBC constantly exposes us to a more blatant misrepresentation. And the insidious nature of this visual deception is totally inappropriate in the lead-up to the independence referendum.

In fact the BBC’s weather map is based on the image of the UK as seen from geostationary weather satellites. It accurately reflects the view from space and with the Atlantic dominating the weather we get in these islands, satellite imaging, and its accurate projection is absolutely central to good forecasting.

But Bella Caledonia know better:

I’ve done a bit of 3D graphics modelling over the years, and could see that the underlying issue wasn’t obvious to those debating the perspective. I wrote to the Scotsman pointing out that the BBC was being disingenuous. When you model a virtual 3D scene you have the freedom to put the camera wherever you like, and also to choose the virtual lens. Looking down from a great height with a standard lens would result in a faithful representation of the land masses. But what the BBC’s modellers had done was to use a wide angle lens and move the virtual camera position much closer to the south of England. This has the effect of making the nearer land masses bulge larger, and those further north to taper off rapidly in perspective.

 But, of course, this is not a “virual 3D scene” at all and the idea that you can “put the camera wherever you like” misses the point: people would surely prefer more accurate weather forecasts based on this spherical projection to less accurate ones which are on Mercator’s Projection.
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