A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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History rewritten? BoM wrong on “first” July cyclone, forgets 1935, 1954, 1962

Cyclones down the memory hole?

Newspaper report, Cyclone, 1935, July,

July 1935, Click to enlarge | Trove

A weak tropical cyclone has formed off the Solomon Islands, and the BOM is reporting that there has never before been a July cyclone in the Queensland region. But Warwick Hughes has already posted up details showing that there have been quite a few cyclones in July. The cyclone is hardly extraordinary, and certainly not “historic”, but what about the BOM?

Forecaster David Grant on the ABC:

“We’ve never had a July tropical cyclone in the Queensland region before.

Australia has only had one other officially declared July cyclone, which formed off Western Australia in 1996.

The official tropical cyclone season runs from November 1 to April 30.”

The July cyclone “first” scores headlines in both The Australian and The Courier Mail. “Queensland weather forecasters record first cyclone in July “. But it’s wrong. Commenter Siliggy on Warwick Hughes site found a HardenUp link listing cyclones and storms in Queensland. Some of the older July cyclones listed below may not qualify as “cyclones” under the new scale, but some clearly did — and rather than being far to the north near the Solomons, cyclonic winds of 70 knots were recorded as far south as Tweed Heads in July 1962. The BoM is supposed to give Australians the full picture of our climate, not mislead people into thinking that our climate is changing when it has always been highly variable.

It is deceptive of the BOM not to let Australian’s know about our real climate history:

From the HardenUp link listing cyclones and storms in Queensland.

17-19 Jul 1889
Cyclone near Rockhampton 17th, Brisbane 18th then moved east. Gales and heavy seas on north and Central coasts of NSW. Vessels lost Fraser Island to Coffs Harbour.

28 Jul 1919
Cyclone passed southwards between New Caledonia and Queensland. Ships driven on Barrier Reef southeast of Mackay.

22-24 July 1921
Cyclone from NE struck northern NSW coast causing gales and shipping disruptions before recurving to SE. Disastrous floods SE Qld and northern NSW. Goondiwindi, Warwick and Roma flooded. Several houses washed away and 2 men drowned at Texas. A man drowned at Inglewood. Heavy stock and crop losses and damage to roads and bridges.

29-30 Jun 1929
Cyclone recurved to SE just to NE of Cape Moreton with gales and heavy rain. Much damage at Sandgate. Flooding in Pine and Nerang Rivers.

7 July 1931
Cyclone developed SE Qld and moved towards the SE. High winds Brisbane.

10-11 Jul 1933
Cyclone recurved over Broadsound and Rockhampton towards southeast. Floods Central Q.

7-10 July 1935
Cyclone recurved over Shoalwater Bay and moved towards SE. Gales. SS Maheno driven ashore. Heavy rain Central Q. (See other Trove newspaper reports). “Waves 30 feet high“. Boats were caught in a “harrowing” experience.

11-13 Jul 1954

Complex cyclonic system crossed coast near Bundaberg and then recurved towards SE. Winds to hurricane force left a trail of damage along the coast south from Bundaberg. Woman killed at Nambour Houses when shed was lifted by wind and hurled into her . House, shops , jetties and boats were badly damaged. 200 people were left homeless, hundreds of small craft were wrecked. Many houses unroofed including 50 at Caloundra. Hurricane force winds in Moreton Bay with widespread property and boat damage at Redcliffe, Sandgate and Wynnum. The Redcliffe jetty was badly damaged by large waves with most of the decking forced upwards and ripped off. The Dutch naval sloop Snellius reported waves to 21 metres off the South Coast.

9-11 Jul 1962
Cyclone developed NE of Fraser Island and moved past Gold Coast. 60 to 70 knot winds reported from Tweed Heads to Yamba in the 24 hours to 9am 11th. Local Flash floods Brisbane to Gold Coast. Fruit trees damaged buildings flattened Sunnybank. Small boats wrecked, buildings flattened, extensive beach erosion and roads damaged Gold Coast. Radio Mast wrecked Lytton. Widespread flooding Nerang, Albert and Logan Rivers.
In NSW Small craft lost or damaged at North Coast harbours. Bad floods Murwillumbah, Lismore, Bellingen and Grafton with many evacuations and people drowned. At 1pm 9th 2 waterspouts came ashore at Port Macquarie and left a trail of destruction. 3 men were killed when a 2 story building they were building was wrecked. 30 house were damaged. Largest 24 hr rain totals 265mm Springbrook and 227mm Lismore.

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Climate change causes more tsunamis — The ABC will believe anything

Too much panic is never enough. Fran Kelly asks Stephen O’Brien, lawyer and UN official, about that the effects of climate change which are “already being felt”. She does not blink when his answer includes more frequent and more severe tsunamis. His qualifier…  It’s not a question of “if”, but “when”.

Yes, yes, this is “best and brightest” ideas from around the world, apparently.

 ABC Radio National

Fran Kelly: “Give us a sense of the effects [of climate change] which are already being felt in our region and discussed at this conference.” (at 1 minute)

Stephen O’Brien: “The Pacific Region, and particularly the Pacific Island countries whose land, as you rightly say, are the ones just above sea-level, are the ones that really do have the greatest challenge when it comes to climate change effects on humanitarian need, with the regularity of cyclones, tropical storms, and tsunamis coming through [at 1.30 minutes]. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. And we see that [these] effects of climate change seem to be exacerbated so that they are more frequent and even at times more severe…”

ABC gives free advertising for “the cause”

ABC staff are happy to ask loaded and leading Dorothy-dixer-type* science questions to people who have no scientific background, while pretending they are real journalists, then accept everything the interviewee says with dutiful nods. So O’Brien gets time to do his advertising, but if he gets “caught” mixing up his science, he’ll just say he’s not a scientist. No loss. Free marketing for “the cause”.

It’s not just poor journalism, it’s pravda-downunder. Lawyers-of-a-left-leaning get free gushing space, but when does the ABC ask any questions of actual prize winning NASA scientists, Nobel prize winners, geologists or meteorologists who hold differing views?  The problem is not that O’Brien is not a scientist, it’s the one-sided blind tilt — the ABiasC.  Fran Kelly is her own climate expert, she “knows” what the climate will do, and she won’t ask people who disagree with her views who are far more qualified than her or O’Brien. It’s easy questions for “friends”, and the Cloak of Invisibility for enemies.

If there is a trend in South Pacific Cyclones, it’s down.

All across the South Pacific, the trends for cyclones are flat.

Looks like CO2 helps prevent cyclones. Burn more oil, eh? ;-)

Cyclone Pam, South Pacific Cyclones, Intensity, Frequency, Graph

Number and intensity of Cyclones in the South Pacific | Source: Met Service Blog 

It doesn’t matter what his qualifications are, anyone who pretends solar panels can stop tsunamis ought to be grilled.

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Largest lake in world turned to dust bowl with no help from man-made fossil fuels

In a shocking discovery, the largest lake on Earth, covering 360,000km2 in central Africa, dried up to a dust bowl during times when CO2 levels were perfect. Climate change was abrupt, savage, and climate modelers have absolutely no idea what caused it.

Apparently, the dust now blows across the Atlantic and fertilizes the Amazon. So while Climate modelers in Chad circa 2000BC were dismayed and blamed Sahelian traders, Amazonian tribesman sang and danced for the last 1000 years.


[ScienceDaily] Largest freshwater lake on Earth was reduced to desert dunes in just a few hundred years

Researchers from Royal Holloway, Birkbeck and Kings College, University of London used satellite images to map abandoned shore lines around Palaeolake Mega-Chad, and analysed sediments to calculate the age of these shore lines, producing a lake level history spanning the last 15,000 years.

At its peak around 6,000 years ago, Palaeolake Mega-Chad was the largest freshwater lake on Earth, with an area of 360,000 km2. Now today’s Lake Chad is reduced to a fraction of that size, at only 355 km2. The drying of Lake Mega-Chad reveals a story of dramatic climate change in the southern Sahara, with a rapid change from a giant lake to desert dunes and dust, due to changes in rainfall from the West African Monsoon. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms earlier suggestions that the climate change was abrupt, with the southern Sahara drying in just a few hundred years.

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Carbon tax and Sydney Uni economics, both slugs on the economy

Michael Harris,  Senior Fellow in the School of Economics at University of Sydney, has the impossible job of defending the monstrously ineffective carbon tax against the pointless-but-efficient “Direct Action” program. The carbon tax cost $15b, and cut emissions by 12 million tonnes. The Direct Action plan cost $660m, and is projected to save 47 million tonnes.

Having no numbers remotely on his side, Harris goes quantum semantic. Watch the leap. A tax is not a cost, only a transfer. That makes your tax bill so much easier to pay:

There is also a difference between costs to the economy, and transfers within it. The amount of revenue raised through any tax is not a cost; it is simply a transfer from one “pocket” to “another”. The money has not been destroyed, and it remains available to be spent on something.

Now it seems to me that if I buy a beer, it’s a transfer from one “pocket” to another pocket and if that money is destroyed in the process, that would be the end of the bottle shop. The world of economics rather depends on that money not being vaporised and being available for the shop owner to spend. Adam Smith and all.

But is the real problem just which pocket the money ends up in? It would seem that as long as it’s not given to the pocket that earned it, that’s OK.

It has distributional consequences, obviously, as the “pocket” where that money sits has changed, but total spending power within the economy remains undiminished. (Moreover, Australians received compensation via the tax system after the carbon tax was introduced.)

So why do we have private business at all? If the government owned the lot, nothing would cost anything. Everyone could buy everything, and be compensated for it! (All hail the USSA. Is this the best “economics” from Sydney Uni? “Experts” would be in control of everything… central planning is optimal, Comrade.)

By contrast, the cost of a tax is what the economy – not an individual person or business enterprise – has lost as a result of the existence of the tax. Lower labour supply, fewer goods and services produced – these are the things we would typically count when assessing the burden imposed on an economy from any tax instrument. Hunt hasn’t provided credible estimates of these kinds of impacts.

Do the numbers — $15 billion dollars was redirected away from where it would otherwise have gone in the free economy. Even Harris admits most businesses can’t reduce carbon emissions for less than $23/ton, so they couldn’t do anything “useful”, and most of that $15billion achieved nothing carbon-wise. It was just an extra cost. Somebody paid. Across the economy, thousands of businesses faced smaller margins or passed the costs on to consumers. Those who took smaller margins made less profit, or employed less people or invested less in upgrades. Those who passed on the costs, lost customers, lost sales to foreigners or just sold slightly less product. Either that or the customers who paid more had to make do with less  — no weekend in Noosa — and a job was destroyed somewhere else.

Have cake, eat cake, make bridge with cake

Magic pie economics:

First, ongoing revenue from the carbon tax can be used to fund, for example, public infrastructure investments, or to allow cuts to other more economically harmful taxes.

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Northern Greenland warmer 1000 years ago, warmer in the 1920s too

Thanks to the Hockeyschtick for pointing us at a new study of Greenland ice cores[1]. For the first time, 12 ice cores drilled in the northern section of Greenland have been “stacked” and published.  Curiously, these 12 ice cores were drilled from 1993 to 1995, so this is not new data– but it’s the first time that all 12 oxygen isotope records, which are a proxy for temperature, have been published together. The area represents about 10% of Greenland, and seems to behave differently to the southern part. The warm event in 1420 is described as a local effect. The researchers acknowledge that solar activity is important and solar activity correlates with temperatures. It must be growing more and more obvious to climate researchers that their models have to include the long term solar cycles.

The take-home messages for me are: 1/ Natural variability is big and unpredictable. 2/ When we get this kind of detail from all the continents and regions of the ocean we’ll definitely be in a position to start getting the big Global Climate Models to work. 3/ Until we figure out how the Sun causes climate change, the current models are useless.

… Click to see the original graph and caption.


The purple line here shows summer Arctic sea ice extent, which I thought was perfect and stable before we developed coal fired electricity plants.

Click to see the original graph and caption.


They don’t find a good correlation with volcanoes or the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation).

“We find a pronounced warm period from 850 to 1100AD, which has its maximum between 900 and 1000 AD. This is about 100 years earlier than the described MCA in Mann et al. (2009)”

The researchers don’t mention it, but the peak around 950 AD  does match the timing in Ljundvist and Christiansen studies for the whole of the Northern Hemisphere.[2][3]

Here they admit the sun has got something to do with the climate — especially the long term shifts.

“In general, higher solar activity causes higher temperatures (as during the MCA) whereas cold periods (e.g. LIA) are dominated by lower solar activity (Ammann et al., 2007). Based on some of the NGT records (B16, B18, B21 and B29), Fischer et al. (1998c) explained most of the long-term variation in northern Greenland by changes in solar activity.”

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Weekend Unthreaded

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Vanishing hot days of December 1931 — and BOM monthly averages hotter than every single day that month

Great Victorian Desert, Australia, Eucla

The hot desert border of Western and South Australia

Lance Pidgeon has drawn my attention to the mysteriously detailed weather maps of the Australian BOM, with their mass of contradictions. The intricate squiggles of air temperature profiles suggests an awesome array of data — especially remarkable in places like “Cook”, which is a railway station with a population of four. Eucla, the megopolis in the map, has a population of 368. The shared border in the map (right) is 674km long top to bottom.

Thankfully, after 80 years of modern technology, the weather at Eucla and in the Great Victorian Desert is much more bearable than anyone would have expected. The BOM ACORN data set works better than airconditioning. In places near Eucla, where old newspapers record 43C, the BOM tells us the highest maximum that month was “under 27C”. Far to the north of there, the highest maximum stayed under 36C, but the average for that same whole month was above 36C. Go figure. It’s a new kind of maths… [or maybe the miracle of reverse cycle a/c?]

There are a half million square kilometers in this map here and almost no thermometers, but plenty of lizards. It is so empty that every railway station and even a single house will earn a “dot” and a label. The point where WA meets SA and the NT is so remote that more people have been to the South Pole. Despite that, the BOM can draw maps of daily air temperature variation separating sand dunes and salt lakes where no man probably walked in a whole year.  Marvelous what computers and assumptions can do.

Jokes aside. The state of the BOM database is not so funny.


Time for a game of Spot the Contradiction.

Guest Post by Lance Pidgeon

There are a multitude of ways you get the BoM opinion of what the temperature was in December 1931. If for example you were interested in the maximum temperature around the Great Victoria Desert,  along the border of South Australia and Western Australia, you could look at the CDO online data of raw recorded temperatures. Sadly there is no daily data available but after clicking on monthly climate data online, we find the average for the month of December 1931 was 23.9C in Eucla. (Not too hot for summer near the desert).

Alternatively you could look at the AWAP map of average temperature and see the yellow colour for the range 24 to 27 degrees C here.  That’s OK.

But look north of Eucla to the “red fingers” area overlapping the S.A. / W.A. border above this. (Follow the big red arrow). In the red zone the average maximum for the whole month was a scorching hot maximum temperature between 36 and 39 degrees C.  How hot were the hottest days that month? You might be surprised to know that the highest maximum for that month in the same spot was only between 33 and 36 degrees C here.

[It's a pretty cool form of meteorological maths where there were no days above 36C, but the average was 36 or more... - Jo]

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How do we panic about warming during a maunder-type freeze?

Is this the way the Great Global Warming Scare fades out?

The UK newspapers are full of “Maunder Freeze Coming” as forecast by Ineson et al.[1] Rest assured, the solar-driven-cold is only a local effect, only 0.1C, and only a vague short 20 to 40 winters to come. The Sun, which has been ruled out as a major cause of global warming, is still not a cause of global warming — it’s just a minor technical issue called UV from a local star, which will be affecting an ocean current. Then the Big 6.6 degrees of heatstroke will land upon us.

Britain could be on the verge of a mini Ice Age as the Sun enters a cooler phase, the Met Office warned yesterday.

The last big chill was felt hundreds of years ago when Frost Fairs were held on the frozen River Thames.

However the Met Office said the new freeze will not be enough to cancel out the effects of global warming.

We’ve seen this all before, but not on this scale. If there was a volatility index — like a VIX for climate-PR –  it would be setting records. The contradictions are head-snapping. Climate Change will shrink bread, make babies small, ruin coffee, and generally cause the extinction of everything, but in the meantime, there’s a Mini-Ice Age in the kitchen that will hit before your 90th Birthday. What to do? Keep sending those cheques for the carbon reduction, and scratch the snow off the solar panel, right?

If the UK gets “weather”, the UK Met Office was “right”.

The forecast cooling is described in ominous, awesome language, but stay calm, it’s only 0.1C of cooling, practically nothing. If an ice-age arrives, the UK Met Office will be lauded as stars, but if winters stay the same, they are still 100% accurate; and don’t change the scoreboard if January heatwaves arrive instead. If the UK gets “weather”, the UK Met Office was “right”.

A few years ago there were endless mild winters on-the-way, now we’re talking of “Frost Fairs” and “Maunder Minimums” but nobody is issuing headlines of “UK MET OFFICE BACKFLIPS”. There’s no admission here that their 95%-certain-models missed this ice age in all 3,000 runs over the last 20 years, or that if the Sun can bring future cold, it might have had a role in past warmth, eh?

A Maunder type phase of the sun,
Could put climate-change hype on the run,
When predictions would crumble,
And temperatures tumble,
As a Mini Ice Age had begun.

– Rauiri

There’s no sign that if UV changes the Northern Atlantic, maybe it has an effect on the South Pacific or the Eastern Indian too? Not to mention that it’s been a tenet of climate modeling that the models don’t do the regional predictions, just the the global type.

There’s also no mention that this is what a lot of skeptics have been saying, and some for years. The rabid Deniers of East Anti-Science beat the Met Office?

No one is talking either of Australian rivers freezing over, but I wonder whether every Western nation will end up with its own private ice age? Remember, warming is a global phenomenon, but cooling just happens locally everywhere, and where warming is forever, cooling is temporary. The missing heat hides everywhere outside of large population centers and big tax bases (and very very far from actual thermometers).

We haven’t had the appearance of the Big 6.6C “worst case” scenario for years. It’s like something from the 1990s.

The public surely can’t keep swallowing the line that we have to prepare for the heatwaves between ice-ages?

Tell me again what the Wind Turbines are for?

ADDENDUM: This study is similar to one a few weeks ago which, for very different reasons, forecast that the AMO (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) had just started a downturn which would cool the UK and Europe by 0.5C. It looks like quite a few scientists are waking up to the possibility that the natural cycles that drove temperatures on Earth for 4.5 billion years might still be in the drivers seat.

h/t GWPF

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Sherwood’s devout unscientific faith in “climate change” and the hot spot

In The Age this week, Stephen Sherwood explains how misleading skeptics have been for repeating obvious, incontestable results from millions of weather balloons. See, all along, Sherwood knew the weather balloons were wrong, and if only skeptics had his psychic powers, or connection to God, they would have too. Naughty skeptics,eh?

The article in The Age gives away a lot more than either Steven Sherwood (or Peter Hannam, the Fairfax journalist) probably meant to reveal. Sherwood’s still spruiking his latest study, which repeatedly adjusted and blended the weather balloon data and finally “found” the hot spot so effectively it even shows up in years when  it’s not supposed to occur. I’m not talking about his technique, but about his slip of the tongue. Spot the conflicting messages. (As usual, the gullible Peter Hannam let him step right in it, by failing to ask the obvious questions.)

Stephen Sherwood effectively tells four points. Figure out how they can all be true at the same time:

  1. The hot spot is vital to the models, indeed to the current scientific understanding of our climate!
  2. This is the first time they have finally resolved the missing hot spot.
  3. Sherwood always knew the hot spot was there (some kind of “special” knowledge?)
  4. Skeptics were misleading, exploiting, and distorting things for saying that the hotspot was missing (despite point 2!).

If the hot spot is important and “was” missing and Sherwood has only just supposedly found it, that means he has hidden that failure from the paying public for years until now. He didn’t tell anyone it was missing, except in obscure paragraphs in papers announcing it was “found”. Isn’t that kinda deceptive and distorting in a debate where billions of dollars are at stake? Isn’t it a bit odd that a scientist could be “95% certain” that we were headed for a disaster, when the single most important feedback in climate models, a factor as large as the CO2 forcing itself, was known to be wrong?

Sherwood may argue that he has always believed the hot spot was there — but that’s my point. When the data shows otherwise, what kind of scientist “believes” — only an unskeptical one. What does that say about his scientific work? He’s been ignoring the data that doesn’t fit his preconceived belief and has never approached this research with an open mind. Homogenisation is a process that starts with assumptions, and Sherwood is effectively admitting he “knew” what the results of his research were going to turn up.

Is there any experiment Stephen Sherwood could do that would not “finally” find the hot spot?

Climate Model predictions, Missing Hot Spot, Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor

The hot spot matters

Sherwood outlays what a disaster it would be if the 28 million radiosondes are correct and the hot spot is missing:

“The models predict that if, and only if, man is the cause of warming, the tropical upper air, six miles above the ground, should warm up to thrice as fast as the surface, but this tropical upper troposphere “hot spot” has not been observed in 50 years of measurement,” Christopher Monckton, a prominent British sceptic, wrote in 2010.

That the upper troposphere hadn’t warmed compared with the surface would be a major surprise for science, Professor Sherwood said.

Surface temperatures have been rising at about 0.15 degrees per decade. As air rises over the tropics, a lot of water vapour condenses, releasing latent heat, that warms up the air.

“It would have been truly astonishing if the temperatures in the upper troposphere hadn’t been going up faster than at the surface,” Professor Sherwood said.

“If it didn’t appear, it would have nothing to do with whether humans are causing climate change, but it would mean there is something about the way air mixes in the atmosphere that we didn’t know,” he said. “And the ramifications for climate change could go either way.”

Follow the reasoning. Sherwood says the hot spot must be there because if it wasn’t, it would mean they didn’t know something. The consensus is always right?

Sherwood, who knew what the result of his methods would be before he did them, thinks skeptics are the ones who “believe”?

Sceptics’ interest in “hot spots” they believed weren’t there and the fact they couldn’t account for the additional heat being trapped by the Earth from its increased greenhouse gases, pointed to a contrast in approaches, he said.

Hmm. Could it be Sherwood projecting his own flaws?

“They’re not aiming for a self-consistent and reasonably comprehensive description of the world. What they are aiming at is to discredit something,” he said.

Apart from skeptics who don’t. (Some are working to make an alternate climate model).

But then Peter Hannam is interviewing a man whose expertise on the subject of climate skeptics is summed up in the same interview:

“Professor Sherwood said he hadn’t bothered to follow how sceptics had responded to his paper”

Yes, we have different approaches to Stephen Sherwood. We follow the data, he “knows” what the data is supposed to say beforehand. He also knows what skeptics are saying without hearing them.

When scientists break all the rules,
Using dubious methods as tools,
To find as required,
The result they desired,
Then skeptics must take them for fools.

   –  Rauiri

15 years of hunting the hot spot

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Relentlessly shrinking climate sensitivity estimates

Remember how all the news stories keep telling us the evidence is growing and getting stronger than ever “against the skeptics”?

David Stockwell has done a beautiful graph of the value of climate sensitivity estimates that of recent climate research that Steven McIntyre discussed in detail.

The trend looks pretty clear. Reality is gradually going to force itself on the erroneous models.

climate sensitivity estimates, graphed, 2015

Indications are that around 20202030 climate sensitivity will hit zero. ;- )

The red line is ECS — Equilibrium climate sensitivity — which means after the party is all over in years to come, in the long run, this is how much the planet responds to a doubling of CO2.

The blue line is TCR — Transient Climate Response — is an estimate of what happens in the next 20 years. It’s a short term estimate.

Obviously the big question is: What happens when climate sensitivity goes negative?

Check out NicheModelling, Stockwell’s great blog, it deserves more attention.

h/t David, Lance, Ken

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