You’ll be glad to know the BoM problems are all dealt with. Some hand-picked statisticians met with some BoM people yesterday, and they had a robust private chat about secret temperature stuff at the technical advisory forum (that’s the tea-and-cakes one-day-wonder). I’m so relieved to know it was “productive”. (Imagine if the press release had said it was “predictable, boring and unproductive”?) In a few months we will find out a small, filtered version of what they said and possibly something of what the BoM approved statisticians think about the nameless, unlinked, public-submissions.
We do know that the BoM didn’t want public submissions, but in their good grace, they have given them to the select forum members anyway. (Be grateful serfs, you don’t get acknowledgment or answers, but your dedication in listing and referencing known scandalous problems with our national dataset is worthy of one line in the last paragraph of a press release. Congratulations — maybe. Only
one two submissions have been formally acknowledged which means the others, with months of work, might fall off the back of a truck, lost in the mail.*It’s possible. Is it too much to expect officials to send an email receipt with acknowledgment?)
We still don’t know how the BoM defend their ACORN dataset in response to these submissions, or when these errors (which have been reported on blogs and in emails for nearly three years) will be fixed. I predict that we’ll get some answers — but only the week after Graham Lloyd puts a problem in The Australian (eg like last August). National media attention is the only kind of “submission” the BoM seems to respond too. (Not that their responses make a lot of sense.)
Bob FJ notes the press release has a custom tab that suggests the press release was written two days ago. I guess they knew it would be productive and robust. It could be no other way. UPDATE: I added this last line to highlight the artificial nature of the modern press system. I’m sure it would be standard practice for government departments to write press releases before events to get them pre-approved and ready to go. In theory, they would argue that they would change keywords after the event and before they were released if the event went very differently to what was expected. I’d like to break the illusion that press releases are written after the fact, and let everyone know how much the press team are factored into the program these days (at least for those who have a press team). The point of the forum is largely for show, a theater, as far as I can see. The press release is part of that show. If the BoM were genuinely interested in the accuracy of their data they would thank the volunteers who found errors and fix them. Three years of inaction speaks for itself.
Press Release 26 March 2015
The Technical Advisory Forum held its first meeting today to advise on part of Australia’s official climate record – the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) data set.
Today’s discussions were robust and productive, and the Forum would like to thank the Department of the Environment for managing the Forum’s membership and assisting the Chair. The Forum would also like to thank the Bureau of Meteorology for providing information and answering questions on the ACORN-SAT data set.
The Technical Advisory Forum was appointed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Bob Baldwin MP as an independent advisory body to provide greater transparency and an impartial framework for quality assurance tests and analysis of the Bureau’s data sets.
In line with its Terms of Reference, the Forum discussed three aspects of ACORN-SAT: the extent of the public availability of the ACORN-SAT information; developments since the 2011 Independent Peer Review of the Bureau’s data and analysis methods; and the scientific integrity and robustness of the Australian climate record and the homogenisation process. The Forum considered a broad range of information and data concerning the management and development of the ACORN-SAT data set provided by the Bureau.
The Forum also received some additional information from members of the public about the data set. Members of the Technical Advisory Forum were appointed to provide advice on the basis of their formal expertise, and the Terms of Reference do not therefore require the Forum to receive public submissions. However, this additional information was provided to all Forum members to ensure that Forum members were aware of public concerns regarding the Bureau’s management of ACORN-SAT during their deliberations.
- The Forum will deliver its report, including detailed recommendations, by June 2015.
*Obviously we bloggers have copies of all the submissions. They are going to be discussed. More details coming…