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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Threat of ANAO Audit means Australia’s BOM throws out temperature set, starts again, gets same results

Joanne Nova and Ken Stewart

A team of independent auditors, bloggers and scientists went through the the BOM “High Quality” (HQ) dataset and found significant errors, omissions and inexplicable adjustments. The team and Senator Cory Bernardi put in a Parliamentary request to get our Australian National Audit Office to reassess the BOM records. In response, the BOM, clearly afraid of getting audited, and still not providing all the data, code and explanations that were needed, decided to toss out the old so called High Quality (HQ) record, and start again. The old HQ increased the trends by 40% nationally, and 70% in the cities.

So goodbye “HQ”, hello “ACORN”. End result? Much the same.

That meant the ANAO could avoid an audit, since the BOM had changed data-sets, the point of auditing the old set was moot.

For me, this version is so much worse than the previous one. In the HQ data set the errors could have been inadvertent, but now we’ve pointed out the flaws, there can be no excuses for getting it wrong. Instead of fixing the flaws (and thanking the volunteers), it’s almost as if they’ve gone out of their way [...]

Announcing a formal request for the Auditor General to audit the Australian BOM

A team of skeptical scientists, citizens, and an Australian Senator have lodged a formal request with the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have the BOM and CSIRO audited.

The BOM claim their adjustments are “neutral” yet Ken Stewart showed that the trend in the raw figures for our whole continent has been adjusted up by 40%. The stakes are high. Australians could have to pay something in the order of $870 million dollars thanks to the Kyoto protocol, and the first four years of the Emissions Trading Scheme was expected to cost Australian industry (and hence Australian shareholders and consumers) nearly $50 billion dollars.

Given the stakes, the Australian people deserve to know they are getting transparent, high quality data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The small cost of the audit is nothing in comparison with the money at stake for all Australians. We need the full explanations of why individual stations have been adjusted repeatedly and non-randomly, and why adjustments were made decades after the measurements were taken. We need an audit of surface stations. (Are Australian stations as badly manipulated and poorly sited as the US stations? Who knows?)