JoNova

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


Handbooks

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Archives

Books

Mystery solved: Rain means satellite and surface temps are different. Climate models didn’t predict this…

A funny thing happens when you line up satellite and surface temperatures over Australia. A lot of the time they are very close, but some years the surface records from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are cooler by a full half a degree than the UAH satellite readings. Before anyone yells “adjustments”, this appears to be a real difference of instruments, but solving this mystery turns up a rather major flaw in climate models.

Bill Kininmonth wondered if those cooler-BOM years were also wetter years when more rain fell. So Tom Quirk got the rainfall data and discovered that rainfall in Australia has a large effect on the temperatures recorded by the sensors five feet off the ground. This is what Bill Johnston has shown at individual stations. Damp soil around the Stevenson screens takes more heat to evaporate and keeps maximums lower. In this new work Quirk has looked at the effect right across the country and the years when the satellite estimates diverge from the ground thermometers are indeed the wetter years. Furthermore, it can take up to six months to dry out the ground after a major wet period and for the [...]

Bourke: How 1km of land clearing can warm a million square miles

Yet again, we have to ask: does the Bureau of Meteorology care about Australia’s long term climate trend? Are they even trying?

Bourke could be one of the top ten most influential temperature sites in the world, mostly by virtue of being miles from anywhere, and used to homogenize a large slab of the land mass of Australia. Bill Johnston documents how changes to the site create most of the temperature trend.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s fancy magical and secret homogenization protocol does not detect changes that obviously affect the temperature (like the clearing in the photo below). But sometimes the BoM make “corrections” because of site changes that don’t appear to have mattered. Is it conveniently selective or just inept?

The BoM don’t even document major site changes a lot of the time. Even iconic sites that affect huge areas are badly managed. Someone got the tractor and plough and cleared the vegetation. As usual, a citizen scientist, a volunteer, documents it (along with a suite of other site changes).

In the last ten years land was cleared around the thermometer. This denuded area has a lower humidity, and higher volatility of temperatures.  The data from this thermometer [...]

Scandal: BoM ignores major site changes at iconic, historic, Sydney Observatory. Sloppy or deliberate?

Australia’s oldest and most iconic site has changed dramatically, but major site changes are not even being recorded.

The way the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) treat this site says a lot about the unscientific, shoddy, biased standards it uses at sites everywhere. This was their headquarters. Experts walked past new walls, construction and highways, yet they didn’t record them? Beggars belief.

Just as Peter Ridd warns us that we can’t trust some marine and reef institutes,  Bill Johnston is the whistle-blower warning us about the Bureau of Met. There is no law  of science that says human institutes are infallible. When they run off the rails, how do we find out? Ridd issued a warning from the inside and ended up in the Federal Court. When people, like Bill write from the outside, the BoM waves the peer-review gatekeeper, and anonymous reviewers can easily shut that gate, and without any penalty.

The louvered thermometer house in front of the Observatory in 1864. (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.)

Sydney Observatory is one of the longest running stations in the Southern Hemisphere, starting in 1859. It was Australia’s premier meteorology site and in the 1800′s it was known [...]

Sydney before “climate change” — over 50C, 122F recorded at Windsor Observatory, 1939

This was Sydney before “Climate Change” hit — fifty degrees:

Jan, 12, 1939, The Northern Star

Penrith may have recorded 47.3C for at least one-second this week, but Windsor is only 23 km north-east of Penrith, and on January 13th, 1939, it recorded 122F or 50.5C with an old fashioned liquid thermometer,  not a modern noisy electronic one.

Apparently, climate change makes our extreme heat less extreme.

Furthermore, this was not measured on a beer crate in someones back-yard, but on the historic Windsor Observatory which was built in 1863 by John Tebbutt F.R.A.S who had discovered The 1861 comet, and published many scientific reports in Astronomical Journals. His meteorological observations are published at Harvard in 1899 (among others). Tebbutt died in 1916, so it’s not clear what instrument the 122 F was recorded on in 1939, but a Stevenson Screen had been installed around 40 years earlier, and the measurement was made by Mr Keith Tebbutt, presumably his son.

Tebbutt’s portrait graced the back of our 100 dollar note from 1984 -1996.

See, Many Collapse in the Heat: Thursday Jan, 12, 1939, The Northern Star

Windsor Observatory | Photo: Winston M. Yang Wyp

All part of Greater [...]

BOM Scandal: One second records in Australia — how “noise” creates history and a warming trend

 Instrument errors, noise, may account for a quarter to one half of our national warming trend in the last century.

When the newspapers run a headline with Sydney hits, say, 44.4 degrees and that number gets engraved in history, who realizes that the extreme heat may have only lasted one second? You might think the maximum temperatures were above 44 for at least ten minutes, but the BOM will write it into the record books even if that heat lasts one second, and if the temperature a minute before was more than a whole degree cooler. We’re writing puffs of jet emissions, car exhaust, or random packets of hot (or cold) air into history books, and comparing these new records with old ones done in slow reacting liquid in glass thermometers. No wonder we are setting records!

In the last twenty years, electronic sensors have replaced most of the old fashioned thermometers. It’s for exactly this reason that we need the side-by-side comparison data that Bill Johnston asked for and which the BOM can’t supply because it is deleting the data – as a matter of routine practice.

Back in 1910, or even 1990, thermometers were not able to record [...]

Scandal: Australian Bureau of Meteorology caught erasing cold temperatures

Front page scandal today in Australia: BoM opens cold case on temperature data

Jennifer Marohasy, Lance Pidgeon, at the Stevenson screen, Goulburn Airport.

Amazing, the power of the media. Suddenly, the Bureau of Meteorology needs to replace equipment and answer questions and set up an internal inquiry. But they’ve had weeks of warning. Lance Pidgeon and Jennifer Marohasy have been watching the automatic weather stations record very cold temperatures, and then astonished when those same readings either got entered into our national raw database as warmer, or simply disappeared. The BOM apparently has a filter set so that super cold temperatures need to be manually checked. Yet the filter is set so high, in Thredbo’s case, nearly five whole degrees warmer than temperatures already recorded.

Wow. Just wow. What does raw data mean anymore?

The lack of respect for real observations is profoundly unscientific. How much does the BOM even care about understanding our climate if they are so flagrantly uninterested in the data?  As I have said, the Bureau of Meteorology behaves more like PR agency than an institute of science. Based on past practice their internal inquiry will find excuses, not answer the questions, and will not [...]

On Sunday, Goulburn got colder than the BOM thought was possible (and a raw data record was “adjusted”).

The BOM got caught this week auto-adjusting cold extremes to be less cold. Lance Pidgeon of the unofficial BOM audit team noticed that the thermometer at Goulburn airport recorded – 10.4°C at 6.17am on Sunday morning, but the official BOM climate records said it was -10.0°C. (What’s the point of that decimal place?) Either way this was a new record for Goulburn in July. (The previous  coldest ever July morning was -9.1°C. The oldest day in Goulburn was in August 1994 when it reached -10.9°C).

Apparently this was an automated event where the thermometer recorded something beyond a set limit, and the value put into the official database was the artificial limit. Since colder temperatures have already been recorded in Goulburn, who thought it was a good idea to trim all future minus-ten-point-somethings as if they were automatically “spurious”?

Yesterday, the BOM have acknowledged the error and at first deleted the -10.0 figure, replacing it with a blank space. Then today, after Jennifer Marohasy’s post, they’ve corrected it.

You might think a half degree between friends is not that significant, but this opens a whole can of worms in so many ways — what are these “limits”, do they apply [...]

Sydney Observatory where warming is created by site moves, buildings, freeways

The iconic Sydney Observatory is Australia’s longest running weather station. But everything around the site has changed. Bill Johnston has spent months researching, photographing, and hunting through historic files to document those changes. He wasn’t paid for this work, but what he found was that the BOM has missed that the area around the thermometers has changed dramatically over the last century, so much so, that he claims it’s scientifically meaningless to try to construct climate trends from this data. Aerial photographs show exposure of the instruments changed in 1950, when Stevenson screens were moved, and after a brick wall was built metres from the screen in about 1972. It is suspicious that the changes are undocumented in Bureau reports, especially given they are responsible for much of the “unprecedented warming” in Sydney’s temperature data.  The BOM may counter that this site is not used to calculate warming trends across Australia, but as Bill points out, Sydney Observatory is used to homogenize other sites that are. So site changes and the urban heat island effect infects many country sites, and the traffic in Sydney “warms the nation”.  — Jo

_________________________________

Its fake news week! Guest post by Dr. Bill Johnston[1]. [...]

BOM September failure — but who can predict the climate a whole month ahead?

The World’s Best Practice climate models predicted Australia would be hotter than normal in September, instead the maximum temperature anomaly was 1 to 5 degrees below average across most of Australia.

That long range prediction was made all the way back on August 21. Four weeks later it was obvious it was wrong.

Prediction of a hot September versus actual outcome. (Click to enlarge).

Thanks to Warwick Hughes who saw this failure coming and The Marcus Review who points out the mismatch and goes on to log how much the BOM predictions for October have transformed from hotter than average to cold cold cold.

The BOM bravely predicted Tasmania would have an 80% chance of having hotter than average maximums. Temperatures ended up being spot on average. What’s 80% certainty worth? About the same as 95%.

Thanks to Chris Gillham who pointed out the big cold blob of ocean surrounding Australia on the south and west that gave Perth its coldest ever September nights. Wasn’t that cold blob present on August 21 when those models were run? On August 25th, the BOM predicted Perth’s chances of being cooler than average at 50:50. Toss a coin, or use a climate [...]

Coldest Perth September recorded in 120 years of records (must be climate change)

In the last 120 years in Perth there has never been a September as cold as this one. We know that thanks to Chris Gillham, who has been tracking Western Australian weather in detail for years at WAClimate.net.

The headline in The West Australian today was Perth shivers through it’s coldest ever September. For some reason (I can’t think why) the extreme weather journalists did not mention climate change (has that ever happened on a hottest ever record story?). It’s so unusually cold here that wheat farmers, only weeks away from harvest*, are struggling with frost damage on crops. They are making snowmen from the frosts. It is supposed to be rapidly heating up but it is three degrees below normal.

Given the freak weather, Will Steffen immediately announced that “This is a prelude to a disturbing future. And it’s only going to get worse if we don’t address climate change.”  No. Wait. Scratch that. That was South Australia, where one bad storm was caused by coal fired electrons. A record cold month is just weather.

Curiously, The Bureau of Meteorology(BOM) announced it was the coldest ever September for Perth since 1994 when records started at Mt Lawley, and [...]