JoNova

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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BoM forum been, gone. Rejoice! Invisible problems being solved behind closed doors

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?)

[...]

Melbourne heat — BoM makes mystery corrections, but misses new skyscrapers. Incompetence?

More errors in ACORN – The Bureau of Met wonder-database corrects for mysterious “statisticals” but not for 15 story buildings built next to the thermometers. They correct a step change that doesn’t occur in minima, but don’t correct for one that does in maxima. Big site changes are marked in some datasets but not in others. And where is the correction for obvious urban heat island effects? Bear in mind, the size of the artificial steps and corrections is on a par with the warming supposedly due to carbon dioxide. Hmmm.

The BoM database needs to be independently and publicly replicated, all the way from their raw data to the final output down to several decimal places. Then we will all know what is going on. Let’s shine a light in. If it ain’t replicated, it ain’t science.

Melbourne has one of the longest temperature records in the Southern Hemisphere. Looking at the original records it appears Melbourne maximums have not changed much from 1855 – 1995. Then they suddenly jumped or stepped up.

Tom Quirk did some sleuthing, and figured out why that happened. But what he can’t figure out is why the Bureau missed this adjustment, yet makes [...]

BoM Forum Panel: one-day-wonder. Rigorous as Annual Cakes and Tea Jamboree

Last August the BoM were feeling the heat — Graham Lloyd at The Australian and skeptics, particularly Jennifer Marohasy, were asking why cooling trends were being revised to warming trends at stations with no recorded moves. People were raising eyebrows at embarrassing questions about why the Bureau thought climate change was all-critical, yet they were tossing out historic Stevenson-screen data. The BoM felt so squeezed they finally answered some basic questions they’d been ignoring for years (like details on Rutherglen).

But the pressure kept growing because nobody needs a degree in Meteorology to know that there ought to be a reason for fiddling with historic thermometer data. The dumb punters were not impressed with the excuse that stations “might” have moved because tricky statistics on other stations 300km away detected an “unrecorded shift”. So the BoM and their apologist friends in The Dept of Environment dusted off a 3 year old idea called a Technical Advisory Forum, pulled out some names of respectable sounding statisticians and “voila” — created a one day wonder. The “technical forum” will spend more time releasing press releases than analyzing data.

On Jan 19th we were promised so much. The full gloss press release ticks [...]

Historic documents show 30-40%* of Australia’s warming trend is due to “adjustments”

UPDATE: *Chris has been over the entire dataset again, and makes a correction that adjustments account for 30-40% of the rise. A bit less than half. Headline updated. See his site for the newer stats. March 9, 2015

Adjustments that cool historic temperatures have almost doubled Australia’s rate of warming.

CSIR published “Meteorological Data” 1855 – 1931

 There was a time back in 1933 when the CSIRO was called CSIR and meteorologists figured that with 74 years of weather data on Australia, they really ought to publish a serious document collating all the monthly averages at hundreds of weather stations around Australia. Little did they know that years later, despite their best efforts, much of the same data would be forgotten and unused or would be adjusted, decades after the fact, and sometimes by as much as one or two degrees. Twenty years later The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics would publish an Official Year Book of Australia which included the mean temperature readings from 1911 to 1940 at 44 locations.

Chris Gillham has spent months poring over both these historic datasets, as well as the BoM’s Climate Data Online (CDO) which has the recent temperatures at these [...]

Australian BOM under fire – questions about “adjusted” temperatures exploding around the world

A hard hitting article today from Graham Lloyd in The Australian. Finally the scientific debacle of climate records is being hung out like dirty laundry. For people who don’t read skeptic blogs it will be news that there are claims of scandal and corruption about temperature data adjustments around the world, against institutions that are (or were) respected household names.

Lloyd starts with a brilliant analogy from David Stockwell, who asks Would it be OK if we adjusted Don Bradmans batting average down?  It won’t affect the global batting average…. (The Don is the legend of international cricket — those stats are sacred.)

Lloyd goes on to tell the tale of how temperature adjustments that make historic records cooler are commonplace, and suddenly under the spotlight around the world. To his credit, Lloyd realizes this has been coming for a long time — he explains the Australian and UK Met offices were caught discussing ways to make it hard for skeptics. He talks about Christopher Booker’s article on adjustments in Paraguay getting 30,000 comments, and the issue “exploding” internationally with questions about the misleading public declarations about 2014 being the hottest year on record, as well as the issue of Arctic [...]

The mysterious BOM disinterest in hot historic Australian Stevenson screen temperatures

When it comes to our rare high-quality historic records, and the real long term trends of Australian weather, the silence is striking. There are some excellent historical records of long term temperature data from the late 1800s in Australia, which lie underused and largely ignored by the BOM.

For the BOM, history almost appears to start in 1910, yet the modern type of Stevenson screen thermometer was installed across Australia starting as early as 1884 in Adelaide. Most stations in Queensland were converted as long ago as 1889 and in South Australia by 1892. Though states like NSW and Victoria were delayed until 1908.

Here’s a photo of the ones in Brisbane in 1890.

Brisbane was recording temperatures with modern Stevenson screens in 1890, as were some other stations, but the BOM often ignores these long records.

The BOM don’t often mention all their older temperature data. They argue that all the recordings then were not taken with standardized equipment. The BOM prefers to start long term graphs and trends from 1910 (except when they start in 1950 or 1970, or 1993).

The BOM was set up in 1908.  Before that there were Stevenson screens going in [...]

BOM admits they got it wrong on “worst Queensland drought”

How much does the BOM care about misleading Australians? Not much apparently, unless they are caught doing it. Everyone makes mistakes, but what matters is what they do to correct it.

The BOM claimed (and the ABC broadcast) that this Queensland drought is the worst in 80 years, but Ken Stewart showed with their own graphs that it was only the worst for 9 years.  Stewart politely informed both groups  two weeks ago. The ABC excused themselves immediately because they always believe the BOM no matter what it says and never ask any hard questions (it’s not like they are paid to make sure Australians get the right information is it? what do you expect for $1bn?). The BOM took five days to fob the error off even though the “mistake” was obvious against the BOM’s own graphs.

But yesterday Maurice Newman mentioned the mythical 80 year drought in The Australian, lo, suddenly the BOM feel the urge to send another email to Ken and the ABC.

Dear Ken, Further to our correspondence we can confirm that media statements made to the ABC by a Bureau employee on 6 January 2014 did not accurately reflect the relative severity [...]

ABC got it wrong, BOM not concerned with Australian public being misinformed

In a followup to the post If the BOM was incompetent, the ABC would be the last to find out, Ken Stewart has a reply from the BOM.

The news story run by the ABC said the current Queensland drought was the worst in 80 years. When Ken pointed out that the BOM’s own graphs showed that the drought in 2003 was even worse, and the conditions were not that unusual, the ABC effectively said they were parroting BOM statements which, ahem, is all any public broadcaster could be expected to do, right? It’s not like we pay the 1.1 billion-dollar-ABC to ask our bureaucrats hard questions, is it?

Ken wrote to the BOM, who have now replied, and he’s posted it: “How not to admit a mistake”. The BOM blandly point him at their official drought statement which contradicts what their spokesman said:

The current drought in Queensland is comparable to the 2002–2003 drought, which was perhaps more severe in terms of rainfall deficiencies that occurred at times over a very large area. Historical data shows that the current drought is perhaps a one in ten or twenty year event over a significant part of inland eastern Australia [...]

If the BOM was incompetent, the ABC would be the last to find out

According to the ABC  the Bureau of Met tells us that Queensland has experienced “the worst drought in 80 years” and that “37.3% of the state was covered by the lowest rainfall on record”. (Watch it on iview if you can bear to).

These exacting facts are easy to check, and Ken Stewart did, but the 1.1-billion-dollar ABC did not.

Ken used the BOM’s own websites (Climate Maps and Climate Change and Variability) and shows that the current drought is the worst in 9 years, not 80, and even if it is very bad (heartbreaking for some) it’s not unusual.

Current low rain is not unusual.

The current drought is bad (see red blobs in Queensland):

NW Queensland has missed two wet seasons in a row

The Federation Drought, circa 1900, was much much worse:

(Federation Drought graphed only 1900 – 1902)

Ken wrote to the ABC, and Genevieve Hussey replied immediately — effectively saying the ABC repeat all BOM claims, no matter how hyperbolic, extraordinary, or repetitive they sound.

The information in our report was based on an interview with climatologist Mr Jeff Sabburg from the Bureau of Meteorology. He was also interviewed by [...]

Satellites show 2014 was NOT the hottest ever spring (or winter or summer or autumn) in Australia.

The headlines are burning around the nation: 2014 was the hottest ever spring! Except it wasn’t. The UAH satellite coverage sees all of Australia, day and night, and are not affected by urban heat, airport tarmacs, “gaps in the stations”, or inexplicable adjustments.

When will the Bureau of Meteorology discover satellites? How many years will it take to train the ABC journalists to ask the BOM if satellite measurements agree or disagree with their highly adjusted, altered, deleted, and homogenised ground stations?

I used exactly no tax dollars to email John Christy of UAH, get the latest data, and graph it to show that in Australia 2014 was not the hottest spring, and not the hottest winter, summer or autumn either. Why can’t the BOM or the $1.1 billion ABC do that?

The obsession with cherry picked, unscientific and irrelevant single season records that are not even records shows how unscientific the Bureau of Met is. By its actions we see a diligent PR and marketing agency. If the BOM served the public, they would make sure the public knew that these records depend entirely on their choice of dataset and on their mysterious homogenization procedures. If the BOM were [...]