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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Albany robbed of its coldest ever April day, BOM adjusts temp up 15 degrees C?!

Friday April 19th set more records than anyone realized. Not only was it the earliest recorded snowfall at Bluff Knoll and WA, but it was also the coldest ever April day in Albany and many other towns in south-west Western Australia. It may also be the largest single day temperature mystery I’ve ever seen in the official “raw” data.

Days like the 19th are extremely unusual in Western Australia — it’s a state that often doesn’t get any snow all year and when it does, the length of the entire snow season is measured in hours. So you might think the million-dollar-a-day Bureau of Meteorology would be paying extra attention. Instead it appears they have lost that day’s data in Albany, despite having two thermometers there to record it. One station is in the city itself and there’s an official “expert” ACORN station at the airport about 10km away.

Luckily Chris Gillham, unpaid volunteer, was watching the live half hour observations roll in at and saw that thermometers at the airport recorded a maximum of only 10.4°C at 11am that day, which he remarks is the lowest April maximum the BOM has ever recorded there. Strangely, the 10.4°C seems to have disappeared. Somehow, the BOM has [...]

Earliest recorded snow event in Western Australian history

Remember when climate modelers told us fossil fuels cause longer snow seasons?

No neither do I.

Albany, snowboarding, earliest snow, WA, 2019.

It is the earliest recorded snow event in a calendar year in the state’s history. Statistically, we can tell how anomalous this is by the behaviour of the local wildlife – seen snowboarding in shorts on the driveway in Albany. (Even going across the road). It’s possible this is the longest snowboard ride in the state’s history too. Though technically it is hail-boarding.

See snowboarding in Albany Western Australia

For foreign readers, WA (Western Aust) doesn’t have a snow season. Last regular snow was probably circa 20,000BC.

The ABC reports:

BOM forecaster Matt Boterhoven said snow was an extremely rare occurrence in April.

“It’s exceptional. We’ve only recorded once, in the last 100 years, snow as early as this on top of the Stirling Ranges,” he said.

“It’s related to a very strong cold air mass moving over the south-west of the state, so when conditions get below freezing and there’s precipitation, snow can form on top of Stirling Ranges.”

Mr Boterhoven predicted further snow flurries were [...]

History keeps getting colder — ACORN2 raises Australia’s warming rate by over 20%

More warming adjustments from ACORN2

Once again we find that the oldest thermometers were apparently reading artificially high even though many were newish in 1910 and placed in approved Stevenson screens.)  This is also despite the additional urban warming effect of a population that grew 400% since then. What are the odds?!

Fortunately, gifted craftsmen, sorry scientists have uncovered the true readings from the old biased thermometers which they explain carefully in a 67 page impenetrable document.

Chris Gillham has soldiered through the new “ACORN 2″ adjustments that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has o-so-quietly released and Australians are just waking up to find that our coldest mornings back in 1910 were even colder than anyone realized at the time. Graham Lloyd is  reporting in The Australian how the second rewrite in six years increases the warming by 23% . (Where was the ABC announcement?)

The ACORN series of the Bureau of Meteorology includes 112 stations. Their report lists the warming trends per decade in Table 9. I converted that into the total warming since 1910 and graphed that below.

About one third of the warming of our mean temperature is due to man-made adjustments

Comparing AWAP (semi-raw) to the latest [...]

Australia’s new hottest day just “discovered”, not Albany or Oodnadatta, but Carnarvon (51 degrees in 1953!)

Who knew? With intrepid dedication the Australian BoM has uncovered our hottest ever day, buried under erroneous calculations, hidden from view in High Quality expert data sets that were World Class til they weren’t. Strangely the BOM hasn’t issued a press release, even though their supercomputer-marketing team put out a Hottest Ever January media release within hours of January ending. It appears the BOM hasn’t even issued a press release to tell the world they’ve finished the third complete reanalysis of Australian temperature history.

Luckily for the BOM, which may have run out of bytes or letters of the alphabet, volunteers like Chris Gillham of the unofficial BoM audit team noticed that the BoM ACORN dataset has become ACORN2. So we’d like to tell the world. Once again, the genius at the BOM is able to retrospectively compensate for all the flawed sites and thermometers that kept reading too high. Incredibly, no one noticed for a hundred years.

As we launch ACORN2 let’s remember how proud the BOM were of ACORN1. This is from them back in 2017:

Bureau of Meteorology statement on temperature observations

01/08/2017

The Bureau of Meteorology holds the integrity of [...]

Six weeks ago Australian Met Bureau predicted a dry month for Townsville

Warwick Hughes (h/t Dave Brewer) points out that on Dec 20th the Australian Bureau of Meteorology predicted that the Townsville region had only a 1 in 3 chance of exceeding the average rainfall in January.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology, prediction, Jan 2019 rainfall.

How that turned out one month later:

Australian Bureau of Meteorology, January rainfall, 2019.

Or graphed as the rainfall anomaly rather than as the percentage of the mean:

….

Predicting rainfall in Australia is very difficult. The issue is not that the BoM gets it wrong — it’s that they pretend they can do it that matters. Why bother issuing one month forecasts?

Ten days out they were still hopelessly wrong

As Warwick Hughes notes they also predicted on Jan 17th that February in Townsville would only have a 45% chance of exceeding the average rainfall. The downpour started on Jan 27th.

Today, after one whole week in February, the area has already had over four times the normal rainfall for the whole month, but the BoM didn’t see that rain coming ten days in advance.

The fancy-pants detailed graphics are entirely misleading — like advertising that sells an ability the experts simply [...]

Forget Marble Bar, Oodnadatta, doesn’t the BOM know the hottest day ever was in Albany?

It’s summer, so the BoM and ABC can’t help themselves.

Albany, Hottest Town in Australia

Last week Marble Bar “hit an all time record”. This week, it’s Alice Springs. But the Australian BOM still haven’t used their own fabulous World Class ACORN Temperature data to find the hottest day ever in Australia. They’re still telling people it was in Oodnadatta, on Jan 2nd in 1960, but even dumb deniers know that according to ACORN temperatures hit 51.2C in Albany in far south WA in 1933.

[Marble Bar Dec 28th, 2018]   The high temperature occurred at 12:39 pm local time. At that stage, it appeared Marble Bar could crack 50 for the first time — and perhaps even threaten the all-time Australian record of 50.7 in Oodnadatta, South Australia.

Chris Gillham pointed this out the strange anomaly of the cool coastal town that was hotter than a million square kilometers of desert, but four years later the BOM still haven’t resolved the situation. The 51.2C temperature is still there in the data, but the Top Ten Highest Temperature Records remain exactly the same. Is Albany, or is it not, the true record holder?  Or is it that the [...]

BOM homogenization errors are so big they can be seen from space

It’s just not cricket. And in so many ways.

Shame to let a perfectly good dataset go to waste… Australian data comes from some of the longest stations running in the Southern Hemisphere; it could be useful. Instead we get more evidence here that the BOM’s magical and secret homogenization adjustments can take poor data and spread false signals into better data. Homogenisation errors are already visible in a site-by-site analysis, but this shows the problems may be so big they affect averages across the whole of Australia, and we can detect them with satellites.

Tom Quirk continues comparing the satellite record of Australia with the BOM surface version. Previously, he (and for the record, Ken Stewart in 2015) showed that some discrepancies are due to the effect of heavy rain or drought. But now he looks further and finds that not-so-coincidentally, the largest gaps and most “inexplicable” differences occur in the mid nineteen-nineties, the same years the BoM shifted from using old large Stevenson screens to electronic thermometers. Around the same time, the large screens were often also swapped for much smaller ones too — like double jeopardy for data. Oddly, spookily, the BOM makes many adjustments to data [...]

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 [...]

Sydney “hottest ever” mistake generates fake news

The BOM announced it was the hottest ever day in Sydney today, then realized it had it wrong, but not before headlines spread across the country. For a million dollars a day you’d think the BOM would check their own “high quality” database. A scientific agency would take great care before announcing “historic all time records”for a city of five million people. A shameless PR agency might see that sort of mistake as an advantage.

It’s careless, piled on rank neglect

Even if the day had been “a record”, the temperatures are often artificially inflated due to site changes, thermometer changes, and the one-second-record effect thanks to the introduction of electronic thermometers, all of which are a product of careless BOM management and analysis. And even over and above that, past temperatures have been adjusted or homogenised downwards — often years after they are recorded — and by secret methods that the BOM will not disclose. I’ll have more information soon on changes at Sydney Observatory, that the BOM don’t make any allowance for.

Looks like another one second record?

The BOM announced the record after Penrith hit 47.1 at 1:55pm, the BOM tweet wrongly claimed it had “broken the [...]

Massive, unprecedented, 10 out of 10, life threatening storm hits, drops 2 inches on Melbourne

It was all yellow: A warning was in place for the whole of Victoria.

Massive flooding forecast across “whole state”:

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned an “unprecedented” amount of rain is expected to fall in Victoria over a three-day period.

Asked to rate the storms out of 10, senior forecaster Mr Williams said: “I’ll take the punt and say it’s a 10 for Victoria.”

He said the most recent rain in a short period of time in Melbourne was 100-200 millimetres (in 2005 and 2011) and on both occasions: ”it paralysed transport routes in the city.”

Get out your sandbags!

Events were cancelled, and the Premier of Victoria told people not to “have a big night on the town” in preparation.

The city was told to bunker down for an “absolutely massive” rainfall event over the weekend …

“Half the inhabitants of Melbourne have never ever seen anything like this,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s senior forecaster Scott Williams said on Thursday.

“It is an event that poses a threat to life.”

Not so much a flood of rain, but there was a flood of text messages:

About [...]

Finally BoM releases some “secret” comparison data — a snow job revealing new thermometers are not comparable

Forced, dragged to comply, the BoM finally releases a little bit of side-by-side data so skeptics can start to compare old and new thermometers

Congratulations to Jennifer Marohasy. Her preliminary study on this new data is enough to show that the electronic thermometers are not equivalent to the older liquid-in-glass ones and temperatures measured in the same spot differ by as much as 0.3C. She’s now writing to Minister Josh Frydenberg that the consequences and questions raised by this are so serious that the BoM should not be announcing any new records. We need an audit!

It’s only temperature data — ?

Skeptics have been asking for comparison data between different types of thermometers for years to figure out just how much difference they make. The BoM mostly withholds that data, sometimes deletes it, and as a last resort follows the David Jones’ recommended method of dealing with unwanted questions — “snow the skeptics” (see Climategate). After all the blog posts, newspaper articles, and requests from the Minister, finally the BoM have helpfully sent the data for Mildura in the handy form of 4,000 scanned handwritten A8 forms.

Just like this one — how much fun can you have?

Our BoM electronic thermometers are “purpose designed”. We’re not sure what purpose.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology collects one-second records and can turn them into newspaper headlines. In contrast, the UK averages its readings over one minute, and the US over five. Obviously longer averaging could slow the latter down in the PR stakes (if that was their aim).

Hypothetically old glass thermometers just wouldn’t be as good at generating headlines. They take a lot longer to respond to bursts of hot air, sometimes missing short heatwaves completely (the kind that last less than a minute). It’s potentially quite an unfair race to run the two different thermometers in the same competition. It all depends on the handicap applied to the faster electronic ones.

In 2015 Bill Johnston warned that the introduction of electronic sensors in the late 1990s was artificially warming the records and asked the Bureau for data from the two different kinds of instruments side by side. The Bureau said they throw that data away (as you would). Lately, Jen Marohasy asked the Bureau for the manufacturing specifications and the Bureau said it’s all fine, the electronic thermometers were ‘purpose-designed’ to the Bureau’s specifications. We just don’t know what those specifications are exactly. No documentation. No data. (Send [...]