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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Scandal: BoM thermometer records adjusted “by month” — mysterious square wave pattern discovered

There is some major messing with data going on.

What would you say if you knew that the official Perth thermometer was accurate at recording minimums for most of time in October  in the eighties, but 0.7°C too warm all of December, and 1.2°C too cool in January? Bizarrely that same thermometer was back to being too warm in February! Try to imagine what situation could affect that thermometer, and require post hoc corrections of this “monthly” nature. Then imagine what could make that same pattern happen year after year. All those weather reports we listened to in Perth in 1984 were wrong (apparently). And this bizarre calendar of corrections is turning up all over Australia.

Bob Fernley-Jones has looked closely at all the adjustments done to achieve the wonderful homogenized ACORN data, as compared to the theoretically “raw” records listed in Climate Data Online (CDO) on the BOM website. He can’t know what the BOM did (since they won’t tell anyone), but he knows the outcome of their homogenization. He was shocked when he noticed a strange square-wave pattern repeating year after year; he was astonished that there were corrections calendar month by calendar month, up and down, switching [...]

History rewritten? BoM wrong on “first” July cyclone, forgets 1935, 1954, 1962

Cyclones down the memory hole?

July 1935, Click to enlarge | Trove

A weak tropical cyclone has formed off the Solomon Islands, and the BOM is reporting that there has never before been a July cyclone in the Queensland region. But Warwick Hughes has already posted up details showing that there have been quite a few cyclones in July. The cyclone is hardly extraordinary, and certainly not “historic”, but what about the BOM?

Forecaster David Grant on the ABC:

“We’ve never had a July tropical cyclone in the Queensland region before.

Australia has only had one other officially declared July cyclone, which formed off Western Australia in 1996.

The official tropical cyclone season runs from November 1 to April 30.”

The July cyclone “first” scores headlines in both The Australian and The Courier Mail. “Queensland weather forecasters record first cyclone in July “. But it’s wrong. Commenter Siliggy on Warwick Hughes site found a HardenUp link listing cyclones and storms in Queensland. Some of the older July cyclones listed below may not qualify as “cyclones” under the new scale, but some clearly did — and rather than being far to the north near the [...]

Vanishing hot days of December 1931 — and BOM monthly averages hotter than every single day that month

The hot desert border of Western and South Australia

Lance Pidgeon has drawn my attention to the mysteriously detailed weather maps of the Australian BOM, with their mass of contradictions. The intricate squiggles of air temperature profiles suggests an awesome array of data — especially remarkable in places like “Cook”, which is a railway station with a population of four. Eucla, the megopolis in the map, has a population of 368. The shared border in the map (right) is 674km long top to bottom.

Thankfully, after 80 years of modern technology, the weather at Eucla and in the Great Victorian Desert is much more bearable than anyone would have expected. The BOM ACORN data set works better than airconditioning. In places near Eucla, where old newspapers record 43C, the BOM tells us the highest maximum that month was “under 27C”. Far to the north of there, the highest maximum stayed under 36C, but the average for that same whole month was above 36C. Go figure. It’s a new kind of maths… [or maybe the miracle of reverse cycle a/c?]

There are a half million square kilometers in this map here and almost no [...]

If it can’t be replicated, it isn’t science: BOM admits temperature adjustments are secret

The BOM Technical Advisory Forum report is out. Finally there is the black and white admission that the BOM “adjusted” dataset cannot be replicated independently, has not been replicated by any other group, and even more so, that the BOM will not provide enough information for anyone who wants to try.

As we have said all along, the all new ACORN wonder-data was not created with the scientific method. Adjustments to Australian temperature data were done with a black box mystery technique that only the sacred guild at the BOM are allowed to know. Far from being published and peer reviewed, the methods are secret, and rely on — in their own words — a “supervised process” of “expert judgment” and “operator intervention”. In other words, a BOM employee makes their best guess, ruling in or out the “optimal” choices, making assumptions that are not documented anywhere.

It’s a “trust us” approach. Would we let an ASX company audit their own books? Would you buy shares in such a company, or let it inform national policy on billion dollar schemes?

Here is the entire section on replication from page 9 and 10 (below). This is what any semi-skilled PR operative [...]

Maurice Newman knows more about climate models than the BOM’s Dr Rob Vertessy

In the topsy turvy world of modern science, big-government has strangled science to the point where bright outsiders know more than the fully trained “experts”.

Maurice Newman, the chairman of the P.M’s business advisory council, daringly wrote in The Australian:

“It’s a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models we are told prove the link between human CO2 emissions and catastrophic global warming have been found, after nearly two decades of temperature stasis, to be in error.”

In Senate estimates, a Greens spokesperson asked Dr Rob Vertessy, Director of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) on his view of this. “That is incorrect,” he said, showing how little he knows about climate models, where everyone (even the IPCC) is trying to figure out excuses for their failures. Some even invent time-travelling climate models that can finally “predict” today’s climate correctly a decade after it happened.

If Maurice Newman was wrong, he was far too generous to the climate modelers. Instead of a 95% failure rate, it’s well up over 98%. Hans von Storch et al published a paper nearly two years ago comparing models and observations of a 15 year long pause. Statistically von Storch [...]

The simple trick to solve the impasse in the climate debate — have one (Tell the Australian govt).

For the last twenty years, the IPCC and co. have spared no expense in inundating us with full gloss, swanky adverts and catchy bumper stickers. The Rudd government spent $13.9 million on one advertising campaign “Think Climate, Think Change”. Yet the number of skeptics is growing — fully 53% of Australians are skeptical. The debate is more polarised than ever, and the “deniers” are often blamed for slowing action. So resolving the impasse, the stalemate, ought be the highest priority for the planet, right? But more advertising won’t change the trend, the issue has been marketed to death. What hasn’t been tried is the old fashioned, hard but honest way to resolve an issue — real public debate.

Tony Abbott could be the most forward-thinking scientifically-advanced world leader. He could be the first to take the bull by the horns and really tackle the climate stalemate. He might break the impasse. For the planet’s sake, we can’t afford to wait. Right?

The Australian Federal Government is seeking public consultation 

What should the Greenhouse Gas Target be? The Federal Government is seeking your input for the UNFCCC meeting in Paris, COP 21 (see ABC news). The government also wants to know [...]

Two-thirds of Australias warming due to “adjustments” — according to 84 historic stations

1954 Yearbook Brisbane

Here’s an update to the digging through our historic records we discussed a month ago, we can now include nearly twice the stations and the difference between temperatures originally recorded 100 years ago and temperatures today are even smaller.

Chris Gillham has been working with CSIR documents and official Commonwealth Year Books. Last month he used the 1953 Year Book which contained 44 weather station averages for 1911-40 to compare with 2000-14 temperatures, but has since discovered that the 1954 Year Book provides an additional 40 stations with 1911-40 data. The average rise in mean temperatures across all 84 weather stations around Australia over the last 70 years of global warming is about 0.3C. This larger dataset suggests as much as two thirds of the current official trend in Australian warming was due to post hoc adjustments, not heat recorded by thermometers.

These historic temperatures were calculated by the best scientists of the day, using the best equipment of the era (the same Stevenson Screen we use now). Yet again, global warming appears to have a “man-made” contribution. Far more important than CO2 is man-made “pollution” called homogenisation.

When doubling the recorded trend makes “No difference”

Bear [...]

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 [...]