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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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 [...]

Australian BoM forced to meet skeptics, answer questions, provide a tiny bit of data

The scandals do count. The Australian articles has got Minister Frydenbergs attention. The extensive collection of blog posts and the IPA Climate Change book show there is a deep well of material to fuel more articles. We have barely begun. Congratulations to Jennifer Marohasy. At least we will get a few more answers to questions we shouldn’t even have to ask.

The head of the Bureau of Meteorology, Andrew Johnson, has been asked by Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to release extensive temperature data from a weather station in Victoria after requests from an independent scientist.

Dr Johnson has also agreed to meet with Jennifer Marohasy, a senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, to discuss the integrity of the bureau’s temper­ature measurements as she pushes ahead with calls for a parliamentary inquiry.

The story of the “one second” records is potent: How many “hottest ever records” have been created thanks to new electronic equipment?

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology appears to have put in place a measurement system guaranteed to provide new rec­ord high and low temperatures,” she said in the letter.

Instead of the older-style mercury thermometers in which temperatures [...]

Greens, the baseload deniers, want $2.2b for bandaid batteries to keep junk renewables alive

The Greens are now asking for another $2.2billion to pay for the battery bandaid to fix a problem they and the leeching renewables industry created.

Adam Bandt is out today with the big new plan, apparently confused about what “load” means:

We don’t have a baseload problem, we have a peak load problem,” Mr Bandt said.

No matter how you look at this, it’s not a “load” problem. It’s an issue of supply.

We can count on the Greens to pour confusion on any problem:

“We need flexible generation and energy storage to manage the transition, not more coal.”

Four mistakes in one sentence. We have flexible generation – more than enough to cope with the current load curve. What we need is affordable electricity, which we used to have, and which coal supplies. What we don’t  need is energy storage to manage an irrelevant transition that we never had to have in the first place. Let me say it again, electricity generators are for generating electricity, not for magical attempts to control the climate.

What Adam Bandt  was trying to say:

“We The freeloading renewables industry needs flexible generation and energy storage to [...]

Canberra’s “hottest ever” September record due to thermometer changes and a wind profiler

With only a million dollars a day it’s hard for the BoM to keep up with their own stations. Luckily Bill Johnston has arrived to help out for free. The BoM announced that it was Canberra’s hottest ever day last week, but forgot to check whether the heat was due to the site moving three times,  changes in thermometers and a wind profiler they installed themselves in 2010.

Normally the BoM would detect and correct for these sorts of things by using Homogenisation Magic (HM). That’s where they spot these effects by comparing a station with surrounding stations. However in this case HM missed all three site moves and the wind profiler.  It looks like those might add up to 2.2°C of artificial warming. Nothing to worry about, but the hottest ever record will have to be shredded, and naturally, the BoM will need to issue a correction with at least as much fuss and coverage as the mistaken headlines. It’s only fair…

After the effect of rainfall is removed there are at least three site moves, a screen change, equipment change, and alterations to the surrounding area that may influence the site. These step changes align with documented [...]

Poor BOM: Dangerous deniers, amateurs, attacking Australian Bureau of Meteorology, debilitating it by asking questions.

Excellent news. Obviously we are getting to the BoM.

This week, Jen Marohasy and I were mentioned by Maurice Newman in The Australian.“Smoking Gun demands Grilling for the BoM”. In response, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has unleashed a double dummy-popping effort in The Guardian.

The BoM could have answered the questions in The Australian, of course, but it’s so much easier to whine, bluster, raise the conspiracy flag and avoid the questions that matter at the-ask-no-hard-questions-Guardian.

Bureau of Meteorology attacks pushed by ‘fever swamp’ of climate denial

Graham Readfearn

Former weather bureau chief says agency debilitated by climate deniers’ attacks

Michael Slezak

It really is an extraordinary rant as the former head of the BoM admits skeptics are “debilitating” the BoM with these “attacks”. The Guardian is so starved of real news, it runs the one-sided name-calling excuses and another separate story discusses it as if it was actually news. While The Australian asks the BoM for a reply and would publish it, The Guardian didn’t ask a skeptic. One of these newspapers acts like a newspaper…

How debilitating are we skeptics? Jennifer Marohasy tells me she sent the BoM questions in 2015, but hasn’t [...]