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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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 [...]

Mystery black-box method used to make *all new* Australian “hottest” ever records

There were not many long term sites (in black dots) in the centre of Australia in 1930.

This summer the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) invented a whole new metric to measure average national heat, which might be all very well except no-one (other than the BOM) seems to know what it is.

On January 7th the BOM claimed Australia set a new “average maximum daily temperature record”. Now the headlines are about the “hottest” Australian summer.

With both records, no one outside the BOM team has access to the methods or data. This post is about the new “daily” temperature of Australia used to declare Jan 7th was a record, but the same point applies to the “hottest summer” records, even though they may be a different data set. Where is the data? Where are the methods?

Is the BOM a science agency or a PR bureau?

The January 7th heatwave supposedly broke all previous “daily” records in this category — a dubious honor since no-one can remember any records like it.

It’s a bit like winning the Side-Jump. It’s not an event anyone knew was on until the medal ceremony. Worse, no one knows how the [...]

THAT famous email explained and the first Volunteer Global Warming Skeptic

Years before Climategate, THAT email, from Phil Jones to Warwick Hughes told us everything we needed to know about the scientific standards at the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia. THAT email was the tip of the iceberg, and below is what lay underneath the surface — the things that were said behind the scenes at the time. Geoff Sherrington has pieced together a sequence of climategate emails, his own emails, and parts of Warwick Hughes work to recreate the sequence.

And for the true skeptic-aficionados, here’s a new layer of history to the skeptical chronology. Where did this volunteer audit movement begin?

Who would have guessed that at least one skeptic, Hughes, was asking for the data Phil Jones worked with, as long ago as 1991? (That was way back in the days where people worked with hard copy print outs, and drew graphs by hand!) Does Hughes rank as volunteer Skeptic Number 1?

UPDATE: I asked Warwick, and he thinks the first unpaid skeptic was Fred Wood in 1988*.  — Jo


Guest post by: Geoffrey H Sherrington, Scientist.

This is the longer story behind one of [...]