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 [...]
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 [...]
What I found most interesting about this was the skill, dedication and length of meteorological data taken in the 1800′s. When our climate is “the most important moral challenge” why is it there is so little interest in our longest and oldest data?
Who knew that one of the most meticulous and detailed temperature records in the world from the 1800′s comes from Adelaide, largely thanks to Sir Charles Todd. The West Terrace site in Adelaide was one of the best in the world at the time, and provides accurate historic temperatures from “Australia’s first permanent weather bureau at Adelaide in 1856″. (Rainfall records even appear to go as far back as 1839.) Lance Pidgeon went delving into the National Archives and was surprised at what he found.
If we want to understand our climate the records from the 1800′s in Adelaide are surely worth attention?
The BOM usually shows graphs like this one below starting in 1911. You might think you are looking at the complete history of Adelaide temperatures and that smoothed temperature is rising inexorably, but the historic records remain unseen. While “hottest” ever records are proclaimed in [...]
Photo: Jo Nova
Post by: Lance Pidgeon with assistance from Chris Gillham and others.
It is as if history is being erased. For all that we hear about recent record-breaking climate extremes, records that are equally extreme, and sometimes even more so, are ignored.
In January 1896 a savage blast “like a furnace” stretched across Australia from east to west and lasted for weeks. The death toll reached 437 people in the eastern states. Newspaper reports showed that in Bourke the heat approached 120°F (48.9°C) on three days (1)(2)(3). The maximumun at or above 102 degrees F (38.9°C) for 24 days straight.
By Tuesday Jan 14, people were reported falling dead in the streets. Unable to sleep, people in Brewarrina walked the streets at night for hours, the thermometer recording 109F at midnight. Overnight, the temperature did not fall below 103°F. On Jan 18 in Wilcannia, five deaths were recorded in one day, the hospitals were overcrowded and reports said that “more deaths are hourly expected”. By January 24, in Bourke, many businesses had shut down (almost everything bar the hotels). Panic stricken Australians were fleeing to the hills in climate refugee trains. As reported at the time, the government felt [...]
Australia’s hottest day? Not 2010, but 1828 at a blistering 53.9 °C
Back before man-made climate change was frying Australia, when CO2 was around 300ppm, the continent savoured an ideal preindustrial climate, right? (This is the kind of climate we are spending $10bn per annum to get back too?)
We are told today’s climate has more records and more extremes than times gone by, but the few records we have from the early 1800’s are eye-popping. Things were not just hotter, but so wildly hot it burst thermometers. The earliest temperature records we have show that Australia was a land of shocking heatwaves and droughts, except for when it was bitterly cold or raging in flood.
In other words, nothing has changed, except possibly things might not be quite so hot now.
Silliggy (Lance Pidgeon) has been researching records from early explorers and from newspapers. What he has uncovered is fascinating. — Jo
Charles Sturt (1930 postage stamp) Wikimedia
Lance Pidgeon writes:
“EXTENSIVE FLOOD”, “AWFUL BUSH FIRES”, “PROLONGED DROUGHT“ AND “CHANGES OF CLIMATE“.
These Australian headlines from the 1800′s above describe extremes the early colonists faced. At the time the European explorers who were instructed and equipped to [...]
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