- JoNova - https://joannenova.com.au -

BOM Review admits skeptics were right, but say “trust us” it doesn’t matter

The BOM’s bad luck never seems to end. Of all the 695 stations in Australia, 693 worked perfectly, but Jen Marohasy and Lance Pidgeon happened to live near, or have a personal random connection to the only two stations that didn’t — Thredbo and Goulburn. Apparently these stations had been flawed (not fit for purpose) for 10 years and 14 years, but the BOM world-class experts hadn’t noticed. I expect they were just about to discover the flaws when (how inconsiderately) Lance and Jen announced the errors to the world and the BOM were forced to do this pointless 77 page report to stop people asking questions they couldn’t answer.

The nub of this fracas is that something called an MSI1 hardware card was installed in cold locations even though it would never report a temperature below minus 10.4C. Awkwardly this doesn’t explain why the 10.4C appeared in the live feed, then was automatically changed to -10C in the long term data sets which are used for climate analysis. Does the BOM think the dumb public don’t know the difference between -10 and -10.4? Implicitly — the BOM installed the wrong type of card, and also accidentally had an error flagging system on top of that, that compounded the error by ruling out even the already-flawed -10.4, which may have been even colder. A double flaw, and both non-randomly warming the minima. What are the odds?

And John Frydenberg, Minister of Critters, Plants and Green-stuff  believes this? Seriously?

As Jennifer Marohasy says, without actually saying so the BOM admits the skeptics were right.

The BOM wants to stop this sort of error being discovered

For me the absolute red-flag, radioactive recommendation is this one where the Panel recommends changing their website in a way that would hide the exact inconsistencies that make this public error detection possible. They want a less complicated BOM reporting system — saying that currently it is possible for different temperatures for the same site/time to be on the Internet in public:

“The Review Panel found that: … the current data flow architecture creates situations where data can be delivered to, and displayed on, the Bureau’s website via multiple pathways and this can be potentially inconsistent and confusing for end users;

Recommendation 6: Future investment in supporting IT systems should, as part of their design and system architecture, streamline and improve efficiency and consistency in data flows.”  — page 12 of the PDF.

The review panel didn’t thank the citizen scientists who helped them find an error the experts had missed for years by noticing the inconsistencies in the live and long term data streams. Instead the BOM’s priority is to not get caught again, by rejigging the system to get “consistency”. What matters more: accuracy, error detection, or “consistency”? It depends on whether you are a scientific unit or a PR unit.

The BOM review tries to palm off the citizen scientists who were right, and more careful than them, as “confused”. In this in-house review the million-dollars-a-day BOM proves beyond a doubt that their highest priority is to protect their own jobs, not to collect accurate information about the Australian climate.


Thanks to Bob Fernley-Jones for graphing the data from Thredbo. The maxima in red are at the top. The minima in blue below. In green the data recorded on the new electronic thermometer which was faulty for seven years (which is not even the same faults we are discussing in the review.) Between 1997-2004 the electronic thermometers were rounding temperatures to whole degrees. So much for the 0.2C accuracy. On the minima side, it is obvious to the eye that since electronic thermometers were installed there have been no temperatures below minus 11 (I thought we weren’t supposed to even get below minus 10.4?).

Perhaps this was a climate shift that occurred around the same time the electronic equipment was brought in? Perhaps it wasn’t. Where is the raw side-by-side data of the two year overlap between old and new equipment? There have been a lot of -10.4Cs since the flawed MS1 hardware card was installed in 2007.

Thredbo, maxima, minima, BOM, climate change, temperatures, 1966 - 2017.

Thredbo, maxima, minima, 1966 – 2017. Click to enlarge.  |  Graph: Bob Fernley-Jones.

I’m not suggesting that a few truncated minima, if that’s all it was, necessarily affect our long term trends. (Though it may affect press releases about cold records). Nor am I suggesting it was deliberate. The bigger issue for me, the reason this matters, is yet again we see what kind of scientific standards and attitude are behind the work the BOM do. Accidents happen, but lack of interest in error detection and correction and the cover-up’s are not unwitting. Do the details of the Australian climate matter to the BOM?

Trust us? Are you kidding?

If we could trust the Bureau of Meteorology, the latest report would still be stretching things. But trust is something the BOM burned at the stake years ago. The list is too long. For starters, what trustworthy group avoids any and every independent audit? In 2012 they threw out their supposedly High Quality data set (it was actually called that) as soon as a serious audit was called. This is an organisation that retrospectively adjusts data in the past with a pattern of a non-random cooling bias, and is strangely uninterested in hot historic high temperatures recorded in Stevenson Screens before 1910. It’s a supposedly scientific group that hides their methods from the public. The same BOM admits it uses one-second random noise for high side records, while “not noticing” for years that faulty equipment was accidentally deleting low side records and auto-replacing them with warmer numbers.

Here’s a few choice picks of BOM fails — the highest temperature ever recorded in their Hallowed ACORN data set occurred in Albany far south WA, but only after adjustments. This basic error quality control error is a flag for who knows how many other unexplained changes, but even this radioactive “hottest day ever recorded in Australia” hasn’t been corrected. (Three years and still counting.) Who cares about good data when it’s only the planet at stake?

The BOM homogenize stations a thousand kilometers apart, they use city stations, bad stations, to adjust the good ones by a mysterious unpublishable process. Their methods generated a thousand days where mimima were absurdly higher than maxima. They adjust temperatures up-down-up on a calendar month with major corrections whipping up and down 2 degrees overnight that defies any kind of meteorological explanation. They introduced a new electronic thermometer system right across Australia in the 1990s which coincides with a jump up in temperatures. They say they carefully calibrate the two systems, but they’ve deleted all the side by side raw data, so who knows? Who will ever know?

The Australian climate data set is possibly beyond recovery — damaged beyond repair. We’re at the point where if Frydenberg and Turnbull won’t do something to serve Australian citizens and the Australian environment we need to set up our own independent stations. Someone needs to collect data that the Australian people can trust. We need thermometers outside the control of the BOM.

The current review is full of “confidence-building” but totally unjustified language:

This includes taking a highly precautionary approach and ensuring any location that has recorded below -5 degrees Celsius in the past has equipment capable of recording down to -25 degrees Celsius.

The previous approach was sloppy, lazy, inept and for years, and would not have been discovered without volunteers. Now they discover the highly precautionary approach?

What kind of “rigorous” control includes not publishing the full methods or data?

Page 12 “The controls around ACORN-SAT are particularly rigorous, requiring a minimum two-year overlap between sites or systems when observing equipment is changed or relocated, or techniques are changed. System changes, and any other events that might have an impact on data records, are documented in the Bureau’s station metadata repository SitesDB, in accordance with WMO requirements.”

Question 1: Is the SITESDB open to the public?

Question 2: Does it contain raw data from the overlap period?

There is so much more to say about this, and the many PR terms in what is supposed to be a scientific reply, but for the moment, why trust the BOM?

The BOM review

Bureau has a budget of $365 million a year.

 BACKGROUND — Scandal after scandal

Book, Climate Change: The Facts 2017, IPA.This information and other oddities of Australian temperature records was discussed in my chapter “Mysterious Revisions to Australia’s Long Hot History” in the new book Climate Change: The Facts 2017. Co-authors include Clive James, Matt Ridley, Willie Soon, Roy Spencer, and Anthony Watts. Pre-order your copy now, the first edition, released last week, has sold out.  Also available as Ebook on Amazon.




9.7 out of 10 based on 105 ratings