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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The Rutherglen Stoush on homogenisation — Bill Johnston bravely ventured onto “the Conversation”

Rutherglen is one of the seemingly best stations in Australia, apart from a break from 1955-1965. Bill Johnston looks closely at the raw data, finding that there is probably no trend — flat temperatures — rather than either cooling or warming. And that it’s difficult to fill in data from surrounding stations. He speculates that something fishy goes on in 1924. He also finds that rainfall probably drives a fifth of the temperature swings. He discusses his disappointment at the intellectual level of debate on The Conversation.

Because he knows the area, he also talks about the effect of wet years and dry years, and how that affects winter and summer temperatures. He has a dry wit, and lovely casual style.

I think that if we have to rely on statistical analysis to “know” whether data was shifted or moved when there is no documentation suggesting it was, all certainty is shot, and any definitive statement about temperature trends in Australia is a joke. — Jo

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The Rutherglen stoush

Guest post by Bill Johnston

The raw trend is very different from the HQ adjustments which are very different from the ACORN […]

Explain this? Rutherglen homogenized with 17 stations including Hillston!

We’ve seen the remarkable change of the Rutherglen record as it got homogenized. This long running rural record that looks ideal apparently had “unrecorded” station moves found by thermometers miles away. Already we have found Bill Johnston who did some work at Rutherglen who confirmed that the station did not move. The mystery grows?

Since early 2012 Ken Stewart has been asking the BOM which neighbouring stations were used. Finally, after pressure from The Australian, the BOM has provided the 17 names, and Ken has graphed them.

Follow the chart below. Rutherglen temperatures start off in blue. The yellow line is the average of the 17 “neighbours” which are used to homogenize that blue line and transform it into the red one which somehow ends up being colder than its neighbours in 1952 and warmer than its neighbours in all the last 30 years.

See if you can figure it out?

Rutherglen starts off blue. Then the yellow line is used to homogenize that blue line into the red one.

Presumably the BOM technique would be a lot more complicated that what Ken has done, but clearly replicating that ACORN final trend is not going to be easy.

The […]

Big adjustments? BOM says Rutherglen site shifted, former workers there say “No”

The hot questions for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) mount up. Rutherglen was one of the temperature recording stations that was subject to large somewhat mysterious adjustments which turned a slight cooling trend into a strongly warming one. Yet the official notes showed that the site did not move and was a continuous record. On paper, Rutherglen appeared to be ideal — a rare long rural temperature record where measurements had come from the same place since 1913.

The original cooling trend of – 0.35C was transformed into a +1.73C warming after “homogenisation” by the BOM. To justify that the BOM claims that there may have been an unrecorded shift, and it was “consistent” with the old station starting further up the slope before it moved down to the hollow.

Today retired scientist Bill Johnston got in touch with Jennifer Marohasy, with me and with Graham Lloyd of The Australian to say that he worked at times at Rutherglen and the official thermometer had not moved. It was always placed where it is now at the bottom of the hollow. That information has already made it into print in The Australian.

The original thermometer records suggest a […]

Shrinking Stevenson Screens cause global warming (and peeling paint, long grass…)

The Australian BOM has lost its way

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is paid more than a million dollars a day, and the planet is under seige, yet the paint is peeling off some Australian thermometer screens, the grass is long, and wasps are nesting in them. What once were large 230 litre wooden boxes have shrunk to 60 litres and are now even turning to plastic. The old glass thermometers are being replaced with electronic gear that can record a burst of hot air — yet somehow those freak high spikes are supposed to be comparable to temperatures recorded 100 years ago by slow glass thermometers.

Old larger boxes protected thermometers from sudden changes in air temperature.

Left: Len Walker with a 230L screen in 1940. Right: Blair Trewin with a modern 60L Stevenson screen.

Possibly the hardest thing to explain is that even though the BOM collected comparison data on the different types of thermometers, which might help to assess new versus old, they routinely throw the data away. Compounding that, the metadata on sites is incomplete, missing, lacking in documentation. Giant six lane highways are built next to equipment sites but not recorded. There is a huge […]

Feast your eyes on Streaky Bay’s thermometer — over bitumen for 31 long hot years

Ken Stewart rates the Streaky Bay site as one of the worst he has seen This is an influential site because it’s in a remote area, is used to “correct” official ACORN sites, and has been running for a long time. Last October the BOM finally moved it to a completely new (and much better site) — only three decades too late. Strangely, they didn’t give the new site a new station number? Normally the old and new sites would be run concurrently with two different numbers so the data from both could be compared and the differences in temperature between them could be worked out. Is that an accident? Does it hide the terrible quality of the previous site?

The Streaky Bay information (site 018079) tells us it opened in 1865 but the site only has monthly data from 1926 and daily data from an even shorter period. The rest presumably hasn’t been digitized yet. As best as I can tell, the station metadata appear to mark this site as being at the post office from 1865 to 2018, and record the ground cover as becoming asphalt in July 1987. That means for 31 years the Australian Bureau of […]

No Yackandandah, wind farms will not stop bush fires

In less than 24 hours The Guardian can turn personal disasters into political advertising:

Climate change and the Victorian bushfires: this is not a coincidence

Cambell Klose

Klose tells us climate change is too complicated for stupid people:

“The issue of bushfires can’t be divorced from climate change. For too many people climate change remains an esoteric concept – something that may happen to someone else in the hazy, far-off future.”

Luckily gifted people, like Cambell Klose (political adviser) can “feel” the causes of climate change.

“Clearly this isn’t the case. The effects of climate change are being felt right now and it is having real impacts on Australians and people all across the world.”

Who needs computer models? (Or for that matter, thermometers?)

What not to do when faced with infernos:

“Yackandandah is trying to do something about this. The community has committed to powering themselves entirely by renewable energy by 2022.”

Some people reduce fuel-loads, others fight off the flames with a solar panel.

Wind farms may reduce bush fires if we have to chop down large tracts of forest to install them. Otherwise they make expensive fire-breaks.

What warming? […]

Blockbuster: Are hot days in Australia mostly due to low rainfall, and electronic thermometers — not CO2?

Blame dry weather and electronic sensors for a lot of Australia’s warming trend…

In this provocative report, retired research scientist Bill Johnston analyzes Australian weather records in a fairly sophisticated and very detailed way, and finds they are “wholly unsuitable” for calculating long term trends. He uses a multi-pronged approach looking at temperatures, historical documents, statistical step changes, and in a novel process studies the way temperature varies with rainfall as well.

His two major findings are that local rainfall (or lack of) has a major impact on temperatures in a town, and that the introduction of the electronic sensors in the mid 1990s caused an abrupt step increase in maximum temperatures across Australia. There will be a lot more to say about these findings in coming months — the questions they raise are very pointed. Reading, between the lines, if Johnston is right, a lot of the advertised record heat across Australia has more to do with equipment changes, homogenisation, and rainfall patterns than a long term trend.

Bill Johnston: On Data Quality [PDF]

“Trends are not steps; and temperature changes due to station changes, instruments and processing is not climate change”, he […]

Alan Jones talks climate, Paris. Mainstream scientists caught out by Marohasy in Parliament.

Alan Jones pretty much sums up the situation about Christopher Monckton’s prediction last year about Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper. Listen to Monckton from 40 seconds.

Listen here at 2GB

“They want $100 billion. In a world that’s broke, swimming in debt…” — Alan Jones

“David King was asked whether all the nations of the world were now, in principle, ready to sign their people’s rights away in such a treaty. Yes, but there are two standouts. One is Canada. But don’t worry about Canada. They’ve got an election in the Spring of 2015 and we and the UN will make sure the present government is removed. He was quite blunt about it.

The other hold out is Australia. And Australia we can’t do anything about because Tony Abbott is in office until after the December 2015 conference. So that means you all have to guard Tony Abbott’s back. Because the Turnbull faction, in conjunction with the UN, will be doing their absolute level best to remove your elected Prime Minister from office before the end of his term and , in particular, before the end of 2015, so that they can get 100% wall-to-wall Marxist agreement. They […]

Ideology adds heat to the debate on climate change — Jennifer Marohasy

The national conversation is all about “seeming” and “confidence”. Greg Hunt (Environment Minister) boasted that he stopped an investigation into the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and prevented “due diligence” being a part of a one-day wonder “forum”.

His justification:

“In doing this, it is important to note that public trust in the Bureau’s data and forecasts, particularly as they relate to bushfires and cyclones, is paramount,” [Greg Hunt] said.

It used to be that public trust occurred when organizations were fully investigated, accountable, and found clean. Now “Public Trust” is apparently increased when there are no investigations, or only weak whitewashes. Either the public has got a lot stupider, or the media and ministers have.

Plenty of the self anointed (those who know more than the dumb punters) thought Hunt’s boast was a big achievement. Anthony Sharwood, News Corp journalist (oh for a “reporter”!), wondered if the government was paranoid for wanting to check the BOM. Perhaps next he’ll be calling for global corporates to figure out their own tax bill; who needs professional auditing, right — it’s just “paranoid”?

But the bad news for Hunt and the Bureau (and Sharwood) is that the Truth will out, the […]

Camouflage illusions in the matrix: same mysterious temperature, same day, year after year

Wait til you see what Lance Pidgeon has found. He was looking at the BOM website temperature archive maps of Australia for early last century (using AWAP data). He was wondering how the Bureau of Meteorology could possibly create maps this detailed for specific days that long ago. He was especially curious about the remote, vast areas where there were no thermometers, yet there were wiggly jiggly temperature lines on the map, shaded as if they had meaning. I’ve heard that more people have visited the South pole, than have stood at the point in central Australia where the three large western and central states meet.

Then he noticed something positively strange — April 14th in 1915 and one year later in 1916 looked almost identical, as did the same day in 1917. The more he looked, the weirder things got. He plodded, year after year, all the way from 1911 to 1917, then through Jan, Feb, March, and so on. Worse, he tells me he could keep going right through to 1956 without seeing much change (though there are interesting exceptions). After that, temperatures of the area start to vary from year to year, like the “weather” we’d […]