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Uninformed climate amateurs ask professionals to explain their data revision

David Karoly knew he had to defend the BOM with regard to the hot questions about adjustments to Amberley, Bourke, and Rutherglen data. What he didn’t have were photos of historic equipment, maps of thermometer sites, or quotes from people who took observations. Instead he wielded the magic wand of “peer review” — whereupon questions asked in English are rendered invalid if they are printed in a newspaper instead of a trade-magazine.

Prof David Karoly, Climate Professional called people who ask for explanations poorly informed amateurs. In response, we Poorly Informed Climate Amateurs wonder what it takes to get Climate Professionals to inform us? Instead of hiding behind ‘peer review’, vague complex methods, and the glow of their academic aura, the professionals could act professional and explain exactly what they did to the data?

We discussed the mysterious transformation of Amberley and Rutherglen — where cooling trends became warming trends due to unrecorded site movements that were detected by thermometers hundreds of kilometers away. I also discussed how skeptical scientists have been asking for details for years but the BOM would not provide them. What we still don’t know is why thermometers in 1941 were recording temperatures nearly 2 degrees celcius too high at both Rutherglen and Amberley and why records this inaccurate are included in our national database? Nor do we understand why the error was not discovered for 70 years or why the BOM apparently didn’t ask the people who worked there at the time. We are grateful though, that so many RAAF planes at Amberley operated safely despite the poor equipment.

The articles by Graham Lloyd on Jennifer Marohasy’s analysis are generating debate.

Letters to The Australian 28th August 2014

Bill Johnston, former NSW natural resources research scientist, Cook, ACT

 DAVID Karoly’s response is a contradiction. He is a well-known climate activist and editor-in-chief of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal. Independent peer-review or not, he is quoting his own stuff, which he published in the journal he edits.

His claim about amateurs is both silly and frustrating. We live in a marketing age and everybody should question everything. Joining dots is not science.

In the article he referred to, Karoly stitched together two sets of data. He chose to end one set, which was relatively continuous, in 1950. The second set, from 1910 to 2010, was the heavily homogenised Australian Climate Observations Reference Network — Surface Air Temperature data. Most ACORN-SAT series were derived by stitching together data from, for instance, now closed post offices and airports to form a single series. For some, gaps were filled using more distant stations. Karoly knows this.

He should also know that for his 1910 to 1950 comparison, most of the compared data sets were identical. They were long-term post office, pilot station and lighthouse data. Irrespective of homogenisation, close agreement could therefore be expected for those years.

That period of agreement, however, was not a reason to believe that data from 1950 to 2010, which was highly homogenised, would remain comparable.

Confounding his methodology, was that 1947 was an important climate-shift year. The worst drought ever known in Australia ended with a an exhausted, overgrazed and burnt-out Murray-Darling Basin in 1948.

Michael Asten, School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, Melbourne. Vic

GRAHAM Lloyd’s article (“Amateurs are challenging BOM warming data”, 26/8) on Jennifer Marohasy’s study of homogenised temperature records in Australia, notes a comment by my colleague David Karoly to the effect that poorly informed amateurs are at fault, and suggests they submit their re-analysis of the Bureau of Meteorology’s temperature records for peer review.

I would prefer Karoly first offer comment on the extraordinary examples of two weather stations (Rutherglen in Victoria and Amberley in Queensland) where raw data shows annual average minimum temperatures to have a flat or slight decrease over the past 100 years, but the data shows significant increasing temperature trends after application of the BOM’s homogenisation process, a necessary step to gain estimates of continent-wide average temperature changes.

The logical demand on any inference or projection of a data set is that it must first be consistent with the original data, and Karoly as an expert might well ask, as does Marohasy, what confidence do we have in homogenised data which fails this test?

Our confidence will increase if and when BOM publishes or supplies its homogenisation algorithms, a step which would be quite consistent with existing requirements of the better peer-reviewed journals.

Greg Buchanan, Niagara Park, NSW

DAVID Karoly calls for people who claim the BOM data adjustments are under suspicion should have their claims submitted to peer review. Would that be the same peer review process uncovered via the “climate-gate” emails? Unfortunately, since climate-gate, climate science, the peer review process and confidence in scientific experts has been damaged, possibly irreversibly.

I suggest BOM release all its data and adjustment methodologies to the amateurs out here in denier land so that they may review it for themselves.

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