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Australian BOM under fire – questions about “adjusted” temperatures exploding around the world

A hard hitting article today from Graham Lloyd in The Australian. Finally the scientific debacle of climate records is being hung out like dirty laundry. For people who don’t read skeptic blogs it will be news that there are claims of scandal and corruption about temperature data adjustments around the world, against institutions that are (or were) respected household names.

Lloyd starts with a brilliant analogy from David Stockwell, who asks Would it be OK if we adjusted Don Bradmans batting average down?  It won’t affect the global batting average…. (The Don is the legend of international cricket — those stats are sacred.)

Lloyd goes on to tell the tale of how temperature adjustments that make historic records cooler are commonplace, and suddenly under the spotlight around the world. To his credit, Lloyd realizes this has been coming for a long time — he explains the Australian and UK Met offices were caught discussing ways to make it hard for skeptics. He talks about Christopher Booker’s article on adjustments in Paraguay getting 30,000 comments, and the issue “exploding” internationally with questions about the misleading public declarations about 2014 being the hottest year on record, as well as the issue of Arctic temperatures. There is now a review into the Australian BOM, and even the prospect of a US Senate inquiry.

CRICKET legend Donald Bradman is a useful metaphor for the escalating global row over claims the world’s leading climate agencies have been messing with the weather.

Imagine, for instance, if some bureau of sport were to revise the Don’s batting average in Test cricket down from 99.94 to 75 after adjusting for anomalies and deleting innings of 200 runs or more.

What if the bureau then claimed another batsman had exceeded the Don’s revamped record to become the greatest ever?

Critics could be told the adjustments “don’t matter” because they had not affected overall global batting averages. Just as many batsmen had been adjusted up as down. And complaints could easily be dismissed as the “cherrypicking” of a few, isolated batsmen.

David Stockwell, Australian Research Council grant recipient and adjunct researcher at Central Queensland University, raised the Bradman analogy in his submission to a newly formed independent panel that will oversee the operation of the Bureau of Meteorology’s national temperature dataset.

Stockwell was highlighting public concerns at the BoM’s use of homogenisation techniques to adjust historical temperature records to remove anomalies and produce a national dataset called ACORN-SAT (Australian Climate Observations Reference Network — Surface Air Temperature). The panel, or technical advisory forum, which will hold its first discussions with BoM staff on Monday, was formed in December after a series of questions were raised publicly about the treatment of historic temperature records that has resulted in temperature trends at some Australian sites being changed from long-term cooling to warming.

Climategate emails show how long the climate scientists have been unscientifically hiding their work:

Even better, noted East Anglia University’s Phil Jones, was to give troublemakers a big package of data with key information missing, making it impossible to decipher.

Much of the background work and hard questions come from Jennifer Marohasy and the independent audit team who assembled around this website back in 2010, and who write guests posts here. Together we’ve written 41 articles on the BOM here.

But critics of BoM are already lining up to have their questions answered.

Research academic Jennifer Marohasy has accused BoM of using “creative accounting practices” in both the homogenisation of data to remodel individual series as well as the choice of stations and time periods when the individual series are combined to calculate a national average for each year.

Marohasy says BoM’s methodologies have turned a cycle of warming and cooling over the past century into one of continuous warming.

 Ken Stewart has been tireless at independently checking BOM figures:

Self-declared “citizen scientist” Ken Stewart has been more pointed. “The apparent lack of quality assurance means ACORN-SAT is not fit for the purpose of serious climate analysis including the calculation of annual temperature trends, identifying hottest or coldest days on record, analysing the intensity, duration and frequency of heatwaves, matching rainfall with temperature, calculating monthly means or medians, and calculating diurnal temperature range,” he says.

“In conclusion, ACORN-SAT is not reliable and should be scrapped.

In a separate article this weekend, also by Graham Lloyd,  the headline points out that a lot of warming in Australia is created by adding warmer and dropping cooler stations from long term averaged records:

BoM’s new stations ‘explain warming’ in Australia

ALMOST half of the 20th-century warming for Australia’s nation­al average surface temperatures could be due to changes in the weather stations chosen for analysis, rather than changes in the climate, according to a submission to an independent review of the Bureau of Meteorology’s national records.

Merrick Thomson, a retired certified practising accountant, has asked the independent panel to investigate how and why stations were selected for inclusion to make up the national trend.

The panel of experts, headed by Ron Sandland from the CSIRO, will begin its review of BoM’s national temperature data next week, amid growing controv­ersy about the homogenisation of climate records worldwide.

In his submission to the review panel, Mr Thompson said when the BoM transitioned to the new ACORN-SAT system it had remove­d 57 stations from its calculations, replacing them with 36 on-average hotter stations.

“I calculate this has had the effect­ of increasing the recorded Australian average temperature by 0.42 degrees Celsius, independently of any actual real change in temperature,” Mr Thomson said.

“Of the 57 stations removed from the calculation of the nationa­l average temperature, only three of these have actually closed as weather stations,” he added.

Mr Thomson asked that the review panel investigate why the mix of stations changed with the transition to ACORN-SAT, and why this was not explained and declared, particularly given that it has resulted in a large increase in the 2013 annual temperature for Australia.

Read more in The Australian

The BOM were invited to write for The Australian, but declined.

This is a very long feature, with interviews of Judith Curry and Richard Tol. Don’t just run down and buy a copy of  The Australian —  subscribe to it. You certainly won’t get this information from Fairfax or The ABC. Graham Lloyd has done a great job, bravely following the hard questions — as has Jennifer Marohasy, in relentless pursuing this for so long, and so many of the other unpaid, and independent minds who expect the answer provided by the BOM to make more sense. My thanks to everyone who has put in long hours. I have a lot more material to share from them — it’s hard to do it all justice.

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