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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Magically correcting Australia’s thermometers from 1,500 kilometers away

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology uses “surrounding” thermometers to adjust for odd shifts in data (caused by things like long grass, cracked screens, or new equipment, some of which is not listed in the site information). The Bureau fishes among many possible sites to find those that happen to match up or , err “correlate” during a particular five year period. Sometimes these are not the nearest site, but ones… further away. So the BOM will ignore the nearby stations, and use further ones to adjust the record.

These correlations, like quantum entanglements, are mysterious and fleeting. A station can be used once in the last hundred years to “correct” another, but for all the other years it doesn’t correlate well — which begs the question of why it had these special telediagnostic powers for a short while, but somehow lost them? Or why a thermometer 300km away might show more accurate trends than one 50km away.

One of the most extreme examples was when Cobar in NSW was used to adjust the records at Alice Springs –almost 1500km away (h/t Bill Johnston). That adjustment was 0.6°C down in 1932 (due to a site move, we’re told). This potentially matters […]

Announcing BomWatch: Auditing the fake warming created by site changes near the Great Barrier Reef

Fake Warming in Queensland: The BOM says the sites didn’t move, but photos show they did.

The warming at these four sites alongside the Great Barrier Reef is due to site changes, incompetence, poor record keeping and “adjustments”. Map: Terrametrics, Map data Google 2020

All along the coast near the Great Barrier Reef, the BOM has claimed temperatures have warmed in the last 50 years, and they’ve calculated it to a tenth of a degree. To get that kind of accuracy the thermometers need to be carefully placed, and the BOM needs to know exactly where they were, but they don’t.

The BOM keeps long pages of site descriptions and exact dates of moves and equipment changes, but historic photos show the records are wrong. The BOM will solemnly swear a site was in the same place for decades but photographs and archives show the sites were often moved as developments sprang up around them. The BOM didn’t keep the records and didn’t bother to check. If the thermometer moved to a warmer location or it warmed because they replaced the standard 230-litre Stevenson screen with a 60-litre toy one, or no longer cleaned it […]

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 […]

Port Hedland: one man with a keen interest knows more about this site than the Bureau of Met does

If the planet was at stake you’d think the BOM would be doing this research, not unpaid volunteers.

Bill Johnston has shown again, that the BOM is apparently unaware and, perhaps most damningly, not even interested in most of the things that happened to their official thermometer sites.

Port Hedland is supposedly “one of the best” researched sites in Australia — so it is a certified ACORN site (one of the 112). The trends matter, and being remote, it influences a large area. But one man with dedication and no funding at all can find key historical maps and photos that the BOM, with its million dollar-a-day budget, cannot. Instead of doing this hard work the BOM uses the magical homogenization process “to fix” up all the anomalies by hunting for data in sites hundreds of kilometers away that can be used to adjust the records at Port Hedland. This is the secret process that even the BOM admits it cannot describe in full to anyone outside the BOM. As Johnston says, it’s a process so bad it “should be abandoned”. There is no saving the error correction that starts with bad data, missing documents, and barely any historical research […]

Bourke: How 1km of land clearing can warm a million square miles

Yet again, we have to ask: does the Bureau of Meteorology care about Australia’s long term climate trend? Are they even trying?

Bourke could be one of the top ten most influential temperature sites in the world, mostly by virtue of being miles from anywhere, and used to homogenize a large slab of the land mass of Australia. Bill Johnston documents how changes to the site create most of the temperature trend.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s fancy magical and secret homogenization protocol does not detect changes that obviously affect the temperature (like the clearing in the photo below). But sometimes the BoM make “corrections” because of site changes that don’t appear to have mattered. Is it conveniently selective or just inept?

The BoM don’t even document major site changes a lot of the time. Even iconic sites that affect huge areas are badly managed. Someone got the tractor and plough and cleared the vegetation. As usual, a citizen scientist, a volunteer, documents it (along with a suite of other site changes).

In the last ten years land was cleared around the thermometer. This denuded area has a lower humidity, and higher volatility of temperatures. The data from this thermometer […]

Scandal: BoM ignores major site changes at iconic, historic, Sydney Observatory. Sloppy or deliberate?

Australia’s oldest and most iconic site has changed dramatically, but major site changes are not even being recorded.

The way the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) treat this site says a lot about the unscientific, shoddy, biased standards it uses at sites everywhere. This was their headquarters. Experts walked past new walls, construction and highways, yet they didn’t record them? Beggars belief.

Just as Peter Ridd warns us that we can’t trust some marine and reef institutes, Bill Johnston is the whistle-blower warning us about the Bureau of Met. There is no law of science that says human institutes are infallible. When they run off the rails, how do we find out? Ridd issued a warning from the inside and ended up in the Federal Court. When people, like Bill write from the outside, the BoM waves the peer-review gatekeeper, and anonymous reviewers can easily shut that gate, and without any penalty.

The louvered thermometer house in front of the Observatory in 1864. (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.)

Sydney Observatory is one of the longest running stations in the Southern Hemisphere, starting in 1859. It was Australia’s premier meteorology site and in the 1800’s it was known […]

Canberra’s “hottest ever” September record due to thermometer changes and a wind profiler

With only a million dollars a day it’s hard for the BoM to keep up with their own stations. Luckily Bill Johnston has arrived to help out for free. The BoM announced that it was Canberra’s hottest ever day last week, but forgot to check whether the heat was due to the site moving three times, changes in thermometers and a wind profiler they installed themselves in 2010.

Normally the BoM would detect and correct for these sorts of things by using Homogenisation Magic (HM). That’s where they spot these effects by comparing a station with surrounding stations. However in this case HM missed all three site moves and the wind profiler. It looks like those might add up to 2.2°C of artificial warming. Nothing to worry about, but the hottest ever record will have to be shredded, and naturally, the BoM will need to issue a correction with at least as much fuss and coverage as the mistaken headlines. It’s only fair…

After the effect of rainfall is removed there are at least three site moves, a screen change, equipment change, and alterations to the surrounding area that may influence the site. These step changes align with documented […]

Another BOM scandal: Australian climate data is being destroyed as routine practice

Historic climate data is being destroyed

The Bureau have a budget of a million dollars a day, but seemingly can’t afford an extra memory stick to save historic scientific data.

In the mid 1990s thermometers changed right across Australia — new electronic sensors were installed nearly everywhere. Known as automatic weather sensors (AWS) these are quite different to the old “liquid in glass” type. The electronic ones can pick up very short bursts of heat — so they can measure extremes of temperatures that the old mercury or liquid thermometers would not pick up, unless the spike of heat lasted for a few minutes. It is difficult (impossible) to believe that across the whole temperature range that these two different instruments would always behave in the exact same way. There could easily be an artificial warming trend generated by this change (see the step change in the graphs). The only way to compare the old and new types of thermometer is to run side by side comparisons in the field and at many sites. Which is exactly what the bureau were doing, but the data has never been put in an archive, or has been destroyed. It’s not easily available […]

The Conversation — cleansing skeptical thoughts — Read the banned comments here

The Fake Conversation where Bill’s informative, polite comments are removed, but the replies are left there.

Last week Bill Johnston posted a detailed, comprehensive analysis of Sydney Observatory thermometer record here that shows that most of the warming recorded there is due to buildings and freeways. But photo’s and graphs are “denier” stuff, and The Conversation is so afraid some its readers might see those historic photos they ban links to Bill’s work and joannenova.com.au. Apparently when the Bureau of Meteorology discusses “Australia’s hottest decade” it is off topic to discuss the condition of their thermometers.

Bill Johnston was happy to defend his work in comments at The Conversation, but Blair Trewin, who wrote the post itself, was entirely absent. Cory Zanoni had to close the dangerous thread. He removed scores of comments, but left replies to Bill Johnston intact. Some “conversation”.

At least 46 of Bill Johnston’s comments were deleted from Australia’s climate in 2016 – a year of two halves as El Niño unwound and 19 deleted from Australian climate politics in 2017: a guide for the perplexed. As Bill says: They obviously want to stay perplexed; uninformed; scary-cats, without a paddle for their leaky canoe.

[…]

Sydney Observatory where warming is created by site moves, buildings, freeways

The iconic Sydney Observatory is Australia’s longest running weather station. But everything around the site has changed. Bill Johnston has spent months researching, photographing, and hunting through historic files to document those changes. He wasn’t paid for this work, but what he found was that the BOM has missed that the area around the thermometers has changed dramatically over the last century, so much so, that he claims it’s scientifically meaningless to try to construct climate trends from this data. Aerial photographs show exposure of the instruments changed in 1950, when Stevenson screens were moved, and after a brick wall was built metres from the screen in about 1972. It is suspicious that the changes are undocumented in Bureau reports, especially given they are responsible for much of the “unprecedented warming” in Sydney’s temperature data. The BOM may counter that this site is not used to calculate warming trends across Australia, but as Bill points out, Sydney Observatory is used to homogenize other sites that are. So site changes and the urban heat island effect infects many country sites, and the traffic in Sydney “warms the nation”. — Jo

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Its fake news week! Guest post by Dr. Bill Johnston[1]. […]