Some early contact with bias and mythology in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology BoM near two decades ago

I first got to know the BoM in 1991 when GW was in its infancy and was surprised at the extent to which PC myths coloured peoples thinking.

I noted very early on that many long term small town sites were as warm in the 1880’s as they were in the 1980’s and when I asked about this – BoM sages wisely told me, “Ah yes, that is due to the introduction of the Stevenson screen thermometer enclosure into Australia in 1907 when the BoM was formed.” It was explained that older more primitive exposures could cause the higher readings. Nobody espoused an alternative view, it was group-think.

Ferreting in their very good library I came across proceedings from a number of Intercolonial Conferences from the 19C which referred to the Stevenson screen. I wrote up a draft paper trying to put the references into perspective and circulated it around including the BoM. A response came back from the BoM pointing out the multiple errors of my ways and I gave up any idea of publishing a paper. The story continues a few years later and I explain how I came to publish my paper as a Comment in The International Journal of Climatology in 1995, the 4 pages are scanned.

Some helpful soul in the BoM gave me a copy of the Jones et al 1986 Southern Hemisphere documentation paper; Jones PD , Raper SCB, Cherry BSG, Goodess CM, Wigley TML, (1986c) TR027 A Grid Point Surface Air Temperature Data Set for the Southern Hemisphere. Office of Energy Research , Carbon Dioxide Research Division, US Department of Energy. Under Contract No. DE-ACO2-79EV10098 referred to here.

The pattern of bias I detected in TR027 started me on the road to perdition which I am still travelling. That lead to my review of the Australian component of the Jones et al 1986 data, scroll down above page to.
[2] Tasman Institute 1991 review of the Australian component of temperature records used in the 1986 Jones et al Southern Hemisphere paper.

Recently I have found some of my original Word docs still readable on old HDD’s and one day will prep these for the www.

Scrolling down about 30% on the above page, you can read about a 1990 BoM study which defined, albeit in a simple way, urban warming at most of Australian capital cities.

The 1990 BoM draft Paper, M.J. Coughlan, R. Tapp and W.R. Kininmonth; 1990, “Trends in Australian Temperature Records” by three senior BoM staff, defined urban heat island (UHI) magnitudes by various comparisons between central city sites in all the Australian state capitals and their respective airports, more than one satellite site in the case of the larger cities.

I suggest you download the zip file of scanned pages of this paper.

After easily finding solid evidence of urban warming in Australian city data the BoM failed to Comment in the relevant Journal(s) on the patently wrong Jones et al methodology. I can only conclude that the BoM noted the irritable tone of the Jones and Wigley reply to Fred Wood’s 1988 critique of the Jones et al 1986 papers, read it all on my page.

Note the discussion re San Juan Puerto Rico in point 5 of my Table, two peer reviewed papers help highlight Jones error and I note, 785260 184 660 3 SAN JUAN INTL A PUERTO RICO, still stands in the CRUT3 station list.

The actual station data used is still top secret.

The BoM decided discretion was the better part of valour and decided not to discuss Australian urban warming with Dr Jones through a Journal. Not a battle they wanted to win anyway, no brownie points taking on Jones et al, better to hide, it might all go away.

It is ironic that in 2008 Chinese climate scientists have dragged Dr P D Jones to an acceptance that urban warming affects the Chinese component of his CRUTem3 global land data.

This Jones et al 2008 paper invalidates the entire CRUTem3 global data, it also puts a torpedo into the Jones et al 1990 Letter to Nature, a crucial IPCC defence still against claims that urban warming still affects IPCC GW trends. BoM staffers developed the Eastern Australian trend used in the 1990 Letter to Nature, much promoted by the BoM in the 1990’s. I had told them it was badly UHI affected and I circulated a little paper, titled I think, “Heat Islands in SE Australian Country Towns”. This was slammed by the BoM reviewers, as they slammed my critique of the Jones Australian component(added Apr 4: to be fair the BoM did agree Jones et al used too many cities and that rural data was under-represented), as they slammed my Stevenson screen draft paper.

The Chinese climate scientists have also torpedoed the Chinese component of the 1990 Letter to Nature, which does no good at all to the Eastern Australian trend quoted as being Rural.

I put actual numbers to their Eastern Australian bias in the paper “Eastern Australia temperature variations 1930-1992″. One of the few attempts to generate a near truly rural trend and way below the IPCC trend for the region.

Thats enough for now, I will try and answer questions where people are genuine, and will try to set down more material later, this sets some foundation to the early development of BoM bias.

4 thoughts on “Some early contact with bias and mythology in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology BoM near two decades ago”

  1. It is a concern to me when we have ‘scientists’ hunting in packs.
    BOM and CSIRO seem to me to do this nowadays on anything to do with GW, Climate change, sea level change etc. And worst of all they seem to love making grand statements without the qualification that should obviously go with them, and without an up front attempt to allay questions about apparently contra-information.

    Society owes a debt to people like you who put themselves out to such an enormous degree to challenge this stuff.

  2. I have just checked the national climate summary for March 2009 on the BOM site. It reports that March was the 11th hottest on record at 0.95C above the norm for max temps. However, when you look at the state-by-state breakdown, only NT is equivalent to that position.
    How can that be?
    How does the BOM come up with the national average? Do they just divide all the max temps of every station (the eastern states would ‘skew’ the results as they are far more of them)? Anybody know?

  3. I think the figures you talk about come from their gridded data, where their selected station data is combined into numbers which represents areas defined by latitude – longitude. I have never been able to find out which station data they use, top secret. Jon Lowe over at Gust of hot air, has some very interesting findings on how Australian temperatures are measured.

  4. WSH Thanks for the link. Maybe Warwick can ask the BOM how this average figure is arrived at for their climate summaries. I haven’t checked other summaries yet – this March 2009 one just looked odd.

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