Australian Bureau of Meteorology takes urban heat island (UHI) into account when announcing heat records

I have just been told by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment – Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham – that when _ “…the Bureau publishes relevant records of weather and climate occurrences and extremes based on observations from sites around the country.”
The BoM is “…taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.”
Can anybody find me an example of this? Click to read my 12 Nov 2013 email to Minister Hunt and their reply

Dear Senator Birmingham,
It seems to me that hardly a week go by that we do not see anti Govt media articles on climate & weather issues where the base data looks to be sourced from the BoM.
Because of that I have just sent the following email to Minister Hunt.

All the best Senator Birmingham,
Warwick Hughes in Canberra
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
BoM feeding the Climate Council and anti-Govt media sent 12 Nov 13 Dear Minister Hunt, I think it is fair to say that the BoM seems intent on backgrounding the media on stories promoting warm/hot weather occurrences and records. It would not be a stretch to say that these often end up being “beaten up” in the anti-Govt media and used as support for statements opposing Govt policy.

As summer rolls on the opportunities for anti-Govt media to take advantage of this to attack Govt policy, seemingly under the mantle of science, will be more frequent.
I think there are some simple steps the Govt could take to direct the way the BoM publishes material – which would ensure that BoM output is attributable and accurate in an open and transparent way.

[1] Notable weather or climate occurrences / records –
If the BoM wants to publish information on this broad topic – it should always be by way of an archived media release. If the media want a question answered they should contact BoM “Public Affairs” or whoever they are called – and they should pass the question on to the right BoM Dept for a reply. The question and reply should be archived online as supplementary material to the appropriate media release archive.

[2] Routine weather forecasts should be archived online for a week at
least and no content should be conveyed to the media that is not included in the forecast. If the media want a question answered they should contact BoM “Public Affairs” or whoever they are called – and they should pass the question on to the right BoM Dept for a reply. The question and reply should be archived online as supplementary material to the weather forecast.

[3] The BoM is prone to quoting heat records from cities and towns.
They should be asked to always balance their claim with a statement about the extent and magnitude of the relevant urban heat island measured or estimated at the particular locality.

From years of checking out weather related stories in the media I am sure certain journalists can be cultivated and fed selective information through BoM back channels. In my opinion it is in the Govt and taxpayers interests that this ceases.
Nothing in what I am suggesting stops or inhibits the BoM saying whatever it chooses – but the entirety of BoM communications to media should be archived – so the process is open and transparent for the public.

I hope my suggestions are of some use.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I refer to your email of 12 November 2013, concerning the Bureau of Meteorology’s publication of information about notable weather, climate records and routine weather forecasts, and its use by media. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

Under the Meteorology Act 1955, the Bureau of Meteorology has responsibility to monitor, analyse and report on Australia’s weather and climate. As part of its role, the Bureau publishes relevant records of weather and climate occurrences and extremes based on observations from sites around the country. As you are aware, a range of climate products and services covering climate variability and climate change is routinely published on the Bureau’s website including climate updates, statements, reports and summaries. These are statements of record and are based on the best available science. This includes taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.

These records are of great use to a range of stakeholders including the public and those providing health and emergency services, with the Bureau making this information readily available and easily accessible through its website.

As Government, business and community interest in weather, climate and other environmental information grows, traditional and new media channels increasingly seek information from the Bureau. These requests can number hundreds in a week, with many handled internally by the Bureau’s Public Affairs area. There are other avenues as well, including several hundred live radio crosses each week, during which the weather patterns and any notable features of weather and climate are discussed, including potential or actual record weather events. This content is highly regarded in the community, particularly in regional Australia, and supplements the standard weather forecast service.

The Bureau’s forecasters and spokespeople are trained to provide factual information to the media in an apolitical way. They have no control over how the media subsequently uses or reports this information.

In response to your query about archiving the Bureau’s routine public weather forecasts, they are legally required to be retained for six years. These forecasts are available to the public at cost of access. They are not made freely available due to the potential for confusion in having multiple forecasts available for a specific location over various time frames.

Thank you for taking the time to write on this matter.

Yours sincerely

30 comments to Australian Bureau of Meteorology takes urban heat island (UHI) into account when announcing heat records

  • George Bailley

    Warwick

    Your headline is a gross misrepresentation of the content of the response, The body of your post selectively places part quotes together to try to paint a picture that supports your particular perspective.

    Shame on you Warwick. As I’ve said in the past – if you want to be taken seriously then report what you see in an impartial factual tone. Trying to distort the facts does you no credit nor advance your cause.

    George

  • I can not see I have misrepresented anything –
    but whatever readers might think the full quotes are there so readers can make up their own minds.
    OK George – you tell me – when the BoM write this – “This includes taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.”
    What are they referring to?
    I say it is the previous parts of that paragraph.

  • George Bailley

    “As you are aware, a range of climate products and services covering climate variability and climate change is routinely published on the Bureau’s website including climate updates, statements, reports and summaries. These are statements of record and are based on the best available science. This includes taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.”

  • These are statements of record and are based on the best available science. This includes taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.

    This is factually incorrect on 3 counts and internally contradictory.

    1. They are not statements of record as the records have been ‘adjusted’ in multiple ways, re ACORN etc.

    2. As BoM has a de facto monopoly on collecting and processing surface weather data. Theirs isn’t the best available science, it is the only available science.

    3. Statements of record, by definition, don’t take UHI or any other factors into account.

    Reads like obfuscatory BS fed by the BoM.

  • George Bailley

    Hi Philip

    1. Wrong.
    2. Wrong.
    3. Huh?

    Kind regards.

    George

  • George, lol.

    ‘Record’ is a legal term meaning that which has been recorded, eg evidence in court, or in this context temperatures which have been recorded.

    1. Numerous instances reported here and elsewhere of temperature ‘records’ not compared against the actual recorded earlier temperature, but against some adjusted value.

    2. Who else collects Australian surface temperature data?

    3. A record is that which is recorded. UHI and all.

  • George Bailley

    “Statement of record” means “a formal filing of factual information” – it doesn’t mean the Bureau said a record temperature occurred. Geez Loiuse – this is gunna take a while if these simple truths are going to be argued over.
    1. I guess you are referring to the “acorn” data set. AFAIK all BoM maximum and minimum records are compared against actual observations. You are confusing datasets used to establish climate change metrics with data used to establish absolute temperature records.
    2. Surprise – here are some for SW WA alone – www.agric.wa.gov.au/weather-stations
    3. See my opening comment – you are confusing what “statement of record” means.

  • George Bailley

    * Louise – apologies to all of the Louise’s of the world for my mis-spelling

  • George Bailey, when they actually say there was a record you are saying they did not??

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • George Bailley

    Hi Kumkat

    How perverse – a keyboard with two (alternating) sticky letters. Must make it hard to write anything sensible.

    Best regards

    George

  • Charles

    It is quite interesting, I have been following the temperatures in a small VIC country town close to where I am located at the moment for the last couple of months via Weatherzone which is a BOM serviced record.

    Generally they have been overestimating the maximum T by 2-3 C per day, then they usually wait a day or so before they post it, and when they do, they add 2-3C to the original posted maximum on the day. If it is on the money (i.e. it is equal to the predicted maximum) they will post it on the day, but if it is under the prediction they will wait for quite a lengthy period.

    On Wednesday the predicted maximum was 31C, on the TV that night on 2 different stations the posted maximum was 29C. Today they put the Wednesday maximum up; 31.6C.

    So, I suspect they are corrupting the record to validate their predictions, and I suspect this is fairly widespread as I see it happening in another location in SA.

  • This includes taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.

    This is a particularly ludicrous statement. There is no agreement on what constitutes UHI, and very little agreement on the magnitude over decades. Different components of UHI will differ in their magnitude under different weather conditions, different seasons, etc.Yet they are saying they can take into account UHI for a temperature recorded at a particular point in time. Ridiculous.

  • George Bailley

    Charles

    There are two possible theories at play here. Firstly, as you suggest – it is all a guvment conspiracy – and the whole crew (including contracted observers) are in on ripping off the tax payer.
    The other theory is that Corryong reported a maximum temperature of 29 C degrees read by the observer at 3pm, duly reported in the news media in the 6pm bulletin. (The 3pm temperature was actually 28.8 C) In the late afternoon the temperature continued to rise until it reached a maximum of 31.6 C. The observer next read the maximum thermometer at 9am the next morning, and reported a 24 hour maximum of 31.6 C. In case you believe this to be doubtful, I include the observations from nearby Albury that document that temperatures were around 29C at 3pm, with a maximum temperature occurring between 5-30 and 6pm (it actually got to 30.9 at Albury)
    05/06:00pm 30.1
    05/05:30pm 30.2
    05/05:00pm 30
    05/04:30pm 29.7
    05/04:00pm 29.4
    05/03:30pm 29
    05/03:00pm 28.7
    Conspiracy theory ideation – who would believe it?

    George (ps thanks to HAARP personnel for identifying that you were posting from NE Victoria – made my research task a lot easier)

  • George Bailley

    Phillip

    Ridiculous indeed. Individual site records are based on actual recorded observations. You are confusing datasets used to establish climate change metrics with datasets used to establish absolute temperature records. [AFAIK]

    George.

  • Quote George Bailley:” Firstly, as you suggest – it is all a guvment conspiracy – and the whole crew (including contracted observers) are in on ripping off the tax payer.”

    The CSIRO lost the “S” long ago when it chose to advocate the consensus: www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/carbon-tax-hit-small-csiro-20111112-1ncvq.html
    As claimed elsewhere, why would the CSIRO need individual offices when they outsource their science to the UN-IPCC and do their science by consensus? Who would need space to think ‘individually’ in that environment?
    Quote: “Conspiracy theory ideation – who would believe it?”
    You forgot to mention ‘big tobacco’ & ‘big oil’.
    Speaking of which, quoting any words from Loony Lew and his cognitive dissonance crew who see conspiracy theories everywhere is surely a joke.

  • Charles

    Possibly what you say is correct George, although if the temperature is continuing to rise past 3:00 pm then I would suspect that there is something else nearby which is radiating the heat back onto the thermometer, as it started to cool down around 2:00 – 2:30 pm on that day as I was out in it.

    If that is the case, then it is a question of poor siting of the recording equipment which is a very common problem with Australian temperature recording. It also took until Friday morning until they posted the new record, 24 hours after they presumably read the maximum thermometer.

    In addition, they posted Albury on that day as 31 C on the 7:00 pm news, so why were they so up to date with Albury, but none of the others?

    I am not sure what you say is so plausible.

  • These are statements of record and are based on the best available science. This includes taking into account any urban heat island effects in towns and cities.

    To take into account UHI in a recorded temperature requires UHI be measured at the point and time the temperature is recorded. As I said, ridiculous. There is no agreement on what constitutes UHI, and no one has ever attempted to measure it at a location and point in time.

  • David Brewer

    To stoke up further dissension, I suggest:

    1. Records without UHI adjustment will tend to generate more all-time hot days.
    2. UHI at individual stations has been estimated – typically 2-3 degrees on annual average, but very variable as Philip implies.
    3. If the BoM actually believes in ACORN (adjusted) data, they should use them for assessing all-time hot days. That would constitute “taking UHI into account” whereas using raw records would not.
    5. The BoM response that they are “taking [UHI] into account” in their “range of climate products and services … including … updates, statements, reports and summaries” is a fudge that fails to answer Warwick’s specific point about flagging UHI when quoting new city heat records. In fact their vagueness on the point may be largely responsible for some lapses in the customary amity and concord that prevails among commenters at this site.

    Seriously, we do pay these BoM people. Couldn’t they just answer our questions instead of wasting time with obfuscatory fluff?

  • George Bailley

    Charles

    So its no longer a guvment conspiracy then. However, you now thing that all maxima should occur before 3pm (actually 2pm cos you’re in daylight saving). So your next theory is that there is a mysterious energy source that is heating the enclosures. And not just Corryong and Albury, its happening all over the bloody country, cos everywhere is recording maxima between 4 and 6pm. Hmmm – which do YOU think is the more pausialbe explanantion?

    BTW Albury reports every thirty minutes – therefore the temperature data is updating on the web page every 30 minutes or so. Corryong reports twice a day as far as I can see. I’d suspect that is why Albury data is updated for the 7pm bulletin, but Corryong has to wait until the thermometer is read the next day, and then entered into whatever system the Bureau use.

    George

  • George Bailley

    Philip and David

    You really don’t get it – do you. If there is a change in an environment at a location, and it gets hotter, then it gets hotter. That is what we’ve done in our cities. How stupid would it be to say its 43.2 today but we think it would only have been 42.6 if we hadn’t built a city here. Next thing you’ll want forecasts to be for what the temperature SHOULD have been if there was no city

    If its a record in a place – then it is a record. People have to live in the environment that we have created.

    If you wish to do climate TREND analysis then UHI has to be taken into account. That is why there is a climate reference network in place designed to do that. You are confusing datasets used to establish climate change metrics with datasets used to establish absolute temperature records.

    George

  • George,

    So you agree measured Australian surface temperatures aren’t evidence of a global warming effect, until we can reliably remove local to regional scale anthropogenic effects?

    My position, incidentally.

  • George Bailey,

    “…How stupid would it be to say its 43.2 today but we think it would only have been 42.6 if we hadn’t built a city here. Next thing you’ll want forecasts to be for what the temperature SHOULD have been if there was no city

    If its a record in a place – then it is a record. People have to live in the environment that we have created.

    If you wish to do climate TREND analysis then UHI has to be taken into account. …”

    What percentage of the earth is covered by cities and other built areas that are used as temperature stations George?!?!?!

  • Anto

    I recall reading in the Climategate emails that in at least one iteration of CRUTEM, Phil Jones said that they took account of UHI not by adjusting the anomalies, but by increasing the error bars. No idea whether this still remains the case, or whether this is the BOM’s methodology.

  • George BAilley

    Philip

    No.

    George.

  • George Bailley

    Kumkat

    The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network (www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/acorn-sat/)? Close to 0%.

    George

  • kuhnkat

    Thank you George.

    Now to drive home my point, if we put all the thermometers in heated houses and increased the number of measurements by a couple of orders of magnitude would we be learning ANYTHING about weather or climate?!?! The problem is we measure temps only in heavily anthropogenically affected areas.

    NASA did some studies and found that UHI could be as much as 15C in some cities. Steven Mosher and similar deniers claim that proves nothing. Their logic capacity is limited by their bias. If a city has a MEASURABLE CURRENT UHI of 8C it did not pop up overnight. It had to develop over time contaminating the instrument record. It is real and doing statistical studies comparing sites with UHI to other sites with UHI, which is virtually ALL sites, means nothing.

    With the worsening economic conditions and lack of growth in many modern cities it is possible that short term trends are NEGATIVE due to this and shows NOTHING ABOUT WEATHER OR CLIMATE!!

    As to records, the fact that we have so FEW records during these heat waves, and we KNOW those are boosted by UHI, DOES tell us something. It tells us that we have NOT gotten warmer or that there are negative feedbacks in the climate/weather system that limits maximums.

  • Yes, Kuhnkat
    Here is a paper by Torok et al which identified UHI in Melbourne, Hobart and number of towns in Victoria www.bom.gov.au/amm/docs/2001/torok.pdf
    The second Author wrote a paper called “Quantification of the Influences of Wind and Cloud on the Nocturnal Urban Heat Island of a Large City” about the same time as the Torok paper and it was published in Journal of Applied Meteorology published by the American Society of Meteorology Feb 2001. Both papers had authors from BOM (before some of the better scientists were muzzled)
    UHI is real and I see it just about everyday with the (outside) temperature gauge of my car. (upto 3 C from semi-rural to a small urban centre (no high rise -nothing over two floors))

  • I agree with Cementafriend.

  • wazsah

    Here is the perfect example of how the BoM classifies the obviously urban affected Canberra site as “non-urban”
    You have to pinch yourself.

    This was addressed with more text in May 2012
    How the Australian Bureau of Meteorology can get vital issues wrong

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