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.
 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.
 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.
 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.