The BoM is a national disgrace

In Canberra we are on pretty strict water restrictions, water bills are sky-high yet the BoM can not with reasonable accuracy record rainfall data at a station in our catchments.

Below are extracts from many emails over months sent from a concerned citizen to the BoM (with BoM replies) re faulty recording of rain data at Mount Ginini, on the border of the ACT ~40km SW of Canberra as the Crow flies. I could drive there easily within a coupla hours in an old car with ground clearance.
I mention this because on 27 Oct the BoM pleads “remoteness of the site” as an issue. Truly pathetic.
Just remember this series of emails address data problems at ONE site and a site fairly close to a city, in a city water catchment. It makes me wonder about data quality from the thousands of more remote sites.
If you go to this BoM page, then run your mouse down the middle part of the western ACT border, the station name should pop up. You can see daily rain data for stations all over Australia on maps in this series.
First emails at the bottom of the page – so best start down there. I have tried to take out names.

Citizen to BoM 6 Nov
This must be so frustrating and a total waste of time and I appreciate your efforts. At least you can rest assured that you have strong community support for the excellent service provided via hourly weather info, weather radar, satellite images, historical data etc. Any suggestion that the data are not recorded impartially is bound to conjure up conspiracy theories etc.
Regards
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
BoM to Citizen 5 Nov
I have requested rainfall to be input for the following dates and will look further into other omitted data at Mt Ginini.
At this stage I am not sure how long it will take to be reflected on the web pages.
Oct 2009

1st 0mm

8th 2.8mm

9th 0.2mm

10th 0mm

11th 0mm

17th 0mm

19th 0mm

20th 0mm

21st 0mm

24th 0mm

28th 0.2mm

29th 9.8mm

30th 3.8mm

31st 11.0mm

Nov 2009

1st 27.2mm

2nd 2.0mm

4th 0.4mm

We in NSW (including Xxxxx Xxxxx) no longer have the access to enter such rainfall as it’s controlled from our head office in Melbourne.

There are plans to upgrade the communications tower at Mt Ginini this summer which is likely to prevent the missing data from occurring in the first instance.

In the mean time I will take responsibility for monitoring the observations and getting corrections made where possible.

Thanks for your patience and feel free to contact me if you have any further issues.

Regards,

Sssss Sssss

TO4 Observer Inspector
N.S.W Regional Observations Section – Sydney
Bureau of Meteorology
Post: PO Box 413 Darlinghurst N.S.W 1300
Phone: (02) 9296 1552
Fax: (02) 9296 1648
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Citizen to BoM 5 Nov
Yyyyy– the situation with Mt Ginini data transfer is getting worse rather than improving. Attached is the rainfall data summary I have taken off the information for 9am for each day provided daily on the BoM website. As I have mentioned in many emails, there are four days still not recorded in early October (8th – 11th included) and, more recently another four days (28th – 31st October). The monthly total provided by BoM summary is 84.6 mm; the actual recorded by BoM is 112.4 mm. And when we look at November, the only data recorded is for 3rd November; data for 1st, 2nd and 4th are not yet recorded; including the important 27.2 mm on November 1st.

I just can’t understand why the data for this station have been consistently omitted from monthly summaries for the four years I have been looking at the data. In the past xxxxxxxxs has arranged to have the omissions that I note corrected but now there just seems to a block and the monthly summaries are now, quite frankly, a joke. Why do we have a BoM only to have data that is of negative value – i.e. look OK but in practice are incorrect? I understand the BoM has had severe funding restrictions and if this is the outcome there should be a public outcry. We, the paying public, rely on the integrity of BoM data and highly value the data made available.

I would really like to know the underlying problem. AS a side issue I firmly believe that zero reading should be recorded as such and blanks only recorded when data transmission errors occur and totally preclude an estimate based on say readings 1 hour previously (e.g use of 8am data if 9am data unavailable).
Looking forward to a response
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Citisen to BoM 27 Oct
Thanks Sssss – yes the communication problem with Ginini will probably always be there but if I can read the data off the website, the data were transmitted and therefore can at least be manually transferred. If there are no data transmitted for a particular time there is often a chance to pick up a number that is close enough (such as happened on 7th October when the 8am figure was used).

Appreciate your help in resolving.
Regards
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
BoM to Citizen 27 Oct
Hi Ccccc,
I have been looking into this and it is still a problem but will be corrected.

There has been a communications problem at Mt Ginini intermittently preventing observations from being received.

Our techs have looked at it once already but the problem persists so we still have an action on the station to fix the fault.

The communications problem is difficult to solve due to the remoteness of the site.

In the meantime we need to manually update the data which I am arranging and will let you know when the missing 8th to 11th Oct rainfall is entered.
Cheers,

Ssssss Ppppppp

TO4 Observer Inspector
N.S.W Regional Observations Section – Sydney
Bureau of Meteorology
Post: PO Box 413 Darlinghurst N.S.W 1300
Phone: (02) 9296 1552
Fax: (02) 9296 1648
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Citizen back to BoM 19th Oct.
Yyyyy – thanks very much for that – the most recent data have gone in almost immediately which is excellent. There still remains a four day gap (3 of the original 7 missing bits of data have now been entered). Could you check on those? Attached and highlighted in yellow.
Regards
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
BoM to Citizen 19 Oct
Thank you for your feedback and interest.
I have an officer looking into the issues at Mt Ginini.
Regards
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Citizen persevering with BoM on 15 Oct
I noticed that some of the missing Mt Ginini rainfall data have now been put up on the monthly summary for October. There are still four days (8th to 11th when no data have been entered – see sheet I sent yesterday. Could these be updated? Is there an ongoing process that allows data to be updated consistently?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Citizen to BoM 14 Oct 09
Thanks xxxx – will contact yyyyy – data are transmitted OK 95% of time as data can be found on the website and, even in the 5% of cases where 9am readings are not transmitted, a recent reading often fills in the gap – data just fails to make it on to the summary.

yyyy the rainfall data for the consecutive seven days that haven’t yet made it onto the monthly summary are highlighted on the spreadsheet.
Regards
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
BoM to Citizen re 13 Oct mail
Apparently there has been an ongoing intermittent comms link with router at Mt Ginini, however, the maintenance of this station is not my responsibility. All I can to in Climate Section is extract a few rainfalls from another database. Therefore I have forwarded your email to our Regional Observations Manager,xxxx xxxxx for his attention. Any communication regarding Mt Ginini’s operation should be directed to him since he is in charge of the team of technicians who carry out field maintenance on all our weather stations.
Regards,
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
Citizen to BoM 13 October
There still seems to be an issue with Mt. Ginini. I have highlighted the days where no information has been entered. Surely there is a mechanism to check before new data are entered. Excluding the rainfall data for seven consecutive days gives a very different picture of the nature of the events in October. The incomplete reporting for Mt. Ginini has been going on for years and leads to a misleading view of events with rainfall always recorded as below actual – had last month’s figures not been corrected the wettest day of the month would have been omitted. The only hard one in this group is 7th Oct – the 9am data did not transfer but the 8 am figure was OK and could reasonably be accepted, even if slightly low (5.4 mm is better than blank).

It would be really appreciated if the system could be investigated to reveal why this pattern of non-reporting occurs; it should logically be possible to take the data (as I do) from the dataset and record it in the monthly summary on a consistent basis.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I’ve asked our National Climate Centre to update the Mt Ginini rainfall in August and September. This takes a few days before the weblink is updated. The problem lies with intermittent communication with the router.
Missing data:
30 Aug 32.6 mm (total for August 103.8 mm)
1 Sep 2.6 mm
5 Sep 0.2 mm
This problem may exist for a short while until the technicians work out the cause.
Regards,
NSW Climate Services Centre
Bureau of Meteorology
Ph 02 9296 1555
Fax 02 9296 1567
PO Box 413
Darlinghurst NSW 1300
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Citizen asking about August 2009 data
I noticed that the monthly data for Mt Ginini are now (apparently) complete for August. I do recall around 30 mm on 30th August (same day Canberra had around 7.4 mm) but there is no mention of this event on the August summary – this would be the largest fall for the month. I don’t remember seeing any breaks in the actual rainfall data on a daily basis. Could you have someone manually check the data and would it be possible to have an inbuilt check that the datasets included in the monthly summaries are as accurate as the data recorded as their seems little point in collecting long-term weather data if the data are incorrectly recorded and the results are subsequently biased?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The 24 hr rain to 9am on 1 Dec at Mt Ginini was 7.2mm and to 9am 2 Dec was 9.0mm. It has been included as a 2 day total on the website.
Regards,
XXXX
NSW Climate Services Centre
Bureau of Meteorology
Ph 02 9296 1555
Fax 02 9296 1567
PO Box 413
Darlinghurst NSW 1300
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
From concerned citizen
I have been interested to note that 1/12/2007 data for Mt. Ginini has never been entered into the Monthly summary. This date was the highest rainfall recorded for Canberra Airport. Could you get the appropriate person to have a look and add any data for that day?
Regards

5 comments to The BoM is a national disgrace

  • Tony Hansen

    Had these monthly data (since corrected?) already been given the tick of approval by BOM quality control?
    Just what does the BOM quality (control/assurance) tick really mean?
    I have seen some rather suprising ‘gaps’ in the old BOM rainfall data that have been given the tick.

  • IanP

    I keep an eye on the local rainfall radar and note rainfall in Sydney’s Warragamba Dam (www.iliveinsydney.com/water/sydney_dam_levels/). This is reported by the Mittagong station which is approximately central to the Warragamba dam catchment area (www.resetit.com.au/weather/rain.asp).

    I regularly note that no rainfall is recorded by this station despite the weather radar indications that rain is falling at Mittagong. You may note that Mittagong recorded NO rainfall during October and this is clearly not the case. Also, the dam website records 33.4mm of rainfall on the 16th November compared with the rain gauge site which records only 18.6mm for the month to date. – which is true? Are they different Mittagong sites? If they are not the same site then why are the differences so large? And why do they use these ambiguous rainfall figures to represent such an obviously important water storage area?

    I wonder how many other errors occur in the records and suspect that they mostly under report rainfall statistics. I suspect that it would be more common to under-report rainfall measurements rather than over report them.

  • Lindsay

    IanP – Maybe this is a bigger problem than I thought. The Geelong Airport AWS regularly under-reports rainfall. I know this because Geelong Weather Services has 4 rainfall recorders within a few km of the AWS and the discrepancies do not seem to be due to any topographical or urban factors. The problem is ongoing and seems to be related to times of strong winds. I have contacted the BoM about this but nothing has been done yet. In the meantime, if you want a reliable rainfall figure for urban Geelong, you should either use GWS figures at
    www.geelongweatherservices.com
    or add around 5-10% to BoM records.

  • WSH

    The Australian Weather News site is useful for checking daily rain anywhere in Australia.
    Click on a map region – takes you to current month – then up top you can choose a month in last 12. Once you start cross checking you will find some stations with many discrepancies. How important this is, I do not know.
    But I do know if you check monthly rain at any site using this BoM page, you will often find stations that have very bad data in the last decade, compared to complete data for early decades. See my Deterioration in BoM rainfall data this decade
    Why is this ? – How has such a rich nation lost the ability to reliably measure such a simple and vital factor as rainfall.

  • […] The BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) today has come under increased attack as its revealed (yet again, but this time by the unfolding of Climategate) the sorry state of its climate data. The code commented on as ‘false’ and ‘a bloody mess’  by climategate BOM says “It was unlikely to have come directly from the bureau’s centre because unchecked, raw data was rarely requested for climate analysis“. Hmmm, unusual – normally scientists want the raw data without all the artificial BOM adjustments so they CAN analysis the data. I would say a lot of scientists would be curious as to whether BOM also didnt ‘hide the decline‘. Like the American stations the Australian stations seem a mess, Anthony Watts at Surface Stations has been auditing the American Stations and what he has found isnt pretty. Warwick Hughes comments on BOM problems here. The BOM is a national disgrace! […]

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