Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Retreat from Global Warming Data by Australian Gov Bureau

Article by John O’Sullivan and Val Majkus (via email from John O'Sullivan)

Global warmers in full retreat as Aussie experts admit growing doubts about their own methods as new study shows one third of temperatures not reliable.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) admits it was wrong about urban heating effects as a professional statistical analysis by Andrew Barnham exposes a BOM claim that “since 1960 the mean temperature in Australia has increased by about 0.7 °C”; the BOM assertion has no empirical scientific basis.

Barnham, who spent 8 years working in emerging South Asian economies building high volume transaction processing systems, applied a high-tech statistical technique very different from an earlier well-publicized probe by fellow Aussie, Ken Stewart on his blog, Ken’s Kingdom.

Stewart grabbed headlines in what became known as the Australiagate controversy after his findings were featured on popular science blog, Watts Up With That. Stewart exposed dubious BOM adjustments to temperature data that bore little or no resemblance to actual or raw past temperatures.

Like Stewart, Barnham paid particular attention to BOM’s methodology in addressing what is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI), a proven phenomenon whereby thermometers measuring temperatures in towns and cities become unduly influenced by extra ‘background’ heating from buildings, road surfaces, machinery, etc. It’s in the UHI adjustments that the greatest discrepancies appear to lie.

BOM Errors in the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect 

A chastened BOM is now starting to questions its own UHI adjustments. A recent BOM media release referring to a paper presented at the Australia - New Zealand Climate Forum in Hobart (October 14, 2010) admits it formulated its calculations incorrectly.

BOM concedes that daytime temperatures in Aussie cities are warming more rapidly than those of the surrounding countryside and that this is due to the cities themselves. In effect, the admission undermines all prior claims that such warming is principally due to man-made emissions trumpeted in the similarly discredited “greenhouse gas theory.”

Skeptical researchers have long argued that little or no weighting has properly been ascribed to the UHI phenomenon; this apparent U-turn may signal the demise of the now discredited official adjusted Australian temperature record.

Bureau climate scientist, Belinda Campbell, admits "we've known for a while that city night time temperatures have been warmer because the heat's retained after sunset just that much longer than the countryside, and that city daytime temperatures have been warming too. But what we didn't know was whether city daytime temperatures were also warmer because of the urbanisation or whether it was due to the overall warming of the planet associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect. We can now confidently say that the reason our cities are warmer and warming faster than the surrounding countryside during the day is because of the urbanisation, the fact that all those offices, houses and factories absorb the heat and retain it a little bit longer."

 See the full discussion on BOM’s belated discovery on the excellent WUWT blog.

‘Homogenization’ – that Euphemism for Data Fudge

 In February 2010 John O’Sullivan published an article, ‘Australiagate: NASA Caught in Trick over Aussie Climate Data’  that drew attention to the fact that spuriously warmed Aussie climate data was being trumpeted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With these latest findings Barnham says, “My results raise a number of issues with the quality of the data and supporting analysis provided by BOM.” Readers are encouraged to compare Barnham’s findings published on with those of Stewart.

Barnham is damning about the so-called “artifacts” of BOM’s homogenization process. The process of homogenization is when researchers use their own judgment to subjectively fill gaps where no raw detail is available to complete a temperature data set. 

It is in this gray area that climatologists may have intentionally or unintentionally ramped up the misleading UHI secondary warming effect. Thereby their calculations would show a broader (non-existent) warming trend across the whole of Australia.

Long List of Flaws in Climate Science Methods

In an earlier independent study, Ken Stewart compared BOM’s so-called “High Quality’ (adjusted) temperature data with the raw (unadjusted) data derived from weather stations and found there was little, if anything “high quality” in the official figures. Stewart identified the following failings:

·         Data had been subjectively and manually adjusted
·         The methodology used is not uniformly followed, or else is not as described
·         Urban sites, sites with poor comparative data, and sites with short records have been included
·         Large quantities of data are not available, and have been filled in with estimates
·         The adjustments are not equally positive and negative, and have produced a major impact on the Australian temperature record
·         The adjustments produce a trend in mean temperatures that is roughly a quarter of a degree Celsius greater than the raw data does
·         The warming bias in the temperature trend is over 40%, and in the anomaly trend is 50%
·         The trend published by BOM is 66% greater than that of the raw data.

Like Barnham Stewart analyzed the “homogenizations” in the urban records and what shocked him was that the urban records were adjusted to create a 70% warming trend not borne out by the raw data.

Deliberate Fraud or Plain Incompetence?

Barnham identifies that up to 40% of the ‘homogenized’ data is pure ‘guesswork’ and adds, “Of the remaining 60%-80% what precise component can be directly attributed to global human emissions remains uncertain.” However, more outspoken critics suggest foul play because the entire set of adjusted temperatures all point one way- upwards.

The public first became aware of gross incompetence or intentional climate fraud from the leaked Climategate emails (November 2009). Those revelations showed that international climate researchers were long aware of the shocking state of Australia’s temperature data. Most pertinent of those emails was found in the ‘documents/HARRY_READ_ME.txt’ files.

One government scientist ‘Harry’ Harris was so exasperated he admitted:
“getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data, so many new stations have been introduced, so many false references, so many changes that aren't documented... “

‘Harry’ then later adds, “I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was.”

Climategate Devil Hidden in the Details

We can see ‘Harry’s’ fears were entirely well founded when we study BOM’s ‘The State of the Climate Report’ (at page 1). Here we see BOM make the following unsupportable claim:

Since 1960 the mean temperature in Australia has increased by about 0.7 °C. The long term trend in temperature is clear but there is still substantial year to year variability of about plus/minus 0.5 °C. Some areas have experienced a warming of 1.5 to 2 ºC over the last 50 years.’

Refuting those numbers Ken Stewart says, ‘The raw trend is about 0.4C (actually slightly less than 0.4C) - that’s a full 0.2C less than the non-urban raw trend using the same comparison; the adjusted trend is about 0.78C: and that’s a warming bias of 95%. (The 70% figure is based on averaging all the changes in trends- from the table of 34 towns; 95% is from plotting the average temperature for all sites each year, then calculating the trend from this average.  It’s a way of comparing at the large scale.  It removes much of the error.)  Stewart concludes:

·         The raw data and the adjusted data both show much less warming than the non-urban sites.
·         Many of the sites show distinct cooling, especially in southeast Australia.
·         The data has been subjectively and manually adjusted.
·         The methodology used is not uniformly followed, or else is not as described.
·         Sites with poor comparative data have been included.
·         Large quantities of data are not available, and have been filled in with estimates.
·         The adjustments are not equally positive and negative, and have produced a major impact on the temperature record of many of the sites.
·         The adjustments produce a trend in mean temperatures that is between roughly 0.3 degree Celsius and 0.38 degree Celsius per 100 years greater than the raw data does.
·         The warming bias in the temperature trend is from 60% to 95% depending on the comparison method.

Stewart’s full analysis can be found on his ‘Kenskingdom’ website (starting with Queensland).

Affirming Stewart’s stance Des Moore  (‘Climate Inquiry Now’) writing on the State of the Climate Report comments, “no evidence is adduced to support a clear long term trend and no qualifications are made to the 0.7 increase since 1960.

Moore then details his criticism by adding,

As to the latter, the increase of about 0.6 of a degree in 1976-77 from the Great Pacific Climate Shift is generally acknowledged as a naturally induced change. And any claim that the 0.7 increase reflects increased CO2 emissions would have to explain why published Australian temperatures show no increase before 1960 (from 1910) whereas global temperatures and emissions do; and related to that whether there is a warmist bias in the “adjustments” made to raw temperature data to produce what the Bureau claims to be “high quality” results.

Further Questionable ‘Facts’ of the BOM

Another 2010 report ‘Climate Change in Queensland’ published by The Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence (at page 24 referring to figures sourced from BOM) says,

The average surface temperature in Queensland has risen by almost 0.9 °C since early last century ... ...  The decade 2000–2009 was the hottest on record for Queensland, 0.58 °C higher than the 1961–1990 average.”

The above statement is wrong when the raw data is scrutinized. Stewart says for Queensland, the average surface temperature has risen only 0.6 degrees since 1910.  Stewart found that 2000-2009 was 0.42 degrees warmer than 1961-1990; 2000 and 2001 were both below the 30-year mean.  The hottest year was 2005 but 1973, 1980 and 1988 were nearly as hot and 1915 and 1926 were as hot as 2002 and 2003. 

Earlier Aussie Temperatures Shunted Down, Later Numbers Ramped Up

Barnham and Stewart have both shown that the raw data demonstrates there is no distinct warming trend in Australia. Both their sets of analyses do point to the official adjusted temperatures published for Australia being too low in the early part of last century so that the resultant warming “trend” is overstated.

Like a ‘see-saw’ the official record appears to arbitrarily push down older temperatures to make the climate appear cooler, but then ramps up recent readings to create the impression of a distinct warming trend that doesn’t otherwise exist.

The official report from ‘The South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative’ based on research carried out by CSIRO and BOM also released this year (at page 22) states ‘the temperature of southeastern Australia (as over most of Australia) has been rising in recent decades. The warmest year since 1910 was 2007 and every year since 1996 has been warmer than the 1961-1990 mean.’

However, Stewart correctly points out:

For Australia as a whole, 2009 was warmer than 2007; 1988 was as hot as 2005 and 2007; every year since 1996 was indeed hotter than the 30 year mean; however the raw data for Queensland and Australia as a whole shows the mean temperature since 1910 has increased only 0.6 C.’

Stewart says for South Eastern Australia 2007 was the warmest but 2004 was below the 30 year mean; however the warming bias in South Eastern Australia High Quality data is 75% over 100 years; the raw trend is only 0.4C, High Quality adjusted is 0.7 (over 100 years).  There's no acceleration looking at the raw data - the steepest warming appears to be 1940s –1980
 Referring to Barnham’s findings Stewart says,

“We both get a warming bias in High Quality data- Andrew's is 0.72 raw to 0.94 adjusted against mine 0.6 to 0.85.  I'm willing to bet his is better.  He still finds a warming bias of 30%.  A neutral or cooling result would have been inconsistent with my findings.”

 Oz to Follow Kiwis and Abandon Pretense of Bona Fide Climate Record?

Because of BOM’s dubious subjectivity in their High Quality ‘adjusted’ data, what is being found time and again is that official results consistently show a warming bias regardless of the trends shown by the raw temperatures, even when the raw temperatures indicate cooling!
Independent studies now emphatically disprove the BOM claim that there has been warming of 0.1C degrees per decade. Des Moore in his Quadrant article says, “What is needed is a published paper by the BOM explaining the basis on which adjustments have been made to the raw data in Australia.”
It seems reasonable to agree with his argument that it is entirely right and proper that BOM should now publish a paper explaining the basis on which adjustments have been made to the raw data in Australia.
Stewart, Barnham and other critics are demanding a full scientific enquiry, independent of BOM and an end to BOM’s so-called “High Quality” adjustments based on urban myth methodology.

Failing that readers may recall from last month, it was only when Kiwi skeptics pursued the strident legal tactic of taking the government to court that New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) disowned all notion of an “official” national temperature record.

CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, ‘State of the Climate’ (2010), (accessed online: November 9, 2010)

Eschenbach, W., ‘The Smoking Gun At Darwin Zero,’ (December 8, 2009), (accessed online: November 9, 2010)

Moore, D., ‘Climate inquiry now,’ (March 30,2010),, (accessed online: November 9, 2010)

Nova, J., ‘Australia’s High Quality Data: 12-year-sites used for “long term” trends,’ (accessed: November 9, 2010)

O’Sullivan, J., ‘Australiagate: Now NASA caught in trick over Aussie climate data,’ (February 10, 2010), (accessed online: November 9, 2010)

South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative, ‘Climate variability and change in south-eastern Australia,(2010), (accessed online: November 9, 2010)

The Queensland Climate Change Centre of ExcellenceClimate Change in Queensland’ (accessed online: November 9, 2010)

Val Majkus is a fully qualified expert in Australian law. John O’Sullivan is a science writer and international legal analyst specializing in anti-corruption.

1 comment:

  1. Hello.

    I appreciate in your Comment Policy & Spiel Climate section that "This site publishes comments containing solely scientific opinions" and applaud.

    Unfortunately, this article seems not be subject to the same high standards. For example, I fail to see how "Global warmers in full retreat" is a scientific opinion but an editorialization meant to sensationalize and inflame.

    To be totally even handed, I would argue that the same standards need to be applied to both the articles and the comments about them. I feel certain that these particular authors, what with their legal and ethical expertise and the corresponding philosophical tenets they need observe, would agree.