On Monday, quietly and without any announcement, a new tab appeared on the Bureau’s ACORN-SAT webpage.
This “Adjustments” tab opens to a page explaining why homogenisation is necessary, supposedly showing how the adjustments don’t make much difference to the mean temperatures, and how Australia really is warming because everyone agrees. More on this later. So how do we get to see the actual adjustments for each site? Tucked away under the first graph is a tiny link:
Click on that and a 27 page PDF file opens, listing every Acorn station, dates and reasons for adjustments, and most importantly, a list of reference stations used for comparison. (You have to go to Climate Data Online to find the station names, their distance away, site details, and their raw data.)
Finally it will be possible to check the methods and results using the correct comparison stations- until now we could only guess.
Back in September, 2011 the Independent Peer Review Panel made a series of recommendations, including that
“C1. A list of adjustments made as a result of the process of homogenisation should be assembled, maintained and made publicly available, along with the adjusted temperature series. Such a list will need to include the rationale for each adjustment.”
The Bureau responded on 15 February 2012, just before the release of Acorn:
“Agreed. The Bureau will provide information for all station adjustments (as transfer functions in tabular format), cumulative adjustments at the station level, the date of detected inhomogeneities and all supporting metadata that is practical. This will be provided in digital form. Summaries of the adjustments will be prepared and made available to the public.”
That was two and a half years ago. What took so long? Why was it not publicly available from the start? Perhaps it is just a co-incidence that the long awaited information was released shortly after a series of articles by Graham Lloyd appeared in The Australian, pointing out some of the apparent discrepancies between raw and adjusted data. Graham Lloyd deserves our heartfelt thanks.
The Bureau of Meteorology has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The Bureau is having trouble coming to terms with this new era of transparency and accountability, an era in which decisions are held up to public scrutiny and need to be defensible.
I trust we won’t have to wait another two and a half years for the other information promised, such as “sufficient station metadata to allow independent replication of homogeneity analyses” and “computer codes… algorithms… and protocols”, “the statistical uncertainty values associated with calculating Australian national temperature trends” and “error bounds or confidence intervals along the time series”
The final recommendation of the Review Panel, and undertaking by the Bureau:
“E6. The Review Panel recommends that the Bureau assembles and maintains for publication a thorough list of initiatives it has taken to improve transparency, public accessibility and comprehensibility of the ACORN-SAT data-set.
Agreed. The Bureau will provide such information on the Bureau website by March 2012.”
I must have missed that.