After two years, still dodging the issue

Followers of this blog will know that in 2010 I completed an analysis of the Bureau of Meteorology’s “High Quality” annual temperature record.  When comparing the raw data from the 100 non-urban sites with the adjusted data, I found a warming bias of about 40%.  The 34 urban sites showed even greater warming bias.

Since then I have been trying to get an explanation from the BOM for the reasons for the adjustments that have created this so called High Quality climate record (which is still used by the BOM and the CSIRO for their climate analyses and their advice to the Commonwealth and State governments about climate change.)

After several emails were ignored, I wrote letters, first to the Director of Meteorology and then to Minister Tony Burke.  I received a very unsatisfactory reply in February 2011, with the promise of further information including journal articles supporting the adjustments and any operational adjustments “later this year”.

In June 2011, they sent further information, supposedly explaining adjustments at 9 sites.  This provided no new information at all, and no journal articles.

In March 2012, I wrote again to the Director of Meteorology, with a copy to Minister Tony Burke, with a reminder of the undertaking to provide copies of the journal articles.

Having still received no reply, I wrote again in June 2012 requesting an immediate reply.  As I was about to post this letter, I received from the BOM a copy of a scientific paper on ACORN-SAT.  This was completely irrelevant, having nothing to do with the HQ series which was the subject of my many requests.  I added a further request to my letter:

Can you guarantee that the daily temperature minima and maxima as published at Climate Data Online is correctly digitised, and transcribed exactly from the original station records (apart from occasional typographical errors, and with the only change being conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius), with no adjustments?

Since June I have been too busy with personal matters to give this any attention at all.  Imagine my surprise when last week I received this letter from Senator Don Farrell.

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

02 Aug 2012

Mr Ken Stewart


Dear Mr Stewart

I refer to your letter of 20 March 2012 to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP, concerning a request for journal papers relating to the Australian homogenised temperature record.  Your letter was forwarded to me as the matter you raised falls within my portfolio responsibilities.

I understand that the Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) has completed the initial stage of a planned re-analysis of the Australian homogenised temperature record.  This project, known as The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network- Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) has been underway since 2009, with the Bureau recently publishing a package of data and other material on its public website.

Through the website the Bureau provides details and material relating to peer review of the ACORN-SAT project.  I am advised that the review panel were satisfied overall with the methodologies used in the generation of the ACORN-SAT dataset.  I am also advised that the Bureau has provided you with a copy of a recently published peer reviewed scientific paper on ACORN-SAT.

The Bureau of Meteorology intends to publish a series of papers on ACORN-SAT in the international peer reviewed literature.  Some of this work has already been published as part of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) Technical Report Series.  This series is subject to the normal peer review process within CAWCR.  Some of this material is already available from the Bureau’s ACORN-SAT website and should assist you with your enquiries.  The Bureau of Meteorology is also intending to release computer code used for the homogenisation of ACORN-SAT on the web by the end of August.  This was one of the recommendations from the independent peer review.

I would also like to take this opportunity to advise you that Dr Ayers resigned as Director of the Bureau of Meteorology on 20 February 2012 due to ill health.  Thank you for writing on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Senator Don Farrell


Some comments:

  • That’s four and a half months it has taken for a reply to my 20 March letter.  I could have walked to Melbourne and back in that time.
  • After 21 months, I have still not received a substantive reply to my original request for an explanation for the temperature adjustments.
  • Call me naive, but I thought Commonwealth public servants would have similar timelines for Ministerials to their State counterparts.  When I was a principal with Education Queensland, the expected timeline for providing information needed for a Ministerial response was same-day: in other words, drop everything else.
  • The BOM is still dodging the issue.  I am well aware of ACORN-SAT, having pointed out many shortcomings in a number of the Acorn records.  Scientific papers and data referring to the ACORN-SAT daily dataset, while interesting, are irrelevant to my request for information about adjustments in the High Quality Annual dataset, which is still being used for climate analyses.
  • When I want information about ACORN-SAT, I will ask for it.  Until then, I am still waiting for a satisfactory explanation for the adjustments in the HQ record.
  • The length of time taken, and the lack of substantive explanation, lead me to conclude that the climate specialists in the Bureau of Meteorology are being deliberately obstructive, and are doing their best not to reply to questions that imply that their adjustments to the temperature record are manual, subjective, biased, and riddled with errors.

The Australian temperature record is a crock.


14 Responses to “After two years, still dodging the issue”

  1. black duck Says:

    Sorry Ken. Your chances of getting any semblance of a reasonable reply are nil. Obfuscation and procrastination are trademark tools of this organisation. It can only get worse if the courts rule in favour of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

  2. Ian George Says:

    I checked Lismore (Centre St) raw temperatures with the HQ data temps and found that many of the higher annual temps have been adjusted down by some 0.7C yet cooler temps have been untouched, especially prior to 1950. As the station was situated in parkland, there would seem no reason for these adjustments.
    The station was closed in 2003 and resited to the Lismore Airport.
    We really do need these concerns to be correctly addressed.

  3. anthonyvioli Says:

    Is there a FOIA that can be envoked in Australia?

    Now you can see why Jo Nova and Co are interetsed in pursuing legal avenue against the BOM. FWIW is there any way to compile a dataset using rural or pristine sites?

  4. Marcus Says:

    Hi, Out of curiousity, have you done any work on the BEST dataset? I have been looking at the Australian subsection of the monthly global record and, frankly, can’t make much sense of it. I understand that the BEST record was developed from unadjusted temp data provided by the various BOMs around the world.

    I can occasionally match a BEST set with the published BOM record (eg TIBOOBURRA BOM is just about an average of the records for TIBOOBURRA, TIBOOBURRA AIRPORT,TIBOOBURRA POST OFF, TIBOOBURRA POST OFFICE published in BEST).

    Most of the time I can’t get a match.

    More curious is the apparent lack of seasonal variation in the BEST Australian record. On average, summer, winter, spring and autumn are all about the same temperature.

    I would love to hear from someone who may have experienced similar difficulties.

  5. kenskingdom Says:

    No, I have not bothered with BEST, others have. I have no idea about lack of seasonal variation, unless they are working with temperature anomalies, but I really don’t know.

  6. Marcus Says:

    Thanks for the reply.

    BEST publishes average actual temperatures not anomalies. These are supposedly compiled from raw data supplied by the BOMs. Just as an example, for all the Australian stations in the high latitudes (Hobart, CAPE BRUNY LIGHTHOU, etc) average summer temp is 11.0 C and average winter temp is 11.4. Doesn’t make sense.

    Further north, for an individual site, SYDNEY REGIONAL OFF, surely a high quality station, BEST publishes 150 years of complete 12 monthly average records. 77 of these years have winter being warmer than summer. Again doesn’t make sense. I live in Sydney. Winters are colder than summers.

    Supposedly this is the latest dataset to prove that AGW is real. It looks like nonsense to me. I wondered if anyone else has actually had a look at the data.

  7. kenskingdom Says:

    Well that is absolutely amazing! Have you considered checking it further, and writing up your findings? I know a lot of people would be very interested. I doubt if I will have time to look at this in the near future however I could publish anything worthwhile here and forward it on to some other smart people who could do a lot with it.

  8. Marcus Says:

    LoL.,Or perhaps I have made a silly mistake. I went back to the BEST website. They have some quiet accessible Aus Region data. Their Sydney analysis is at

    I think this is an aggregate of sites from Sydney through the Gong to Nowra. So, this is a different dataset to the one I looked at but in 170 years from 1841-2010 Winter was warmer than summer 69 times. Something is wrong and I would love to discuss how to proceed.

  9. kenskingdom Says:

    I will reply to you directly by email.


  10. Ian Says:

    I was checking the monthly September summary for Qld on the BOM site and saw that the averaged minimum temperature was 0.14C above average.
    When I then looked at the individual minimum temps for each w/station I found many below average.
    After doing a more thorough analysis I found that the av min temp would actual be below average, not above, based on the w/stations’ data.
    Is there something I am missing and can explain this ‘anomaly’?

  11. Ian Says:

    Sorry. Forgot to add the link.

    • kenskingdom Says:

      Hi Ian
      Don’t be too surprised by what you’re told! Across the 10 sites in CQ and SQ I monitor, the 30 day average of Tmin is still below the long term mean.

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