Archive for January, 2014

The Rhythm of Life has a Powerful Beat

January 30, 2014

Here’s a fresh look at global temperatures as calculated by the University of Alabama, Huntsville- the UAH dataset– from satellite measurements of the Temperature of the Lower Troposphere (TLT).

Warwick Hughes suggests that there has been a drift in the measurements since about 2005, such that calculated temperatures are too high, and we await a proposed correction.  However, we can live with that.

Here are plots of TLT for various regions of the globe.

Fig.1:  12 month running means of Global anomalies and Tropical anomalies (the region of the Earth between 20 degrees North and 20 South, which gets the majority of the solar radiation striking the Earth).Glob - Tropics

The two sets move in lock step, with a much larger variation in the Tropics than the world as a whole.

What causes these large variations?

Fig. 2: Global and Tropical anomalies with the SOI inverted, and scaled by a factor of 30.Glob - Tropics v SOI

SOI is the acronym for the Southern Oscillation Index, calculated from pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin, and is a reasonably good indicator of El Nino or La Nina conditions.  The ENSO cycle (El Nino Southern Oscillation) originates in the tropical Pacific.  El Nino brings warmer temperatures to the world; La Nina is associated with cooler temperatures.  I have inverted the SOI to show this relationship, and scaled it down by 30 to fit on the graph.

Note how the 12 month mean of SOI precedes the temperature data.  Here’s a plot with the SOI advanced 5 months.

Fig.3:  SOI advancedGlob - Tropics v SOI adv'd

While the peaks (El Ninos) match very closely, I have marked periods following the major eruptions of El Chichon and Mt Pinatubo, which cooled temperatures for several years.  I also suggest that the atmospheric dust and cooler surfaces upset the ENSO cycle as traced by the SOI.  Note also that temperatures in the 2010-2011 La Nina appear higher than expected.

Fig.4: SOI advanced with Tropic and Australian land TLT.Australia

Note how Australian temperatures appear to fluctuate about as much as the Tropics (we’re one third north of 20S after all).  Australian temperatures are influenced by events in the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean as well as the Pacific, so the match isn’t exact.

I will look at Australian data specifically in another post.

Finally, here’s a way to check on that other “finger print” of the enhanced greenhouse effect, as espoused by Dr Karl Braganza: land areas are expected to warm faster than oceans, supposedly showing that greenhouse gases, not ocean currents, drive global warming.

Fig. 5: Global Land and Ocean v oceans

Well of course that proves it- land areas are indeed warming faster than oceans.

However, have a closer look at the timing of the switches between warming and cooling.  If well mixed greenhouse gases are warming both land and oceans, it would be expected that oceans, with higher specific heat and enormous thermal inertia, would take longer to warm.  The land response would be almost immediate.  Oceans would not be expected to warm before the land, and if anything might show a slight lag.

Fig.6: close up of the 1998 Super El v oceans 1997-99

The oceans change phase about one month before the land.  They definitely do not lag behind.

And what causes these rapid changes?

Fig.7: Land, ocean, and the SOI advanced 5 v oceans v soi


The world’s temperatures respond to the powerful beat of ENSO events- as well as large explosive volcanic




North Australian Temperatures

January 24, 2014

For those of you think- “Gee it’s been hot with all these heat waves lately- it must be even worse up north”.

Here’s a plot of maximum temperatures across Northern Australia (the area north of 26 degrees south)  since 1985- the 29 years to the end of the hottest year on record.

tmax n aust 85-13

That trend is actually (very slightly) negative.

And yes of course it’s cherry picked- but 2014 will have to be a hotter than average year to make the 30 year trend positive- a 2014 anomaly of +0.35C gives a 30 year trend of: zero.  (The  mean of 1985-2013 maxima is +0.28C, the median is +0.34C.)

I guess the BOM is not hoping for a La Nina.

Data from Acorn.

Australian DTR – the Regional Context

January 12, 2014

I’ve been banging on about DTR in Australia for a while, showing that as an indicator of greenhouse warming, decreasing DTR trend has been lacking from Australian records for some time, such that the trend is flat since 1947.


DTR is Diurnal Temperature Range, the difference between Minimum and Maximum temperature daily.  Several previous posts discuss this.  Greenhouse gases slow back radiation, and thus night time temperatures are expected to be warmer than normal, and minima are expected to increase faster than maxima, so DTR should decrease.

Fig.1: Australian DTR anomalies, 1947 – 2013dtr1947-2013

I’ll now show what is happening on a regional basis.  This map shows the main meteorological regions of Australia.

Fig. 2: The regions.summer1213  regions

The main difference is between Northern Australia and Southern Australia.

Fig.3:  Northern Australian DTR anomalies, 1971 – 2013dtr nth oz 71-2013

43 years of flat trend in DTR!

Fig.4: Southern Australian DTR anomalies, 1938 – 2013dtr sth oz

76 years!

Fig. 5:  South-Western Australian DTR anomalies, 1941 – 2013dtr sw aus

73 years.  But the real eye opener is South Eastern Australia:

Fig. 6: South-Eastern Australian DTR anomalies, 1934 – 2013dtr se aus

That’s right, in South-East Australia, the DTR trend has been flat for 80 years!

Decreasing DTR as a “fingerprint” of greenhouse warming was championed by the 2004 paper by Dr Karl Braganza,

“Diurnal temperature range as an index of global climate change during the twentieth century” Karl Braganza, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia; David J. Karoly, School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA; J. M. Arblaster, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado, USA

Braganza et. al. analysed global DTR from 1951 to 2000, finding a significant decline of ~0.4 degrees C.  If we compare Australian data for the same period we find this is corroborated.

Fig. 7:  Australian DTR anomalies 1951 – 2000dtr oz 51-2000

The observed decrease over this period is ~0.35  – 0.4 C.

With the benefit of an extra 13 years of data, we can check whether this continues to be the case.

Fig. 8:  Australian DTR anomalies 1951 – 2013dtr oz 51-2013

What a difference a few years make.

Open Letter from Jennifer Marohasy

January 10, 2014

Jennifer Marohasy has written to Dr David Jones, head of climate monitoring and predictions at the Bureau of Meteorology, which she has posted as an Open Letter at her blog.

She asked me to review her draft and I made a few small suggestions.

I wish her good luck with Dr Jones.  I am persona non grata with him apparently and I had to write to the Minister before getting a very unsatisfactory reply, many months later, from BOM- Jones refused to reply.  I had to follow up with the Minister again, with a copy to Greg Hunt as Opposition spokesman, before getting some requested information, and an apology.  I analysed this information here.  Promised Journal articles did not arrive at all, and after writing again to the Minister, I received a completely irrelevant paper on ACORN-SAT.  Another letter brought another reply from the next Minister, but still no substantive information I had requested.  This was in August 2012.  My first request for a response from Dr Jones was in July 2010, and my first letter to the Director of Meteorology was in October 2010.  I gave up after this.

I hope Dr Marohasy has more success than I did.


Here is her letter:

Open Letter Requesting Verification of 2013 Temperature Record

Posted by jennifer, January 9th, 2014 – under Information.

Dr David Jones
Manager of Climate Monitoring and Predictions
Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Dear Dr Jones

Re: Request Verification of 2013 Temperature Record

I am writing to request information be made publicly available to myself and others so we may have the opportunity to verify the claim made by you on behalf of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology that 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia. In particular it is claimed that the average temperature was 1.20°C above the long-term average of 21.8°C, breaking the previous record set in 2005 by 0.17°C.

This claim is being extensively quoted, including in a report authored by Professor Will Steffen of the Climate Council, where he calls for the Australian government to commit to further deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because of this “record-breaking year”. Accurate climate records are not only of political interest, but are also of importance to those of us who rely on historical temperature data for research purposes. For example, the skill of the medium-term rainfall forecasts detailed in my recent peer-reviewed publications with John Abbot, have been influenced by the reliability of the historical temperature data that we inputted. From a very practical perspective, businesses will adjust their plans and operations based on climate data, and ordinary Australians worry and plan for the future based on anticipated climate trends.

Further, I note that you said in a radio interview on January 3, 2014, following your “hottest year on record” press release that, “We know every place across Australia is getting hotter, and very similarly almost every place on this planet. So, you know, we know it is getting hotter and we know it will continue to get hotter. It’s a reality, and something we will be living with for the rest of this century.”

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is the custodian of an extensive data network and over a long period now, questions have been asked about the legitimacy of the methodology used to make adjustments to the raw data in the development of the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperatures (ACORN-SAT). Furthermore, questions have been asked about why particular stations that are subject to bias through the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect continue to be included in ACORN-SAT. In particular why is ‘Melbourne Regional Office’, a station at the corner of Victoria Parade and Latrobe Street (Melbourne CBD) still included in the ACORN-SAT network when this station is known to have become sheltered from previously cooling southerly winds following construction of office towers.

I understand ACORN-SAT was used to calculate the statistics indicating 2013 was the hottest year on record, but it is unclear specifically which stations from this network were used and how data may have been further adjusted in the development of the record breaking temperature anomaly.

Rockhampton-based blogger Ken Stewart, for example, has suggested that in the calculation of the annual average temperature for Australia, the eight sites acknowledged as having anomalous warming due to the UHI would not have been included. Is this the case? I had assumed that the Bureau used all 112 ACORN-SAT locations, and thus that the record hot temperature anomaly announced by you, actually includes a UHI bias.

Radio presenter Michael Smith has given some publicity to claims made by blogger Samuel Gordon-Stewart that the Bureau has overestimated the average Australian temperature by about 4 degrees. Mr Gordon-Stewart calculated average temperatures and temperature anomalies from data from all the weather stations listed by Weatherzone.

Furthermore, given many ACORN-SAT stations have continuous temperature records extending back to the mid-late 1800s and many stations were fitted with Stevenson screens by 1900, why does the Bureau only use data after 1909, all the while claiming that 2013 is the hottest year on record? Indeed it is well documented that the 1890s and early 1900s, years corresponding to the Federation drought, were exceptionally hot.

In summary, given the importance of the historical temperature record, and the claim that 2013 is the hottest year on record, could you please provide details concerning:
1. The specific stations used to calculate this statistic;
2. The specific databases and time intervals used for each of these stations;
3. The history of the use of Stevenson screens at each of these station;
4. How the yearly average temperature is defined; and
5. Clarify what if any interpolation, area weighting, and/or adjustments for UHI bias, may have been applied to the data in the calculation of the annual mean values.

Kind regards

Dr Jennifer Marohasy

No Excess Winter Warming for 103 Years!

January 9, 2014

Greenhouse Myth Buster No. 2

Another key indicator of greenhouse warming, a pattern of temperature change “uniquely associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect” according to Dr Braganza, is greater warming in winter compared with summer.

Not in Australia.

This is a graph of summer annual means minus winter annual means for the years 1910 – 2012, straight from BOM’s time series data.


No winter increase over summer in 103 years.  This summer- we find out in early March- will have to be less than +0.7 C above average to make  the trend ever so slightly negative (to 5 decimal places).

But then how will we get another “Angry Summer”?

No Evidence of Greenhouse Warming for 67 Years!

January 8, 2014

The release of 2013 data by the BOM has provided me with plenty to work on.  Various commentators are busily alarming people by claiming that the hottest year on record is an indication that global warming due to the enhanced greenhouse effect is already impacting Australia.  What is most disappointing is that the BOM has done nothing to report the truth: that while Australia has definitely been warming, and breaking records, the data show no evidence of greenhouse warming.

One of the key indicators of warming uniquely associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect is night time temperatures (minima) increasing faster than daytime temperatures (maxima).  The difference between the two is called the Diurnal Temperature Range, or DTR.  So, decreasing DTR would be evidence of greenhouse warming.

Here is Australian DTR since 1947:dtr1947-2013

That’s dead flat or slightly rising for 67 years!

I couldn’t believe it either, and double checked.  There’s no mistake- DTR shows no evidence of greenhouse warming in Australia, with a flat trend for 67 years.

Still No Evidence of Greenhouse Warming!

January 8, 2014

This morning I noticed at Jennifer Marohasy’s post

a comment from “Luke” (who else) objecting to my use of 2nd order polynomials in yesterday’s post.  Strictly I should stick to linear trends for a 35 year timescale, and use polynomials only for much longer periods.   Therefore, here is a plot of Australian annual minima and maxima for the 104 years from 1910 to 2013, using data straight from the BOM.minvmax poly2

Note that the red 2nd polynomial curve (maxima) shows a fairly flat trend until the 1950s, with an increasing rise since then. (Yes! It’s getting hotter!)

Note how the blue (minima ) curve also gradually rises over the years and apparently continues to do so.

However I have circled the graphs in the 1980s and the last few years.   I have blown this up so you can see more clearly what is happening.minvmax blownup

Since the mid 1980s there is a divergence in trends.  Daytime temperatures are rising faster than night time temperatures.

This is a problem because increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gases should be slowing back radiation, which should be evident in night time temperatures increasing faster.

Something else is happening.


The Hottest Year, but NOT due to Greenhouse Warming

January 7, 2014

ACORN-SAT- the gift that keeps on giving!

Unfortunately for doomsayers, the fact that 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia is no evidence for the effects of greenhouse warming.  In fact, it is the very opposite.

Why?  Any sort of warming will eventually produce the hottest year on record.  But warming due to the enhanced greenhouse effect is quite special.  Warming due to greenhouse gases is evidenced by

greater warming of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures”

amongst other things, according to Dr Karl Braganza (

I discussed this in April  last year.  Now, with the updated data for 2013, it’s time for a reality check to see whether there is now evidence of greenhouse warming in Australia (a region as large as Antarctica, Greenland, the USA, or Europe, and supposed to be especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming.)

Once again I am using data straight from the Bureau’s website.

Fig. 1: Monthly maxima and minima with 12 month smoothing, December 1978 – December 2013, from

max v min linear

For the past 35 years, there is much LESS warming of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures.  And the divergence is increasing:

Fig 2: fitted with a 2nd order polynomialmax v min poly

Sorry, but this is not evidence of greenhouse warming over the period of the satellite era, when greenhouse gases have been increasing rapidly.  It is merely evidence of warming.

Was 2013 the Hottest Year on Record? Update!

January 6, 2014

Update:  Warwick Hughes has reminded me of his post on 5 December at where he shows a distinct drift in UAH data compared with RSS, and in later posts he confirms this in southern Africa and the USA.  Warwick says:

"I have checked UAH against CRUT4 and GHCN CAMS for all Australia and it
looks like there was a drift in UAH 2005-2006.

Until UAH resolves the issue, I think their ranking of Australian hot
years is not worth repeating."

That may help explain the large divergence in recent years.  

I will leave this post as is, with the caveat that it is based on available UAH and Acorn data.


On Friday, 2 January, the BOM released its Climate Statement claiming 2013 as the hottest year on record.

The UAH dataset for lower troposphere temperatures has also been just released.

I have compared BOM monthly data with UAH by converting the BOM anomalies to the same reference period as UAH (1981-2010).

Here is the result:  UAH vs BOM 1978-2013 (12 month running means)uah v bom

It is plain to see that in the satellite era, Australian surface temperatures (as calculated by the BOM) reached a record last year.

For the 12 month periods to December, UAH agrees that 2013 was the hottest, just ahead of 1998 and 2009.

According to UAH, the 12 months period to October 2013 was just edged out by the 12 months to June 2010.

So, the BOM is right in saying 2013 was the hottest on their 104 year (and very much adjusted) record.

While the two datasets match reasonably well in most years, especially 1996-1999, they diverge markedly in recent extreme years.  It appears that the BOM area averaging algorithm accentuates extremes, probably because of the scarcity of observing sites in the remote inland, where warming and cooling are much greater.  Alice Springs, for example, being hundreds of kilometres from the nearest neighbouring site, contributes 7 – 10% of the national warming signal.

As well, the satellites’ remote sensors do not necessarily match the atmospheric conditions at ground level, depending on different seasonal conditions.  However, to quote Dr John Christy, “the temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT) more accurately represents what the bulk atmosphere is doing – which is the quantity that is most directly related to greenhouse gas impacts.”

So- if you are interested in the weather, how hot it is locally, consult the BOM- the old Weather Bureau.  If you are interested in whether the climate is changing due to greenhouses gases, consult the satellite data.

And yes, the weather has been hot (and still is where I live).

What did Chris Turney expect?

January 5, 2014

Professor Turney did not have to take an unsuitable ship full of “climate tourists” to Antarctica.  He could have just checked the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.

As the Aurora Australis will be calling at Casey base to deliver delayed supplies before returning the hapless Turney and the rest of the expedition to Australia, I thought I’d help with what conditions to expect at Casey.  I used official ACORN-SAT monthly data to 2011 and Climate Data Online daily temperatures since then.

Here are the actual monthly maximum temperatures at Casey for 2013:Casey max 2013

As you can see, temperatures were below the mean (calculated from 1970-1990) for most of the year, and the monthly mean maximum temperatures were above freezing (the straight blue line) only in January and December.  Monthly mean minimum temperatures never get above freezing.   (The highest daily minimum in 2013 was +1.7 C on 15 January.  The warmest minima this summer were on 29 and 30 December.  It got to +0.3.)

And has there been recent warming?

This graph is of maximum and minimum anomalies from the 1970-1990 means, smoothed with running 12 month means:Casey 1970-2013

Australia has three bases on the Antarctic coast, Casey, Davis, and Mawson.  Davis and Mawson show some slight warming:Davis 1958-2013Mawson 1958-2013

The mean anomalies of all three sites:Antarctic means

show a linear trend of about  +0.15 C- but the rise (such as it is)  is by no means steady.

To show how insignificant the warming is in Antarctica, here are annual mean anomalies compared with those of Australia:Antarctic-Oz comp

Remember, one of the so-called “fingerprints of greenhouse warming” is that warming should be greater towards the poles.

Professor Turney could have saved himself a lot of time, trouble, and embarrassment.