Better Late Than Never- BOM Releases Adjustment Details

On Monday, quietly and without any announcement, a new tab appeared on the Bureau’s ACORN-SAT webpage.

adj tab

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:

adj tab 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.




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17 Responses to “Better Late Than Never- BOM Releases Adjustment Details”

  1. blackduck19 Says:

    Brilliant Ken. You deserve just
    as much thanks as Mr Lloyd.

  2. DaveR Says:

    If the BOM thinks that secretly releasing the vital adjustment data 21/2 years late will head off the coming investigation they are sadly mistaken.

    There are severe penalties for public servants deliberately falsifying data, publishing false data and for destroying or deleting primary data.

    The BOM needs to be investigated right to the top.

    But i forgot- all of their work is peer reviewed by the likes of the UK Met Office, and NZ’s NIWA. Strange these groups are all connected through the leaked UEA CRU emails.

  3. blackduck19 Says:

    Why are the algorithms and functions not simply published instead of requiring a Wiley Online Library subscription?

  4. Ian George Says:

    Just checked the Aust mean temp anomaly on their ‘Adjustments’ site.
    Prior to the 1970s, when there are differences between both data sets, all ACORN temps have been reduced (relative to AWAP).
    From the 1990s, ACORN temps have been increased compared to AWAP (when there are differences).
    Cool the past, warm the present.

  5. Mikky Says:

    One thing that strikes me as a likely problem is the large number of “statistical” shifts (i.e. detected by an algorithm) that are very small, often around 0.32C. Are algorithms really so good that they can say those shifts are not just changes in weather patterns?

    I would have set a threshold (maybe around 0.5C), automatically rule out any shift lower than the threshold.

  6. siliggy Says:

    I hope they get to explain how the record from Tumut has been counted in all this. Stevenson screen installed 1906.

  7. siliggy Says:

    One day we may even see the record from the 1913 Stevenson screen at Olinda taken seriously too.

  8. prcgoard Says:

    While not having read every word about this saga, several questions come to mind when the BoM or others attempt the homogenisation process:
    1. For temperature minima the topography of a site may affect the value measured. A flat area without trees may easily have a frost while a nearby sloping site may not. At 1.2 m above the ground there is still likely to be a difference. With an outside temperature sensor in one’s car variations of several degrees can be seen over even a short distance of travel, so adjusting values for places hundreds of kilometers apart is meaningless.
    2. Daylight Saving time shifts may also confuse those adjusting data, so comparisons across borders of the southern states to WA, NT and Qld may have an hour’s difference. Daylight saving was also introduced for a number of summers during World War II.
    3. In one of the maps showing station locations,
    ‘Urban’ site are indicated as not used, yet Canberra was not marked. On a couple of occasions their urban area has been 2 C higher than the surrounding countryside on my vehicle temperature gauge, entering from the east and traveling south a couple hours later on between seasons day.

    • siliggy Says:

      Your time zone and daylight savings points are good ones. Even within the same time zone but a long way East to West will see the sunrise and sunset at different times. Length of day vs night will get more extreme to the South.

    • kenskingdom Says:

      You’re right about Canberra too- and lots of other locations in my opinion.

  9. Anto Says:

    Without CO2 warming theory and the associated massive funding intiatives, none of this would have happened. Someone once said (can’t remember who, for the moment) that movements don’t die – people do.

    I don’t think that’s quite correct. People retire and those who come after blame the failings on their predecessors. Happens in politics, business, sports and science.

    At the end of the day, no one will be sacked, no one will go to jail. The hundreds of billions of wasted dollars spent on this fallacy will just be written off, and brushed under the carpet.

    That’s not to say that the fight against ideology-masquerading-as-science is not a good and worthy fight worth waging. Just that every generation is called upon to do so against different causes. Be it geocentricity, creationism, Malthusianism, or other assorted pseudo-science.

    I’m sure that most of us are true “evironmentalists”, in the sense that we would far prefer to see all of the appalling waste of money in the Western world on useless bureaucracy, regulation and sub-optimal technology, spent on what we, ourselves, did to improve our environmental outcomes. Eg. removing coal and wood heating from individual homes and shifting it to coal-fired power plants located outside of the city; taking simple and inexpensive precautions to ensure that workers aren’t exposed to toxic manufacturing fumes and by-products; disposing of effluent from humans and industry in a way which doesn’t unduly affect people or the environment.

    All of these things would be laudable goals, useful ways to spend our environmental footprint, and would massively raise the reputation of “greens” in the eyes of the average citizen. However, they don’t do any of this. Instead, they spend their lives obsessing over a harmless, essential trace element in our environment, without which life as we know it would not exist, and which – if it was slightly less prevalent – would make our current levels of crop productivity unsustainable.

    Throughout history, the fight against ignorance has always been difficult, and always fought by the minority. For that very reason, it’s worth fighting for. History remembers those who were right and forgets or castigates those who were wrong.

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