Case Studies in “World’s Best Practice” 2: Kerang

Introduction:  This series of posts is intended to show that despite Greg Hunt’s loyalty, all is not right at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Please refer to my first post, Case Studies in “World’s Best Practice” 1:  Wilsons Promontory, for a complete description of the Bureau’s claims, the problems, data sources, and my methods.

Here are some further examples of “World’s Best Practice”.

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Kerang is on the Murray River, about 250 km from Melbourne.  The story of temperature adjustments here illustrates much that is wrong with the Bureau: misinformation, incompetence, lack of transparency, and unscientific behaviour.  This post took longer than expected because the more I looked, the more problems I found.

Note: Both maxima and minima at Kerang are warming. I have no comment on whether the adjustments are justified.  I am only interested in the methods used.

Problem 1: Missing data

The Bureau’s claim that they provide raw data as well as adjusted data is a half-truth, and completely misleading- some would say, dishonest.

The Bureau has adjusted Kerang maxima at 01/06/1957 and 01/01/1922, and minima at 18/01/2000 and 01/08/1932, and provides daily adjusted temperatures from 1/1/1910.

Unfortunately, there are NO daily raw data for Kerang before 1/1/1962.

Where are 52 years of daily temperatures?  How is it possible to have adjusted digitised data but no raw digitised data for half of the record?

Another issue brought to my attention is that there is an enormous amount of data missing even from Acorn: a large proportion every year before 1960, especially from 1932 to 1949, when 100 to 180 days are missing every year.

null days kerang

This lack of transparency makes it impossible to replicate and analyse the adjustments at Kerang.  If it can’t be replicated, with all data made available, it isn’t science.

Problem 2: Nonsense temperatures

There is only one instance when Acorn shows that the minimum temperature, the lowest temperature for the 24 hour period, was higher than the maximum temperature.

min max kerang

That dot at ‘0.6’ shows that on 2nd February 1950 the coldest temperature was 0.6C hotter than the hottest temperature!  Unfortunately it is impossible to compare with the missing raw data.

Any organisation that can’t perform a basic quality control test on its product is incompetent, as is any Review Panel or Technical Advisory Forum that endorses it.

Problem 3: Artificial warming 

Even though UHI makes Melbourne unsuitable for use in climate analysis, the Bureau still uses it to adjust the early data at Kerang!

Problem 4:  Neighbours

One of the neighbours used to adjust Kerang is Broken Hill, 477 km away, and another is Snowtown in South Australia, 565 km away.

Problem 5:  Results of adjustment

Comparison of differences between Kerang and its neighbours, pre- and post adjustment, using annual temperatures.

Firstly, minima, from the 2000 adjustment: Kerang minus neighbours, annual anomalies from 1985-2014.

Kerang comp 2000 min

The adjustment of -0.4C applied to years before 2000 is too great.  The slope of the mean difference from the neighbours is much too steep.

Next, for the 1932 adjustment (annual anomalies from 1917-1946 means):

Kerang comp 1932 min

Again, the adjustment is too great, as they make the differences from neighbours much greater.

The same pattern follows with maxima.  The 1957 adjustment (anomalies from 1944-1973):

Kerang comp 1957 max

And the 1922 adjustment (anomalies from 1910-1938):

Kerang comp 1922 max

In both cases Kerang is cooling compared with neighbours, but the adjustments reverse this and make Kerang compare less well with its neighbours.

Problem 6:  Undocumented adjustments

The Bureau lists only two adjustments to minima at Kerang:  -0.4 on 18/01/2000 and -0.61 on 01/08/1932.  This is not the whole story, as a plot of the actual annualised adjustments shows:

Kerang adjustments min

If the adjustments were as stated, the difference between adjusted and raw temperatures would be indicated by the blue lines.  The actual adjustments are shown by the brown lines.

The queried adjustments are not mentioned in the Bureau’s list here.

Similarly, there are two documented adjustments to maxima: -0.71 on 01/06/1957 and +0.33 on 01/01/1922.  These are visible in the next graph, but note the extra adjustment before 1950, and a series of adjustments from 1948 back to 1925.

Kerang adjustments max

I understand why these are needed: to adjust for the steadily increasing difference between Kerang and neighbours in this period.  But why was this not documented?

Thus we see at Kerang further misinformation and lack of transparency through failure to supply digitised raw data to allow replication; incompetence through not using basic checks for data integrity, resulting in publication of the “world’s best practice” temperature dataset with minimum temperatures higher than maximum; use of UHI contaminated sites when making adjustments; use of distant neighbours from different climate regimes; over-zealous adjustments resulting in worse comparison with neighbours than before; and undocumented adjustments.

Half-truths, incompetence, lack of transparency, and unscientific practices are evident at many other sites.  A proper investigation into the Bureau is overdue.

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2 Responses to “Case Studies in “World’s Best Practice” 2: Kerang”

  1. DaveR Says:

    Again, the Kerang database is a mess and the BOMs “homogenization” process is a disgrace and a ticking time-bomb for this government department.

    I say again: “Give Ken Stewart all the raw data for the Kerang station, and for any other surrounding station Ken determines is relevant to correcting the Kerang record, and have Ken produce a corrected and documented temperature record”.

    And Ken, before you say you are not the equal of any at the BOM, your analysis and systematic approach is already far more rigorous and honest than anything coming from our highly paid BOM employees.

  2. kenskingdom Says:

    Thank you again for your confidence. I just do what I can.

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