ACORN-SAT 2.0: Queensland: Welcome to Dreamworld

This is the third in a series of posts in which I directly compare the most recent version of Australia’s temperature record, ACORN-SAT 2, with that of the previous version, ACORN-SAT 1.  Daily data are directly downloaded from the Bureau of Meteorology. I do not analyse against raw data (available at Climate Data Online), except for particular examples, as I am interested in how different Acorn 2 is from Acorn 1.  The basis for the new version is in the Research Report.

See my previous posts for Western Australia and the Northern Territory for a general introduction.

The Context – Queensland

Figure 1 is a map of Australia showing all of the Bureau’s ACORN-SAT climate monitoring stations.  Queensland is in the north-east from monsoonal tropics to mountain temperate to savannah and desert.

Figure 1:  Australian ACORN-SAT stations

Qld map

There are 26 Acorn stations in the Queensland BOM database.  Differences between Acorn 1 and Acorn 2 are summarized in the following sections.

Largest temperature differences

In maxima, changes to Acorn 1 daily data ranged from +7.2C at Burketown in 2003 to -5.2C at Georgetown on many occasions, applied to individual daily figures.

Figure 2:  Daily changes in maxima from Acorn 1 to Acorn 2 at Georgetown

Georgetown diffs

Minima adjustments ranged from -9.1C at Thargomindah to +6.3C at Charleville, and there were many other large adjustments at other stations as well.  Most changes were small but there were many still substantial changes, for example at Longreach where there were some very large changes to Acorn 1, with large numbers between -4C and +2C.

Figure 3:  Daily changes in minima from Acorn 1 to Acorn 2 at Longreach:

Longreach diffs

(Remember, these are adjustments to Acorn 1, which was supposed to be “world’s best practice” seven years ago.  How did the Bureau get it so wrong the first time?  Has world’s best practice changed so much in seven years?)

Record temperatures

New record maxima were established at 10 stations.  These were +0.8C higher than the previous record in Acorn 1 at Burketown (previous record 44.7C to 45.5C).

Figure 4:  Three versions of maxima at Burketown December 1934

Burketown max 1934

A new record low temperature was established at Palmerville, way up north in tropical Cape Yorke Peninsula, where the ridiculous Acorn 1 temperature of -2.4C was reduced even further to -3.1C.  Unbelievable- the record low at Charters Towers, 500km south, is 1.1C.  The record low at Rockhampton, 1,000 km south, is -1C.

Figure 5:  Three versions of minima at Palmerville June 1913

Palmerville min 1913

New lows were also established at 10 other stations.

Apparently the adjustments made to raw data in Acorn 1 weren’t big enough.

Quality Control: especially minimum temperatures higher than maximum.

In Acorn 1, 15 out of the 26 stations had at least one example of minimum higher than maximum.  Blair Trewin has “fixed” this problem (which he concedes was “physically unrealistic”) by adjusting temperatures in Acorn 2 so that the maximum and minimum are the same, so that DTR for the day is zero.  In his words:

A procedure was therefore adopted under which, if a day had a negative diurnal range in the adjusted data, the maximum and minimum temperatures were each corrected to the mean of the original adjusted maximum and adjusted minimum, creating no change in the daily mean.

That is how he “corrected” the worst Queensland example in Acorn 1 (minimum 2.8C above maximum at tropical Mackay).  Here is a plot of the raw data and changes made by Acorn 1 and Acorn 2 at Mackay from 25 to 31 August 1953.

Figure 6:  Mackay Aerodrome data 25-31 August 1953

Mackay August 1953

Acorn 1 maxima (brown line) were slightly reduced below Raw (bright green) until 27 August but had a major adjustment on the 28th, far below Raw minima (olive) and Acorn 1 minima (blue).  Result: garbage.  Acorn 2 has made minima (purple) less than Acorn 1.  Acorn 2 maxima (red) are slightly less than Acorn 1 except on the 28th when the maximum has been made the same as minimum.

The problem was caused by far too large adjustments.

The problem has been “fixed” by making more arbitrary adjustments, but large adjustments remain.


Amberley came under scrutiny after Acorn 1 because of a major adjustment to minima to account for a discontinuity in the 1980s.  I compare before and after annual data.

Figure 7:  Amberley Minima

Amberley min annual

There is a discontinuity in the raw data, so the negative trend is probably too steep.  However, the adjustments in Acorn 1 were far too great.  Acorn 2 is a slight improvement: the trend is now +2.11C per 100 years instead of +2.62C.


Barcaldine’s raw data was not supposed to be adjusted in Acorn 1- at least that was claimed in the Table guidance notes of the Table of Adjustments released in 2014.  However, there were some small one-off adjustments to maxima in Acorn 1: +0.1C in 1962, 1995, and 1996, and -0.1C in 2011. However, both maxima and minima have been strongly adjusted in Acorn 2.  Here is Barcaldine’s Tmax:

Figure 8:  Barcaldine Maxima

Barcaldine max annual

That’s a 52% increase in annual trends!


There are no additional stations, so the network is still extremely sparse.

There is a very small amount of additional digitized data.

Burketown, Georgetown, Longreach, Normanton, and Richmond all had large differences in maxima between Acorn 1 and Acorn 2 daily data of over five degrees Celsius.  Charters Towers, Longreach, Normanton, Palmerville, and Thargomindah had greater than five degree differences in minima.

New record maximum and minimum temperatures have been set.  Palmerville’s new recod low is especially preposterous.

The issue of instances of minima being higher than maxima caused by too vigorous adjustments has been “fixed” by arbitrary adjustments.

Amberley’s minima adjustments have been reduced.

Barcaldine’s raw data was not adjusted in Acorn 1, but both maxima and minima have been  adjusted in Acorn 2.

The size of the adjustments only seven years after the “world’s best practice” dataset was launched, is incredible, and demands explanation.

You don’t have to go to the Gold Coast to see Dreamworld- it’s in the Acorn 2 adjustments.

I will be concentrating on another project for a few weeks so may not post for a while, but when I do, next will be South Australia.

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4 Responses to “ACORN-SAT 2.0: Queensland: Welcome to Dreamworld”

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    […] my previous posts for Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia for a general introduction.  An important addition to this general introduction is this paragraph […]

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