ACORN-SAT 2.0: Tasmania- May the Farce be with you

This is the fifth 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.  The Bureau has published a new station catalogue with more detailed information, the adjustment summary for each station, plus lists of comparative stations for adjustments and all comparison stations for each site, with explanations of adjustment terminology.  Well worth a look.

See 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 on the ACORN-SAT home page:

The purpose of updating datasets like ACORN-SAT is principally to incorporate data that has been recorded since the last analysis was released, as well as historical paper records that have been recently digitised. ACORN-SAT version 2 also incorporates the findings and recommendations of the Technical Advisory Forum, applies the latest scientific research and understanding and, where applicable, introduces new methodologies. The overall aim of the update to ACORN-SAT is to provide improved estimates of historical changes in climate.

The Context – Tasmania

Figure 1 is a map of Australia showing all of the Bureau’s ACORN-SAT climate monitoring stations.  Tasmania is an island state with a cool marine climate.

Figure 1:  Australian ACORN-SAT stations

Tas map

There are seven Acorn stations in the Tasmanian 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 +5.4 ℃ at Larapuna (Eddystone Point) to -7.3 ℃ in 1946 at Butlers Gorge applied to individual daily figures.

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

ButlersGorge max adj

Minima adjustments ranged from -9.7 ℃ to +11.3 ℃ at Butlers Gorge on individual days but with many days adjusted by -2℃ or greater.   Most changes were small but numerous, for example at Launceston where the changes to Acorn 1 ranged between -1 ℃ and +2 ℃ for many years.

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

Launceston min 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 Butlers Gorge, Cape Bruny Lighthouse, Larapuna (Eddystone Point), and Low Head.

Figure 4:  Three versions of maximum at Low Head 3 February 1912

LowHd record max

New record low temperatures were established at all stations except Butlers Gorge.  Low Head’s minima was reduced by 0.7 ℃ to -2.9 ℃.

Figure 5:  Three versions of minima at Low Head July 1944

LowHd record min

Acorn version 1 had warmed the minima by 0.6 ℃, but version 2 cools version 1 by 0.7 ℃, making it 0.1 ℃ cooler than the raw figure.  Strange things happen in the past!

Quality Control: especially minimum temperatures higher than maximum.

In Acorn 1, five out of the seven stations had at least one example of minimum higher than maximum- including 37 times at Butlers Gorge and 39 times at Low Head (again), where the worst example was minimum 2.1 ℃ above maximum in December 1926.  Blair Trewin claims he 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 not how he “corrected” the worst Tasmanian example in Acorn 1 (minimum 2.1 ℃ above maximum at Low Head).  Here is a plot of the raw data and changes made by Acorn 1 and Acorn 2 at Low Head in December 1926.

Figure 6:  Low Head temperatures December 1926


Acorn 1 maxima (orange line) were reduced too far below Raw (brown). Acorn 1 minima (grey) were too far above raw minima (light blue).  Result: garbage. Acorn 2 has changed maxima (dark red) back above raw, and reduced minima (dark blue) almost to the same value as raw, except on the 17th when it has been made the same as the Acorn 2 maximum.  This is not the “mean of the original adjusted maximum and adjusted minimum”.

The problem was caused by far too large adjustments to maxima, and was fixed by arbitrarily making the minimum on the 17th the same as the maximum, unusually higher than other minima adjustments.

Figure 7 shows the effect Acorn tinkering adjustments have on annual temperature trends at Butlers Gorge.

Figure 7:  Trends in Butlers Gorge minima 1944-2017

ButlersGorge min ann trends

Acorn 1 had this series cooling very slightly at -0.12 ℃ per 100 years but Acorn 2 has reversed the Acorn 1 trend to +0.54 ℃ per 100 years.  (This is restored to what the “raw” trend showed, from a messy record with huge data gaps.)


There are no additional stations, so Tasmania has only seven stations.

There is no more additional digitized data, except for the period 2012 to 2017.

Large differences between Acorn 1 and Acorn 2 daily data of several degrees Celsius are found at Larapuna and Butlers Gorge.

New record maxima were set at Butlers Gorge, Cape Bruny, Larapuna, and Low Head.  New record low temperatures were established at all stations except Butlers Gorge.

The issue of instances of minima being higher than maxima caused by too vigorous adjustments (37 times at Butlers Gorge and 39 times at Low Head has been “fixed” by arbitrary adjustments.

Excessive adjustments have resulted in Butler Gorge’s Acorn 1 minima trend of -0.12℃ per 100 years being changed to +0.54 ℃ 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.  The explanation that Acorn Version 2 “applies the latest scientific research and understanding and, where applicable, introduces new methodologies”, is beyond belief, as nearly every dataset so far examined is vastly different from Acorn Version 1.  This not incremental improvement.

In the ACORN-SAT FAQs, in the answer to:

“Why should the adjustments change, weren’t they correct the first time?”

the Bureau spokesman says:

“… The important question is not which one (version) represents the absolute truth, but whether those estimates produce wildly different results, and whether the range of estimates provides a reasonable guide to what has actually occurred.”

By their own words they have condemned themselves- “wildly different results”  is exactly what has been produced.


What a farce.

I have so far looked at 76 of the 112 Acorn stations.  Next up: Victoria.

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3 Responses to “ACORN-SAT 2.0: Tasmania- May the Farce be with you”

  1. ACORN-SAT 2.0: Victoria- A comedy of errors | kenskingdom Says:

    […] A Reality Check on Global Warming « ACORN-SAT 2.0: Tasmania- May the Farce be with you […]

  2. ACORN-SAT 2.0: New South Wales- What a mess | kenskingdom Says:

    […] my previous posts for Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland,  South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria for a general introduction.  It is important to highlight this paragraph on the […]

  3. David Brewer Says:

    I love the adjustments at Low Head. The measuring equipment is at the end of a promontory in a conservation area, almost surrounded by the sea. See picture here:

    The case for making any adjustments at a place like this would be weak unless the equipment could be shown to consistently over- or under-read. The idea of adjusting maximum temperatures from more than 100 years ago, first downwards by two degrees, and then back up again by nearly 3 degrees, is ludicrous.

    Data from non-urban, littoral sites like Low Head should be used as the basis for assessing urban warming at other sites, not mangled with wacky, computer-generated adjustments. Doesn’t the Bureau ever go over what ACORN spits out? The results here fail every smell test you can imagine.

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