The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 12- Rutherglen (Vic)

Please refer back to my first post for site specifications.

Station:  Rutherglen 82039

Opened: 1913

Daily Temperature data from: November 1912

Data used to adjust Acorn sites at:  —

Location: Co-ordinates  -36.1048  146.5094

Rutherglen map

About 250km north-east of Melbourne

2012 BOM Site Map:

Rutherglen plan

2019 satellite image:

Rutherglen aerial

The screen is the white dot in the red ellipse.

Rutherglen is to all appearances a compliant site.  However……

Rutherglen has been featured many times here, and at Jo Nova’s blog, and at Jennifer Marohasy’s blog, and in newspapers, and this has caused a lot of defensive postings by the BOM.  Search and you’ll find the links.  Rutherglen is part of the ACORN-SAT network, contributing to BOM analysis of Australian climate trends.  One would therefore think the BOM would pay close attention to ensuring that Rutherglen is beyond further reproach.

As part of their response to another issue, the BOM released this Review of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Automatic Weather Stations  which amongst other things has the inspection and maintenance schedule for weather stations.

BOM inspections

The cream of Australian weather stations on which our climate record is based have just one inspection and one maintenance visit per year.  Dr Bill Johnston asks, “Is the maintenance schedule up to the task of minimising bias in temperature readings, especially upper-range bias due to deteriorating albedo and other site conditions?”

What happens between these visits?

A colleague of mine visited Rutherglen last week and took these photographs.

From the dirt road:

Rutherglen road

While the grass is fairly short it has not been “kept trimmed to a few centimetres in height”.

The northern exterior of the screen:

Rutherglen screen outside

Peeling, dull paint and mildew decrease the albedo, so the screen will be heated more by the sun.

The interior of the screen:

Rutherglen screen

In between BOM inspections mud wasps have built a nest on the humidity sensor.  This is an automatic weather station.  Every minute this station transmits data to Melbourne Head Office including temperature at the last second of that minute and highest and lowest one-second temperatures within that minute, plus relative humidity and wind strength.  Depending on the position and size of that wasp nest, data transmitted may or may not be reliable- or complete garbage.

Despite outward appearances (including in Google satellite imagery), this site is non-compliant, so temperatures recorded here are not reliable.

Another FAIL.


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7 Responses to “The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 12- Rutherglen (Vic)”

  1. Bill in Oz Says:

    Ken this reads like something from Gilbert & Sullivan.
    It’s almost funny.
    But not quite as this is actually important.
    This is the first time any of us have actually looked inside a BOM weather station. certainly I have not here at Mt Barker as that could be construed as ‘interference’ on private property.

    But mud wasps are so so common in the rural areas of Australia. I’ve got them nesting outside my back door. They are harmless and never sting anyone.

    But inside a BOM Stevenson screen ?. What impact does this have on the temperature sensors and humidity sensors etc.

    By the way : If you need to get hold of me my contact details are

  2. Graeme No.3 Says:

    This is supposedly one of the best of their sites, except that it doesn’t show warming, so they have to “homogenise” it with sites up to 260 km. away.
    It is obvious that as far as doing their job the BoM couldn’t run a chook raffle in a pub.

  3. Australia's Wacky Weather Stations: Final Summary | kenskingdom Says:

    […] a multi-lane highway, shaded by trees, or in screens that are covered in spider webs, invaded by mud wasps, or used by cattle as a back-scratcher.  The area around the screens can be dusty bare dirt, […]

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