The Wacky World of Weather Stations: How To Check For Yourself

Monday 07/10/2019

Thanks to the Bureau of Meteorology’s very handy webpages, it is a fairly straightforward process to check how well their weather stations meet specifications set out in their Observation Specification 2013.1 “GUIDELINES FOR THE SITING AND EXPOSURE OF METEOROLOGICAL INSTRUMENTS AND OBSERVING FACILITIES” and  “Meteorological Observations and Reports Instrument Siting Requirements”    (2018).

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specifications set out in these documents so you know what to look out for.

This is what I do.  I will use Sydney Observatory Hill as an example.

Go to the BOM Home Page.

HomePage

Hold your mouse over the state of your choice, in this case NSW.

Select “All NSW Observations”.

SelectNSW

Scroll through the forecast districts and stations.  In Sydney Metropolitan, click on your station (Sydney Observatory Hill).

SelectSydney

This opens the latest 72 hours of  half hourly observations, which are interesting, but all you want is the Station ID Number: 066062.

SeeSydney

Now open a new tab in your browser and go the BOM Home Page again.  Now scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “Climate Data Online”.

SelectCDO

In CDO, at Option 1, click on the down arrow and select “Temperature”.

SelectTemp

Now at Option 3 (Get the data), enter the station number (066062).

SelectCDO number

This immediately opens to daily maximum temperature, and that’s what we want: daily temperature records.  But I’m only interested in the Station details bar.

The station details bar tells you when the station opened, amongst other things, and at the extreme right is a tiny map of Australia with the word “Details”.  Click on the map.

SelectDetails

This opens Site Information.  Scroll down to the bottom and click on basic site summary.

SelectSitesummary

Voila!  This is a pdf document with Metadata about the site.  If you are lucky, the information will be up to date.

Metadatapdf

Scroll down several pages until you come to the site plans showing Instrument Location and Surrounding Features.  This is where you find how well the station complies with specifications.   Note the range ring sizes- this will help estimate distances on the plan.

Sydneysiteplan

There should be a little picture of a screen not too far from the centre of the range rings- that’s where the thermometers or temperature probes are housed.

There should be several pages of plans from previous inspections which reveal how the site has changed over time.

But now go back to the top of the pdf.   Note the Latitude and Longitude.  Copy these into your favourite mapping application (e.g Google Earth or Google Maps).  I usually enlarge the view to make it easy to copy.

SydneyLatLong

Zoom in as much as possible in the satellite map to compare with the plan and see what else is nearby- often BOM plans leave out significant features like buildings, roads, runways, and the like.

Now list the good and the bad about the site- does it meet specifications?

I have bookmarked the important pages to save time.

(You could alternatively look at weather stations in your area of interest.  In that case, go to CDO Option 2 and enter the name of your town, then select the station you want from the list below.)

Have fun.

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15 Responses to “The Wacky World of Weather Stations: How To Check For Yourself”

  1. chaamjamal Says:

    Very interesting post about the BOM online data. The missing user manual. Thanks.

  2. Bill In Oz Says:

    Ken thanks for that ! It’s excellent. Even I learned quite a few new aspects of the whole ‘investigation’ process. Especially the section about finding observations by state.. Had no thought of doing that !

    Thanks again !

  3. Bill In Oz Says:

    Ken I just found out something quite interesting. Blair Trewin of the BOM wrote a paper about homogenisation back in 2012.
    “A daily homogenized temperature data set for Australia”
    Link : https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.3530

    in it he writes : “This data set contains data from 112 locations across Australia, and extends from 1910 to the present, with 60 locations having data for the full post‐1910 period.”

    It’s worth repeating that last phrase : : “with 60 locations having data for the full post‐1910 period.”

    So the climate for the entire continent of Australia (since 1910 ) has been ‘determined’ by the temperature data from just 60 BOM stations……After homogenising it with data from another 52 BOM stations. which started after 1910…

    This is wacky BS science

    Why the bugger is the BOM playing around with this gibberish ?

    Sack Blair Trewin ! He’s an idiot !

    • kenskingdom Says:

      That was Acorn Version 1. We now have Acorn Vers. 2, which is completely different, with of course increased temperature trends and using 112 stations, some of which have changed, and with some extra data, and the same dodgy homogenisation process. But it’s World’s Best Practice, doncha know.

      Click to access BRR-032.pdf

      • Bill In Oz Says:

        But ACORN version 2 is still using those same 60 stations that go back to 1910..After all it can’t invent new data at more stations for the period after 1910 ? Or can it ?

  4. William in Oz Says:

    Ken, I’ve just been doing a check to see if your directions for doing this ourselves still works.

    Step 1 no longer works. I cannot select “All SA Observations” by holding the mouse of it.

    I was forced to do a search instead : “All SA Observations”.
    The I could look at the list of operating stations here in SA.

    It seems that the BOM is determined to hamper the process.

  5. The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 198- Munglinup West (WA) | kenskingdom Says:

    […] Please refer back to my first post for site specifications and to No. 92- Logan City for 2018 specifications.  If you wish to check on this (or any) site for yourself, go to my post on how to check for yourself. […]

  6. The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 203- Wagin (WA) | kenskingdom Says:

    […] Please refer back to my first post for site specifications and to No. 92- Logan City for 2018 specifications.  If you wish to check on this (or any) site for yourself, go to my post on how to check for yourself. […]

  7. The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 214- Merredin (WA) | kenskingdom Says:

    […] Please refer back to my first post for site specifications and to No. 92- Logan City for 2018 specifications.  If you wish to check on this (or any) site for yourself, go to my post on how to check for yourself. […]

  8. The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 225- Kadina (SA) | kenskingdom Says:

    […] Please refer back to my first post for site specifications and to No. 92- Logan City for 2018 specifications.  If you wish to check on this (or any) site for yourself, go to my post on how to check for yourself. […]

  9. The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 279- Strahan (Tas) | kenskingdom Says:

    […] Please refer back to my first post for site specifications and to No. 92- Logan City for 2018 specifications.  If you wish to check on this (or any) site for yourself, go to my post on how to check for yourself. […]

  10. The Wacky World of Weather Stations: No. 327- Lake Grace (WA) | kenskingdom Says:

    […] Please refer back to my first post for site specifications and to No. 92- Logan City for 2018 specifications.  If you wish to check on this (or any) site for yourself, go to my post on how to check for yourself. […]

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

    […] process I used is outlined  in my post “How to check for yourself”.  I also made use of information and photographs supplied by colleagues with local […]

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