More Questionable Adjustments- Cape Moreton

Here’s another Acorn station with interesting adjustments- Cape Moreton (40043) minimum temperatures.

Cape Moreton Lighthouse is on the north-eastern tip of Moreton Island, 65 km north-east of Brisbane.  It is not compliant with siting specifications. 

Figure 1 is the adjustment summary shown by the Bureau in its Station Catalogue.

Figure 1:  Adjustment summary for Cape Moreton

Two points to note:  The Bureau has TWO adjustments applied to the same date- 1/01/1946; and there are four comparative stations used to make these adjustments at this Acorn station.

Figure 2 shows the neighbours the BOM used for comparison. 

Figure 2:  Google Maps image showing Cape Moreton and its neighbours

There are many neighbouring stations the Bureau could have used for comparison, but the Bureau chose those with the “best correlation” during the comparison period (the late 1940s):  Brisbane Regional Office 65km away, and probably affected by Urban Heat Island effect; Yamba, also coastal but 267km south; Dalby Post Office on the Darling Downs 220km west; and Miles Post Office 330km west.

Figure 3 shows the annual average minima for these weather stations.

Figure 3:  Annual minima, Cape Moreton and neighbours

UHI at Brisbane is visible as the plot line rises faster than the others after 1950.

The next figure shows Acorn’s adjustments have increased the rate of warming from +1.2 degrees Celsius per 100 years to more than +1.5 C.

Figure 4:  Cape Moreton Minima

Figure 5 shows the difference between the original raw record and Acorn.

Figure 5:  Cape Moreton adjustments

It is plainly obvious that the Acorn adjustment summary shown in Figure 1 is wrong.  The first adjustment was applied from 01/01/1948 (not 1946) and decreased the annual minima for 1946 and 1947 by -1.2C.  The second adjustment was applied from 01/01/1946 and increased previous annual minima by +0.8C or +0.9C. The raw minima were decreased by -0.3C or -0.4C, but that is not how the Bureau describes the adjustment process:

Date applied: data prior to this date was adjusted for the reason (cause) cited. Adjustments are superimposed on each other; for example, if two adjustments are shown, one for 1/1/2000 and one for 1/1/1988, data prior to 1/1/1988 has both adjustments applied to it, data between 1/1/1988 and 1/1/2000 only has the first adjustment applied, and data after 1/1/2000 is not adjusted at all.”

The documentation of Acorn is a mess.

In order to compare data from stations with varying temperatures we need to calculate their anomalies from their means for the same period.  Figure 6 shows Cape Moreton’s and comparison stations’ anomalies from their 1931-1960 means.

Figure 6:  Minima anomalies, Cape Moreton and “neighbours”

Hard to follow, there is too much variability.  You may note that by comparison with the periods before 1948 and after 1960, the 1950s show much agreement.  The next figure shows the period from 1930 to 1960.

Figure 7:  Minima anomalies, Cape Moreton and “neighbours” 1930-1960

Notice that in 1946 and 1947 (indicated by the arrow) Cape Moreton is far too warm- the reason for the adjustment; however Yamba’s record is just as erratic or more so, being too low in 1933, 1934, 1940-1944,  and 1947; and too high in 1950.  This suggests firstly that the 1946 and 1947 adjustments were justifiable for those two years, and secondly that Yamba is not a good comparison station.  The next figure, with Yamba excluded, clearly illustrates this point.

Figure 8:  Cape Moreton and comparison stations, excluding Yamba

Apart from 1946 and 1947 Cape Moreton’s record is not greatly dissimilar from the three remaining stations. 

The object of adjusting temperatures using neighbours for comparison is to endeavour to produce a record that more truly reflects climate trends of the area.  The resulting record should be more like the neighbours than the original raw record.  We can test this by plotting the differences between Acorn and the raw record and the average of the neighbours.  If the comparison is good, while individual years’ differences may vary, the trend should be close to zero: the station should not be warming or cooling more than the neighbours.  Figure 9 shows the results for Cape Moreton minima for the period before the 1946 adjustment, excluding Yamba from the average.

Figure 9:  Differences between Cape Moreton and Qld neighbours

You will note that the blue trend line, showing the trend of the difference between Cape Moreton’s annual data and the average of Brisbane, Dalby, and Miles, has a trend of about +0.3 degrees per 100 years, indicating Cape Moreton is already warming more than the others.  The “raw” record already compares fairly well with the neighbours, considering that they are inland stations, unlike Cape Moreton.  In contrast the red trend line shows the adjusted data is warming more than three times faster, indicating a poor reflection of the climate of the area.


The Bureau has not followed its own methodology in its adjustment summary.

Documentation of adjustments is incorrect.

Three comparison stations are hundreds of kilometres away and another is subject to Urban Heat Island effect.

One comparison station (Yamba) has a record more erratic than Cape Moreton’s and should not have been used.

The adjustments have increased the difference between Cape Moreton and its neighbours, and has increased the warming trend by 30%.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Sources for annual minima data:



Cape Moreton:

Brisbane Regional Office:

Dalby Post Office:

Miles Post Office:

Yamba Pilot Station:

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