Archive for the ‘temperature’ Category

The World’s Biggest Thermometer

August 23, 2021

Are temperatures today unprecedented and dangerously high?  Apparently- the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report says that current temperatures are higher than at any time in the last 125,000 years

But that is wrong.  Temperatures today are cooler than they were in the past.

In making that statement I am not referring to data from ice cores (as in my previous posts here and here), but a simple and accessible temperature measurement device: the biggest thermometer in the world.

The following statements are uncontroversial:

1 Sea level rise is largely due to melting of glaciers and thermal expansion of the oceans.

2 Thermal expansion and glacial melting are symptoms of temperature increase.

3 Higher sea level indicates warmer conditions, lower sea level indicates colder conditions.

4 Sea levels are currently rising (by a small amount- NOAA says Fort Denison, Sydney, has a rise of 0.65mm per year).

5 This indicates temperatures have been rising.

6 But sea levels and therefore temperatures were higher than now about 4,000 to 7,000 years ago.

If you doubt point 6, you can easily tell whether it was warmer or cooler in the past relative to today.

How?  By looking for evidence of sea level change in areas that are not affected by tectonic rising or falling coastal land, or by large scale water run off or glacial melting, or by very large underground water extraction.

Areas such as the eastern coastline of Australia- the world’s biggest thermometer.

The continent of Australia is very old and flat.  It is in the middle of its continental plate with very little tectonic activity.  Australia’s coastlines are therefore largely stable with little vertical movement, apart from a small tilt down at the northern edge and a small uplift along the southern coast.  Australia is also a very long way from ancient ice sheets.

Evidence of higher sea level is plain to see in many places around Australia.  For example, at Phillip Island in Victoria, Victorian Resources Online describes raised Holocene beaches at Chambers Point, 0.5m and 3 to 5m above high water mark.  Arrows on this Google Maps image show where to find them.

More evidence at Wooloweyah Lagoon, near Maclean in NSW:

And Bulli, NSW:

There are many, many other locations where you can find Holocene beaches well above current sea level. 

Some of the height of these stranded beaches is probably due to the weight of deeper seawater from the melting ice sheets gradually tilting up continental coastlines as the sea floor deepened leading to an apparent drop in sea level at the coast.  However, as Lewis et al (2013) and Sloss et al (2018) (see Appendix below) show, this was of lesser importance especially in northern Australia.  Sea level fall was largely due to climatic influences- in particular, cooling and drying since the Holocene Optimum.

To conclude:  Sea levels were higher in the past, so temperatures must have been higher. 

Therefore there is no evidence that current temperature rise is anything unusual.  Just check the world’s biggest thermometer.

Appendix:  Here are a few of many references to higher Australian sea levels in the Holocene, and reasons for variation.

Sloss et al (2007)  Holocene sea-level change on the southeast coast of Australia: a review

“Present sea level was attained between 7900 and 7700 cal. yr BP, approximately 700—900 years earlier than previously proposed. Sea level continued to rise to between +1 and +1.5 m between 7700 and 7400 cal. yr BP, followed by a sea-level highstand that lasted until about 2000 cal. yr BP followed by a gradual fall to present. A series of minor negative and positive oscillations in relative sea level during the late-Holocene sea-level highstand appear to be superimposed over the general sea-level trend.”

ABC TV catalyst 19/6/2008

Even the ABC says sea levels were higher in the Holocene!

Lewis et al (2008) Mid‐late Holocene sea‐level variability in eastern Australia

“We demonstrate that the Holocene sea-level highstand of +1.0–1.5 m was reached ∼7000 cal yr bp and fell to its present position after 2000 yr bp.”

Moreton Bay Regional Council, Shoreline Erosion Management Plan for Bongaree, Bellara, Banksia Beach and Sandstone Point (2010)

“Sea levels ceased rising about 6,500 years ago (the Holocene Stillstand) when they reached approximately 0.4 to 1m above current levels. By 3,000 years before present they had stabilised at current levels”

Switzer et al (2010) Geomorphic evidence for mid–late Holocene higher sea level from southeastern Australia

“This beach sequence provides new evidence for a period of higher sea level 1–1.5 m higher than present that lasted until at least c. 2000–2500 cal BP and adds complementary geomorphic evidence for the mid to late Holocene sea-level highstand previously identified along other parts of the southeast Australian coast using other methods.”

Lewis et al (2013) Post-glacial sea-level changes around the Australian margin: a review

“The Australian region is relatively stable tectonically and is situated in the ‘far-field’ of former ice sheets. It therefore preserves important records of post-glacial sea levels that are less complicated by neotectonics or glacio-isostatic adjustments. Accordingly, the relative sea-level record of this region is dominantly one of glacio-eustatic (ice equivalent) sea-level changes. ….Divergent opinions remain about: (1) exactly when sea level attained present levels following the most recent post-glacial marine transgression (PMT); (2) the elevation that sea-level reached during the Holocene sea-level highstand; (3) whether sea-level fell smoothly from a metre or more above its present level following the PMT; (4) whether sea level remained at these highstand levels for a considerable period before falling to its present position; or (5) whether it underwent a series of moderate oscillations during the Holocene highstand.”

Leonard et al (2015) Holocene sea level instability in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia: high-precision U–Th dating of fossil microatolls

“RSL (relative sea level) was as least 0.75 m above present from ~6500 to 5500 yr before present (yr BP; where “present” is 1950). Following this highstand, two sites indicated a coeval lowering of RSL of at least 0.4 m from 5500 to 5300 yr BP which was maintained for ~200 yr. After the lowstand, RSL returned to higher levels before a 2000-yr hiatus in reef flat corals after 4600 yr BP at all three sites. A second possible RSL lowering event of ~0.3 m from ~2800 to 1600 yr BP was detected before RSL stabilised ~0.2 m above present levels by 900 yr BP. While the mechanism of the RSL instability is still uncertain, the alignment with previously reported RSL oscillations, rapid global climate changes and mid-Holocene reef “turn-off” on the GBR are discussed.”

Sloss et al (2018) Holocene sea-level change and coastal landscape evolution in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

“ By 7700 cal. yr BP, sea-level reached present mean sea-level (PMSL) and continued to rise to an elevation of between 1.5 m and 2 m above PMSL. Sea level remained ca. + 1.5 between 7000 and 4000 cal. yr BP, followed by rapid regression to within ± 0.5 m of PMSL by ca. 3500 cal. yr BP. When placed into a wider regional context results from this study show that coastal landscape evolution in the tropical north of Australia was not only dependent on sea-level change but also show a direct correlation with Holocene climate variability….  Results indicate that Holocene sea-level histories are driven by regional eustatic driving forces, and not by localized hydro-isostatic influences. “

Dougherty et al (2019)  Redating the earliest evidence of the mid-Holocene relative sea-level highstand in Australia and implications for global sea-level rise

“The east coast of Australia provides an excellent arena in which to investigate changes in relative sea level during the Holocene…. improved dating of the earliest evidence for a highstand at 6,880±50 cal BP, approximately a millennium later than previously reported. Our results from Bulli now closely align with other sea-level reconstructions along the east coast of Australia, and provide evidence for a synchronous relative sea-level highstand that extends from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Tasmania. Our refined age appears to be coincident with major ice mass loss from Northern Hemisphere and Antarctic ice sheets, supporting previous studies that suggest these may have played a role in the relative sea-level highstand. Further work is now needed to investigate the environmental impacts of regional sea levels, and refine the timing of the subsequent sea-level fall in the Holocene and its influence on coastal evolution.”

Helfensdorfer et al (2020) Atypical responses of a large catchment river to the Holocene sea-level highstand: The Murray River, Australia

“Three-dimensional numerical modelling of the marine and fluvial dynamics of the lower Murray River demonstrate that the mid-Holocene sea-level highstand generated an extensive central basin environment extending at least 140 kilometres upstream from the river mouth and occupying the entire one to three kilometre width of the Murray Gorge. This unusually extensive, extremely low-gradient backwater environment generated by the two metre sea-level highstand….”

Global Warming or Global Cooling: Keep an Eye on Greenland

July 30, 2021

Here are four graphs that governments should think about.

The first graph is of ice core temperature data from Vostok in Antarctica for the past 422,000 years.  Temperatures are shown as variation from surface temperature in 1999 of -55.5 degrees Celsius.

(From:- Petit, Jean-Robert; Jouzel, Jean (1999): Vostok ice core deuterium data for 420,000 years. PANGAEA, https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.55505)

 We are living in an inter-glacial period of unusual warmth, the Holocene, but previous interglacials were 2 to 3 degrees warmer than the present.  Between these brief interglacials are 100,000 year long glacial periods.  As the US National Climatic Data Centre says, “Glacial periods are colder, dustier, and generally drier than interglacial periods.”

We are lucky to be living now- life would be pretty hard for the small population the world could support in a glacial period.

Graph 2 shows just the last 12,000 years.  We are at the extreme right hand end.

Note that Vostok temperatures have fluctuated between +2 and -2 degrees relative to 1999.

There are several ways of identifying the start and end of interglacials.  I have chosen points when Antarctic temperatures first rise above zero and permanently fall below zero relative to 1999.  Graph 3 shows the length of time between these points for the previous three interglacials compared with the Holocene.

The Holocene has lasted longer than the previous three interglacials: and is colder.

Many scientists think glacial periods start when summer insolation at 65 degrees North decreases enough so that winter snowfall is not completely melted and therefore year by year snow accumulates.  Eventually the area of snow (which has a high albedo i.e. reflects a lot of sunlight) is large enough to create a positive feedback, and this area becomes colder and larger.  Ice sheets form, and a glacial period begins.  This is a gradual process that may take hundreds of years.

Well before global temperatures decrease, the first sign of a coming glacial inception will be an increasing area of summer snow in north-eastern Canada, Baffin Island, and Greenland.

I could find no data for northern Canada or Baffin Island, but it is possible to deduce summer snow area for Greenland.

Graph 4 shows the minimum area of snow at the end of summer in Greenland.  (Data from Rutgers University, calculated from North America including Greenland minus North America excluding Greenland.)

The area of unmelted snow at the end of summer in Greenland has grown by about 100,000 square kilometres in the past 30 years.  At this rate Greenland will be completely covered in snow all year round in about 45 years.

Caution: there was no glacial inception in the Little Ice Age- other factors may be involved, cloudiness being one.  Further, a 30 year trend is just weather, and may or may not continue- but with the Holocene already longer and colder than previous interglacials, summer snow cover is one indicator we ignore at our peril.

Cold is not good for life.

How Accurate Is Australia’s Temperature Record? Part 3

March 17, 2021

In previous posts (here and here) I have shown how maximum temperatures (Tmax) as recorded by ACORN-SAT (Australian Climate Observations Reference Network- Surface Air Temperature- ‘Acorn’ for short) have diverged from other measures of climate change, in particular, rainfall.

I’ll continue looking at the Tmax ~ Rainfall relationship, and show how the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) must never have used it as a quality control measure for temperature recording.  Result: garbage.

Tmax is negatively correlated with rainfall.  Wet years are cooler, dry years are warmer.  If the incoming solar radiation, the landscape and the measuring sites remain the same, over a number of years this physical relationship remains constant.  What is true of rainfall and temperature in my lifetime was also true in my grandfather’s lifetime, and will still be true in my grandchildren’s lifetime.  If the relationship appears to vary, it must be as a result of some other cause, such as:

changes in solar radiation;

changes in the landscape (urban development, tree clearing, irrigation);

changes in the weather station sites (movement to new sites, tree growth, proximity to heat sources,  buildings, or areas of pavement, change of screen size);

changes in measuring equipment or methods (electronic probes instead of mercury in glass, time of observation, recording in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, millimetres instead of inches); or

changes in the recorded data (wrong dates applied, or adjustments).

Solar exposure has not changed (and it would be a huge problem for Global Warming Enthusiasts and the whole Climate Change industry if it had).  Across Australia, urban development is a minuscule fraction of land area; tree clearing and irrigation have affected a larger area in several regions, but the vast arid interior remains largely unchanged.  We do know however that weather station sites, observation methods, and equipment have changed, and temperature data (and to a much smaller extent, rainfall data) have been “homogenized” in an attempt to correct for these changes.

The 1961 – 1990 Tmax ~ rainfall relationship

The Bureau of Meteorology uses the period from 1961 to 1990 as the baseline for calculating temperature and rainfall means and anomalies.  Figure 1 shows the relationship between Tmax and Rainfall for all years from 1961 to 1990.  I am using BOM data from their Climate Change Time Series page.

Fig. 1:  Annual Tmax plotted against Rainfall, 1961 – 1990

The x-axis represents rainfall, the y-axis represents maximum temperatures.  The trendline is marked, showing Tmax decreases with rainfall. 

In the top left is the trendline label, showing the value for Tmax (y) for the any value of rainfall (x).   I have magnified this in Figure 2.

Fig. 2:  Trendline label, Tmax vs Rain 1961-90

Circled in red is the slope of the trendline (-0.0029:  there is an inverse relationship, with temperature decreasing 0.0029 of a degree Celsius for every extra millimeter of rain). 

Circled in green is the intercept (+29.9476: if rainfall was zero, the trendline would intercept the y-axis at 29.9476 degrees). 

Circled in blue is the R-squared value (0.3744: R^2 indicates how well Tmax and rainfall match, 0 being not at all and 1 being perfectly.  This value indicates a correlation of about -0.61.  Another way of thinking about it is that 37% of Tmax is explained by rainfall.)

Now this is important: the relationship shown in the trendline label should be similar for the whole record, or else something other than the climate has changed.

I will now show how we can use the information in Figure 1 to test the accuracy of Tmax data in three separate ways.

Comparison of Acorn Tmax with theoretical values derived from rainfall.

Using the trendline equation (Tmax = -0.0029 x Rain + 29.9476) we can calculate an estimate of Tmax from rainfall in any given year.  Figure 3 shows the result.

Fig. 3:  1910 – 2020 Acorn Tmax and Theoretical Tmax calculated from rainfall

For most of the 1961-90 period there is a fair match (37%, remember).  Before the mid-1950s Tmax is mostly lower than the rainfall derived estimate, and after 1990 is nearly always very much higher than we would expect for the rainfall. 

A plot of annual differences between Acorn Tmax and Theoretical Tmax (the residuals if you like), the Tmax variation that is not explained by rainfall, shows how much they differ.

Fig. 4:  Annual Differences: Acorn Tmax minus Theoretical Tmax

We would expect some random differences, but not that much and not strongly trending up.

Correlation between Tmax and rain over time

The next figure shows the “goodness of fit” between Tmax and Rainfall from any given year to 2020.  (The plotline stops at 2010 as correlation fluctuates too much with only a few datapoints.)

Fig. 5:  Running R-squared values of Tmax vs Rain for all years to 2010, from any given year to 2020

The relationship plainly changes (and improves) with time. From 1998 to 2020 there is a good correlation between Tmax and rainfall: before this it is woeful. 

The next figure shows running 21 year calculations of R-squared ‘goodness of fit’ between annual maxima and rainfall, and is included for your entertainment. 

Fig. 6:  Centred running 21 year R-squared values of Tmax vs Rainfall

In 1989, the 21 year period from 1979 to 1999 has a correlation between Tmax and Rain of -0.35: less than 12 % of temperature change is explained by rainfall.  20 years later, the value for 1999 to 2019 is -0.9, or 81% of Tmax explained by rainfall.  That amount of difference is farcical.

Moreover, recent data shows a completely different Tmax~Rain relationship from Figure 1. 

Which brings me to the third point.

Change in Tmax ~ Rainfall relationship over time

From the trendline equation in Figure 2, the Tmax ~ Rainfall relationship may be calculated as

(Tmax – intercept)/ Rainfall.   The value for 1961-90 is -0.29C per 100mm.

This plot of the 21 year moving average shows how much this changes.

Fig. 7:  21 Year Centred Running Average of ((Tmax – intercept)/Rainfall) x 100

The expected value of -0.29C/ 100mm is reached from 1973 to 1976, in the middle of the 1961 – 1990 period, as expected.  Based on the 1961-1990 trendline equation, over the last 21 years 100mm of rain reduces Tmax by one tenth of a degree Celsius (and if we extrapolate- not a good idea- that figure will approach zero in about 10 years’ time).   100 years ago that same 100mm of rain would have reduced Tmax by 0.38 degrees.  Why has rain lost its power?

Conclusion

Three plots of the Tmax ~ Rainfall relationship- Figures 4, 5, and 7- show a similar pattern of change in the difference between recorded and theoretical Tmax, the correlation between Tmax and rainfall, and the Tmax ~ Rainfall equation. 

Why has rain lost its power?  It hasn’t- Tmax has become relatively too high.  Historical maximum temperatures as reported in Acorn are not just inaccurate but deeply flawed. 

The Acorn dataset is garbage.

How Accurate Is Australia’s Temperature Record? Part 2

January 19, 2021

In my last post I showed that Australia wide the Tmax ~ rainfall relationship has remained constant for the past 110 years (as it should) but Tmax reported in the Acorn dataset has increased by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to rainfall.  Consequently, the ACORN-SAT temperature dataset is an unreliable record of Australia’s maximum temperatures.

Of course there are other aspects of climate besides rainfall.   In this post I will compare annual ACORN-SAT Tmax data with:

Rainfall

Sea Surface Temperatures (SST)

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM)

Cloudiness

Evaporation

all for the Australian region.

I have sourced all data from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate time Series pages

except for SAM data from Marshall, Gareth & National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 19 Mar 2018. “The Climate Data Guide: Marshall Southern Annular Mode (SAM) Index (Station-based).” 

Tmax, Rainfall, and SST data are from 1910; SAM and Daytime Cloud from 1957, and Pan Evaporation from 1975.  Cloud observations apparently ceased after 2014, and Evaporation after 2017, possibly because of staffing cuts.

Because Pan Evaporation data are only available from 1975 and are reported as anomalies from 1975 to 2004 means, I have recalculated Tmax, Rainfall, SST, SAM, and Daytime Cloud anomalies for the same period so all data are directly comparable.

As in the previous post, I have calculated decadal averages for all indicators to show broad long term climate changes.  Decadal averages show how indicators perform over longer periods.  Each point in the figures below shows the average of the 10 years to that point.  This can then indicate times of sudden shifts or questionable data. (For example in Figure 1 SAM (the green line) makes a sudden jump in 2015.  Was this a climate shift or a data problem?)

Figure 1 shows the 10 year means for all climate indicators.  I have scaled Rain and SST to match Tmax at 2019, Cloud and SAM to match Tmax at 1966, and Evaporation to match Tmax in 1984.  Rain and Cloud are inverted as they have an inverse relationship with temperature.

Figure 1:  10 Year Means of Climate Indicators

Tmax has stayed close to SST until 2001.  Clearly Tmax has increased far more than any of the others, especially since 2001.

The next plots show the difference between decadal averages of Tmax and the other indicators.  Zero difference means an excellent relationship with Tmax.

Figure 2:  Difference: 10 Year Means of Tmax minus Rain and SSTs.

Starting from 1919 (zero difference), Rainfall is close to Tmax until 1957, after which Tmax takes off until it is 1.6 degrees Celsius greater than expected in the 10 years to 2020.  Tmax diverges from SST values in 2001 and in 2020 is 0.7 degrees greater than expected.

In Figure 3, Rain, SST, SAM, and Cloudiness are scaled to match Tmax at 1966.

Figure 3:  Difference: 10 Year Means of Tmax minus Rain, SST, SAM, and Cloud

Figure 3 shows how closely Rain and Cloud are related: differences from Tmax are almost identical.  Compared with 1966, Tmax is 1.3 degrees more than rainfall would suggest in the 10 years to 2020.  SST and the SAM index are less different from Tmax but Tmax divergence is still clear.  You may notice that Tmax differences from all climate indicators seem to change at similar times, apart from SAM in 2015.

In Figure 4, all indicators are scaled to match Tmax at 1984.

Figure 4:  Difference: 10 Year Means of Tmax minus Rain, SST, SAM, Cloud and Evaporation

Differences increase rapidly after 2001, so in Figure 5 indicators match Tmax at 2001.

Figure 5:  Difference: 10 Year Means of Tmax minus Rain, SST, SAM, Cloud and Evaporation

There appears to be a problem with SAM in 2015, and it’s a shame that the BOM have discontinued Cloud and Evaporation observations.  In the last 20 years, it is obvious that Tmax has diverged from other indicators.

Conclusion:

All factors- Rainfall, SAM, SST, Clouds, and Pan Evaporation- point to a clear divergence of temperature nationwide, especially in the last 20 years.  In other words, ACORN-SAT, our official record of temperatures, is unreliable.

How Accurate Is Australia’s Temperature Record? Part 1

January 7, 2021

In my last post I showed that maximum temperature (Tmax) as reported by ACORN-SAT (Australian Climate Observations Reference Network-Surface Air Temperature) appears to be responsible for the growing divergence of the difference between Tmax and tropospheric temperatures from Australia’s rainfall.

In this post I show how Tmax is related to rainfall, and show that while this relationship holds for discrete periods throughout the last 110 years, Tmax has apparently diverged from what we would expect.  In other words, the Acorn Tmax record is faulty and unreliable.

For much of this analysis I am indebted to Dr Bill Johnston who has posted a number of papers at Bomwatch using the relationship between Tmax and rainfall.

At any land based location annual maximum temperature varies with rainfall: wet years are cooler, dry years are warmer.  More rainfall (with accompanying clouds that reflect solar radiation) brings cooler air to the ground; provides more moisture in the air, streams, waterholes, and the soil which cools by evaporation; causes vegetation to grow, the extra vegetation shading the ground and retaining moisture, with transpiration providing further cooling; and in moist conditions deep convective overturning moves vast amounts of water and heat high into the troposphere- especially evident in thunderstorms.  Less rainfall means the opposite: more solar radiation reaches the ground with fewer clouds and less vegetation; there is less moisture available to evaporate; less vegetation growth and transpiration; and much less heat is transferred to the troposphere through convective overturning.

While more rainfall than the landscape can hold results in runoff in rivers and streams, thus removing some moisture from the immediate area, this affects large regions only in tropical coastal catchments- the Kimberleys, the Gulf rivers, the Burdekin and Fitzroy.  Across the bulk of Australia there is very little discharge of water to the oceans.  In the Murray-Darling Basin, on average less than 0.005% of rainfall is discharged from the Murray mouth. (BOM rainfall data and 1891-1985 discharge data from Simpson et al (1993))

This temperature ~ rainfall relationship is particularly evident in desert areas far from any marine influence.  Alice Springs provides a good example.  Figure 1 shows how annual maximum temperatures at Alice Springs Airport vary with rainfall since 1997.  Data are from ACORN.

Fig. 1: Tmax and Rainfall, Alice Springs

The slope of the trend line shows that for every extra millimetre of rain, Tmax falls by 0.0047 of a degree Celsius, which is about half a degree less for every 100 mm.  The R-squared value shows that there is a good fit for the data- 79% of temperature change is due to rainfall.

I said above that this relationship holds for land locations.  An island, with a little land surrounded by water, is mostly affected by sea temperature and wind direction.  Locations near the coast are also affected by marine influence.  At Amberley in south-east Queensland daily maximum temperature can be moderated by the time of arrival of a sea breeze or whether it arrives at all.  (Site changes also can change Tmax recorded.)

Fig. 2: Tmax and Rainfall, Amberley

Further inland, the relationship is strong: at Bathurst, there is 0.4C temperature variation per 100mm of rainfall and 61% of temperature change is due to rainfall alone.

Fig. 3: Tmax and Rainfall, Bathurst

The BOM has sophisticated algorithms for area averaging temperature and rainfall across Australia and provide national climate records back to 1900 for rainfall and 1910 for maxima.  Averaged across Australia individual station idiosyncrasies are submerged so that the 1997 to 2019 relationship between Tmax and rainfall is very strong (and similar to that of Alice Springs):

Fig. 4: Tmax and Rainfall, Australia 1997-2019

However, the relationship is not strong throughout the whole record:

Fig. 5: Tmax and Rainfall, Australia 1910-2019

The relationship from 1910 to 2019 is poor.

In the next figure I compare the Tmax – rainfall relationships for the first 10 years of the record with the last 10 years.

Fig. 6: Tmax and Rainfall, Australia, first and last decades

The trendlines are almost exactly parallel, with tight fits, showing strong relationships 100 years apart- but the trendline for 2010 to 2019 is about 1.7 degrees above that for 1910 – 1919.  How can that be?

It is possible to compare rainfall and temperature throughout the last 110 years.  In the next figure, rainfall is inverted and scaled down so as to match Tmax at 1910.

Fig. 7: Tmax and Inverted Scaled Rain, Australia

Running 10 year means allow us to see long term patterns of rainfall and temperature more easily:

Fig. 8: Tmax and Inverted Scaled Rain, Decadal Means, Australia

Rainfall has increased over the last 110 years (despite what you might hear in the media), and so apparently have maximum temperatures.  In the above figures Tmax and rainfall track roughly together until the mid-1950s, then Tmax takes off.

I calculated an “index” of temperature ~ rainfall variation by subtracting scaled, inverted rainfall from Tmax, commencing at zero in 1919.  This allows us to identify when temperature appears to diverge markedly from inverted rainfall:

Fig. 9: Index of Temperature ~ Rainfall Variation: Tmax minus Inverted Scaled Rain, Decadal Means, Australia

There is a small increase from the mid-1950s, but the really large divergence commences in the 1970s, with the decade from 1973 to 1982 about 0.6 units above the decade to 1972.  The index decreases to 1995, then there is another steep increase to 2007, and a final surge to 2019.

This index alone shows how poorly the official temperature record represents the temperature of the past.

 While there are other times, in the next figures I compare four periods: 1910 to 1972, 1973 to 1995, 1996 to 2007, and 2008 to 2019.  Here I use annual data.

Fig. 10: Tmax and Rainfall, Australia, four periods

Again, trendlines are almost parallel with similar slopes, showing that the Tmax ~ rainfall relationship is fairly constant for all periods- (about 0.5C per 100mm after 1995 and about 0.4C per 100mm before 1995).  However, the lines are separated.  Temperature for each later period is higher than the ones preceding, such that the temperature recorded now is about 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than it would have been for similar rainfall before 1973. And rainfall has increased in that time.

Global Warming Enthusiasts and apologists for the BOM will claim that these breaks between separate periods are real and caused by changes in circulation patterns due to climate change- in particular the Southern Annular Mode.  That will be the subject of Part 2.

Whatever the reasons, Australia wide the Tmax ~ rainfall relationship has remained constant for the past 110 years (as it should) but the temperatures reported in the Acorn dataset have increased by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to rainfall.

Conclusion:

The ACORN-SAT temperature dataset is an unreliable record of Australia’s maximum temperatures.

Surface and Satellite Temperatures: 2020 Update

December 19, 2020

What’s gone wrong?

In November 2015 in my post “Why are Surface and Satellite temperatures Different?” and two follow up posts I showed that the difference is very largely due to rainfall.  You are urged to read these posts in full.

I repeat a key paragraph:

Firstly, surface temperatures are supposed to be different from atmospheric temperatures. Both are useful, both have limitations. The TLT is a metric of the temperature of the bulk of the atmosphere from the surface to several kilometres above the whole continent, in the realm of the greenhouse gases- useful for analysing any greenhouse signals and regional and global climate change. Surface temperature is a metric of temperature 1.5 metres above the ground at 104 ACORN-SAT locations around Australia, area averaged across the continent- useful for describing and predicting weather conditions as they relate to such things as human comfort, crop and stock needs, and bushfire behaviour.

Here are three plots from my 2015 post.

Fig.1:  Tmax and Scaled, Inverted Rain (from Figure 7 from my 2015 post)

Dry periods are hotter, wet periods are cooler.

Fig. 2:  Surface maxima minus atmospheric temperatures and inverted rain (Figure 10 from my 2015 post)

Fig. 3:  Temperature difference compared with rainfall (from Figure 12)

The difference between Australian surface and satellite temperatures was very largely explained by rainfall. However, after five more years of satellite and surface data there is a problem (and I thank Chris Gillham for alerting me to this.)

Fig. 4:  Surface maxima minus atmospheric temperatures and inverted rain

Since about 2013 the difference between surface Tmax and satellite data has visibly increased above rainfall.

Now I have a confession to make.

In previous analyses I used running 12 month means in calculating correlation.  This can lead to inaccuracy as the means can be highly auto-correlated.  From now on I will use annual data, either with calendar years or, as in this post, annual means from December to November (so that summer months and most of the northern Wet season are included in the one datapoint).

I downloaded data from:

Monthly maxima

Monthly rainfall

Temperature of the Lower Troposphere- Australia Land

As with my 2015 post, I have recalculated rainfall and maxima from 1981-2010 means to match UAH.

In the past five years there have been changes:  the Australian maximum temperature record is now based on ACORN-SAT Version 2 instead of Version 1, including new adjustments and some station changes.  No doubt UAH has been tweaked a little as well.

However correlation between the difference between the surface maxima as recorded by Acorn and temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT) as recorded by UAH, and rainfall, has decreased.

Fig. 5:  Temperature difference compared with rainfall

The close connection between the temperature differences and rainfall became broken from about 2005, as can be seen in Figure 4.  Another step up occurred in 2013.

So there appear to be three distinct periods: 1979 to 2004, 2005 to 2012, and after 2013.  Plotting temperature differences against rainfall allows us to compare each period.

 Fig. 6:  Temperature difference compared with rainfall

From 1979 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2012 slopes are identical at 0.4 degrees lower temperature for each 10 mm of rain, with 76% and 93% of temperature variance explained by rainfall. The trend lines are parallel but offset by 0.26 degrees indicating either atmospheric temperatures have reduced or surface maxima have increased in the middle period.  From 2013 the relationship is different with closer to 0.5 degrees lower temperature per 10mm of rainfall, with rainfall explaining 78% of the variance.  Again, the offset shows either UAH has suddenly decreased or Acorn has suddenly increased.

Conclusion:  Something has gone wrong with the relationship between rainfall and temperature in Australia.  In recent years, and certainly since 2013, the surface- atmospheric temperature difference has rapidly increased relative to rainfall.  That should not have happened.

My suspicion is that Acorn’s maxima are to blame.   Figure 1 showed Acorn appeared to step up relative to rainfall in 2001 or 2002, or perhaps earlier in 1997, and again in 2013.  There can be no meteorological explanation for this.

The accuracy, and therefore usefulness, of the ACORN-SAT adjusted temperature record will be the topic of my next post.

Stay tuned.

Acorn Mish-Mash Part 2: Scone

December 13, 2020

In Part 1 we saw that Scone in NSW has the fastest increase in 120 month mean maximum temperatures of all 112 Acorn stations.  The Station Catalogue shows a recent photo of the site with long grass at least 60cm high surrounding the screen- not a very good advertisement for compliance with siting specifications.

Fig. 1:  BOM photograph of Scone site

However the Metadata for this site reveals how much the site has changed.  Before 2005 the screen was close to the runway and a service road, and there was considerable earthworks nearby in 2001.  By April 2005 the screen had been moved to its current location.  In 2012 the grass was 60cm high as in the above photo, and was whipper-snipped during the annual inspection.  In 2015 and 2019 the grass around the instruments was “sparse” as weed control had been used i.e. it had been sprayed out with herbicide.  Temperature data for the airport may be questionable based solely on site information.

The Acorn record has been created by merging data from 01/01/1995 to 31/12/1995 from the present site at the airport with that of a Soil Conservation Research Station (SCS) 10 km away from 1965 to 1994.

Data before 1975 were adjusted downwards because of a change or repair to the screen.

Fig. 2:  Adjustments to annual data at Scone

This resulted in an increase in trend of +0.43C per 100 years.

Fig. 3:  Scone raw and Acorn annual data

However, comparison with the average of the Bureau’s nominated neighbouring stations used to make this adjustment shows the adjustment was much too great.  While the raw record from 1965 to 1973 shows Scone warming 0.29C per 100 years faster than the neighbours, the Acorn record is warming at 1.46C per 100 years- much faster than the neighbours.

Fig. 4:  Difference between Scone and average of neighbours, 1965 – 1973

While that alone is enough to cast doubt on the Acorn adjustments, an analysis of the relationship between maxima and rainfall shows that little reliance can be placed on temperature data before 1974, and after 1995.

At every well maintained site there is a relationship between maximum temperature and rainfall: periods of dry weather are hotter and periods of wet weather are cooler, because of the effects of more or less cloud cover, evaporation and transpiration.  (Wind direction will also have an influence, especially in dry seasons.)  At a well maintained station much more than half of temperature variation is due to rainfall. Therefore, if this relationship varies markedly we can deduce that either temperature or rainfall data are questionable.  This is shown by Dr Bill Johnston at his website, BomWatch, which I urge you to visit, and my analysis is loosely based on his methods.

I calculated 12 month running means of temperature and rainfall for the Airport and the Soil Conservation (SCS) sites.  Figures 5 to 7 show 12 month average temperature plotted against 12 month average rainfall for the three periods, 1965 – 1973 (in which Acorn temperatures are adjusted), 1974 – 1994 (when Acorn and raw are the same), and 1995 – 2018 (when the temperature record switches from the SCS to the airport).

Figure 5:  Scone adjusted maxima plotted against local rainfall

That is a very poor relationship: either temperature data or rainfall data are unreliable.

Figure 6:  Scone unadjusted maxima plotted against local rainfall

Here, more than half of temperature variation can be explained by rainfall.  It is not brilliant, but much better than what comes before and after.

Figure 7:  Scone Airport maxima plotted against local rainfall

While not as bad as pre-1974, less than 30% of temperature variation is explained by rainfall.  Either temperature or rainfall data, or both, are dubious.  Considering the site history and varying vegetation, this is not surprising.

It is unlikely that Acorn is a true record of temperatures at this location. Scone Acorn data are not reliable and should not be included in regional and national climate analysis.

Acorn Mishmash- Part 1: They can’t all be right

November 23, 2020

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) produces climate analyses and forecasts based on their best efforts at estimating long term climate trends around the nation- the latest being their suitably scary State of the Climate 2020. 

The main datasets used are ACORN-SAT (Australian Climate Observations Recording Network- Surface Air Temperature) Version 2.1, Daily and Monthly Rainfall Networks, Monthly Pan Evaporation Network, and Monthly Cloud Amount Network.  In future posts I hope to look at some of the BOM’s claims in more detail, however in this series of posts I will look at climate trends at individual stations.  In this post I will look solely at monthly maximum temperatures at all 112 ACORN-SAT sites.  This information is freely available at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/index.shtml#tabs=Tracker&tracker=site-networks and is adjusted and homogenized Acorn V.2.1 data.

Like the Bureau, in order to compare data from all stations I calculate anomalies from monthly means for all months from 1981 to 2010.  I then calculate 120 month running means.  120 month (decadal) means allows us to see long term patterns and changes.  For example, Figure 1 shows decadal monthly means of rainfall that fell at Alice Springs since October 1900. 

Figure 1:  Decadal rainfall at Alice Springs

I would not use the term “cycles” to describe what we see, but clearly there are wetter and drier periods: rainfall is not random from year to year at Alice Springs.

The same decadal averaging when applied to maximum temperatures should show how temperature changes over years, and because Acorn 2.1 is homogenized using neighbouring stations for adjustments, there should be similarities between stations in the same regions.  Let’s see.

I have made all means zero at December 2019 (except Boulia, which ends in June 2013, Point Perpendicular, ending in January 2017,and Gunnedah, ending in June 2019), so in the following plots all data points are relative to the most recent available.  Each data point is the mean of all monthly maxima of the previous 10 years.

Figure 2:  Running 120 month means, maxima anomalies (from 1981-2010 means), relative to most recent data (mostly December 2019), all 112 Acorn stations

That spaghetti plot shows decadal Tmax for all 112 Australian stations, with a few stations identified.  What a mess.  There is a range of 1.5 to 2.5 degrees between highest and lowest in most years before 2000.  We need to look at different regions to make more sense of it.  I will show a map for each region.

Figure 3: Tasmanian stations

Figure 4: Decadal anomalies, Tasmania

Tasmania is a small, compact region, and all stations appear to show the same decadal climate variations.  However, Grove seems to have much less increase than the others, and Larapuna has a much greater increase than its close neighbours, Low Head and Launceston.

Figure 5: East coast of Queensland

Figure 6: Decadal anomalies, east coast of Queensland

Similarity between stations barely extends back as far as 2005.  There is little sign of common climatic patterns except in very recent years.  Brisbane Aero and its closest neighbour Cape Moreton Lighthouse diverge between 1986 and 2007.  And Mackay in particular is an outlier: what reason can there be for Mackay to be more than one degree cooler in all decades to 1940 than Bundaberg to the south and Cairns to the north?

Figure 7:  North-east NSW stations

Figure 8: Decadal anomalies, north-east NSW

Again, while there are some similarities, there is much variety.  Inverell is more than one degree cooler than neighbouring Moree in the decade to the early 1920s, then their decadal means converge to within 0.3 of a degree in the 1950s.  And Scone has had a meteoric rise from 1.6 degrees less than now in November 2001- faster than anywhere else in Australia.

Figure 9:  South-west Western Australian stations

Figure 10: Decadal anomalies, South-west Western Australian stations

This climate region has fairly consistent records, at least back to the 1930s, when Perth’s diverges from the others.  Perth goes from coolest in the 1920s to warmest (relative to now) in the 1980s.

The northern part of Western Australia is messier.

Figure 11:  Northern Western Australian stations

Figure 12: Decadal anomalies, northern Western Australia

Halls Creek and Broome are much cooler than Port Hedland, Marble Bar, and Carnarvon in the decades before the 1930s.  There is a range of 1.3 degrees between decadal means of Marble Bar and neighbouring Karijini North (the former Wittenoom) in 1969, and there is a large divergence between Kalumburu and Carnarvon (at opposite ends of the coast), and the rest of the stations, between 2000 and 2008.

Central Australian stations, because of their remoteness, have a large impact on our climate signal.

Figure 13:  Central Australia

Figure 14: Decadal anomalies, Central Australian stations

While there are similar decadal patterns in maximum temperatures, you will note that Alice’s record rises from the coolest in the 1920s and 1930s to warmest from the 1940s to 1970s, in steps rather than rises and falls.

The Top End is subject to the annual north-west monsoon, with climatic seasons alternating between Wet and Dry.

Figure 15:  Top End stations

Figure 16: Decadal anomalies, Top End

Again we see in most stations rises in the 1970s and 1990s, and falls in the 1980s and early 2000s.  The exception is Darwin, with an almost linear increase with a small acceleration in the 1990s.  Normanton in the far east is an outlier before the 1980s, and VRD in the 1990s.

Inland New South Wales is another region showing common climate patterns, but a few surprises.

Figure 17:  Western NSW stations

Figure 18: Decadal anomalies, western NSW

Here is a good example of many stations showing common climate patterns, rising and falling almost in unison.  However there is still well over one degree between highest and lowest in nearly every year before 1990.  Further, it is not perfect unison: not all stations show similar responses to regional climate swings.  In 1956 and 1957 Canberra at 2.4 degrees cooler than now and Walgett at more than 2.5 degrees cooler are clear outliers, and are well below the pack from 1950 to 1972, and again from 1980 to 2002.  Walgett in particular shows little response to the 1980s surge shown by most other stations.  These two are joined by West Wyalong in the 1970s, and are just under 1.5 degrees cooler than now in 2000 before surging rapidly.

Finally, for comparison, the next plot shows some of the big movers in the Acorn stations, most of which we have seen before.

Figure 19: Decadal anomalies, big hitters

Linearly rising Darwin and recent rapid riser Scone we have met before.  Alice Springs and Perth are joined by Geraldton and Eucla, both in Western Ausralia, in rising from about 2 degrees cooler than now in the decade to the 1920s.  In the 1930s another WA station, Morawa, is almost 2.5 degrees cooler than now.  In the previous figure we saw Canberra in the 1950s 2.4 degrees cooler than now and Walgett more than 2.5 degrees cooler than now: the coolest of any station in Australia. 

Conclusion:

Decadal means show broad patterns of climate change in various regions but there are many examples of individual stations within these regions standing out from these patterns.  They can’t all be right.  The accuracy of the BOM’s ACORN-SAT dataset for maximum temperatures must therefore be called into question at a number of its stations.  This must then throw doubt on the Bureau’s climate analyses and future projections.

In future posts I will look more closely at some of these individual stations’ records.

Distance Records for Temperature Adjustments

October 6, 2020

Trigger Warning:  ridicule of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology below!

The official Australian climate record is developed from ACORN-SAT– the Australian Climate Observation Reporting Network- Surface Air Temperatures.  This is relied on by governments and industry and so should be completely trustworthy and free from any problems that might lead to lack of confidence.

The Acorn stations have had their temperature records adjusted to account for any discontinuities or irregularities.  This is done by comparing Acorn stations’ data with those from a selection of comparative stations. 

The Bureau says:

The process of homogenisation seeks to answer a very simple question: what would Australia’s long-term temperature trend look like if all observations were recorded at the current sites with the current available technology? Homogenisation means we can compare apples with apples when it comes to temperature trends.

One might expect that, with the aim being to “compare apples with apples”, stations used for comparison and making adjustments would be physically not too distant- ideally, neighbouring.  

Not so.

For many stations, not even remotely so.

Australia is a very big country with vast areas of sparsely inhabited desert.  There are very large distances between towns in the outback, so it is not surprising that it is often difficult to find suitable comparative stations.

But the Acorn Station Catalogue, which has helpful lists of comparative stations used for adjustments, has some absolute doozies.  Here are some for your amusement.  (Obviously most stations have many comparative sites.)

Carnarvon, in Western Australia, has been adjusted by reference to a number of stations hundreds of kilometers away, including Southern Cross, only 897km away.

Camooweal, Queensland, “ “ “  Thargomindah, 1,067km away.

Boulia, Qld, “ “ “  Walgett, New South Wales, 1,130km

Halls Creek, WA, “ “ “  Boulia, Qld, 1,370km

Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, “ “ “   Charleville, Qld,  1,443km

Mount Gambier, in South Australia, has been adjusted with the help of Lismore in northern New South Wales, 1,526km away.  (And it’s not as if there is a shortage of sites in this well populated part of South Australia.)

But the gong, the gold medal, the record breaking achievement for the Bureau, goes to…….

Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, which has been adjusted using data from Collarenebri in New South Wales,  1,590 kilometres away.

And they want the public to trust them.

More Questionable Adjustments- Cape Moreton

October 5, 2020

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.

Conclusion

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:

Acorn: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/hqsites/data/temp/minT.040043.annual.txt

Raw:

Cape Moreton:

http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=38&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=40043

Brisbane Regional Office: http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=38&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=40214

Dalby Post Office:

http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=38&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=41023

Miles Post Office:

http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=38&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=42023

Yamba Pilot Station:

http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=38&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_c=&p_stn_num=58012