Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Putting Temperature in Context: Pt 2

December 14, 2016

To show how handy my Excel worksheet is, here’s one I did in the last 15 minutes.

Apparently Sydney has had its warmest December minimum on record at 27.1 C.  The record before that was Christmas Day, 1868 at 26.3C.

The following seven plots show this in context.

Fig. 1:  The annual range in Sydney’s minima:


Extremes in minima can occur any time between October and March.

Fig. 2:  The first 2 weeks of December


Plainly, a new record was set this morning, but apart from Day 340 the other days are within the normal range.

Fig. 3:  7 day mean of Tmin in this period


Extreme, but a number of previous years had warmer averages.

Fig. 4:  Consecutive days above 20C Tmin.


But there have been longer periods of warm minima in the past.

Now let’s look at the same metric, but for all of December.

Fig. 5:  All Decembers (including leap years).


A record for December, with 1868 in second place.

Fig. 6:  7 day mean of Tmin for Decembers


Seven day periods of warm nights are not new.  The horizontal black line shows the average to this morning (20.6C) is matched or exceeded by a dozen other Decembers.  (Of course this December isn’t half way through yet.)  Also note what appears to be a step change about 1970.

Fig. 7:  Consecutive days above 20C Tmin in December.


I doubt if 15 December will be as warm as today, but could still be over 20C.

This is weather, not global warming.


Land and Sea Temperature: South West Australia Part II: TMin

November 29, 2016

This is a quick follow up to my last post, as an update:  I’ve been reminded to show Tmin as well.   My apologies.

In this post I examine minimum temperature for Winter in South-Western Australia, and Sea Surface Temperature data for the South West Region, all straight from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate Change time series page .

All temperature data are in degrees Celsius anomalies from the 1961-90 average.

Fig. 1:   Southwestern Australia Winter TMin Anomalies & SST


Note that TMin roughly matches SSTs, but there are differences from TMax.  CuSums will show this:

Fig. 2:  CuSums of Winter TMin and SST compared:


Note that TMin has completely different change points, marked in red.  The major different ones are at 1949, 1956, 1964, 1990, 2000, and 2010.  There is a barely discernible point at 1976 (not 1975), so the next plots will use 1976 to show trends since then.

Fig. 3:  Trends in TMin:


Cooling since 1976 at -0.36C/100 years.

Detrending the data allows us to see where any of the winters “bucks the trend”.  In the following plots, the line at zero represents the trend as shown above.

Fig. 4:  TMin Detrended:


2016 winter TMin is 0.5C below trend, and 0.38C below average, however winter this year in southwest WA was not as cold as 1986, 1990, 2001, 2006, 2008, or 2010- according to Acorn of course.

The action is with TMax.

Land and Sea Temperature: South West Australia

November 29, 2016

This year, the south-west of Western Australia has recorded some unexpectedly low temperatures.  Has this been due to rainfall, cloud, winds, or the cooler than normal Leeuwin Current and Sea Surface Temperatures in the South West Region?

In this post I examine maximum temperature and rainfall data for Winter in South-Western Australia, and Sea Surface Temperature data for the South West Region, all straight from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Climate Change time series page .

All temperature data are in degrees Celsius anomalies from the 1961-90 average.

Figure 1 is a map showing the various Sea Surface Temperature monitoring regions around Australia.

Fig. 1


The Southwest Region is just to the west and southwest of the Southwest climate region, and winter south westerlies impact this part of the continent first.  2016’s winter has seen maxima drop sharply.  In fact, it was the coldest winter since 1993:

Fig. 2:  Southwestern Australia Winter TMax Anomalies


There is a relationship between rainfall and Tmax- as rain goes up, Tmax goes down, so here south west rainfall is inverted and scaled down by 100:

Fig. 3:  TMax and Rain:


The next plot shows TMax and the South West Region’s Sea Surface Temperature anomalies (SST):

Fig. 4:  TMax & SST:


Again, related: both have strong warming from the 1970s.  Next I check for whether there was a real change in direction in the 1970s, and if so, when.  To do this I use CuSums.

Fig. 5:  CuSums of Winter TMax and SST compared:


Both have a distinct change point: 1975, with SST warming since, but TMax appears to have a step up, with another change point at 1993 with strong warming since.  Rainfall however shows a different picture:

Fig. 6:  CuSums of Winter Rainfall


Note the major change at 1968 (a step down: see Figure 3), another at 1975 with increasing rain to the next change point at 2000, after which rain rapidly decreases.

I now plot TMax against rainfall and SST to see which has the greater influence.  First, Rain:

Fig. 7:  TMax vs Rain:


100mm more rain is associated with about 0.5C lower TMax, but R-squared is only 0.22.

Fig. 8:  TMax vs SST:


A one degree increase in SST is associated with more than 1.1C increase in TMax, and R-squared is above 0.51- a much closer fit, but still little better than fifty-fifty.

TMax is affected by rain, but more by SSTs.

I now look at data since the major change points in the 1975 winter.  The next three figures show trends in SST, Rain, and TMax.

Fig. 9:  Trends in SST:


Warming since 1975 of +1.48C/ 100 years.

Fig. 10:  Trends in Rainfall:


Decreasing since 1975 at 89mm per 100 years (and much more from 2000).

Fig. 11:  Trends in TMax:


Warming since 1975 at +2.14C per 100 years.

Detrending the data allows us to see where any of the winters “bucks the trend”.  In the following plots, the line at zero represents the trend as shown above.

Fig. 12:  SST Detrended:


Fig. 13:  Rainfall Detrended:


Fig. 14:  TMax Detrended:


Note that SST in 2016 is just below trend, but still above the 1961-90 average.  Rainfall is only slightly above trend, and still below average.  However TMax is well below trend, and well below average, showing the greatest 12 month drop in temperatures of any winter since 1975.

My conclusions (and you are welcome to comment, dispute, and suggest your own):

  • Maximum temperatures in winter in Southwestern Australia are affected by rainfall, but to a much larger extent by Sea Surface Temperature of the South West Region.
  • The large decrease in winter temperature this year cannot be explained by rainfall or sea surface temperature.  Cloudiness may be a factor, but no 2016 data are publicly available.  Stronger winds blowing from further south may be responsible.

Water World

November 15, 2016

Readers may be aware of the “Cold Blob” which is moving across the northern Pacific Ocean.  In this post I shall show sea surface temperature anomalies, and currents, in all of the world’s oceans, as shown by nullschool.

This is the colour scale for all figures, from -6C to +6C.  Zero anomaly is black.


The Arctic Ocean


The Southern Ocean


Note the large area of sea ice around Antarctica (black) surrounded by a ring of below average SSTs, with another ring of swirling eddies of warmer SSTs.  Note also the cold blob just below south-western Australia which is working its way east.

The Atlantic Ocean


The North Atlantic is predominantly unusually warm- especially the Gulf Stream.  However the South Atlantic is largely covered by a very large pool of cold water.

The Indian Ocean


The Indian Ocean Dipole between the west and the east is plain to see.  Note the colder than normal SSTs near south-western Australia which have led to some unusually cold land temperatures this winter and spring.

The Pacific Ocean


The El Nino has ended and La Nina appears to be building as the surge of cold water moves west along the Equator.  Note the cold blobs in the North Pacific, and less well defined in the South Pacific.  Note also the high SSTs near South America and around the International Date Line at 30 degrees North.

Note there are large areas of above and below normal SSTs in all ocean basins except the Arctic, where sea ice cover tends to hide water temperature below.  The Arctic ocean atmospheric temperature anomalies have recently shot up to record highs.

I now turn to the seas close to Australia.


Waters around the northern, north-western, and eastern coasts of Australia are generally 1.0 to 1.8C above normal.  This includes the area of the Great Barrier Reef.  The East Australian Current runs down the east coast and can be seen as a warm tongue spilling into the Tasman Sea.  (This is what led to the ABC’s reports about high temperatures in the Tasman Sea.)  But the Tasman Sea has several eddies of cold and warm water.  Note also the cold area to the south of Western Australia, and the cool area just to the east of Tasmania.

Warm waters around northern Australia are likely to generate extra rainfall and probably cyclones, and a strong gradient between north and south will likely lead to strong weather changes and storms.

Conclusion:  Once again, the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres shows itself in sea temperatures.  Apart from the cold blob in the northern Pacific, Northern Hemisphere oceans are predominantly warmer than usual, while those of the Southern Hemisphere have large regions of both warmer and cooler water.  There is a very large cold blob in the South Atlantic, and another surrounding Antarctica.  Ocean currents constantly move thermal energy around, releasing it by radiation and evaporation mainly, and governing land temperatures hundreds of kilometres away.

The next six months should be interesting.

DTR, Cloud, and Rainfall

September 19, 2016

In my last brief post I showed how Diurnal Temperature Range is related to rainfall in Northern and Southern Australia in Northern and Southern wet seasons (which correspond roughly to summer and winter).

In this post I show the relationship between DTR and daytime cloud, and between rainfall and daytime cloud, and something very peculiar about South-Western Australia.

All data are taken straight from the Bureau’s Climate Change Time Series page.

DTR is affected by rainfall through Tmax being cooled by cloud albedo, evaporation and transpiration, and Tmin warmed by night cloud and humidity.  There must be a relationship between clouds and rain, although it is (rarely) possible to have rain falling from a clear sky with no visible cloud.  Rain is easily measured in standard rain gauges.  Cloud is calculated by trained observers, and we only have data for 9 a.m., 3 p.m., and daytime cloud.  The data give no indication of cloud type, thickness, or altitude, just amount of sky covered (in oktas, or eighths).

Here I show scatterplots for Australia as a whole annually, and for Northern, South-Eastern, and South-Western Australia in summer and winter.  I calculate both rainfall and cloud as percentage differences from their means.

Fig. 1:  DTR vs Rain for Australia annually:


Fig. 2:  DTR vs Cloud for Australia annually:


Notice much better correlation between DTR and Cloud.

Now let’s look at the relationship between rainfall and daytime cloud.

Fig. 3:  Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud for Australia annually:


Note a 10% increase in cloud cover could be expected to be associated with a 25% increase in rainfall.

Fig. 4: Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud North Australian summers:


Fig. 5: Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud North Australian winters:

Note how rainfall in the North Australian dry season varies proportionally more, but has a slightly lower correlation (>0.8 vs 0.9).

Fig. 6: Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud South-East Australian summers:


Note the much greater effect of cloud on rainfall in the southern dry season.

Fig. 7: Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud South-East Australian winters:


Now, get ready for a surprise.

Fig. 8: Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud South-West Australian summers:


Fig. 9: Percentage difference in Rainfall vs percentage difference in Cloud South-West Australian winters:


What’s going on in the south-west?

Here’s how DTR compares:

Fig. 10:  DTR vs percentage difference in rainfall: South-west Australia


Similar relationship to everywhere else.

Fig. 11:  DTR vs percentage difference in cloud cover: South-west Australia


And this graph clearly shows the relationship between rain and cloud is closer in the wet seasons, but also clearly shows that South-west Australia is an extreme outlier.

Fig. 12:  R-squared comparison between rain and cloud in wet and dry seasons


Why the huge difference?  There is no relationship between cloud and rain in south-west Australia, unlike everywhere else.  The South-West has seen a marked decline in rainfall since the late 1960s, but an increase in cloud cover.  It seems counter intuitive, but there you go.

Any suggestions are welcome.

The Disconnect Between Theory and Reality- Part 2: Winters vs Summers

February 12, 2016


It was two years ago in 2013 that I last posted on the difference between climate scientists’ expectations and reality, so in this series of posts I bring these points up to date, and add a couple of related points.

What the climate scientists tell us:

Dr Karl Braganza in The Conversation on 14/06/2011 lists the “fingerprints” of climate change (my bold).

These fingerprints show the entire climate system has changed in ways that are consistent with increasing greenhouse gases and an enhanced greenhouse effect. They also show that recent, long term changes are inconsistent with a range of natural causes…..
…Patterns of temperature change that are uniquely associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect, and which have been observed in the real world include:
• greater warming in polar regions than tropical regions
• greater warming over the continents than the oceans
• greater warming of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures
greater warming in winter compared with summer
• a pattern of cooling in the high atmosphere (stratosphere) with simultaneous warming in the lower atmosphere (tropopause).

And later

Similarly, greater global warming at night and during winter is more typical of increased greenhouse gases, rather than an increase in solar radiation.

In this post I look at whether there is a pattern of greater warming in winter than summer.

This indicator appears to be FALSIFIED for both Northern and Southern Hemispheres:

Fig. 1:  Winter vs Summer, Northern Hemisphere (UAH)

summ win NH

Fig. 2:  Winter vs Summer, Southern Hemisphere (UAH)

summ win SH

And at the Poles:

Fig. 3: Winter vs Summer, Northern Polar region (UAH)

summ win NP

Summers warming faster than winters.  And in Antarctica:

Fig. 4: Winter vs Summer, Southern Polar region (UAH)

summ win SP

Winters (which are mostly night) are cooling much faster than summers.

In Australia overall however, winters are warming faster than summers.

Fig. 5: Winter vs Summer, Australia (UAH 1979-2015):

summ win Oz uah

And Acorn surface data since 1979:

Fig. 6: Winter vs Summer, Australia (Acorn 1979-2015):

summ win Oz acorn 7915

And since 1911:

Fig. 7: Winter vs Summer, Australia (Acorn 1911-2015):

summ win Oz acorn 19112015

However, the patterns are very different in different Australian regions.  North Australia has winters warming faster than summers:

Fig. 8: Winter vs Summer, Northern Australia (Acorn 1911-2015):

summ win Oz nth

While Southern Australia has exactly the reverse:

Fig. 9: Winter vs Summer, Southern Australia (Acorn 1911-2015):

summ win Oz sth

Let’s look at different parts of the South, first the South East:

Fig. 10: Winter vs Summer, South Eastern Australia (Acorn 1911-2015):

summ win Oz SE

And the South West:

Fig. 11: Winter vs Summer, South Western Australia (Acorn 1911-2015):

summ win Oz SW

This shows a particularly strong summer warming effect.

In the North, the pattern seems driven by greater summer rainfall and drier winters:

Fig. 12:  Summer and Winter rainfall anomalies, Northern Australia

summ win Oz rain Nth

There has been much less winter rain in the Southwest (in the Southeast, there has not been as much variation):

Fig. 13:  Summer and Winter rainfall anomalies, South Western Australia

summ win Oz rain SW

In both the North and Southwest, there are distinct changes in rainfall in the late 1960s or early 1970s:

Fig. 14:  Northern Summer rainfall changes

summ rain Nth

Note the long term slow decrease to 1973, the wet 1970s and dry 1980s, and all except 6 wetter than average seasons since 1991.

By contrast, the South Western rainy season shows a long term slow increase with great variability until the 1960s, with a sharp step down in 1969, and another in 2001, with less year to year variability.

Fig. 15:  South Western Winter rainfall changes

winter rain SW

This shows up in trend maps of summer and winter rainfall 1970-2014:

Fig. 16:  Trends in summer rainfall

summ rain 19702014

Fig. 17:  Trends in winter rainfall

winter rain 19702014

The effect of less winter rain on temperatures in the following summer in South Western Australia is clearly seen in this scatterplot:

Fig. 18:  Summer means and previous winter rain:

summ T vs win rain SW

While the IPCC and its acolytes in the Climate Council predict less rainfall for southeastern and southwestern Australia, this would not be difficult given the trend for southwestern Australia had been established for 20 years before the IPCC was even formed, and 45 years before AR5. Northern Australian rainfall is not mentioned.

Assessment of this evidence for the enhanced greenhouse effect: FAIL.  Tropospheric data show this to be falsified in both Hemispheres and both Poles.  Australia appears to go against this pattern, but drastic changes in rainfall patterns in the Northwest and Southwest appear to be involved in the difference between north and south.

Theory has been mugged by reality yet again.

Rainfall and Temperatures Part 2

November 29, 2015

In my last post I showed how in Australia more than three quarters of the difference between surface maxima and tropospheric anomalies can be explained by variation in rainfall alone. Figure 12 from that post showed that clearly:

Fig. 1: 12 month rainfall vs surface maxima – TLT difference: Australia

max diff v rain scatterplot

In this post I am looking at the different contributions made by the north and the south of Australia. This map shows the regions used for climate analysis by the Bureau.

Fig. 2: Climate regions

Climate regions
Northern Australia and Southern Australia have vastly different climates, as shown by the following graphs of mean monthly rainfall:

Fig. 3: Mean Monthly Rainfall: Northern Australia

Nthn rain av

Fig. 4: Mean Monthly Rainfall: Southern Australia

Sthn rain av

The sheer volume of wet season rain in the north dominates, and distorts, the national means, therefore it is sensible to analyse northern and southern influences separately.

Northern Australia, north of 26 degrees South, has less than 3 degrees outside the Tropics, so may be considered the tropical northern half of Australia. Do not think of this as a lush tropical paradise. Far from it. There are a couple of very small areas of wet tropics, and some softer country in the far south-east, but the rest is either monsoonal wet/dry (very wet summers, almost completely dry for the rest of the year), or desert. The rainfall graph for Northern Australia is for the whole region- most of which is desert. If the monsoon is weak or fails altogether we get drought.

Southern Australia is largely influenced by the Southern Annular Mode. Each winter the southern high pressure systems move north, and cold fronts sweep across the south bringing winter rains. If these systems don’t move far enough north, the rain systems dodge the bottom of the continent, resulting in drought conditions. The far north-east of Southern Australia (southern Queensland and northern New South Wales) gets a wet summer/ dry winter pattern, and Tasmania and coastal New South Wales get rain in all seasons.

Comparing the influences of northern and southern rainfall on the national surface- TLT differences:

Fig. 5: Northern rain vs national maxima- TLT difference

Nthn rain v nat max diff

More than two thirds of the national maxima-TLT difference can be explained by variation in the northern rainfall alone.

Southern rainfall has a much weaker correlation with national maxima- TLT difference:

Fig. 6: Southern rain vs national maxima- TLT difference

Sthn rain v nat max diff

Now let’s plot Northern rain vs northern maxima- TLT (for the whole of Australia) difference, firstly for each month:

Fig. 7: Northern rain vs northern maxima- national TLT difference: monthly

Nth rain v nth diff monthly

Nearly two thirds of the monthly difference can be explained by monthly rainfall alone.

Fig. 8: Northern rain vs northern maxima- national TLT difference: 3 monthly

Nth rain v nth diff 3m

Three quarters of the 3 month mean surface maxima minus national TLT difference can be explained by rainfall.

Fig. 9: Northern rain vs northern maxima- national TLT difference: 12 monthly

Nth rain v nth diff 12m

R squared value of 0.8348 corresponds to a correlation of -0.91! But wait- there’s more! The 24 month means give an even better fit!

Fig. 10: Northern rain vs northern maxima- national TLT difference: 24 monthly

Nth rain v nth diff 24m

And 120 month means show an extremely close fit:

Fig. 11: Northern rain vs northern maxima- national TLT difference: decadal

Nth rain v nth diff 120m

97% of decadal northern surface maxima- national TLT difference is explained by decadal northern rainfall variation.

Fig. 12: Southern rain vs southern maxima- TLT difference: monthly

Sth rain v Sth diff monthly

Fig. 13: Southern rain vs southern maxima- TLT difference: 3 monthly

Sth rain v Sth diff 3m

Fig. 14: Southern rain vs southern maxima- TLT difference: 12 monthly

Sth rain v Sth diff 12m

More than half the difference between southern Australian maxima and TLT can be explained by southern rainfall variation.

However, 24 month means are not as good a fit:

Fig. 15: Southern rain vs southern maxima- TLT difference: 24 monthly

Sth rain v Sth diff 24m

And the long term means are a much poorer fit:

Fig. 16: Southern rain vs southern maxima- TLT difference: decadal

Sth rain v Sth diff 120m

Only 34% of the decadal southern Australian maxima-TLT difference is due to rainfall variation.

In tabular form:

Fig. 17: Range of rainfall anomalies and R-squared values for regional rainfall vs regional surface maxima- national TLT differences

Table rain r2


Australian climate is dominated by the tropics, and tropical rainfall variation dominates the national surface- troposphere differences, and even more so the tropical surface – national troposphere temperature differences: the greater the rainfall variation, the greater the difference between surface and tropospheric temperatures.

For a better analysis, we would need UAH anomalies for Australia separated into north and south of 26 degrees South.

Why Are Surface and Satellite Temperatures Different?

November 20, 2015

Many are puzzled by the difference between surface temperature, measured in Stevenson screens, and atmospheric temperature, as measured by satellites. Some sceptics suspect surface temperatures cannot be trusted; some global warming enthusiasts claim satellite data are not accurate. The truth is both are accurate enough to be useful for their own purposes. But why the difference?

I have used data from the Bureau’s Climate Change Time Series site for monthly rainfall and surface temperatures for Australia, and from University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) for Temperature of the Lower Troposphere (TLT) anomalies for Australia, from December 1978 to October 2015. I converted rainfall and surface temperatures to anomalies from monthly means 1981 – 2010, the same as UAH. Throughout I use 12 month running means.

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.

The context:

This map shows the location of the Acorn surface temperature observing sites.

Fig.1: ACORN-SAT sites

Acorn network

Note the scale at bottom left, and that they are concentrated in the wetter, more closely settled areas. As with rainfall observing sites:

Fig.2: Rainfall observation sites

Rainfall network awap

Fig.3: mean annual rainfall:

Avg ann rain map

The scale is in millimetres: divide by about 25 to get inches. Consequently a very large area of Australia is desert, and another large area is grassland with few or scattered trees. Very little of Australia is green for more than a few months of the year. More on this later.

The data:

Here are 12 month running means of the Bureau’s Acorn maxima and minima since December 1978.

Fig. 4: 12 month running means of monthly maxima and minima anomalies (from 1981-2010 means) for Australia

Max v min

Note that minima frequently lags several months behind maxima- which is why mean temperature doesn’t give us very much useful information.

Now compare surface temperature with the lower troposphere:

Fig. 5: Minima vs TLT anomalies

min v uah

Fig. 6:  Maxima vs TLT anomalies

max v uah

TLT approximately tracks surface temperature, but with smaller variation. So what causes the difference between surface and atmospheric temperatures?

The culprit is that wicked greenhouse gas, H2O.

In the following graphs 12 month mean rainfall is scaled down by a factor of 25, and inverted: dry is at the top and wet is at the bottom of these plots.

Fig. 7: Maxima vs Inverted Rain

max v rain

It is plainly obvious that very wet periods mostly coincide with low maxima, and dry periods with high maxima.

Fig. 8: Minima vs Inverted Rain

min v rain

Again, minima has no immediate relation with rainfall (although cloudy nights are warmer), lagging many months behind.

Next I calculate the difference in anomalies- surface temperature minus TLT- to analyse the difference between surface and satellite data. As minima lags many months behind rainfall a close relationship is not expected.

Fig.9: Acorn minima anomalies minus TLT anomalies compared with rainfall anomalies

min diff v rain

However, Acorn maxima minus UAH matches rainfall remarkably well.

Fig.10: Acorn maxima anomalies minus TLT anomalies compared with rainfall anomalies

max diff v rain

It is not an exact match of course. The next graph plots the surface maxima- TLT anomaly difference against 12 month mean rainfall anomaly sorted from smallest to largest, with the horizontal axis showing monthly percentile rank by rainfall:

Fig.11: Comparison of maxima-TLT anomaly difference with ranked rainfall anomalies

Max-UAH v rain%

Note that the surface- atmosphere difference tracks rainfall quite closely (+/- about 0.5C), with the largest positive and negative differences at the rainfall extremes, and also that the 12 month period where the rainfall anomaly crosses from negative to positive is at the 59th percentile: there are more dry months than wet months.

Another way of showing the relationship is with a scatterplot:

Fig.12: Surface maxima- TLT difference compared with rainfall

max diff v rain scatterplot

Note the R squared value: 0.76! At least three quarters of the difference can be explained by rainfall variation alone- not bad across a whole continent with a northern wet summer / dry winter and a southern wet winter / dry summer pattern.

An over simplified explanation of a complex process:

In wetter than normal weather, more and thicker clouds reflect sunlight and shade the surface, keeping it cooler than normal. Moisture from the surface (and vegetation) is evaporated, also cooling the surface. Deep convective overturning occurs during the day and evaporated moisture ascends in the atmosphere, where it condenses, releasing heat. The troposphere anomaly is thus relatively warmer than the surface anomaly in moist conditions such as during wet weather.

In a drought, fewer clouds allows more sunlight to heat the surface. The ground is dry; surface water is scarce; vegetation is thinner, drier, and shades less of the ground. Therefore the surface is hotter than normal. Less evaporated moisture means less condensation releasing heat in the troposphere, and therefore the troposphere anomaly will be relatively cooler than the surface anomaly.  As well, as the Bureau explains, ” the rate at which temperatures cool with increasing altitude (known as the lapse rate) is greater in dry air than it is in moist air.”  Thus in dry weather, ignoring convection, the atmosphere will be cooler than normal.

Yes, but…

So how does this explain why the October 2015 surface maximum anomaly was a record +3.08C above the 1981-2010 mean, while the UAH anomaly was a mere +0.71C, and the rainfall anomaly was only -12.75mm, nowhere near the lowest?

This map shows the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index for October. The Bureau explains the index as a measure of “the fractional cover of the ground by vegetation, the vegetation density and the vegetation greenness”.

Fig.13: Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) October 2015

Vegetation Oct 2015

What do the dark brown areas look like on the ground? Here’s a photo I took recently around about the area circled red:

Fig.14: Droughted country, Western Queensland, September 2015

Bare, dry dirt with scattered tussocks of dead grass- scattered prickly acacia in the distance.

A large area of Australia is relatively bare and bone dry, therefore hotter. Over wide areas, much less moisture is convected into the atmosphere, which will thus be relatively cooler than surface anomalies. North winds blowing from the interior towards the south will bring hot dry air even to green areas, causing much hotter surface temperatures there as well. Much of the moisture evaporated from these wetter areas is blown out to sea (outside the UAH Australian grids) so the TLT over even these green areas is relatively cooler than expected.


Atmospheric temperature anomalies are necessarily different from surface anomalies. Usually, atmospheric anomalies are less than surface maxima in hot periods and higher than surface anomalies in cool periods.

There is no conspiracy: over three quarters of the difference between surface and atmospheric temperature anomalies is due to rainfall variation alone.

The Australian Temperature Record Revisited Part 2: Regional Effects

June 1, 2014

In my last post I showed how a numerical near-balance of adjustments to the ‘raw’ minimum temperatures at 83 out of 104 Acorn sites resulted in a 66.6% increase in warming trend across the nation.

I now turn to the effect on state and regional temperatures, which is enormously varied.

Figure 1 shows the official BOM trend map of trends in minima from 1910 to 2013:Trend map min

Note the little “bulls eyes” in various places, indicating where the local trend at individual sites is out of sync with the wider trend.  I’m sure you can identify Tibooburra in north western NSW, Richmond in northern inland Qld, Rutherglen in Victoria, Marree in northern SA, and Carnarvon on the WA coast.

Figure 2 shows the median position of all 104 sites, the four unequal area quadrants, and the number of sites I analysed in each with the increased warming resulting from adjustments.
Median network position map adj results

The concentration of Acorn sites in the south east of Australia, and the concentration of warming adjustment there as well, is plainly obvious.

Now I shall show each quadrant in turn, showing the trend difference at each site.

Figure 3:  South west Quadrant sites:
Bar graph SW Quad

Figure 4: SW Quadrant minimum temperature trends:SW quad chart

Figure 5:  North west Quadrant sites:Bar graph NW Quad

Figure 6:  NW Quadrant minimum temperature trends:NW quad chart

Figure 7:  North east Quadrant sites:Bar graph NE Quad

Figure 8:  NE Quadrant minimum temperature trends:NE quad chart

Figure  9:  South east Quadrant sites:Bar graph SE Quad

Figure  10: SE Quadrant minimum temperature trends:SE quad chart

In the next section I look at how the adjustments affect the mean minima in each state.  First I’ll look at the Northern Territory, which is atypical and based on only three sites (Alice Springs, Victoria River Downs, and Rabbit Flat), the two last with less than 50 years of observations.

Figure  11:  Northern Territory- cooling reversedNT Chart

Figure 12:  South Australia- adjustments result in less warmingSA chart

Figure 13:  Tasmania- adjustments result in less warmingTas chart

Figure 14: Western Australia- 23.7% increased warming.WA chart

Figure 15:  Queensland- 37% extra warmingQld chart

So far, every state has seen an increase in warming much less than the national mean of 66.6%, so much depends on the final two states.

Figure  16:  New South Wales- 245% extra warming!NSW chart

That is pretty amazing, but the result for Victoria is even more astounding.

Figure 17: VictoriaVic chart

The implications for the trend map in Figure 1 are obvious.  One hopes that those adjustments are well and truly justified!

In the next post I will discuss the remaining 21 sites which I am unable to compare directly, and later, the trend outliers.

No Excess Winter Warming for 103 Years!

January 9, 2014

Greenhouse Myth Buster No. 2

Another key indicator of greenhouse warming, a pattern of temperature change “uniquely associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect” according to Dr Braganza, is greater warming in winter compared with summer.

Not in Australia.

This is a graph of summer annual means minus winter annual means for the years 1910 – 2012, straight from BOM’s time series data.


No winter increase over summer in 103 years.  This summer- we find out in early March- will have to be less than +0.7 C above average to make  the trend ever so slightly negative (to 5 decimal places).

But then how will we get another “Angry Summer”?