Posts Tagged ‘Surface Air 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.

Tarcoola- A Cooling Outlier

July 28, 2014

In a previous post I looked at the warming outliers in the Acorn network– those sites that had homogenisation adjustments that created a difference of more than +2 degrees Celsius between the Acorn trend and the raw trend in minima.  In all of these six examples, the adjustments had created trends that were not just greater than the raw trends at each site, not just the mean of their Acorn neighbours raw data trends, but greater than the Acorn trends of their neighbours, and in all but one, greater than each of the individual Acorn trends of their neighbours.

In this post I consider the opposite scenario.  I look at one cooling outlier, Tarcoola in South Australia, where the cooling adjustments have created a difference in trend of -2.81C per 100 years.  There is one other, Forrest in W.A., with an enormous cooling adjustment of around -2.14C, but I have little faith in the accuracy of the data there.  Greg Geegman suggested in a comment that if a site that is adjusted downwards is cooled relative to the neighbour group, this may indicate the Percentile Matching algorithm operates iteratively, although Technical Report No. 49 does not mention this.  An alternative explanation might be that the algorithm is too sensitive and exaggerates necessary adjustments.

All data may be downloaded from the BOM website: Site networks and Climate Data Online.

Tarcoola is in the centre of South Australia:Tarcoola map

As before, I compare Tarcoola with its neighbours in the Acorn network, using anomalies from the 1961-1990 mean.

Fig. 1:  Tarcoola Acorn vs ‘Raw’ minimaTarcoola tmin

Cooler trend than raw.  Note the spurious data pre-1930.

Fig. 2: Tarcoola raw vs mean of Acorn neighbours’ rawtarcoola raw v reg mean raw

Tarcoola appears to need cooling.

Fig. 3: Tarcoola Acorn vs mean of neighbours’ meantarcoola acorn v reg raw

Cooler trend than neighbours’ raw

Fig. 4: Tarcoola Acorn vs mean of neighbours’ Acorntarcoola acorn v reg acorn

Cooler trend than neighbours Acorn

Tarcoola Acorn trend is also cooler than each of the neighbours’ individual Acorn trends.

So which neighbours were used to make the Tarcoola adjustments?


Both warming and cooling outliers show Acorn adjustments outperforming those of the neighbours. This suggests that the algorithm exaggerates adjustments, both warming and cooling, and needs serious re-examination.

Still No Evidence of Greenhouse Warming!

January 8, 2014

This morning I noticed at Jennifer Marohasy’s post

a comment from “Luke” (who else) objecting to my use of 2nd order polynomials in yesterday’s post.  Strictly I should stick to linear trends for a 35 year timescale, and use polynomials only for much longer periods.   Therefore, here is a plot of Australian annual minima and maxima for the 104 years from 1910 to 2013, using data straight from the BOM.minvmax poly2

Note that the red 2nd polynomial curve (maxima) shows a fairly flat trend until the 1950s, with an increasing rise since then. (Yes! It’s getting hotter!)

Note how the blue (minima ) curve also gradually rises over the years and apparently continues to do so.

However I have circled the graphs in the 1980s and the last few years.   I have blown this up so you can see more clearly what is happening.minvmax blownup

Since the mid 1980s there is a divergence in trends.  Daytime temperatures are rising faster than night time temperatures.

This is a problem because increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gases should be slowing back radiation, which should be evident in night time temperatures increasing faster.

Something else is happening.


The Hottest Year, but NOT due to Greenhouse Warming

January 7, 2014

ACORN-SAT- the gift that keeps on giving!

Unfortunately for doomsayers, the fact that 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia is no evidence for the effects of greenhouse warming.  In fact, it is the very opposite.

Why?  Any sort of warming will eventually produce the hottest year on record.  But warming due to the enhanced greenhouse effect is quite special.  Warming due to greenhouse gases is evidenced by

greater warming of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures”

amongst other things, according to Dr Karl Braganza (

I discussed this in April  last year.  Now, with the updated data for 2013, it’s time for a reality check to see whether there is now evidence of greenhouse warming in Australia (a region as large as Antarctica, Greenland, the USA, or Europe, and supposed to be especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming.)

Once again I am using data straight from the Bureau’s website.

Fig. 1: Monthly maxima and minima with 12 month smoothing, December 1978 – December 2013, from

max v min linear

For the past 35 years, there is much LESS warming of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures.  And the divergence is increasing:

Fig 2: fitted with a 2nd order polynomialmax v min poly

Sorry, but this is not evidence of greenhouse warming over the period of the satellite era, when greenhouse gases have been increasing rapidly.  It is merely evidence of warming.

Was 2013 the Hottest Year on Record? Update!

January 6, 2014

Update:  Warwick Hughes has reminded me of his post on 5 December at where he shows a distinct drift in UAH data compared with RSS, and in later posts he confirms this in southern Africa and the USA.  Warwick says:

"I have checked UAH against CRUT4 and GHCN CAMS for all Australia and it
looks like there was a drift in UAH 2005-2006.

Until UAH resolves the issue, I think their ranking of Australian hot
years is not worth repeating."

That may help explain the large divergence in recent years.  

I will leave this post as is, with the caveat that it is based on available UAH and Acorn data.


On Friday, 2 January, the BOM released its Climate Statement claiming 2013 as the hottest year on record.

The UAH dataset for lower troposphere temperatures has also been just released.

I have compared BOM monthly data with UAH by converting the BOM anomalies to the same reference period as UAH (1981-2010).

Here is the result:  UAH vs BOM 1978-2013 (12 month running means)uah v bom

It is plain to see that in the satellite era, Australian surface temperatures (as calculated by the BOM) reached a record last year.

For the 12 month periods to December, UAH agrees that 2013 was the hottest, just ahead of 1998 and 2009.

According to UAH, the 12 months period to October 2013 was just edged out by the 12 months to June 2010.

So, the BOM is right in saying 2013 was the hottest on their 104 year (and very much adjusted) record.

While the two datasets match reasonably well in most years, especially 1996-1999, they diverge markedly in recent extreme years.  It appears that the BOM area averaging algorithm accentuates extremes, probably because of the scarcity of observing sites in the remote inland, where warming and cooling are much greater.  Alice Springs, for example, being hundreds of kilometres from the nearest neighbouring site, contributes 7 – 10% of the national warming signal.

As well, the satellites’ remote sensors do not necessarily match the atmospheric conditions at ground level, depending on different seasonal conditions.  However, to quote Dr John Christy, “the temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT) more accurately represents what the bulk atmosphere is doing – which is the quantity that is most directly related to greenhouse gas impacts.”

So- if you are interested in the weather, how hot it is locally, consult the BOM- the old Weather Bureau.  If you are interested in whether the climate is changing due to greenhouses gases, consult the satellite data.

And yes, the weather has been hot (and still is where I live).

What did Chris Turney expect?

January 5, 2014

Professor Turney did not have to take an unsuitable ship full of “climate tourists” to Antarctica.  He could have just checked the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.

As the Aurora Australis will be calling at Casey base to deliver delayed supplies before returning the hapless Turney and the rest of the expedition to Australia, I thought I’d help with what conditions to expect at Casey.  I used official ACORN-SAT monthly data to 2011 and Climate Data Online daily temperatures since then.

Here are the actual monthly maximum temperatures at Casey for 2013:Casey max 2013

As you can see, temperatures were below the mean (calculated from 1970-1990) for most of the year, and the monthly mean maximum temperatures were above freezing (the straight blue line) only in January and December.  Monthly mean minimum temperatures never get above freezing.   (The highest daily minimum in 2013 was +1.7 C on 15 January.  The warmest minima this summer were on 29 and 30 December.  It got to +0.3.)

And has there been recent warming?

This graph is of maximum and minimum anomalies from the 1970-1990 means, smoothed with running 12 month means:Casey 1970-2013

Australia has three bases on the Antarctic coast, Casey, Davis, and Mawson.  Davis and Mawson show some slight warming:Davis 1958-2013Mawson 1958-2013

The mean anomalies of all three sites:Antarctic means

show a linear trend of about  +0.15 C- but the rise (such as it is)  is by no means steady.

To show how insignificant the warming is in Antarctica, here are annual mean anomalies compared with those of Australia:Antarctic-Oz comp

Remember, one of the so-called “fingerprints of greenhouse warming” is that warming should be greater towards the poles.

Professor Turney could have saved himself a lot of time, trouble, and embarrassment.

BOM’s Annual Climate Statement

January 3, 2014

This is just a quick comment on the 2013 Annual Climate Statement released today by the Bureau.

I have checked only minimum temperatures, and my calculation I released yesterday for the 2013 annual mean for minima was +0.82 C.  The Bureau has reported  an annual average of +0.94 C.

The BOM’s figures are derived from the Acorn dataset.  They acknowledge in the small print that:

Note that all values in this statement are as compiled from data available on 2 January 2014. Subsequent quality control and the availability of additional data may result in minor changes to final values.

What they really mean is that Acorn won’t be updated with 2013 data for several weeks, and that nearly all Acorn sites have many months of daily data that has not yet been quality controlled.  This means that the values they give can not be checked for several weeks.

As well, three Acorn sites in Western Australia ceased reporting in August 2012.  Bridgetown has years of data that is out by two days, and Rutherglen has years of data out by one day.   And on some 800 occasions the minimum temperature is higher than the maximum.  Quality checking is not as rigorous as you might expect.

Any changes may be only minor, but rushing to publish before the data can be checked is not a good look.

2013 Minimum Temperatures Released

January 2, 2014

Ken Stewart, 2 January 2014

UPDATE 3 January: BOM has updated it’s time series graph, but not the raw data, which still finishes at 2012! See below.

I have calculated the annual 2013 minimum temperature anomaly for Australia, well before the Bureau of Meteorology.

Not including the 8 sites acknowledged as having anomalous warming due to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, I calculate the straight mean (without area averaging) to be +0.82 C.  This puts 2013 as second warmest after 1998, and just ahead of 1973 and 1988.

I expect that the BOM will publish a figure of around +1.2C, and claim 2013 as the warmest on record for minima.

I calculated this by using daily Acorn data for 1910 to 2012 from  , plus daily minima for 2013 for these same sites from Climate Data Online.  I used Acorn data from 1961-1990 to recalculate monthly means for each site, and then calculated running centred 31 day means to estimate daily means for the same period.

Then I calculated daily anomalies for each site, and amalgamated these into a straight mean for Australia.

The result is as follows:

Fig. 1:  365 day running mean of daily data.acorn 365d 1910-13 no uhi

I will analyse Fig. 1 in some detail later.  But first, how does my calculation stack up against the BOM super computer?

Fig. 2: Annual (31 December each year) means of minima 1910 to 2012.Acorn ann v me 1910-12

My calculation is in green, BOM in red.  As you can see, the match is pretty close, and of course I have not used any area averaging.  But you would expect the results to be close, as I have used exactly the same data.  You will notice that the major differences occur in years of higher or lower than normal minima.  These appear to have become larger in the last 40 years.  The official annual figures show greater extremes, as shown above.

I have also calculated trends for the 1910 to 2013 period, and hope that this will persuade you of the futility of using linear trends for temperatures, and that if you cherry pick you can prove just about anything.  The next graph is a plot of the continuous running trend from 31 December 2013 all the way back to 1 January 1910.  That is, the linear trend through datapoints between any selected date and 31 December 2013.

Fig. 3: Continuous running trend, daily minima anomaliescont trend Oz no uhi

The vertical axis measures trend in degrees Celsius at particular points in time.  Note the rapid fluctuations at the right hand end.  I’m sure no one would be silly enough to calculate trends of only a few years’ data.

As the time period increases (moving from right to left) the fluctuations smooth out.  Note that Australia has had zero trend in daily minima since 21 July 1997.  Interesting, but no predictor of the future.

Moving further back in time, the plot shows the temperature trend increasing until the early 1940s.  Up until then the long term trend is fairly stable.  Since 1910 the trend is about 1.1C per 104 years.  The maximum trend can be calculated from 1922. Therefore, a cheerful cherrypicker can choose whatever time frame they like to produce a linear trend that suits.

Back to my graph of the 365 day running means of daily temperatures. Figure 1 again:acorn 365d 1910-13 no uhi

Note that the 365 day mean peaked in early November 2013 and has dropped since then.  The peak was at +0.94C, which is still below that of 1998 and 2006.

But also note that the rise of about +1.1C over 104 years is by no means steady.  There are several sharp rises and falls along the way.  Let’s have a closer look at these.

Fig. 4: Step changes in temperatureacorn 365d 1910-13 no uhi stepups

I have shown (starting in 2014) how the minimum temperature record of Australia features a series of sharp step ups, followed by slow declines.  I have indicated the start of these periods and the linear trend lines of each one.  There may have been one in 1926, and 2013 may (or may not) be the start of another such period.  They are more frequent and more pronounced in the past 40 years than in the first 60 years.  This appears to show a link to natural climate forces, such as the El Nino- Southern Oscillation.

I will analyse these results further in future posts, and may do the same for maxima as well.  (People are interested in maxima because “that’s how hot it is”.  I like minima because they tell you more about climate e.g. if they increase faster than maxima this may indicate greenhouse warming.)

Watch for the official 2013 minimum temperature anomaly:  probably +1.2C.

Update 3 January:

Here is the official BOM graph to 2013:

timesereis tmin to 2013

and it looks like a bit over +0.9C  +0.94 C, so less than I expected and closer to mine.

It’s Official: a 27 Year Hiatus

December 13, 2013

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has been publishing its brand new (less than 2 years old) temperature dataset, the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network- Surface Air Temperatures (ACORN-SAT, or Acorn), and using this to make scary pronouncements about our climate.

Back in March, I showed that there had been an 18 year pause in Australia’s mean temperatures.  In April I showed how Dr Braganza’s “Fingerprints of Global Warming” (from an article in The Conversation on 14/06/2011) are absent in Australia.  I included a passing reference to minima, which really needs a separate post, so here it is.

Why minima?  To quote Dr Braganza,

…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 of night time temperatures than daytime temperatures

Greenhouse theory suggests that greenhouse gases slow the normal rapid night time radiation into space, therefore minima should be increasing.  Australia as a region is roughly the same size as the USA, or Greenland, or Europe, or the Arctic or Antarctic, and is supposed to be at great risk from the effects of global warming, so the behaviour of minima in Australia should be of some interest.

So let’s see if this unique pattern of temperature change has been observed in the real world.

This is a graph of annual minimum temperature anomalies across Australia from 1986 (updated!) to 2012, sourced directly from Acorn data at the BOM website at tmin Australia

Which clearly shows that minimum temperatures have been cooling, not warming, for 27 years.

Strange, but true.  You won’t see that mentioned in any BOM publication.