Features Australia

Cold temperatures in hot water

12 August 2017

9:00 AM

12 August 2017

9:00 AM

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is in hot water after revelations that have cast doubt on the reliability and veracity of its temperature recording. But the problem of unreliable temperature measurements is global and historic, some of it described as ‘a farce’ by one analyst. On this data are built all energy and climate policies on which billions are spent annually.

On August 4, 2017, the Australian’s environment editor, Graham Lloyd reported: ‘The BoM said it had taken immediate action to replace the Thredbo station after concerns were raised that very low temperatures were not making it onto the official record.

Controversy has dogged the bureau’s automatic weather station network since Goulburn man Lance Pigeon saw a -10.4C reading on the BoM’s website on July 2 automatically adjust to -10C, then disappear.’

‘Later independent monitoring of the Thredbo Top station by scientist Jennifer Marohasy showed a recording of -10.6C vanish from the record.’

Marohasy has for some years documented ‘how the Australian Bureau of Meteorology remodel historical temperature data in the creation of the ACORN-SAT dataset, so it better fits the theory of human-caused global warming. This winter I have discovered that the Bureau are now placing limits on how cold a temperature can actually be recorded in the CDO dataset.’ Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is reportedly concerned: ‘I’m treating this seriously and am determined to get to the bottom of what has happened. I look forward to receiving recommendations as to how we can ensure that the public’s confidence in climate data is maintained.’

The Minister may want to take into consideration the following note on Marohasy’s website: ‘David Jones, the Manager of Climate Monitoring and Prediction services at the Bureau… is on record stating that: “Truth be known, climate change here is now running so rampant that we don’t need meteorological data to see it.”’

‘It’s not just the BoM data that is questionable but all global data’, says Melbourne based climate data analyst John McLean, who is finalising his Ph.D. thesis on the subject.

He describes carbon dioxide emission mitigation policies as ‘a solution in search of a problem.’ His lack of confidence in climate data grew out of the many weaknesses and failures of data since 1850 being used to underpin conclusions. For example:


 

– For the first four years of the accepted temperature record (1850-1853), in the Southern Hemisphere a single observation station, on the west coast of Indonesia, reported data.

– During the 1860s and 1870s Western Europe supplied a high proportion of Northern Hemisphere data despite being a very small proportion of the total area.  Europe was still emerging from the Little Ice Age at the time so warming is hardly a surprise.

– It’s not until about 1950 that there is regularly more than 50% coverage of both hemispheres and it was as late as the 1970s that sea surface temperature (SST) data was regularly available for some parts of the Pacific.

– The data for something like 30 per cent of all reporting SST grid cells (5 degree latitude x 5 degree longitude) were based on between 1 to 5 observations over the entire month up until about 1960. In contrast, data from observation stations on land require at least 20 daily observations before a monthly mean value can be calculated.

 

McLean says More than six methods of measuring sea surface temperature have been used over the years, the most common methods being drawing a sample of water, notionally from about 500mm depth, aboard and measuring its temperature, and measuring water temperature at the inlet to the engine cooling system, the inlet often being 2 or more metres below the surface. Argo buoys appear to be more accurate but have only been in common use for 12 to 15 years. A continuous data record is desirable but to achieve that the data needs to be adjusted to appear that it was measured using the same technique, but that involves many assumptions.’

McLean points out that ‘According to the 2013 IPCC report the trend in temperature from 1998 to 2012 falls somewhere between slight warming (0.15C/decade) and slight cooling (0.05C/decade). In other words there is no certainty that despite CO2 increasing over those 15 years there was any warming at all.’

‘Accurate historical temperatures are vital for the Paris Climate Agreement where countries committed to avoiding warming of more than 2.0C, preferably 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels but no date or base temperature was stated.  Most global temperature records start in 1850 but the Industrial Revolution was well underway by then. Could the temperatures be from 1800? That would be a problem because 37 observation stations reported data at that time, 34 of them in Europe which was still suffering the Little Ice Age.’

Perhaps McLean’s biggest concern is that ‘the UNFCCC could claim tomorrow that the 1.5C point, or even the 2.0C point (of temperature increase), had been reached and that it wanted greater reductions in emissions and more money.

Without the details about temperature we’d have no way to verify or challenge those demands and we’d be pressured into giving in to them. The whole problem is that most of the countries who vote at the UNFCCC take advantage of the UN’s “one country – one vote” system to vote for whatever might get money out of the more developed countries, but that’s another story.’ And a significant one …

The CO2 bogey, rather than a dangerous trace gas in the atmosphere, is in fact the benign gas actively greening the planet, not harming it.

The most comprehensive modelling of remote sensing data so far shows the area on Earth covered by plants in the last 30 years has increased by 18 million square kilometres — about 2.5 times the size of the Australian continent — largely due to the fertilising effect of carbon dioxide. ‘[The greening] has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,’ said Dr Zaichun Zhu, from Peking University, lead author of the study, released last year (ABC News, April 26, 2016).

We should rejoice – and we should chase the moneychangers of climate change out of the temples of power and influence into the cold.

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