Four-Steps Needed To Restore Confidence In Bureau’s Handling Of Temperature Data

Written by:
10 August 2017

THE Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, needs to immediately instigate the following four-step process to restore confidence in the recording and handling of historical temperature data.

Step 1 – Instruct the Bureau to immediately:

1. Lift any limits currently placed on the recording of minimum temperatures;

2. Make publicly available the dates on which limits were first set (e.g. minus 10.0 for Goulburn), and the specific weather stations for which limits were set;

3. Advise whether or not the actual measured temperatures have been stored for the weather stations where limits were set (e.g. Goulburn and Thredbo Top);

4. Make publicly available the stored values, which were not entered into the Australia Data Archive for Meteorology (ADAM) – known more generally as the CDO dataset;

5. Clarify, and document, the specific standard applied in the recording of measurements from the automatic weather station (AWS) equipment including period of the measurement (i.e. 1-second or 10-minute average), checks in place to ensure compliance with the standard, checks in place to monitor and correct any drift, and temperature range over which the equipment gives valid measurements.

Note to chart: Since the installation of an automatic weather station at Thredbo, there has been a reduction in the number of days each year when the temperature has fallen to, or below minus 10.0 degree Celsius – from an average of 2.5 (1966 to 1996) to 1.1 days (1997 to July 2017). As a matter or urgency, the Bureau needs to explain when the limits were placed on the minimum temperature that could be recorded at this, and other, automatic weather stations..

Step 2 – Establish a Parliamentary Enquiry, through the House Energy and Environment Committee, with Terms of Reference that include:

6. When and why the policy of recording actual measurements from weather stations into ADAM was modified through the placement of limits on the lowest temperature that an individual weather station could record;

7. Scrutiny of the methodology used by the Bureau in the remodelling of individual temperature series from ADAM for the creation of ACORN-SAT that is used to report climate change trends;

8. Scrutiny of the complex area weighting system currently applied to each of the individual series used in ACORN-SAT;

9. Clarification of the objectives of ACORN-SAT, specifically to ensure public expectations are consistent with the final product;

10. Clarification as to why statistically-relevant uncertainty values generally increase, rather than decreases with homogenisation.

Step 3 – Establishment of a formal Red Team*, setup independently of the Bureau, to formally advise the parliamentary committee mentioned in Step 2. In particular, the Red Team might:

11. Act to challenge, where appropriate, the evidence and arguments of the Blue Team (the Bureau);

12. Provide a genuinely open review environment so the parliamentarians (and public) can hear the counter arguments and evidence, including how homogenisation may have corrupted the official historical temperature record – and incorrectly suggest that every year is hotter than the previous;

13. Suggest lines of argument for the parliamentary committee to consider, and questions to ask.

Step 4 – As a government committed to innovation, the Bureau be told to consider alternative and more advanced techniques for the storage, quality assurance and reconstruction of historical datasets, in particular:

14. A two-day workshop be held at which the Bureau’s ACORN-SAT team (currently 2.5 people) be exposed to the latest quality assurance techniques and big-data methods – including the application of artificial neural networks for historical temperature reconstructions as an alternative to homogenisation.

In summary – This four-step process must be implemented as a matter of urgency.Incorrect historical temperature data currently underpins the theory of human-caused global warming that has resulted in government policies ostensibly to mitigate further global warming. These policies are costing the Australian economy hundreds of billions of dollars, and forcing-up the price of electricity for ordinary Australian families and businesses.

* Red Team versus Blue Team exercises take their name from their military antecedents. The idea is that the Red Team provides evidence critical of Blue Team’s methodology (i.e. the Bureau’s temperature data handling and recording methods). The concept was originally applied to test force readiness in the military, and has since been applied to test physical security of sensitive sites like nuclear facilities, and also information security systems.

This first appeared on Dr. Jennifer Marohasy’s blog.

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