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Bureau overheat figures by 4 degrees! (2013 was not Australia’s hottest year on record)

January 6th, 2014 at 04:13pm

The Bureau Of Meteorology released a statement on Friday which claimed that 2013 was Australia’s hottest year on record, with an average temperature of 23 degrees which, according to them, is 1.2 degrees above the long-term average. The numbers just didn’t quite seem right to me as 23 degrees seems like a an average maximum temperature, simply because of the massive areas of the country which struggle to reach 23 degrees during the day for much of the year, and that overnight lows don’t spend much time hovering as high as 23 degrees in much of the country for much of the year.

During the year I had also checked some of the average temperatures in different places against the long-term average and quite often found that while daytime maximums were up (although not usually by anywhere near as much as 1.2 degrees), overnight minimums were generally quite in-line with the long-term average and had occasionally been up, but had also been down on a regular basis.

With this in mind, I decided to check the numbers myself and I’ve gone in to some detail about how I did this below.

But first, what I found was that the average temperature in Australia in 2013 was not 23.0 degrees as the Bureau claimed, but 19.01762629 degrees. The Bureau’s numbers are nearly a full four degrees too hot! This also worked out to be 0.707512656 degrees above the long-term average, not 1.2 degrees as claimed by the Bureau.

Table of the combined minimum/maximum average temperature in Australia for 2013
Table of the combined minimum/maximum average temperature in Australia for 2013

Given the Bureau are basing their 1.2 degrees above average figure on 100-or-so of the oldest weather stations in Australia and my numbers include a bunch of newer stations in addition to the older stations, and there was a general warming trend globally through the 1900s (although not over the last 17 years) it’s possible that my long-term average is higher than the Bureau’s long-term average, resulting in some of the discrepancy between the 1.2 and 0.7 figures…but even then, their long-term actual average temperature should be lower than mine, so the fact that they’re claiming the long-term average temperature is 21.8 degrees proves that either they have increased their historical numbers and 2013 numbers, or their long-term average is accurate but their 2013 number is dodgy and 2013 was actually colder than the average and my numbers think it was above average because Weatherzone’s historical data has been corrupted by manipulated Bureau data. Either way, the Bureau’s numbers are suspicious.

From my numbers, the average maximum temperature in Australia was 25.07590106 (0.909824103 above the long-term average) and the average minimum temperature was 12.95935152 (0.505201209 above the long-term average). The more I think about it, and the more I’m reminded of the ways in which various government weather services and climate researchers have been found to have manipulated numbers to “prove” global warming is accelerating (which it isn’t), the more I think the long-term averages are manipulated so as to be lower than the real number, this making warm years look very hot. Proving it would be another matter entirely, but given the bizarre nature of the differences between the long-term averages I have been using and the long-term averages the Bureau have been quoting, it makes sense.

Table of the average minimum and average maximum average temperature in Australia for 2013
Table of the average minimum and average maximum average temperature in Australia for 2013

Table of the how far above or below average the average minimum and average maximum average temperatures in Australia were in 2013
Table of the how far above or below average the average minimum and average maximum average temperatures in Australia were in 2013

Some of my findings did correlate with the Bureau’s findings. For example, the Bureau said:

All states and territories recorded above average temperatures in 2013, with Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia breaking their previous annual average temperature records.

I concur that all states appeared to show an increase against the long-term average (bearing in mind my earlier caveat about my doubts about the long-term average data being accurate) and WA, SA and NT were the three most above-average…although whether they set records or not, I can’t say as I wasn’t checking that.

I disagree with the Bureau on another point though.

The year started with a persistent heatwave in January, with Australia recording its hottest day (7 January), hottest week, and hottest month on record.

I have previously demonstrated that the Bureau wildly exaggerated the January heat, but now I have a little bit more to work with.

According to my numbers, January’s average temperature was 24.96473243 degrees (1.023030725 above average), and February was 24.09528836 (0.539000779) above average). This means that January’s average temperature is around 23.9 and February’s is around 23.5. This works out to be about 0.76 above average for the combined months of January and February.

How interesting it is then, that the satellite data doesn’t agree.
Satellite data versus BOM data
Satellite data plotted against Bureau data. Satellite data obtained from NASA satellites and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Courtesy of Ken’s Kingdom.

Huge discrepancy…the satellite data doesn’t lie, so the Bureau’s long-term averages are clearly being distorted to make slightly warm years look like a convection oven.

It occurs to me that 21.8C, the average temperature in the Bureau’s press release but not in their weather data, might be the real average and they might be using that in their press releases to avoid anyone running the raw historical numbers and quickly proving it wrong…if so, then 2013 with its average around 19C was actually a below-average year.

The other bizarre thing about the Bureau’s press release is this:

above the long-term average
breaking the previous record
above average
breaking their previous annual average temperature records.
persistent heatwave
recording its hottest day (7 January), hottest week, and hottest month on record.
exceeded 39°C
The highest temperature
the highest temperature
The January heatwave
temperatures have warmed
[..]warmest on record.

These are all of the relative references to temperature (eg. “hot”, “warm”, “cold”, “chilly”) from the press release. Notice something missing? Yep, the Bureau completely forgot to mention that there were some cold months as well.

From my numbers:
Nationally, November was below the average temperature.
NSW/ACT: February, April and November were below average
QLD: February and April were below average
SA: November was below average
TAS: April, October and November were below average
VIC: October and November were below average
WA: March was below average
NT did not record a below average month (odd, but not implausible, considering that Northern Australia has not warmed for 31 years)
Additionally, May and June were quite mild months across everywhere except the Northern Territory, and December was quite mild right across the country.

It seems to me that the Bureau have been exaggerating warm weather again while ignoring cool weather, and while I can’t definitively prove that their long-term average temperatures are a work of malicious fiction, I can and have proved that Australia is nowhere near as warm as they claim, and 2013 certainly was not an abnormally hot year.

Update 7:12pm: Satellite data for Australia for 2013 has just been released and it shows that 2013 was an above-average year for temperatures, but not by as much as claimed by the Bureau. Over at Ken’s Kingdom (see link in previous sentence) Ken posits that part of this discrepancy is caused by the scarcity of weather stations in remote inland areas being included in the Bureau’s dataset (a problem my dataset doesn’t have as I used all available weather stations and not just a select group of them) which results in Alice Springs having too much impact on the Bureau’s numbers.

The satellite data (which only goes back to 1979) says 2013 was the hottest on record for satellite data, but given that it was not as hot as Bureau data suggests and there were many years in the early 1900s which were recorded as being hotter by Bureau data than some recent years’ satellite data despite a severe lack of inland weather stations in hot places back then, I maintain that 2013 was not hotter than some of those early 1900s years and was therefore not the hottest year on record). End Update

The method for these findings

The Bureau provide data about daily maximums and minimums, but when I started analysing the data a few days ago they had not released any of the 2013 data, as as I write this they have only released the minimums for 2013 and not the maximums. One could wonder if they’re waiting for public interest in their statement to wane before releasing the data which can be used to check the validity of their statement, especially seeing as the dataset they release only covers about 100 weather stations across the country and all of the records for 2013 are stored in a computer format which can easily be added to the existing dataset.

The fact that only 100-or-so weather stations are covered by the Bureau’s dataset is also troubling as there are more than 700 official weather stations in Australia. The other problem with the Bureau’s dataset is that, to quote them, it is:

a complete re-analysis of the Australian homogenised temperature database [..] and utilises improved analysis techniques.

Given the Bureau’s recent history in claiming temperatures are hotter than they actually are, I can’t be entirely sure that any dataset which they have “homogenised” is going to be accurate and not skewed, so I went for data from an independent source which keeps a note of Bureau data on a minute-by-minute basis: Weatherzone.

Weatherzone pay the Bureau for access to their raw data from weather stations, radars etc and keep track of it themselves. On a day-today basis they use this data to help formulate their own weather forecasts, including for some things which the Bureau does not provide a forecast. More helpfully for this exercise, Weatherzone maintain a bunch of monthly summary pages for each state (eg. this one for Victoria for November), based on the live data they have collected from the Bureau throughout the year. These pages track the average maximum and minimum temperature and rainfall for each weather station in the country.

Part of the Weatherzone Monthly Summary page for Victoria for November 2013
Part of the Weatherzone Monthly Summary page for Victoria for November 2013

If you click on any of the weather stations, you can get a summary for each day showing the actual minimum and maximum of that day, and it is possible to then click on any day and obtain the exact details of the weather in that location at each half-hour through the day. Alas there is no easy-to-download version of this data, so as much as I would like to use the daily minimums and maximums, or the temperature from each half-hour which would be even better, the data would need to be copied and pasted manually in to Excel (and then reformatted slightly to ensure numbers are all on the same row as the name of the weather station), so I settled for the monthly summaries as the average temperatures listed there are what the data from the daily and half-hourly pages would boil down to anyway.

It took many hours of copying and pasting and reformatting, partially because the numbers were pasting below the weather station name and I had to build a macro to move the numbers on to the same row as the weather station name, and partially because whenever Weatherzone’s page detects a record number it highlights it and puts another number in front of it (the number of years which records have been kept at that weather station) and thus I also had to manually go through and remove the year number so that I didn’t have cells claiming that the average temperature in a location was 8,000 degrees or more.

I separated the spreadsheet in to different worksheets for each month, and another one for the overall numbers for the year. Each month’s worksheet was broken up in to sections for each state and territory (although the ACT and NSW were lumped in together).

At the bottom of each state’s data, formulas were run to:
A) Add all of the numbers so that I could quickly check the averages without having to manually add all of the data
B) Using Excel’s “average” function which ignores cells which do not have data (this was vital as some stations could not provide a long-term average as they have been in operation for less than ten years, occasionally a station might not report in a given month, or a station might be start or cease operations in a month and it was quicker to copy and paste the formula between months than to manually build it each each month), calculate the average figure for minimum temperatures, maximum temperatures, difference from long-term average for the aforementioned.
C) Using the calculated averages mentioned in “B” above, average those numbers (as equal weighting is to be given to minimums and maximums) for the combined minimum and maximum.

At the bottom of each monthly worksheet a similar process was undertaken to come up with national numbers, however as there are a different number of weather stations in each state, the state-based averages could not be used for calculations as it would give unfair weighting to smaller states…instead, averages were calculated using every single weather station.

On the “2013 Totals” worksheet, the numbers reached in the above monthly state and national calculations were sorted in to tables to group all of the average minimums and group all of the average maximums etc. To reach a full-year figure for each location, each month was given a weighting equivalent to the number of days in the month so that the annual figure could be truly an annual figure and not be skewed in favour of the shorter months. So, for example, the number for January was multiplied by 31, the number for February by 28, etc, and then the total number was divided by 365.

For anyone who is interested in the raw data (perhaps you would like to see my findings for yourself, or just check out the data for your local weather station), the spreadsheet can be downloaded here.


Entry Filed under: Global Warming,Samuel's Editorials

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  • 1. nbrettoner  |  January 6th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Samuel,

    Yet another very interesting thorough article, I believe once again exposing ‘the powers that be’, “not actually telling the truth”. 🙂
    May I have your permission to share this on my public facebook please?
    i.e. your article & link:- (Bureau overheat figures by 4 degrees! (2013 was not Australia’s hottest year on record).
    I thank you for your dedication to the exposure of oft-times massive mistruths, in the quest of covering up huge lies. In this case, the so-called ‘effects’ of ‘global’ ‘warming’?.
    One wonders what the true findings might reveal; for the rest of our globe’s so-called global warming claims.

  • 2. Samuel  |  January 6th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Noel.

    Of course you may. Please feel free to share anything from this blog in that manner.

    Thanks for your kind feedback. It was my pleasure to put all of this together, even if it did take many hours to do.

  • 3. meljenner  |  January 7th, 2014 at 11:25 am

    HI Samuel,
    I have just come to your website via MSNews and wanted to congratulate you for your work. I too would like to share your information – have you sent this to the ABC and BOM so that they can update their reports?
    Great work.

  • 4. Keith F  |  January 7th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Samuel,

    I had started to do some research on what I thought were obviously bodgy figures from BOM and fortunately have discovered your site.

    Brilliant. I thank you behalf of millions of sensible Australians.

  • 5. Samuel  |  January 7th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Mel and Keith.

    Welcome, and thank you. I’m glad that you have found the information useful.

    I haven’t made contact with BOM or the ABC…it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing which would result in anything useful happening. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try, but I can think of better uses of my time.

  • 6. Antonia  |  January 7th, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Well done, Samuel, and thank you for all your number crunching. I’ll be sending a link to some friends and family.

  • 7. Samuel  |  January 7th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Antonia. I’m glad you found the data to be useful.

  • 8. se_anderson  |  January 7th, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    The readson you are getting different results to BOM is they are using 100 year record sets and you are ‘adding’ recent reocrds. If you want 100 year averages you must use 100 year data.

    Another less serious issue is you report figures to 10 decimal places and as the measurements themselves would only have 2 or 3 digits of accuracy this is quite silly.

  • 9. Samuel  |  January 7th, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I understand your point about comparing like-with-like data in terms of how long records are available in a given location, and I agree that the long-term average number I’m getting from the totality of weather stations which have been around for 10+ years will be different to an average from a smaller set of weather stations, but one thing which this demonstrates is that BOM’s long-term average for climate data uses weather stations which give more emphasis to warmer areas than the currently-available stations which cover a much broader area of the country. I accept that the datasets are not identical, but that is the point…if we’re discussing the average temperature of an entire country at a given point in time (as BOM did in their announcement), then it is dishonest to deliberately exclude parts of the country from the calculation.

    I have had some feedback about adjusting data for altitude and smoothing of data across dense and sparsely measured areas. Both are valid things and both are beyond the scope of things I am confident doing, but I would welcome anyone who wants to do that to the numbers (apart from transparency, it is a reason why I have provided the spreadsheet), but it’s ridiculous to think that such smoothing or adjusting of the data would account for all or even most of the four degree discrepancy between my 2013 number and BOM’s 2013 number.

    BOM data also (not demonstrated by me in this set of numbers, but by others in their comparisons of BOM climate data to weather station data) tends to be skewed towards greater variations in temperatures, usually in an upward manner…BOM would argue it is statistically reasonable to do so, but that is an entirely different debate.

    Regarding the rounding. Yes, I could have rounded numbers to two decimal places, but it seemed more honest to provide the full number and let people round it themselves, especially for the vast majority of people who won’t download the spreadsheet and, had I not shown the full number, would not know it exists.

  • 10. se_anderson  |  January 8th, 2014 at 3:19 am

    You dont understand. Historically there are always going to be fewer weather stations with data going back a hundred years than what is currently available. You cant use data with varying timespans and then claim you are getting a 100 year average. That is being dishonest.
    On the rounding, I dont think you understand the point of accuracy. if the measurement is only accurate to a degree or half a degree (which would be the case for many temperature measurements ) then the accuracy in your final answer cannot be greater than the error in your measurement. In enginerring, which I studied if you overstate the accuracy in a calculation based beyond the measurement errors you lose marks .

  • 11. Samuel  |  January 8th, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Ahhh, I see what’s happened here, you’ve misunderstood me.

    I did not claim to have a 100-year average (or 110 years, or 90 years, or any other number of years). I presented (and explained) that I had a number reflecting what the combined long-term average temperature is from the available weather stations, based on their combined anomaly from their individual averages, plotted against the average temperature they reported for 2013.

    Yes, I then went and compared that number to the Bureau’s reported long-term average to see how different the numbers were. I would accept that comparing the differential numbers (ie. how much above average my 2013 number appeared to be and how much above average the Bureau’s number was) is a more useful than comparing both long-term average numbers, but to the same extent the large difference between them is large enough to merit being noted.

    As I said in my previous reply, I accept that the long-term averages are not like-for-like comparisons, but they’re still interesting. The 2013 averages are much more interesting though, especially given the four degree difference (well, just short of 4…but if we’re rounding…)

    Regarding decimal places, we’re not discussing engineering, we’re discussing temperatures. You will find that BOM, WeatherZone, NWS, and pretty much every other meteorological organisation in the world, even for weather stations which historically were only accurate to the nearest degree or half-degree and now report to the tenth of a degree or better will have long-term averages displayed in more detail than nearest degrees or half-degree. If you can get them to stop being so precise, then I’ll consider following suit.

    And if I’m ever in a position to hire an engineer to design a bridge or a plane or a complicated automation system, and I receive a tender from one who refuses to use decimal places because one part of the thing being designed won’t support it or doesn’t come in units involving decimal places, I won’t be hiring them; I’d hire the engineer who can design something to compensate for a part which doesn’t deal with decimal places.

  • 12. se_anderson  |  January 8th, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Yes I misunderstood the claim, it was not a 100 year average, thanks for clarifying that. I would need to run the numbers myself to see what result I get. If I do that I will get back to you with the result. However there are a number of other statements you make that concern me. You make reference to articles from the Heartland Institute and Dr Roy Spencer (on the board of directors of the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI) . The Heartland Institute worked for Phillip Morris to question serious cancer risks to secondhand smoke, and to lobby against government public-health reforms, it is now the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism. Similarly the Marshall Institute has, in order to resist and delay regulation, lobbied politically to create a false public perception of scientific uncertainty over the negative effects of second-hand smoke, the carcinogenic nature of tobacco smoking, the existence of acid rain, and on the evidence between CFCs and ozone depletion. Both organisations received large amounts of money from business interests to lobby government, and influence public attitudes by providing reports that undermine science critical of their activities. Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, was appointed executive director of GMI in September 2001. He left the GMI after 5 months, saying that the institute was “fonder of some facts than others”. He contended a conflict of interest existed in the funding of the institute. In Shop Class as Soulcraft, he stated about the Institute:
    “ …the trappings of scholarship were used to put a scientific cover on positions arrived at otherwise. These positions served various interests, ideological or material. For example, part of my job consisted of making arguments about global warming that just happened to coincide with the positions taken by the oil companies that funded the think tank. ”
    In 1998 Jeffrey Salmon, then executive director of GMI, helped develop the American Petroleum Institute’s strategy of stressing the uncertainty of climate science. William O’Keefe, the Institute’s current CEO, was previously Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the American Petroleum Institute, and has also been on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Energy Association and Chairman of the Global Climate Coalition, a business-led anti-climate change action group active between 1989 and 2002.
    Dr Roy Spencer is a climatologist, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has served as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. However he his published work on the effect of clouds on climate has been shown to be completely wrong by the recent research coming from Uni NSW.
    Dr Spencer seems more motivated by religious conviction than science. Spencer is a signatory to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that “Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting”.
    If these are sources for your views then you are very poorly informed.

  • 13. Samuel  |  January 8th, 2014 at 6:19 am

    I don’t have a problem with corporations funding scientific research, even if they’re doing so in an effort to reach specific conclusions, because their results will either be right or wrong and will eventually be proven right or wrong by other scientists or by ongoing observations (the latter especially in the case of researched predictions).

    Case in point here is the smoking research you mentioned which Heartland were behind. It has been proven to be incorrect, and in the process has helped to prove other research on the subject to be correct. Sure, erroneous research can create doubt, but scientific research is based on doubt until something can be proven true or false. Peer Review is effectively a process of doubting findings trying to find reasons why the findings are wrong, and if that fails, trying to verify that they are right.

    Heartland were wrong about the risks of smoking. This does not mean they should be prevented from researching other things. If we banned people from conducting research or funding research because they came to an incorrect conclusion on an occasion, then almost every scientist and absolutely every government would be banned from research.

    Dr. Roy Spencer’s cloud research may have been inaccurate (I’m not aware of the details of it so I’ll look in to it…thank you for bringing it to my attention) but, as above, that does not preclude him from doing more research or even finding reasons why UNSW’s findings could be flawed, and more importantly has absolutely nothing to do with the bit of his research which I cited: his meticulous satellite-measure temperature data research.

    Going back to my original point, I really don’t see a difference between government funding of research and private funding of research. Both depend on the funder of the research being interested in the subject for some reason (be it advancing a corporate interest or advancing a political interest), or in the very rare case where there is no interest on the part of the funder and they just want to give money to a scientist with an idea, the scientist has a reason and probably a theory of the likely outcome for wanting to do the research.

    I should probably also note that science and faith are not incompatible or mutually exclusive. Faith requires no proof (although people of faith will often have their own articles of proof which would not meet the scientific standard for proof), and science requires no faith (although it is helpful to have faith in your work and your abilities when conducting scientific research). The difference though is that, while science has not been able to prove or disprove the existence of God and I highly doubt it ever will, religion (Christian and Jewish faith at least…I assume others as well but I can’t speak to that) promotes and benefits from scientific research in that it provides a greater understanding of God’s universe. In Dr. Spencer’s case, he is clearly trying to research what God put in place to make the planet resilient and it is the job of other scientists to prove him right or wrong.

  • 14. Scott_A  |  January 8th, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Samuel, as per your update from Ken’s Kingdom, where does 2013 rate? The updated UAH satellite data shows the increase to be around .78℃ or .79℃ (thereabouts) which is much lower than BOM’s claim.
    If you saw Sky News this morning you will have undoubtedly witnessed Wil Steffen in full shrill CO2 Armageddon mode. He claimed that the evidence was now irrefutable with more enrgy in the atmosphere as well as more heat in the atmosphere. (The latter is easily debunked). Will covered off everything from extreme hot to extreme cold, which Sky news claims is now supported by the extreme cold in the US. (Talk about monsters under the bed!).

    The sad thing is that idiots like Steffen and Flannery are the only voices being heard at commercial level and are being relied upon as the only accurate source of information. Whilst Steffen has more credibility than Flannery, given his background in atmospherics, he is still on the record as supporting the initial philosophy of no more alpine snow, reduced rainfall, increased global temps, warmer winters globally, ice free polar caps, melting Himalayan glaciers (now known to be completely false), reduced pillar bear numbers and on and on. It’s ironic how Wil has now changed his philosophy without somuch as a single question from the media.

    It seems no matter how much ice develops at either pole nor how year after year in the northern hemisphere cold records tumble it’s passed off as either a natural cycle, a one off, or now part of extreme climate change.

    Neither Steffen nor his newly formed climate council can provide any link between CO2 and climate nor any empirical evidence to support his claim this morning. Anyone disputing their claim is doomed, just ask Murray Salby..

    I’ve tried to source Australia’s annual mean temp historically but anything online appears to now match the BOM’s 21.8℃. I smell a rat.

  • 15. se_anderson  |  January 8th, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for the considered response Samuel. I thought I should clear up a couple of misunderstandings you might have about my last post.
    I wasnt suggesting Institutes like Heartland (or for that matter any private institute) should be banned from doing research. That is quite an odd conclusion to draw from what I wrote. All I was doing is providing evidence that their research is compromised and lacks credibility.

    i have some comments to make on Scott_A’s post,
    “melting Himalayan glaciers (now known to be completely false)”

    In 2007 the IPCC stated that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear as early as 2035.
    This was based on a 1999 report by the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology (WGHG) of the International
    Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI) stated: `glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other
    part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the livelihood[sic] of them disappearing by the
    year 2035 is very high.’ They were relying on quotes by Professor Syed Hasnain, then Chairman of the
    International Commission for Snow and Ice’s (ICSI) Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology, who said
    most of the glaciers in the Himalayan region “will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming”.
    The evidence on glacier melting does not support Professor Syed Hasnain and WWF, IPCC and others were wrong and had to apologise and retract the claim.

    However the Himalayan and other glaciers are melting due to human iduced claimate change. They wont melt by 2035, but they are melting.
    Between 2003 and 2009, Himalayan glaciers lost an estimated 174 gigatonnes of water[1], and contributed to catastrophic floods of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Pollution is accelerating the melt. An ‘Asian brown cloud’, formed from the 2 million tonnes of soot and dark particles released into the atmosphere every year, mostly from India and China, warms the air and surface ice[2]

    1. Gardner, A. S. et al. Science 340, 852–857 (2013).
    2. Teng, H., Washington, W. M., Branstator, G., Meehl, G. A. & Lamarque, J.-F. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L11703 (2012).

    see also;

    “reduced pillar bear numbers”
    yes it is true, Christopher Monckton got it wrong again; http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/what-scientists-say/are-polar-bear-populations-booming

    “much ice develops at either pole.”

    The Arctic is losing about 30,000 square miles (78,000 square kilometers) of sea ice each year, . And while ice cover at the North Pole has rebounded from last year’s record-setting lows, Arctic sea ice continues to retreat and thin at an alarming pace.

    Denialist arguments that Antarctica is gaining ice frequently hinge on an error of omission, namely ignoring the difference between land ice and sea ice.

    In glaciology and particularly with respect to Antarctic ice, not all things are created equal. Let us consider the following differences. Antarctic land ice is the ice which has accumulated over thousands of years on the Antarctica landmass itself through snowfall. This land ice therefore is actually stored ocean water that once fell as precipitation. Sea ice in Antarctica is quite different as it is ice which forms in salt water primarily during the winter months. When land ice melts and flows into the oceans global sea levels rise on average; when sea ice melts sea levels do not change measurably.

    In Antarctica, sea ice grows quite extensively during winter but nearly completely melts away during the summer. That is where the important difference between Antarctic and Arctic sea ice exists as much of the Arctic’s sea ice lasts all the year round. During the winter months it increases and before decreasing during the summer months, but an ice cover does in fact remain in the North which includes quite a bit of ice from previous years. Essentially Arctic sea ice is more important for the earth’s energy balance because when it increasingly melts, more sunlight is absorbed by the oceans whereas Antarctic sea ice normally melts each summer leaving the earth’s energy balance largely unchanged.

    In 2012, the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean shrank to its lowest extent ever recorded.

    Estimates of recent changes in Antarctic land ice show an increasing contribution to sea level with time, although not as fast a rate or acceleration as Greenland. Between 1992 and 2011, the Antarctic Ice Sheets overall lost 1350 giga-tonnes (Gt) or 1,350,000,000,000 tonnes into the oceans, at an average rate of 70 Gt per year (Gt/yr). Because a reduction in mass of 360 Gt/year represents an annual global-average sea level rise of 1 mm, these estimates equate to an increase in global-average sea levels by 0.19 mm/yr.

    There is variation between regions within Antarctica, with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet losing ice mass, and with an increasing rate. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is growing slightly over this period but not enough to offset the other losses. There are of course uncertainties in the estimation methods but independent data from multiple measurement techniques all show the same thing, Antarctica is losing land ice as a whole, and these losses are accelerating quickly. (See http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6111/1183)

  • 16. Samuel  |  January 8th, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hi Scott,

    That’s a tough question to answer categorically as data going back to the early 1900s and earlier tends to be less comprehensive than modern records, and older temperature records have often been adjusted (or “corrected” or “statistically analysed and processed”) prior to their release. This is why modern climate statements can easily show now as being hotter than ever before (it has been proven that some historical records have had their numbers lowered to make modern times look hotter), and is also why any information I give you about comparisons of current and old temperatures is, although the truth as I understand it, extremely difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

    What I can tell you for sure is that the last decade-or-so, in line with global trends, has seen temperatures remain at roughly the same level with the exception of 2012 and 2011 which were a tad cooler. The temperatures we have seen over the last decade-or-so have appeared to be above the historical average, but without a warming trend in that time. (Incidentally, I saw someone on Reddit, writing in relation to this blog post, claim that above average temperatures are proof of global warming, which is absurd as it is the trend over time which proves or disproves a global warming theory. Also on Reddit, and I can’t recall if it was the same person or not, laughed off what I said about global temperatures having not warmed in 17 years despite the fact I linked to evidence of it, and then got upset that I didn’t link to proof of a time in the early 1900s which was warmer…apparently I must provide evidence of anything they disagree with, and evidence is only evidence if they agree with it).

    Satellite measurements show that 1998 was much warmer than any year since at a global level, although for Australia the satellite data shows 1998 and 2013 were very close with 2013 just beating 1998, although I note there is an update to the satellite data that I linked to on Ken’s Kingdom which notes there is some doubt over the calibration of the satellites for 2013 data which might be inadvertently inflating the number slightly, and we won’t know until a more thorough analysis is done.

    That’s as far as I can go with an indisputable like-for-like analysis of similar datasets, but much of our knowledge of historical climate movements and changes is based on less-exact data such as carbon rings and ice cores. With that in mind, newspaper records show very clearly that the late 1890s were much warmer than today, as were the 1930s and (also at the link) the 1930s were hotter than recent years according to thermometer records, but the BOM climate data shows the 1930s records to be much cooler than the recorded observations from the 1930s.

    It really would be worthwhile (but very time consuming) to do a proper comparison of what the media recorded about day-to-day temperature records in the early 1900s and what the currently available data from BOM says about it.

    Because of these discrepancies in the data, I can’t give you a definitive ranking of where 2013 sits among the temperatures of the last 100+ years, but I can at least say confidently that it was not as hot as most of the 1930s.

  • 17. Samuel  |  January 8th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Hi se_anderson. Sorry, I was a little tired when I replied and probably over-extrapolated your point in my mind. Thanks for clarifying. I would probably say the same thing about the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit after they were exposed fiddling with numbers to make older temperatures colder and newer temperatures warmer. As you say, they should continue their research, but their history needs to be considered if one takes their data at face value.

    I’ll leave you and Scott_A to discuss ice levels between yourselves, but I will give you this link to a very handy page which keeps track of more data about ice levels than I care to count: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

    All the best,

  • 18. Scott_A  |  January 9th, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Thanks for the response Samuel. I think it’s safe to say that if 2013 was our hottest year on record then the records are dubious.

    As a kid growing up in the Riverina/South West Slopes I can recall extraordinary summers that went long into May. Birds and batts dropped dead from the sky. Pets, native animals such as kangaroos and koalas all died from the heat. I have a legitimate insight into this as my grandfather Allan ‘Dooley’ Manns became one of Australia’s first wildlife warriors by rescuing possums and other wildlife from trees when the town of Yellowwin as flooded to create Lake Blowering between Tumut and Talbingo. This feat was recorded in a Woman’s Weekly article in 1968. During these hot summer’s he used to search for distressed animals to save.

    I lived in the ACT for 10 years, leaving in 1994. The summer of 1993/94 as I recall was unbearable and I recall birds dropping from the Sky around Temora, Junee, West Wyalong and other western NSW towns. My other grandfather had a wheat farm at Temora so I saw this during those hot summer’s.

    I am yet to experience or see a summer reach such extraordinary levels since then despite the BOM records claiming we just had the hottest year on record. Unless our wildlife has miraculously become resilient to such heat I call bullshit to BOM’s figures.

    If BOM want a true hot summer then report on 1790/91. Watkins Tench’s work during those years has never been proven faulty which makes his measurements from Observatory Hill quite staggering for that summer. I’m reasonably confident the summer of 1790/91 wasn’t influenced by CO2.


  • 19. se_anderson  |  January 11th, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Bats are dropping from the skies again …

  • 20. Samuel  |  January 11th, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Mass bird deaths do seem to happen from time-to-time. Heatwaves (as seems to be the cause of this case in Queensland) can be just as lethal to them as to us (although I don’t know of many bats who have the luxury of air conditioning and similar devices to protect them from the heat like many humans do).

    There are also many other reasons for mass bird deaths, and while it is not something you see every day, it does seem to happen on a semi-regular basis. I recall quite a few in the US in early 2011 during their winter (2010 and 2011 were cooler than the average of the last decade) so we can rule out heatwaves there.

    In one case an unusual “temperature inversion” caused a large pocket of turbulence which disoriented the birds and saw them fly in to the ground, and in another case a government department admitted to killing the birds as part of an ongoing wildlife control program.

    Meteorologist Mark Johnson was keeping track of the mass-animal deaths for a while around that time as well as official explanations and his own thoughts on the likely causes for most of the cases. Most were not related to climate (although a few were side-effects of human activity) and those that were, tended to be due to cold weather. Cold is, after all, a more efficient killer than heat.

  • 21. nbrettoner  |  January 11th, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Hi Samuel,
    Back around 2008-2010 there were reports of mass suicides of hundreds of birds in Northern India. They were flying into the walls of buildings. One such report cited an army barracks location. Sorry but I don’t know of any outcome/findings. I think it stated this was not the first time either.

  • 22. Samuel  |  May 2nd, 2014 at 5:17 am

    A reader by the name of Mick sent in the following comment and spreadsheet by email

    I was intrigued by your blog and associated work sheet. The discrepancy of 4 degrees between your calculations and the Bureau of Meteorology calculations seemed to be excessive.

    It can be accounted for by looking at the distribution of temperature recording sites in your spreadsheet. It seems taking the raw data as you have done does not take into consideration the over representation of temperature records from cooler locations as compared to warmer locations. The number of records from Tasmania as compared to the Northern Territory is a perfect example. Tasmania has 7.7% of sites in an area of 0.9% of Australia while, in comparison, the N.T. has 7.5% of sites in an area of 17.5% of Australia. This is a factor of 20 times over representation for Tasmania as compared to N.T..Similarly you get a weighting towards cooler sites for Victoria and N.S.W while vastly under representing the warmer sites of Queensland, W.A. and S.A. If you correct for the over representation for cooler sites, by compensating using the number of sites per are for each state then the discrepancy becomes 0.5 degrees instead of 4 degrees.

    This is still probably too low as the number of cooler sites in each state will naturally be biased towards the capital cities which are mostly cooler than the state averages (i.e. there are more WA sites in the south close to Perth as compared to the rest of WA, and similarly the number close to Brisbane compared to the rest of Queensland). This could easily account for the remaining 0.5 degrees.

    The only way your exercise can reveal whether 2013 was hotter or cooler than preceding years would be to compare using the same methodology for common sites over the last hundred years or so. Other-wise it is indeed comparing orange with lemons.



    p.s I have attached a modification to your spreadsheet regarding what follows. The modifications are at the right of your data. with the results of my corrections in red.


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