Another BOM scandal: Australian climate data is being destroyed as routine practice

Historical climate data is being destroyed

The Bureau has a budget of a million dollars a day but seemingly can’t afford an extra memory stick to save historical scientific data.

In the mid-1990s thermometers changed right across Australia — new electronic sensors were installed nearly everywhere. Known as automatic weather sensors (AWS) these are quite different to the old “liquid in glass” type.

The electronic ones can pick up very short bursts of heat—so they can measure extremes of temperatures that the old mercury or liquid thermometers would not pick up unless the spike of heat lasted for a few minutes.

It is difficult (impossible) to believe that across the whole temperature range that these two different instruments would always behave in the exact same way. There could easily be an artificial warming trend generated by this change (see the step change in the graphs).

The only way to compare the old and new types of thermometers is to run side-by-side comparisons in the field and at many sites. Which is exactly what the bureau was doing but the data has never been put in an archive, or was destroyed.

It’s not easily available (or possibly “at all”). We have this in writing after an FOI application by Dr. Bill Johnston (see below).

These measurements from past years can never be re-recorded. A four-terabyte external hard drive costs a couple of hundred dollars and would probably store a whole year’s worth of text files. For just 0.02% of their budget, they could buy one every day. Why, why, why wouldn’t a scientist who cared about the climate want to save this information?

The two different thermometers sit side-by-side in a Stevenson Screen, this example is at Wagga Wagga airport, NSW. Photo: Bill Johnston.

Dr. Bill Johnston put in an FOI request for side-by-side data from both kinds of thermometers. He asked for six months of data from Sydney and Canberra Airports and was told it would cost him $460. That’s quite a barrier, and that was only to access the Sydney records. Look at what happened to the Canberra ones — the data was gone. No one could analyze it, no matter how much they were willing to pay.

Field books “disposed”?

Here’s the FOI decision regarding raw data from Canberra Dec 2014.(click to enlarge)

The BOM stated that “in accordance with records management practices”, the field books for early 2013 at Canberra Airport were  “disposed of” twelve months after the observations were taken. By mid-2014 the situation was even worse (if that were possible). The more recent Canberra Airport records didn’t even have field books to be destroyed. There were no records to be disposed of.

For what it’s worth, the $460 data fee was helpfully reduced to $230 after a lengthy appeal. The four-page assessment cost the taxpayer more than the $230 charge, but it did successfully stop taxpayers from analyzing the data. Was that the point? The Bureau has a budget of $365 million a year – how much does it cost to store a text file?

Johnston declined to buy the Sydney data (it was confounded by multiple site changes, and he’s not paid to do this work).

He commented this week on the scant evidence that was available and the potential for an undocumented warming effect:

Comparisons between screens were done at one site using PRT (Platinum Resistance Thermometer) only and reported as a “preliminary report”, which is available; but after Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) became primary instruments, as I’ve reported before, the Bureau had an internal policy that parallel liquid-in-glass thermometer data were not databased. Furthermore, they had another policy that paper-data was destroyed after 2-years. So there is nothing that easily available….

The only way to compare AWS and Liquid in Glass is to hunt for sites where there is overlap between two stations; where the AWS is given a new number. This is possible BUT the problem is that the change-over is invariably confounded with either a site move or the change to a small screen.

So, we suspect that the introduction and reliance on AWS have led to artificially higher maxima (and thus record temperatures) than in the past, but we have no way of knowing for sure and how much.

How can the CSIRO hope to produce reliable climate modelling with any number of climate scientists when the BOM cannot produce reliable temperature data?  Garbage in, garbage out.

(H/T Paul Homewood)

Read more at JoNova

Comments (8)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    What dark dirty little secrets are they trying to hide from the public that would get all their moola cut off what skeletons do they have in their closets? Looks to me like The Green is Red

  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    In the court of public opinion this kind of behavior is incriminating. Ask Hilary.

    • Avatar

      G

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      Exactly… Maybe she can instruct them in the use of BleachBit and sledge hammers.

  • Avatar

    TheRick

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    So exactly what are we to believe is true when BOM publishes findings? As the Russian proverb says “trust, but verify”. If there is no data to verify, then one cannot trust anything from BOM.

  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    How much money and effort has been spent drilling ice cores, collecting sediment, analyzing tree rings, collating and interpreting that information into temperatures?
    Then someone decides thermometer readings are obsolete ? That “someone” decides the records shall not be preserved.
    There can be only one reason .

  • Avatar

    G

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    Another black eye for real science, thanks to the voodoo of politically-driven climate science. Climate science no longer deserves the word “science” associated in any way. Real scientists at academic centers should demand that their climate counterparts dissociate themselves with all corrupt practices or face removal from the faculty.

    Don’t allow yourselves to be tainted with this contagion, or your own work will be in question.

  • Avatar

    G

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    The US Military Academy at West Point is famous for this simple Honor Code:

    “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

    In light of the the systematic corruption of science via The Climate Agenda, our academic institutions would do well to demand and enforce a nearly identical code.

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