The BOM announced it was the hottest ever day in Sydney today, then realized it had it wrong, but not before headlines spread across the country.
For a million dollars a day you’d think the BOM would check their own “high quality” database.
A scientific agency would take great care before announcing “historic all-time records” for a city of five million people.
A shameless PR agency might see that sort of mistake as an advantage.
It’s careless, piled on rank neglect
Even if the day had been “a record”, the temperatures are often artificially inflated due to site changes, thermometer changes, and the one-second-record effect thanks to the introduction of electronic thermometers, all of which are a product of careless BOM management and analysis.
I’ll have more information soon on changes at Sydney Observatory, that the BOM doesn’t make any allowance for.
Looks like another one-second record?
The BOM announced the record after Penrith hit 47.1 at 1:55 pm, the BOM tweet wrongly claimed it had “broken all-time maximum temperature record for … the Sydney Metropolitan area”.
Later, they updated that Penrith was 47.3 at 3:25 pm. They did not mention that the observations showed that five minutes after the first “record” at 2 pm it was only 46.0, so temperatures fell as much as 1.1C in five minutes.
Again, five minutes after the second at 3:30, temperatures fell to 46.5. How long did the 47.3 record last? It might have been just one single second.
Electronic equipment picks up one-second noise (like the two stars on the graph below) which the BOM unscientifically converts into tweets and headlines.
From 1859 until 1990, mercury and alcohol thermometers could not possibly produce “one-second records.”
For 130 years, they missed all this noise. The BOM may be only scientific institute in the world that doesn’t seem to know the difference between electronic buzz and slowly expanding liquids in a glass.
And they appear to be working to keep it that way — the comparison data that would show the difference between old thermometers is being destroyed as a routine practice.
“All time” is deceptive, misleading erasing history
How many Australians now think today was the Hottest Ever Day in Sydney, making the 1939 heatwave a bit more invisible?
The Penrith Lakes station only started recording in 1995, so this “all-time” record was not necessarily a record for anyone in Penrith over the age of 22.
The Sydney Morning Herald claimed it went back to 1859 because that’s when records started at Sydney Observatory.
But there was no official BOM station in Penrith in 1939 or 1896, two notoriously hot years when it might have been hotter.
In 1896 in Kiama, south of Sydney on the coast it was 117F (47.2C). In Camden, 45km south of Penrith, they recorded 125F.
That’s 50.5C! Naturally, these are not recognized by the BOM — like the scores of other records across Australia that recorded 120 plus in the shade. Were they all wrong?
Even a tweet can fit the phrase “since records began in 1995″. Heck, the BOM could probably find the money for a double tweet if it had to.
Shouldn’t all records be reported accurately? Normally the media and twit-o-sphere add the baseless hype, not the scientific institutions.
The Fake News Headlines
Sydney Morning Herald
Penrith has sweltered to the highest temperature ever recorded in the Greater Sydney region, on a day of baking heat that saw international tennis canceled and residents flock to the beach in droves.
The Penrith observation station reached 47.1 degrees just before 2 pm, with the Bureau of Meteorology confirming it was the highest reading ever recorded at the station.
That makes it the highest temperature ever recorded in the Greater Sydney region, in records stretching back to 1859.
The SMH and ABC both changed the headline and text after the BOM realized they made a mistake.
The original ABC Headline appears to have been and may have stood for three hours (hard to tell):
The original link (which contains the headline) now redirects to the newer story.
In a mass syndicated snafu, the news that “Sydney sizzles through its hottest day on record” was shared by the MSN.com site, the SMH Facebook page, The Daily Advertiser, The Herald, The West Australian, The LaTrobe Valley Express, The Port Lincoln Times, the Northern Daily Leader, The Penrith City Gazette, The Bendigo Advertiser, and so on and on to scores more outlets…
Many of these publications have back-edited or altered the stories post hoc, sometimes leaving the headline in contradiction to the first line of the story.
None of these news outlets did a google search or a trove hunt for past hottest headlines.
The mass of different mastheads gives the appearance of a free press, but all of them speak as one voice when it comes to the BOM.
Read rest at JoNova
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