Further significant doubts have been cast on the accuracy of global surface temperature results following the discovery that electronic thermometers in Australia have read up to 0.7°C higher than traditional mercury glass units. The Australian dataset is a major component of global compilations since it provides an important guide to one of the largest land masses in the southern hemisphere. After many years of trying, local freedom of information requests from scientists have forced the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to release comparative information from the two measuring devices around Brisbane airport. It shows that automatic readings are higher 41% of the time, compared with 32% when the temperatures were the same.
Electronic temperatures devices have been in general use in Australia since 1995. The guidance of the World Meteorological Organisation suggests averaging temperatures over a minute to remove corruptions caused by temporary effects such as a sudden gust of hot air. But the BoM records highs for just a second, something that basic mercury thermometers cannot do. For years, the BoM has refused to release comparative instrument data.
The Australian journalist Jo Nova takes a sceptical view as to why the BoM has been so stubborn. Potentially, the electronic sensors “offer a bonanza of propaganda headlines for the Green Blob to pick from, especially when ‘coldest ever days’ get ignored by the media”. The sensors are offering many more headlines of records for heat, heatwaves, hottest nights, more days over 35°C, she continued, adding, “there are many cherries to be picked here”.
The use of highly sensitive measuring equipment to produce temperature records and hence whip up climate emergency fears is common throughout the world. Last year In the U.K., the Met Office promoted a ‘record’ high of 40.3°C halfway down the runway at RAF Coningsby on the afternoon of July 19th. Admittedly, the record was declared to have stood for longer than a second – 60 seconds to be precise. To this day, the Met Office has refused to answer a number of Daily Sceptic enquiries about possible non-climatic causes of this widely promoted record. In the light of the Australian disclosures, we wonder if the Met Office should re-examine the way it declares heat records and compare the results of its measuring devices with those produced by basic mercury thermometers.
Dr. Jennifer Marohasy analysed the three years of Australian data that was eventually squeezed out of the BoM and found significant differences between the two measuring devises. In the most extreme cases, the modern probe was 0.7°C hotter than the mercury reading. She said it contradicted claims by the Bureau’s director Andrew Johnson that measurements from the two instruments are equivalent. Marohasy estimates the BoM holds data for a total of 38 different locations across Australia. The small Brisbane airport cache is thought to be the first public release of this data.
The former Liberal MP and noted climate sceptic Craig Kelly was merciless in his condemnation of the BoM actions. Noting the Bureau’s decision to reduce the size of protective Stevenson screens, which he said was known to artificially increase temperature recordings by up to 1°C, he concluded that Australia’s temperature records “have been cooked to artificially manufacture ‘hottest day ever’ headlines in the media”. Heads must roll, he demanded, but with the new Labor Government protecting this “malfeasance” at the BoM “they’ll get away with it”.
The Australian weighed in by suggesting that the Brisbane revelations raised some “difficult questions” about the BoM’s ability to claim new temperature records are being broken. “Given that new records are claimed on the basis of readings that are only a tiny fraction of a degree warmer, the problem is obvious,” it said in an editorial. The lengths to which the Bureau has gone not to cooperate with FOI requests, it continued, “gives the impression of an organisation with something to hide”. The newspaper said it was “truly astonishing” that the Bureau should suggest that understanding the effect of instrumentation was of no public interest. “This is particularly so given the Bureau was simultaneously publishing reports and giving media interviews claiming that a temperature increase of 1.5°C would have devastating consequences for the planet,” the editorial said.
The BoM information from 38 sites is of more than academic interest, noted the newspaper. This is because much of it eventually finds its way into what becomes the international global temperature record, on which climate change policy is based. The information is the property of the public, it states, and all the parallel records “should be made immediately available alongside all of the other data the Bureau prides itself on making public”.
These disturbing revelations about temperature gathering in Australia add to the numerous concerns that are mounting about the entire global surface temperature record. The Daily Sceptic has covered this story in great detail (see here, here and here). In this case, it seems that modern gauges have been used to establish new ‘records’, compared with the old mercury recordings. In addition, there may be a slight warming bias over the last 30 years, and if confirmed this will add to further corruption of global results. The BoM claimed its new electronic sensors were adjusted in light of mercury readings, but the Brisbane release suggests otherwise. It is particularly disturbing when public officials refuse to release scientific figures for no apparent good reason. The example of Climategate shows that when activists and scientists refuse to release basic data, it is time to start counting the spoons, if not undertaking an audit of the whole canteen.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.