Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Australia's coolish (almost normal) January - where are the fake sceptics?

Sou | 1:33 PM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment

This January has seemed to me to be relatively cool, almost "normal" where I live in south-eastern Australia. That is, normal compared to the past few years.

I've been looking to find articles on denier blogs claiming the Bureau of Meteorology has been fudging the temperatures downwards. But not a peep or a squeak, let alone a squawk of the type during our record hot summers. On the contrary, some deniers are now taking the BoM reports as gospel and claiming that it means that an ice age cometh.

Jo Nova (who I've been told complains I don't write about her nonsense enough) hasn't written anything. Jennifer Marohasy, who likes to keep a close (closed?) eye on Australian temperatures has been quiet. (Actually, I had to check both because they are not regular haunts of mine. I discovered that Jennifer's been away since last October.)

I first commented on this a few days ago saying that at the Australian Open they were wearing jumpers this year, unlike last year when people were collapsing on the court from the heat. It felt more like last century than this one. Anecdotal isn't all that reliable so I went to the repository of Australian temperatures to see what's been happening.

Here is the chart from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) for monthly means for all Australia for the month of January. See the bar on the far right? That's January 2015.

Source: BoM

Although it felt relatively mild where I live in Victoria (in south eastern Australia), over the state as a whole it's been well above average. Not as high as during our record hot summers, but quite a bit above the 1961-1990 mean. It shows how we get acclimatised. I was comparing this month to the temperatures of the past few years.

Source: BoM

Remember that's compared to the 1961 to 1990 mean, which is higher than the mean of the twentieth century. Normal is getting warmer.

The part of Australia that dragged the average down was the Northern Territory:

Source: BoM

Here's an animation of maps showing the mean anomaly for January this year, compared to 2014 and 2013:

Source: BoM

These charts are of the entire month of January and are of the mean anomaly, not the max or minimum temperature. This next one shows the differences more starkly. It's the maximum decile for the month of January for this year, 2014 and the Angry Summer of 2013:

Source: BoM

You can play around with the time series charts for Australia here. And the maps showing temperature can be explored here.

Am I being impatient expecting Jennifer or Jo to write about how BoM has fudged the temperature? Will they soon be writing how the central north of the country was "adjusted" just to make it look as if it's been cooler this summer?


  1. Sarcasm :-)

    My guess is the clouds and rain that caused the Todd River at Alice Springs to flood several times might have something to do with the (relatively) lower temperatures.

  2. It's the AMO!


    1. Heh. I'm beginning to suspect I ascribe more to the AMO than I ought. It may depend on which index I use. Been meaning to chase that down.

    2. Does the AMO influence Australia much?

  3. Sou,

    "I've been looking to find articles on denier blogs claiming the Bureau of Meteorology has been fudging the temperatures downwards."

    In a semi-related example of confirmation bias, Watts provides this bit of entertainment today: "The end of Tabloid Climatology? Study says global warming won’t mean more stormy weather." Well past the lede paragraph, the copypasta of the press release contains this gem of a landmine: "The researchers borrowed techniques from oceanography and looked at observations and climate simulations."

    First "thought" in the que: "AGW adherants won’t care. They tend to ignore anything contrary to their view." Ohhhh, but they've taught us how to do it so well. To wit, a bit further down "Once again we have a model that they haven’t bothered to even try to reconcile with measured data, and the measured data (at first glance in any event) seems to falsify their conclusion."

    Of course, Anthony got the headline wrong. lede: "A study led by atmospheric physicists at the University of Toronto finds that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades. Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged." Third comment in, pokerguy, catches it: "Didn’t have time to read the rest, but seems this statement can easily be interpreted…and will be interpreted by the alarmists, as consistent with their self-serving views on extreme weather. I don’t see why skeptics are celebrating."

    Took a bit for the bulk of respondents to catch on, but it finally did. I saw some comments complaining about how the findings are being overhyped in the press. Barely a peep about Anthony's spin on it ... pokerguy's comment is the closest to it I've seen.

    1. Brandon this is entirely consistent with his aberrant behaviour in his misrepresentation of Kruger's
      "The finding is bad news not just for one comparatively remote part of the world, but for everywhere."
      I am starting to think that perhaps AW's Kruger stuff was not wilfully misleading and deceptive at all. I'm starting to think that he genuinely understood it it as he described it.
      Your comment re his storm activity post reinforces my view.

      I really do think that somebody needs to talk about Anthony.

    2. I don't know if that's right, PG. Anthony twists things deliberately to suit his market. Think of his "claim" dogwhistles. A cheap trick but effective with his readers.

      Remember his idiotic arithmetic re the 97%. He believes his readers are of low intellect or will echo what he writes without question, or both - and he's right that they will rarely question the nonsense they read at WUWT. They are gullible and hungry for anything that will let them continue to reject science. He knows that. It's his target market. He's not likely to change or he'll lose revenue and denier kudos.

      On the other hand, I'm not sure if he's yet figured out what a temperature anomaly is. That was a real challenge for him. So there might be an element of truth in what you wrote.

      Whatever, he will only very rarely correct things when he knows them to be wrong. And he'll only do that if his fans insist upon it loudly enough.

    3. I wouldn't be me if I didn't split the difference and opine it's some of both. Remember the mystery of the recently disappeared solar post? Score one for flubbing it and scrubbing it. OTOH I've seen participants there comically get it wrong and double down on it even after the clear error has been pointed out. My fav was a few months back. Paper was a model validation exercise. Comments were, "bah conclusions based on models, go do observations". It was a Watts post, but Tisdale was first in with the rally cry. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, got it even after I spelled it out to Bob, quoting the relevant part of the abstract directly. Score one for knowingly being able to sell one to the readership.

    4. Probably right Sou, but the increased frequency and blatancy of his self defeating choices combined with his recent absence lead me to think it could be a medical issue.

  4. I think the Australia summer is December, January, February?

    Looking at December it is above average. January is slightly above average. We still have February to come.

    So I think for anyone to call the Australian summer "cold" is quite strange.

    1. It's all relative, Jammy. To have to put on a jumper (sweater) in January these days is unusual, even at night time. So I can understand people thinking it's been a cold summer when it's the first time for several years we've had to do that not just at night, but some days, too. I think of it as a reprieve. A brief remission. I like normal heat, but wasn't looking forward to the stinker of a summer we've been getting the past few years.

      The first week or two in February can also bring heat waves. They don't seem to be forecast down my way this year. That's not to say they won't happen.


    2. Sou
      Yes, it is all relative. Also it is dependent on local vs national and you appear to be focusing on Victoria instead of the whole of Australia. The outlook link you gave appears to forecast warm and dry. Remember also you posted a link to Western Australia showing an extreme heat wave.

      Western Australia extreme heat wave

    3. Yes, you're right on all counts, Jammy.

      Remember this all started with Peter's comment. He's probably from the same part of Australia as me. (Well, it might have started with my original comment, which preceded Peters, when David Sanger asked about January 2015).

      Thing is that a lot of Australia has had a cooler January this year than it's had in a few years. It's not just Victoria. Going by the time series charts, in every state and territory January has been cooler than it has in recent years. Even WA, which has had record heat. (If you look at the maps the main area that's had the warmer weather is in the west.)

      That's just the way it is. I thought it interesting. It generated quite a discussion already here :)

    4. Actually I'm wrong - Jammy, you were wrong on one count :)

      While I showed Victoria, all the other charts are of all Australia. The month of January is a lot colder than most of this century - for all Australia. There's only been one January cooler than this one in the past 13 years, and that was in 2012.

    5. "all the other charts" - correction, there's one of the Northern Territory too.

  5. Sou
    I think we are just not quite aligned on what we are talking about. No problem.

    I think we agree that to call the Australian summer "cold" is not correct by any sensible criteria.

    1. Sorry Jammy. I didn't mean to come across as argumentative. I'm not sure where you're coming from I suppose. While I agree with you 100% that it's not an accurate description from a scientific perspective, the "cold" or "cool" is just a way we here in my part of the world would describe this summer. In everyday language. You know, chatting over the back fence with the next-door neighbour.

      I was in a shop the other day and someone was complaining, wondering when summer would arrive.

      By 2050 (and probably by 2030) we'll be longing for summers like this one. We'll probably be lucky to get another one or two like it ever :(

    2. Change a'coming, February will be normal again. That is, above the climate mean.

  6. I watch the local weather very closely. Any night the sky is clear I collect data with my astrophotography setup.
    My camera is capable of cooling its sensor by about 50C below ambient. In winter I run the camera at -40C. In summer I am lucky to get -30C but often have to accept -25C.This summer so far I have not had the camera above -35C.
    Another thing I do is heat the whole optic to a controlled set temperature, so focus does not change. At the moment for summer it is set to 20C. All past summers the ambient temperature at early night was often far above 20C so the optic train would be too hot to use until very late in the night. This summer it has only happened once.
    The camera temperature is recorded with the data, so I am not relying on my memory.
    It has been a cooler than usual summer at least in Eltham NE of Melbourne. There has also been far less clear nights due to moist southerly air. Nearly all of the northerlies were also moist and cloudy due to the air coming all the way from north of Broome. The weather so far this summer has indeed been stranger than usual. Bert

  7. If I was totally selfish I would wish for extreme El Nino conditions to be the norm. That way I would get clear dry skies most of the time. I could collect data night after night. The only problem then is the smoke from bushfires that ruin the transparency, but this would soon pass as there would be nothing left to burn. It would be totally blissful to have clear nights all the time and no rain or cloud to interfere with my selfish needs. Food and water supplies could be a problem but a bit of hoarding for myself and no regard for others is a rational option.
    Now I have all these beautiful images, I have no one to show them to. Am I in hell yet? Bert

    1. There's an easier solution, Bert. Move to Mildura (or the desert) :)


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