Clanging of the bells on extreme weather change

Guest essay by Bob Fernley-Jones

Our taxpayer funded broadcaster here in Oz, the ABC, has recently aired a scary story in its “science” TV show Catalyst, entitled Climate Extremes. (For the brave, the video and web page plus comments is here). For extra emphasis on TV there were repeated shots of several heat stressed old ladies on hospital stretchers, stacks of coffins (caskets), and much thunder and lightning etcetera.

But hey, there was this more technical screenshot sequence that rather caught my eye at about 3 ½ minutes in:

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The narration elucidated how these bell curves clarified why the weather had become more extreme in the past decade, and, being a tad curious I searched around for the source, but without success. My closest find is contained in a report by our Oz government funded Climate Commission entitled The Angry Summer. (2012/3 DJF) This august body is headed by Prof Tim Flannery and amongst its expert advisors is Prof David Karoly, about whom I guess many overseas readers have heard?

But, engineers like me tend to be suspicious, and one thing I puzzled on was that the change in global average T of 0.80 C took place over a period of ~160 years according to HadCRU, and that the Catalyst show implied that the alleged effects were concentrated into the last decade.

I also worried that Carl Gauss would probably writhe in his 18th century grave to see his statistical normal distribution curve applied to an extremely complex system by our modern wizards of CAGW. In reality, the real distribution must be very lopsided around the global average of 150 C, (288K). And, the absence of units and scale also seems to be a touch odd and I pondered if it might err into an exaggeration. Putting aside the great media reverence for our Climate Commission, it disturbed me enough to compile this stuff below:

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I found that not all weather extreme bell curves are equal. For instance, David Karoly is senior co-author in a recent paper entitled; The human role in our ‘angry’ hot summer, which uses a different concept. It employs some modelling projections and is based on a regional sample of Australia only and summer only, (and maybe with distribution closer to normal?). Perhaps it could be fun for anyone who might wish to explore it. Karoly’s retracted Gergis et al SH hocky-stick paper and his conclusions on a biology paper of modelled 10-day early emergence of Melbourne butterflies based on Avalon Airport temperature history, etcetera, do not fill me with confidence though!

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Above is an interesting variation in figure 1.9 on page 44 of the 2nd draft AR5 IPCC report.   It is a combination of two other bell curves (a) and (b).

Strangely, the Climate Commission’s claim of their source as from AR4 (S. Solomon et al) is not found in the relevant chapter 3.    (E.g. 3.8.2 Evidence for Changes in Variability or Extremes – not there)

Part 2:Some more economies in material facts and relevance:

Back to our recent TV show:

NARRATION: This past year in Australia, we’ve seen plenty of heat. At the Bureau of Meteorology, forecasters have been watching record after record tumble.

The first figure from our Climate Commission below left is compared with data from our BoM. Although the BoM have apparently discarded some hotter old records, still yet, NONE of the remaining State or Territory records were broken in the angry summer according to the current BoM table, (right, modified to fit):

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But, back to our TV show again quoting a wise doctor of authority in CAGW:

Dr Karl Braganza [BoM]: January was the hottest month on record. The summer was the hottest on record [in Oz]

The next two graphs give the BoM time-series records for January and summer monthly maximum average temperature data for the crucially important Murray-Darling (rivers) Basin (MDB) “food bowl”. There was nothing special about summer in that vast area covering substantial parts of four States; a map is available here. (BTW, Oz is roughly the same size as the contiguous USA). According to the BoM the volatility of monthly past extremes in the MDB was greater than in the last decade. The master link is here and it has drop-down menus that enable visit to other regions and seasons.

Note; The summer graph adjacent right is wrongly labelled and should read summer 2012/ 2013 (DJF not a meaningless JFD in 2012)

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So what about the individual States and Territories of Oz? Well here they are (treating the Capital Territory or ACT as part of New South Wales or NSW) for the reportedly hottest month of January, but cut off short for compactness and to ease hotness comparison:

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For more commentary on the earlier unbroken temperature records map above right see this, and here is another reference which includes UAH satellite data for Australia also showing the so-called “Angry Summer”, as rather ordinary.

The drop-down menus enable research of the BoM time-series variously by regions and seasons or months, and my conclusion is that monthly average temperature extremes were greater in the past, and so too was monthly volatility. It would take much space here to demonstrate that but the drop-down menus provide the capability for those that may be interested to research it.

Part 3:Breaking the mood with something almost amusing:

I’ve also submitted a wider ranging formal complaint to our taxpayer funded ABC, concerning the bias and other stuff in this story, (the ABC is required by statute to serve the public, and breached its own editorial policies). I closed the complaint off with this:

Ms [Anja] Taylor was the declared presenter, producer and researcher for this show. She presented almost entirely extreme views with an apparent lack of investigative journalism. With the exception of Dr Fischer’s input about the warming effect of dry soils, (which is not controversial if we ignore Prof David Karoly), all other topics were either demonstrably false or controversial. Not content with presenting scientific material facts and balance, (the Editorial Policies require impartiality), she adds inappropriate drama and irrelevance including these images:

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77 thoughts on “Clanging of the bells on extreme weather change

  1. The weaker the evidence becomes the noisier they have to be to keep the issue alive.

    There must be some career opportunities opening up by now for scientists and journalists who would like to make a name for themselves by pointing out that weakness.

    They should apply the same methods to climate science as they do to all those other consumer scams.

  2. The narration elucidated how these bell curves clarified why the weather had become more extreme in the past decade

    The usual statistical ignorance. If weather/temperature continues a normal distribution with the same SD, which that image shows, then by definition extreme weather stays the same, although of course the average changes.

  3. Thanks for reporting what the Climate Commission here in OZ has been telling their audiences in their promos.
    Striking up a conversation before Christmas I asked one of their audio visual team how things were going.
    It was really rough. Had to drive a huge van all the way from Sydney to Adelaide full of stuff for a gig.
    O yes, it must have been big.
    No, it only went for four hours and then we had to drive back again to Sydney.
    Was it interesting?
    No.
    What did they want to do about people who think CO2 isn’t driving climate warming?
    Oh, ignore them and don’t debate, they will eventually go away.

  4. The second distribution shows a warming skewdness, but looking at AR5 its just hypothetical and illustrative of what could happen. I don’t see any evidence presented of it actually happening.

  5. Why doesn’t the Climate Commission report on the lack of angry winters since Australia has gotten warmer…..also supposedly due to human activities.

  6. So long as there are gullible people willing to accept anything that is said to them in an authoritative voice, there will be people trying to pull a fast one on them.

  7. “I also worried that Carl Gauss would probably writhe in his 18th century grave to see his statistical normal distribution curve applied to an extremely complex system by our modern wizards of CAGW. In reality, the real distribution must be very lopsided around the global average of 150 C, (288K).”

    Not even measured temperatures are normally distributed; as the Enthalpy of Fusion and Enthalpy of Vaporization make it impossible. Let alone the statistical construct “Global Average Temperature” which has neither a physical nor a statistical meaning – you can take the mean of a non-normally or equally distributed bunch of data but it has no statistical meaning or definition as the Law Of Large Numbers does not hold for such data.

    One would have thought that at a certain point climate scientists would have realized at least one of these facts – yet they continue to predict certain behaviours of their invented number “global average temperature”.

  8. They’ve started the “extreme weather” meme. Here in Philadelphia I can’t watch a news program without being told of some extreme weather going on somewhere in the country. Just yesterday it was the “extreme, near record temperatures in the mid west”. (How can a near record be extreme?). What was the temperature? 92F. I’m sorry, but 92F is not extreme, even if it lasts 3 days and becomes the dreaded “heat wave”. Oh my! Then we ha the extreme dust cloud, the extreme rain, the extreme flooding, and the extreme forest fires all in the same day! Wow ! The end is surely near….except I remember seeing these things every summer going back to the 1960’s.. In 1973 92F was hot weather, in 2013 it’s extreme weather.

    But does the average person fall for this propaganda? When you’re told that 92F is extreme, do you really believe it’s extreme? I certainly don’t and I suspect they’re trying to sell me something.

  9. In your concept sketch showing the skewed distribution you describe the ‘average’ as being the value that divides the distribution into two equal halves. That is the median not the average and in such a distribution will always be greater than the average or mean. What is the basis for “In reality, the real distribution must be very lopsided around the global average of 150 C, (288K).”
    The distributions in the narration appeared to be of the temperature measurements at a single location with time rather than the spatial distribution of temperature across the globe which appears to be what you have plotted.

  10. So, have you been ignored enough? Ready to go away?

    Heck no, I like tweaking their noses with the *real* obervational evidence. Sun still quiet, -PDO, another La Nina? Let’s wait a few more years and see who goes away. I have time.

    -Frank

  11. Nicely done article. So, if the weather extremes are so bad, how did they explain the growth in population from ~19 million to ~22 million and a decline in the death rate between 2000 and 2012? Looks like all that extreme weather would have been deadly.

  12. Wrong from the start. Temperature distributions on earth, both spatially and temporally, are skewed with a long left tail. In those distributions mean and variance are correlated.

  13. There will be a new Government in Australia in a few weeks, and they will not forget the ruthless campaign the ABC ran in support of Green/Labor. The Climate Commission too is ‘toast’ as the Aussies say. This is their last squeal.

  14. As a regular reader of Andrew Bolt’s excellent blog and JoNova And Stephen Smith’s blog I can speak about Oz politics. The focus naturally is on which of the two major parties will win and seat the new PM. Lost in the fog of war is what is going to happen to the greens. They are going to be obliterated.

  15. I assume that just because an AVERAGE annual temperature record is somewhat normal (vukcevic above), that doesn’t mean that the raw data itself, or the data at lower time increments, is normal (although it could be). “Extreme Weather” is most commonly occuring in time increments of days (storms) or weeks (droughts) and not whole years.

  16. Some interesting material, but the “line dividing the area equally into two” is the median, not the average.

    Phil

  17. If the land surface temperature anomaly for the full set of Australian stations shows a 10-year shift of 0.8 degree C- which appears to correspond to 1SD- then there must be a significant systematic error in play (cyclical variation perhaps).

  18. Slightly but not grossly off topic: I read a release this morning showing that the US summer of 2013 had the fewest recorded 100-degree(-plus) days in over a century, counting data from all the reporting stations–something between 1700 and 1800 (my interpolation), compared with about 2200 for the next-lowest year and over 13,000 for the highest (1936 I think). Just a point of interest concerning our current mild-to-cool summer.

  19. This goes back to a recent paper by Hansen, which goes through a lot of verbiage to say that if it gets warmer, it will be warmer. The bell curve part is just to make it look more scientific.

  20. I thought the reason the AGW fruits switched their banner to Extreme Weather was that the average was not changing. so they thought bad things could still happen if the distribution hit the extremes more often, even if this is not predicted by the GCM? So technically, their distribution should not show a shift to the hotter.
    Of course, the typically high-low spread in any given place might be 40-50F. But if they showed that that was normal, no one would care about 1C average

  21. Thingadonta @ 2:32 am:

    No ‘angry winter’ in Aus. I suppose the 5 consecutive days of waking up to -5C and hard frost in country Victoria don’t count?

  22. ***
    Dr. John M. Ware says:
    August 28, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Slightly but not grossly off topic: I read a release this morning showing that the US summer of 2013 had the fewest recorded 100-degree(-plus) days in over a century
    ***

    Dunno, but the avg “highest temp” here in rural west MD is ~94 – 98F. The highest this summer was 91F. Certainly nearby city/airport areas were higher from the urban heat-islands. And my oven has gotten up to 400F+ regularly!

  23. Well that’s a nice analysis and would certainly be addressed by a media corporation that accidentally got a few things wrong. Raise your hand if you think that’s the case here….

  24. In my, best work, which was published in recent years about the extremes of weather is: A general perspective of extreme events in weather and climate, by Philip Sura (2012, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169809511000172) – by no gauss distribution.
    Especially (just not for alarmists) I recommend the sentence:
    “…but the region is more likely to have experienced such extremes in the past and thus to have infrastructure which is adapted to such occurrences.”

    The decrease gradients: pressure and temperature – as a result of global warming; if it is dominant, will by reduce the number of extreme events – whether we know how will it be?

    Tom Knutson (2008, 2013 – http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/) write:
    “To explore which effect of these effects might “win out”, we can run experiments with our regional downscaling model.”

    So, we do not know?

    At the time of the old warming the number of heat waves (and their extremity) is always decreasing.: “According to Davis and colleagues, the higher latitude continents north of 50N in both periods [max. Eemian, mid-Holocene] were much warmer than present-day climate in winter, not so much warmer in summer. “Climate models don’t do this. „… they are generally too warm on summer …” (blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/12/dispatch-from-agu-an-equable-climate-curveball/).

    So when the old warming, did not increase the amount of extremes (and if you grow – that marginally?)

    Why should it be different now?

    The current increase in the number of extreme events is a (mostly) the sum of the effects: more precise methods of measurement, positive AMO, meandering jet stream; the current warming strengthens or weakens general these effects?

    We simply do not know – and that’s all it should be in the IPCC report.

  25. @stan stendera 5:34 am
    Lost in the fog of war is what is going to happen to the greens. They are going to be obliterated.

    So, they are going from 3 seats to 2?
    As an American, I am under informed about the Australian election. In the US Presidential Election of 2012, we had an opposition party that didn’t make an issue of Climate Change policies and Obama wasn’t going to bring it up if he didn’t have to. 3 seats out of 100 in the US Senate is all it takes to change course, and the Republicans couldn’t even do that.

    So I guess I’m asking if the Australian opposition is any more talented at building public demand for the demolition of Climate Change policies than the incompetents over in the US?

    Please tell me there is a “throw the bums out” current in the electorate that includes directorship of the ABC and all climate commissions.

  26. The Other Phil is (regrettably) incorrect. Of the 3 types of averages, mean is the one fairly described as dividing an area in half.

    Mean – Sum of all members divided by how many members (of a set)
    Median – Middle number (after sorting in numerical order)
    Mode – Most Common Number
    For example: of the set 1 1 1 2 2 3 11
    Mean 3 [21/7 = 3]
    Median 2 [(1 1 1) 2 (2 3 11)]
    Mode 1 [(1 1 1) 2 2 3 11]

  27. You can prove almost anything with statistics, especially if you are unskilled in statistics. If climate science shows anything it is that a lack of skill in statistics is a prerequisite to a degree.

  28. David L. says:

    Spot on! The temperature for St. Louis was ordinary not extreme yet it was reported as extreme. What a crock!

  29. One of the problems in using averages – and more often anomalies – is that the processing that goes into creating the average and anomalies can create statistical trends where no such trends exist in the underlying data.

    For example, in general what the temperature records show is that minimum temperatures are increasing, but maximum temperatures are not. When you use averages this gives the impression that what is happening is that things are getting warmer during the day. But in reality they are not.

    What is happening is that the extremes between day and night are decreasing. Which if anything should reduce extreme weather, because weather is largely a product of temperature differences.

  30. Flannery and august body are words that should never been in the same sentance .
    After the election ,if there is any justice, his toast anyway.

  31. Amazing how the BBC, the ABC and our own CBC are all slanted the same way. On the CBC (for those not familiar – the Canadian Broadcasting Corp) it seems every third show either has David Suzuki expounding Climate Whatever and the evils of Dirty Oil, or another documentary showing the same or the news talking about the melting North Pole. Given the taxpayer subsidies wasted on the CBC not many Canadians make it the channel of choice. I haven’t heard too many rants regarding ANY extreme weather. But mind you, I don’t watch it very often. Nothing worthwhile.

  32. ferd berple says:
    August 28, 2013 at 7:23 am
    One of the problems in using averages – and more often anomalies – is that the processing that goes into creating the average and anomalies can create statistical trends where no such trends exist in the underlying data.

    For example, in general what the temperature records show is that minimum temperatures are increasing, but maximum temperatures are not. When you use averages this gives the impression that what is happening is that things are getting warmer during the day. But in reality they are not.

    What is happening is that the extremes between day and night are decreasing. Which if anything should reduce extreme weather, because weather is largely a product of temperature differences.

    How do you square that with the evidence that new record maximum temperatures are outpacing record minimums? See here for example:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/record-highs-vs.-record-lows

  33. Come September 7 when we vote in a new government with PM Abbott, Flim- flam and Karoly poley will be on unemployment benefits with the Climate Commision as such abolished. The majority of Australians can’t wait for this to happen. Even the present PM KRudd will have a hard time keeping his seat. As for the ABC they are just a basket case.

  34. JohnC says:
    August 28, 2013 at 7:12 am

    The Other Phil is (regrettably) incorrect. Of the 3 types of averages, mean is the one fairly described as dividing an area in half.

    Mean – Sum of all members divided by how many members (of a set)
    Median – Middle number (after sorting in numerical order)
    Mode – Most Common Number

    OK I’ll bite, what is the average of the highest and lowest numbers called. You know the number in all the temp datasets?

  35. Now, I figured I’d watch that taxpayer funded, ABC “science” TV show Catalyst special titled, Climate Extremes, and I’ll admit that I had no idea that it had gotten so hot outside that forests could actually spontaneously combust. So, to get a more accurate picture of just how gosh darned hot it is outside I figured I’d check out the combustion temperature of wood.

    Unlike with paper, where there was a book titled with the actual temperature it begins to burn at, there is no similar book for wood so I had to look it up. So, if you choose to write such a book, here is the temperature; Fahrenheit 540. A great title for a polemic on global warming, eh?

    But here’s the problem. The global average temperature was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013. And that’s also coming from a taxpayer funded source and we all know that taxpayers have never put up with their money being ever used for corrupt nefarious purposes. So, that figure must be accurate. And that indicates a rise of 1.44 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) from a preindustrial temperature of 56.76 degrees. That’s quite a long ways from 540 degrees. So the only thing I can assume is that that 1.44 degree rise, which has resulted in an increase in high temperatures aaaaalllll the way up to 540 must be accompanied by low temperatures all the way down to -423.6 degrees Fahrenheit to get that 58.2 degree average. Maybe it’s just me but I think low temperatures down to -423.6 degrees would be quite newsworthy as well.

    That is, unless there’s a new math at work where 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2 which averages out to one. No, 1 + 1 = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

  36. You know who was better at predicting the future then the CAGW crowd – Michael Crichton. The alarmists need to stop following his script before someone gets eaten.

  37. From FrankK on August 28, 2013 at 8:33 am:

    Come September 7 when we vote in a new government with PM Abbott…

    *sigh*

    This is what I’ve learned about Australian politics. The elected parties pull a PM out of a car, said PM turns out to be a clown. After a while the crowd roars their anger and disappointment, the parties mill and run around a bit, then pull another PM from the car. Who also turns out to be a clown, and the last one might go back in the car and get picked again.

    You Aussies can vote in as many new governments as you want, the parties will keep pulling people out of the car, as many as it takes to keep the crowd from booing. They’ll still all be clowns.

    Wake me up when Andrew Bolt becomes PM. Then I’ll know either virtually the entire country has become focused on sensible reform and rationally restoring their global relevance, or has become so permanently absolutely irredeemably corrupt it even turned that great champion of national sanity. Either will signal there was finally some change from “government as usual” at the Canberra Circus.

  38. For a long time I’ve had problems with using the average daily temperature. I’ve seen it shown several times that most of the measured warming is coming from increase nighttime temperatures not higher daytime temperatures. Nighttime temperatures have the greatest impact from UHI effects as man made infrastructure radiates its collected heat back into the atmosphere. I’m ok with averaging local or regional highs for a week or at most a month. Same for average lows. To allow the use of average daily temperatures invites the CAGW magicians to place any number of cards up their sleeve. With looking at just averaged high temps or average low temps it would be harder for the CAGW gang to explain how greenhouse gases have a greater effect in one 12 hour period and not another. Then the argument can be properly driving to the CAGW purveyors use of poorly sited weather stations and their inadequate adjustments for UHI effects.

    But what do I know? I’m not a “scientist”.

  39. @JohnC 7:12am
    Of the 3 types of averages, mean is the one fairly described as dividing an area in half

    Dividing the area by half is the median point, Cumulative 50% point of the distribution, equal numbers above and below, regardless of how far away.
    The mean is the dividing the first moment of the area in half. The balance point or centroid of the Area. Area*(distance from the mean)
    The difference between the three is important if the distribution is not symmetric.
    (1,1,1,1,2,2,3,6,10) Sum = 27, Count = 9.
    Median is 2, (the 5th out of 9)
    Mean is 3.
    Mode is 1 (most frequent)

  40. The claim that there has been only 0.8 degrees change in the normal distribution of the temperature spread, should mean that if you look at very similar periods of weather data modulated by repeating patterns of cyclic influences in the weather, then the short term patterns should reinforce each other if there is really a cyclic influence of any real strength.

    I have compiled an analog forecast using this method based on atmospheric tidal repeating patterns, using the real raw data from each of the equivalent dates separated by 6558 days into the past. The results show that the composites follow the rain patterns, frontal progressions across the face of the Earth both in North America and Australia.

    This allows the generation of an up to 18 year long forecast of the expected repeating patterns that can be viewed as detailed maps with a grid resolution of 0.05 degrees or squares with three miles on a side, that you can view free on line with no commercial content or ads. What I usually do is open the forecast maps, click next for a period of about 5 to 7 days, then by clicking on the map itself, it opens in a new tab (in firefox), click the original tab ask for the previous day for the parameter(s) you wish to view, click and save to new tabs what you want and proceed to open maps in new tabs until you reach today’s date.

    Then you can save this window for repeated viewing to compare to real time data for a week long period to watch the progress of the frontal systems as they move across the maps in regard to the real time weather. This process allows me to watch the effects that are repeated and the ones that are not, this gives me additional insight as to the short term solar effects of flares and CMEs that weren’t occurring in the past cycles on the dates in question.

    One of the trends I have noticed with this method is the weakening of the solar and geomagnetic fields has decreased the size and severity of the storminess, the tropical storms that developed into Irene and Sandy, were right on time in their arrival and close to the same tracks as the storms from 1938-1939.(the fourth pattern back in the repeating cycles). The East to West tracking of the frontal boundary from the past month were the same as the equivalent cycles before.

    There are currently maps posted until May of 2014, and we will be adding more out to the end of 2020, as funds to pay the developer become available.

    I am an amateur as defined by the old school, of science for the sake of finding the truth, out of the interest and love of it.
    Enjoy, Richard Holle.

  41. The stupdity here is AGW theory called for LESS extreme weather/climate going forward not more extreme.

    AGW called for a more zonal +AO (ARCTIC OSCILLATION ) going forward which equates to less extremes in climate/weather..

    The REALITY is the atmospheric circulation has been trending toward a more meridional -AO going forward which will cause the weather/climate to be more extreme, or at least more persistent which has indeed happened post 2009.

    The more meridional atmospheric circulation pattern in turn can be shown to be tied to prolonged solar minimum periods . We have entered a prolonged solar minimum period, commenced in year 2005.
    AGW theory is now trying to hijack the extreme climate /more meridional atmospheric circulation concept to fit into their soon to be obsolete theory. A theory which originally called for no such things.

  42. “I also worried that Carl Gauss would probably writhe in his 18th century grave to see his statistical normal distribution curve applied to an extremely complex system by our modern wizards of CAGW.”

    Warning: This graph is highly effective in frightening Hollywood actresses and actors, and K-6 school children in a new Common Core science curriculum. Not intended for use outside of these vulnerable populations.

  43. … I puzzled on was that the change in global average T of 0.80 C took place over a period of ~160 years according toHadCRU, and that the Catalyst show implied that the alleged effects were concentrated into the last decade …
    ———————————–
    Added to that is the fact that the global temperature has been steady for at least that period so according to the programme producers CO2 must be having some mysterious direct effect on the climate other than as a greenhouse gas.

  44. Here’s another grave consequence of global warming in Australia. :)

    “The sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom – and undertakers everywhere are tearing their hair out. Sydney’s unseasonably mild winter, the warmest on record, might be a joy for most of us but it’s making life tough for funeral directors, who are experiencing their slowest season in 25 years.

    ”We’ve seen the biggest drop in business in a generation,” said Andrew Smith, chief executive of InvoCare, the largest private funeral, cemetery and crematorium operator in the Asia-Pacific region. ”Winter is usually our busiest time, but there’s been no real flu season this year and no real cold snaps, and that’s being reflected in a big drop in business.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/business-dead-as-undertakers-feel-heat-from-a-warm-winter-20130822-2segz.html#ixzz2d4CSANBo

  45. Bob Fernley-Jones says:
    August 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    vukcevic wrote: ”In case anyone is interested to know what distribution of the world longest temperature record looks like: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETd.htm”

    Yes, it is interesting and a bit more towards normal distribution because of the small average annual temperature range in central England, and of course the extremes are smoothed out by the annual averaging.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The distribution of means will approximate a normally distribution. Central Limit Theorem

    If the population is not normally distributed, but the sample size is sufficiently large, then the sample means will have an approximately normal distribution. Some books define sufficiently large as at least 30 and others as at least 31.

    (There is that sample size of 30)

  46. ferd berple says: “One of the problems in using averages – and more often anomalies – is that the processing that goes into creating the average and anomalies can create statistical trends where no such trends exist in the underlying data. For example, in general what the temperature records show is that minimum temperatures are increasing, but maximum temperatures are not.”

    Not surprising. It’s difficult to shift the right hand part of the distribution curve further to the right, since any surface rise sheds heat to space by T⁴, and the right side already has a much higher T than the left.

  47. As shown by Gumbel in his monograph on “Statistics of Extremes,” their distribution is not likely to be gaussian.

  48. Bob,
    Do you (or anyone else) know how the BOM calculate its daily/monthly temp averages? Do they use only the data from the ACORN stations or do they average every w/s in Australia?
    And when they do compare temperature averages to get ‘an angry summer’, do they only compare data with w/s that have been operating from 1910 (or do they include some recently installed w/s that have no long-term records)?
    Both January 1896 and January 1939 seemed to have some very hot weather but don’t feature in their literature. For instance, Bourke had 17 days in a row of +40C in 1939 (though ACORN has readjusted these temps down) and 22 days of +40C in 1896. We didn’t see that this year.

  49. vukcevic, copy to Gail & 1sk1:
    I see that your CET distribution; http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETd.htm has an average annual temperature of 9.2 degrees 22 times as averaged from 1659-2012 and that despite the small CET spatial coverage and an annual average temperature range of only about 4 C, (which surprises me*), there is nevertheless a pronounced longer tail on the cold side and throughout the series there are erratic jumps. For instance; 9.8 degrees has 18 events below maximum and 9.9 degrees has only 7 events in the 353 years.
    * The annual averaging eliminates outliers though.

  50. Gail & 1sk1;
    Concerning distribution of global average temperatures, there are complex temporal and spatial variations, but what is generally described as THE global average (or if you prefer; mean) is ~15 C or ~288K. My main point is the simple observation that various sources give spatial (zonal) annual averages as up to about 30 or 35 C on the hot side of average, and down to very, very much colder the other side. Thus, using annual averages the cold tail MUST be very much longer than the hot side and thus not Gaussian. Throw-in the unsmoothed outliers and it becomes even more pronounced. Here is another source that gives a greater range of average temperatures to that I cited in the essay, but it does not damage the concept:

    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7m.html

    I don’t have a big acceptance of some statistical theories and prefer to leave it to the experts whom in my opinion sometimes get their nickers in a twist. For instance, although Steve McIntyre et al did BRILLIANT work with statistical stuff and whatnot on the Manna hockey-stick, I think it complicated the issue. There were some six much simpler ways of debunking it that might have been more easily understood by lay people.

    Did you know that about seven (?) years ago there was an alarming cluster of breast cancers in staff at the Brisbane studios of the ABC? Despite extensive testing etcetera, no explanation of cause could be found. Nevertheless, the staff moved to a new location to evade the unknown.

    Catalyst (Jonica Newby) also made a big thing last year in her story; “Measuring Our Temperature” of a cluster of over 200 deaths of an endangered Cockatoo mostly on a golf course near Hopetoun WA on a very hot day. It was enthusiastically spruiked on ABC radio in The Science Show declaring the new normal of worsening climate change. However, various evidences give that whilst the single hot afternoon may have been a tipping factor there must have been some other prime cause such as disease.

  51. Many states built, now mothballed but still being paid for, billion dollar sea water desalination plants based on Flannery’s predictions about “larger more common and severe drought”. Almost all dams throughout the country are pretty much full. We had severe flooding in 2010/2011 (Not as severe as the 1894, 1905 and 1974 Queensland floods). We also now have Karoly stating sea level rises, and that is GLOBAL sea levels, have reversed because of the big wet in Aus in 2010/2011.

    Two days ago, all across the media we were towards the end of the warmest winter on record. Then it was the warmest in 150 years. Now it’s the warmest 3rd or 4th winter on record. My guess is they haven’t a clue beyond their salaries and pensions.

  52. 1sky1 says:
    August 28, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    As shown by Gumbel in his monograph on “Statistics of Extremes,” their distribution is not likely to be gaussian.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yes it runs into the Willis’s Thunderstorm Hypothesis except in the deserts.

  53. Bob Fernley-Jones says: @ August 29, 2013 at 12:10 am

    vukcevic, copy to Gail & 1sk1:
    I see that your CET distribution…. there is nevertheless a pronounced longer tail on the cold side and throughout the series there are erratic jumps…. * The annual averaging eliminates outliers though.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is the Central limit Theorem in action. The more points averaged per mean the more the curve tends towards a normal distribution. However you are going to get that tail if the curve for the original data is overwhelmingly lopsided.

    Sort of emphases the problems for climate are going to probably be from the cooler side not the warmer.

  54. Its kind of funny how records can be set when old data is discarded or how much warmer the present seems when you keep changing past temperatures to make them cooler! Whether its ACORN or the ASOS in the US that supposedly discovered a “cold bias” in older temperatures but somehow resulted in them being adjusted DOWNWARD, its scary they’re in charge.

    I had that dilemma for the first time on Jan. 21, 1985. I didn’t have a registering thermometer and had woken up well after dawn, when temperatures had risen from their lows. The day was record cold and at my house could have been as low as -10F, which would be the coldest I’d ever recorded. I thought about it, but ended up entering -6F in my records as the low because it was the official reading at the local (but usually warmer) airport, because I didn’t feel right putting a number there I couldn’t “prove.” A similar process the officials are taking, but they’re fudging the #’s.

    You’d have to forgive my moral dilemma back in ’85…after all I was only NINE YEARS OLD!

  55. Thanks waclimate and Gail

    I’m still at a lost as to how the BOM determine Aust average temps and what it compares that data with to come up with any conclusions. I ran the raw and ACORN data for Bourke (Jan 1939) and found a great deal of adjustment. I know they adjust temps with nearby w/s but can’t find any reason for the huge downward adjustments.

    raw ACORN
    38.9 38.4
    40.0 39.1
    42.2 41.9
    38.1 37.9
    38.9 38.4
    41.7 41.5
    41.7 41.5
    43.4 43.0
    46.1 45.7
    48.3 47.9
    47.2 46.8
    46.2 45.8
    45.7 45.3
    46.1 45.7
    47.2 46.8
    46.7 46.3
    40.0 39.1
    40.1 39.1
    40.0 39.1
    41.9 41.7
    42.5 42.1
    44.2 43.8
    36.7 36.5
    40.3 39.2
    36.6 36.5
    29.4 29.5
    29.3 29.4
    28.8 28.9
    30.6 30.5
    35.6 35.4
    38.6 38.3
    48.3 47.9
    28.8 28.9
    40.4 40.03 Jan average

    Note: All temps over 30C have been adjusted down, below 30C adjusted up. No rhyme nor reason.

  56. Ian George,
    Yes the clockwise rotation of time series temperature records is quite distasteful. GISS is perhaps the most famous as a long term “creeping correction”, and there was all that fuss over the NZ stuff. Chris de Freitus wrote an article here:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10833106

    Funny how in different regions and whatnot the data in the past gets corrected downwards even when one would think we know less about it. It has the effect of reducing the cold tail on the distribution curve.

  57. Karoly and Flannery are due to become past Australian History, along with their alarmism, after the forthcoming election which will sweep their unscientific detritus out of public memory.

  58. Patrick wrote:
    …Two days ago, all across the media we were towards the end of the warmest winter on record. Then it was the warmest in 150 years. Now it’s the warmest 3rd or 4th winter on record…

    Yes, the media likes hot stuff. I was watching ABC TV news as July closed this year and our trustworthy weatherman informed us two nights in a row that July had been the hottest in melbourne on record, or something like that. Eh? I thought. I didn’t notice living where I do in a NE suburb. I’ve just checked again by asking Google:

    melbourne + “hottest july”

    and it gave 15,800 hits including substitutions such as warmest……………………….Hmmmmm.
    An interesting comparison is that the BoM records show considerably higher temperatures than in 2013 for Victoria for July since 1975, for both mean and maximum:

  59. Bob
    According to BOM, Melbourne RO had its hottest July at 15.9C beating 1975 by 0.2C.
    However, Melbourne Airport had 14.7C whereas in 1975 it was 15.1C there.
    So, at worst, Melbourne has had an 0.2C raise in July temps in nearly 40 years.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_display_type=dailyDataFile&p_nccObsCode=122&p_stn_num=086071&p_c=-1481742221&p_startYear=2013

    I had to XL the data to get the average as they haven’t done it yet.
    Other data bases for Melbourne have a mixture of Reg Office and the Air Port. I presume the ones I have here are all from Reg Off.

  60. Ian,
    Yes, an increase of 0.2C since 1975 is really scary eh? That’s especially so since 1975 was at the end of a global cooling cycle starting at around 1940. So then we had that great warming phase when not a lot happened in Melbourne.
    It gets more farcical though and I nearly composed an analysis for Anthony Watts to review. I don’t know if you are familiar with Melbourne but it has a rather substantial east-west main road, Victoria Street, which narrowly bypasses the traditional CBD which has a grid pattern of streets, and branching off from Victoria Street at an acute angle is Latrobe Street. It busily traverses the north side of that city grid. There is thus this narrow tiny triangle of land where the Melbourne “Regional” Office instrumentation is located between much tarmac.
    Towards the bottom of the following BoM PDF is a layout of the site at Aug 2008 and in earlier years. In reality it should be named City Office, not Regional.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/clim_data/cdio/metadata/pdf/siteinfo/IDCJMD0040.086071.SiteInfo.pdf

    I wanted to go down there with a camera around midday at the time when it was sunny to see the latest situation but failed to do so. It seems to be a classic UHI situation to me going by the maps.

  61. Bob
    Just checked it out on Google maps and, as you say, it does look like ‘a classic UHI’ site.
    In your link to the station metadata it says it was opened in 1908, but records for the Reg Off go back to 1855. So was this the original site or was it moved?

  62. Ian,
    I think the BoM Melbourne Regional (= City) Office is a can of worms and wouldn’t contemplate any BoM data prior to 1910, given that that is when they start their time series graphics.

    Melbourne temperatures are also rather contorted in the context of alleged AGW because of the notorious effect of wind direction and duration. We are the butt of jokes on this matter and wind direction can almost be estimated from the temperature data. An extreme example was on 7/Feb/2009 when we had tragic bushfires in the NE hills. After some days of hot north winds, (a heatwave), we broke max temperature records in Melbourne with ~46C on that afternoon, but come about 5:15 pm a cold front came through and T dropped to ~29C in a matter of minutes. About 17 degrees in minutes….. (Perhaps around ten degrees is more normal)! (Incidentally, the change in wind direction was also disastrous in the bushfire area, in a combination of bad stuff)

    Interestingly, the latest Melbourne RO 2008 site-plan shows an anemometer right on the corner between the two busy roads.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/clim_data/cdio/metadata/pdf/siteinfo/IDCJMD0040.086071.SiteInfo.pdf

    However they don’t report it nowadays but instead use wind data from Essendon Airport presumably because of issues with turbulence not only from nearby large structures and trees, but also increasing road traffic around the rather enclosed RO site.
    Groan. You’ve inspired me to try and get down there tomorrow with a camera.

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