Great Barrier Reef Sea Surface Temperature: No Change In 150 Years

by David Mason-Jones  

Come November and December this year (2021) it will be exactly 150 years since a scientific expedition made meticulous observations of water temperatures along the Great Barrier Reef.

On the voyage from Sydney to Cape Sidmouth in far north Queensland scientists took hourly sea surface temperatures between 6:00am and 6:00pm every day ‘of the warm current setting south along the east coast of Australia’ now known as East Australian Current. The measurements commenced out to sea from Port Stevens, north of Sydney, and continued to near the tip of Cape York. They did the same on the return trip 2-weeks later.

Headed by government astronomers from Melbourne and Sydney, the voyage was organised by the Royal Society of Victoria to observe a total eclipse of the sun predicted for the 12th December, 1871. With other scientists the party travelled aboard the steamer Governor Blackall out of Sydney on 27 November 1871.. Consequently, the measurements were not just a matter of idle curiosity by passing mariners, they were the subject of formal scientific research and followed the same protocol and used the same thermometer for every observation.

From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales [a637564 / PXE 722/1567]

Published in 1877 by Henry Chamberlain Russell, the 1871 data is the earliest consistently collected sea surface temperature dataset around the Australian coast.

Russell’s data established a baseline against which current sea surface temperatures can be compared. The comparison renders Null the commonly accepted hypothesis of rising sea surface temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef.

If the sea surface temperature of the Great Barrier Reef has been trending upwards – and if this trend could be characterised as ‘rapid’ – then a 150-year comparison should be sufficient to confirm it. The problem is that it establishes no such thing. When compared with today’s readings, it shows no upward trend.

The main finding of the recent research Report will come as anathema to multiple research bodies. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and organisations like CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, WWF and the Climate Council have consistently claimed survival of the Reef is imperilled by rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority states that, ‘sea surface temperatures in the Australian region have warmed by around 1°C since 1910, with the Great Barrier Reef warming by 0.8°C in the same period.’

 The main findings of the research were:

Firstly, compared at the same times of the year (November and December), there is no difference in average sea surface temperature over the last 150 years. That is a long time and it shows that temperatures are homeostatic, that is, self-regulating.

Secondly, during the warmest time of the year (from December to March) the monsoonal water cycle acts a self-regulating heat pump that maintains average sea surface temperature between 29 and 30degC. If the water entering the Reef Lagoon cannot warm, neither can the North Queensland or East Australian Currents. There is no evidence that the process has broken-down or is likely to do so in the future.

Operation of the heat pump closely regulates sea surface temperature between 27degC and 29degC but less than 30degC for up to five months and more than 20degC during winter (July to September). Low water temperature in winter sets the southern limit for Reef ecosystems, not high water temperatures in summer, which rarely (and only briefly) exceed 31degC.

Scientist, Dr. Bill Johnston, located the 1877 paper when undertaking research in The National Library on H.C. Russell’s contribution to meteorology in Australia. The former New South Wales senior research scientist has collated the 1871 data analysed it meticulously and correlated the temperature readings with the latitude at which they were taken. This is vital because the warm East Australian Current slowly cools as it flows south from the tropics, eventually into the Tasman Sea.

The 1871 observations were used to baseline recent data derived from 27 Australian Institute of Marine science (AIMS) data loggers from Thursday Island in the north to Boult Reef in the south. Both datasets were robust, comparable and fit for the purpose of examining time-evolution of sea surface temperature. AIMS data for equivalent times and latitudes were not significantly different to data measured in November/December 1871. It is shocking that this vital piece of scientific evidence is not featured more prominently in all the Reef research of recent years.

The result of this analysis surely dismantles the assertion that sea surface temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef are rising and rising rapidly.

The results have now been published in full detail on an Australian website BoMwatch – a site devoted to keeping an eye on Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. The dataset with calculations is provided separately as a supplement to the report on the Bomwatch website.

Dr. Johnston’s detailed Report can be accessed at . The full Report with tables of data is at The researcher and publisher at BoMwatch want to make this a completely open field for science investigation.

In his final conclusion, Dr. Johnston states, ‘No difference was found between temperatures measured at Port Stephens and Cape Sidmouth by astronomers from Melbourne and Sydney using bucket samples in November and December 1871 and data sampled at those times from 27 AIMS datasets spanning from Thursday Island, in the north to Boult Reef in the south. Alarming claims that the East Australian Current has warmed due to global warming are therefore without foundation.’

Reference: Lomb, Nick (2016) Australian solar eclipse expeditions: the voyage to Cape York in 1871. Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 79-95. 

David Mason-Jones is a freelance journalist of many years’ experience.

Dr Bill Johnston is a former NSW Department of Natural Resources senior research scientist and former weather observer.

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August 26, 2021 2:03 pm

Sounds extreme as far as nothing is concerned.

August 26, 2021 2:10 pm

While the results fit my own predilections, I would feel more confident in Dr. Johnson’s analysis and results IF they were reviewed or analyzed by an expert statistician – such at Ross McKitrick..

Reply to  Bernie1815
August 26, 2021 2:34 pm

Bernie, great suggestion. If you follow though the links to the research Report, it’s all there.
Please encourage others to analyse.

Reply to  David Mason-Jones
August 26, 2021 7:41 pm

David: Thanks for the response. I have not yet looked at this report but I did look at the Townsend report. Dr Johnson seemed to have used a form of hierachical regression in that analysis. His findings may be 100% on target, but it is a tricky and volatile approach dependent upon the order in which the variables are entered into the regression analyss and the independence of those variables from each other. If that is the method used to isolate the signal then a statistician familiar with the approach and its limitations needs to be involved. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick did an incredible job uncovering the issues with Michael Mann’s use of a related technique – PCA. I am simply not smart enough to do much more than reference standard limitations of these techniques.

Reply to  Bernie1815
August 26, 2021 10:11 pm

Thanks Bernie,

Analysis of the Townsville (MSL) data was straight forward. Factors are additive, thus it did not matter the particular order they were introduced. However, I wished to illustrate the impact of the most influential variable by introducing it first (and the least last) to make the point that in multiple linear regression where more than two variables are significant, invariably the first one or two account for most of the variation in the response. For the tide gauge data I went further by showing the effect of successively added predictors on residuals from previous fits. Notice also that I progressively ignored variable that were not significant so their inclusion would not spuriously inflate variation explained.

By removing the effect of the known knowns, we were then left with ensuring residuals did not embed additional signals (i.e. that variances were equal across their range in x, normally distributed etc.). The most influential variable is the one that accounts for the highest proportion of the total sum of squares etc. You might notice also that the impact of step-changes overshadowed variation explained by other variables.

The 1871 dataset were non-linear with latitude, however, on the cooling-cycle after March, the quadratic term became non-significant (i.e. the relationship became linear), then on warming after August the response again became curvilinear. The asymptote on both the 1871 and derived AIMS data shows convincingly the existence of an upper limit to warming towards the tropics.

It is just not possible for the ocean to get warmer – in the hottest month, which is January, average SST north of -11.5 deg Latitude cools slightly but the lack of good data from AIMS precludes drawing a firm conclusion. A limitation of the 1871 data is that it only extended north to Cape Sidmouth; which by coincidence lies at -11.4 degrees latitude. AIMS/BoM data for Thursday Island is affected by proximity of the sensor to the shore and also the wharf is sheltered on three sides by nearby islands and I explained AIMS data for the other two Torres Strait sites was a bit scrappy and were for for different time intervals.

Thanks for you interest in our work.



Tom Halla
August 26, 2021 2:15 pm

Given their past behavior, the Bureau of Meteorology will go full GISS, and adjust the 1871 temperatures down.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 26, 2021 2:23 pm

Yep, thanks for letting us know, diligent citizen scientist. Please allow us to wave the magic wand and make your inconvenient truths disappear!

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 26, 2021 3:06 pm

Sounds like them.
Probably too late. The original 1871 data set was rediscovered, and now republished, backed up and archived. The whole thing has conveniently been bundled up as a *.XLSX file, for your downloading pleasure.
This is the best way I know of to prevent “adjustments” to historical data sets.

Reply to  TonyL
August 26, 2021 10:30 pm

Thanks Tony,
Interestingly, for the grid cells along the Reef, the long-term gridded dataset shows a distinct cooling of the past relative to the present and is is on that basis that AIMS and Co claim a warming trend. Unfortunately data available data consists of mid-cell centred monthly averages per year from 1870 (as I recall). They probably used the 1871 data but they don’t reference it.

Personally, I think taking a few bits of data of unknown quality and mashing it so it covers 1/4 of the globe is a bit of a stretch. We make a point in all our BomWatch posts to include the data we use.



Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 26, 2021 3:11 pm

Yes, my first thought was that Russell’s data have simply not been properly adjusted yet.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
August 26, 2021 3:34 pm

Unless, of course, their reaction is to simply ignore the data set.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 26, 2021 9:42 pm

Of course. It’s biology.

Allow me to explain…

Over the last 150 years, people have grown taller, by about 10 cm. This means that, for a given thermometer, a person 150 years ago was looking at it from a lower angle, and thus artificially reading it “high”, as compared to what would be read today.

It’s simply biology! QED!


Tom Abbott
Reply to  Shanghai Dan
August 27, 2021 11:39 am

Yes, or the alarmists will do like they did recently in Death Valley California, and try to psychoanalyze the person taking the temperature reading back in 1913, in order to minimize the high temperature recorded there.

August 26, 2021 2:28 pm

I can hear the Alarmists now. They were astronomer’s not climate scientists trained by Dr. Michael Mann.

Ron Long
August 26, 2021 2:44 pm

I wonder if Professor Peter Ridd knows about this type of report? His life was made miserable by contrary statements, apparently without any merit. Go get them!

Reply to  Ron Long
August 26, 2021 5:05 pm

Quite so ! I see that Facebook is slapping a ‘partly false’ warning on the last article Dr Ridd published here at WUWT. Not only that but they also warned me of being restricted if I continued to upload articles like his. :-((

Ron Long
Reply to  Streetcred
August 26, 2021 5:41 pm

Streetcred, being restricted by Facebook nowadays is a compliment. Go for it!

Reply to  Ron Long
August 26, 2021 10:33 pm

Yes. I’ve discussed some of the work with Peter Ridd.

I don’t think the science is as necessarily settled as they would like it to appear.



Smart Rock
August 26, 2021 2:51 pm

What are the odds that the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC won’t mention it at all? Or the climatists at James Cook University? Or the BoM?

Too many people have their careers invested in the doomsday cult. Facts don’t matter any more, unless they fit into the story.

Reply to  Smart Rock
August 26, 2021 3:27 pm

I checked the ABC website as a result of your comment, and there is no mention. But they have posted a typical ABC story about “global warming” letting tropical fish from Australia’s north go south and eat all the kelp, destroying the environment.

Reply to  Dave53
August 26, 2021 8:20 pm

The ABC peddles whatever tripe the government wants.

Reply to  RoHa
August 26, 2021 8:45 pm

Actually it doesn’t. The ABC is fundamentally opposed to the Australian Government and at times actively campaigns against it. It totally opposes the Australian Government on climate issues and daily rebukes the Government on that issue. The ABC was furious when the present government won the last election despite a concerted ABC campaign against it largely based on climate issues — the appalled faces of the ABC commentators as the results came in during their election night coverage were a joy to behold.

Reply to  Dave53
August 26, 2021 9:24 pm

Quite the opposite RoHa

Reply to  RoHa
August 28, 2021 7:37 pm

There was a voluntary poll of ABC staffers some years ago. IIRC some 44% were Green voters and another 30% were ALP voters.3 out of 4 ABC people who answered the poll were politically opposed to the government.

Reply to  Smart Rock
August 26, 2021 3:46 pm

Facts don’t matter any more, unless they fit into the story.

That cannot happen. THE STORY is fantasy – it is fact free; based on contrived nonsense.

Think about it – the ocean surface temperature in the tropics is homeostatic, being limited to an average of 30C then the energy into the oceans is regulated. Likewise sea ice forms an insulating barrier at high latitudes to regulate the loss of energy.

Both these processes are controlling the energy flow into and out of the energy storage system – the oceans. How can so-called “greenhouse gases” play any role at all in the ocean energy balance when the tropical oceans regulate to 30C and the water beneath a thin layer of ice is -2C.

Ian McClintock
Reply to  RickWill
August 26, 2021 7:00 pm

Land temperatures at Darwin consistently vary little over time around the low 30oC’s all year,

In the tropics the water vapour content of the atmosphere is maximised. 

Water vapour, the dominating GHG, is active in over 80% of the ~ 4 – 60u (micron) electromagnetic IR spectrum where Earths emissions of Infra-Red radiation occur. 

There is a wide radiation ‘window’, centred on ~ 10u, at the peak of the emissions ‘bell-curve’, where none of the greenhouses gasses are effectively active. This essentially allows unimpeded flow of IR emissions (heat) to escape to space at these wavelengths.

The 14.9u micron wavelength, the only area where CO2 has a relevant spike of activity, is normally already completely saturated in the tropics so increasing the concentration of atmospheric CO2 can, on first principles, have no further effect there, which is why those temperatures remain within such a small range.

Reply to  RickWill
August 26, 2021 11:02 pm

Thanks Rick,

I agree. Its a simple dissipation gradient that depends on heat input in the tropics.

The current loses heat as it travels south not the converse and if you happen to look at the ocean, currents, SST on NULLSCHOOL around the latitude of Narooma (-36.24 deg) you will see a weak gyre ( a turn-back) that directs a portion of the Eastern Australia Current back onto the coast. The temperature of the water though is only 17 to 18 DegC (25 August 2021) verses 21 or >22 north of Brisbane.



Izaak Walton
Reply to  Smart Rock
August 26, 2021 6:01 pm

Do you expect media outlets to mention every non-peer reviewed article published on a blog? The state of science reporting is bad enough that you would hard pressed to find any mention of published research in the Sydney Morning Herald on a regular basis.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 27, 2021 4:47 am

No doubt you would expect to see the article trumpeted by the World’s MSM had it shown that GBR temperatures had increased in that time.

Robert Alfred Taylor
August 26, 2021 2:55 pm


Rud Istvan
August 26, 2021 3:21 pm

What I wonder, is why did it take to now to do this great retrieve of ‘old’ but ‘quality’ data. Methinks because more than just inconvenient for warmunists. Surely GBR researchers should have been up to snuff on all the past literature.
They we’re not. So claimed rather than actual experts. JCU, this is on you.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 26, 2021 3:51 pm

JCU have demonstrated their willingness to protect their income stream ahead of any scientific integrity. Spent a fortune on legal fees to silence honest commentary.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 26, 2021 9:29 pm

I would have thought this explained it.………Scientist, Dr. Bill Johnston, located the 1877 paper when undertaking research in The National Library on H.C. Russell’s contribution to meteorology in Australia.

Joe Crawford
August 26, 2021 4:01 pm

Great… Science strikes back!

Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 28, 2021 1:19 am

H.C. Russell was born at Maitland in the Hunter Valley and educated at Sydney University. An inventor and very interested in the natural sciences he was one of Australia’s eminent scholars.

It would have been him who organised or even undertook the measurements of sea surface temperatures as the expedition journeyed north to Cape Sidmouth.


Bill Johnston

August 26, 2021 4:28 pm

Don’t count you’re chickens yet. BOM hasn’t homogenized the historical data yet. That’s when the true scale of the GBR catastrophe will become apparent and undeniable.

Reply to  WXcycles
August 27, 2021 2:11 am

A bit late to “homogenise” data after it’s been published, archived and widely distributed. Well done Dr. Johnston.

Cockroaches don’t like the light.

J Mac
August 26, 2021 4:49 pm

Another historical record succeeds in refuting the absurd claims of catastrophic rising of sea temperatures! Congratulations for adding to the total weight of evidence refuting these exaggerated claims.

August 26, 2021 5:31 pm

This story gives me cause to wonder what other archived data is out there on tropical ocean surface temperature dating back a century or more. Surely the British, French and Dutch navies were curious about tropical water temperature when the were exploring tropical waters the era of expanding empires.

How could there be claims of “Global” temperature rise for the past 170 years without reliable tropical and Southern Ocean data sets?

Reply to  RickWill
August 26, 2021 6:34 pm

A full study into historical data would undoubtedly show beyond doubt that nothing is new under the sun with the exception of growing levels of CO2. Otherwise climate weather patterns cycle between warm and cool trends. Weather patterns continue to be a matter of current conditions which are always changing with the wind. The wind being an important piece of the puzzle.

For example, the area where I live was under threat from a large fire for the last 2 weeks. About 8 days ago the winds shifted and the threat was greatly reduced. If the right winds come back, then the threat could become a reality within 48 to 72 hours. It all depends on which way the surface winds blow.

Reply to  goldminor
August 26, 2021 9:32 pm

So the Australian Aborigine tribes learnt from nature how to light and manage bushfires to look after the land, seasonal burning tradition, when weather conditions are suitable in season and to burn in a patchwork pattern to use previously burnt land to stop the new bushfire from spreading beyond that boundary.

Reply to  RickWill
August 26, 2021 9:34 pm

Answer: creative accounting and computer modelling.

August 26, 2021 5:46 pm

I expect you are aware of the studies referred to in this CBC article and would like your perspsective

Reply to  Gerry Ewert
August 26, 2021 11:23 pm

n this study, the authors looked at two: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5.”

Even the IPCC and their lackeys acknowledge these scenarios as impossible to very unlikely.

Building modeled predictions using impossible scenarios means that their predictions are impossible delusions only meant to frighten the vapid public.

Reply to  Gerry Ewert
August 26, 2021 11:35 pm

Junk science from a junk science reporter. “Nicole has an avid interest in all things science. As an amateur astronomer, Nicole can be found looking up at the night sky appreciating the marvels of our universe.”

As for the Nature paper, it’s nonsense: full of could, might may and other odes to doubt. While there is no rise in ocean temperature the paper says: “we quantified the degree that present climates are disappearing and novel climates (without recent analogs) are emerging, spanning from 1800 through different emission scenarios to 2100”.

Because the models assume temperature of the ocean is increasing, of course they are going to predict, project or guess that “35–95% of the surface ocean is estimated to experience an extreme degree of global disappearance” whatever that means. One does not even have to be an amateurish astronomer to work out the circularity and silliness of that argument.

Oh wait …. Nicole also happens to be the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the author of several books.

I rest my case!



Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bill Johnston
August 27, 2021 11:52 am

“other odes to doubt”

Love it!

John in Oz
August 26, 2021 6:29 pm

I wonder if anyone has looked for the Aust Navy’s bathythermograph record that were recorded for sonar performance purposes.

If these were kept by Defence, there would be thousands of readings from a lot of different areas over many years.

Mike McMillan
August 26, 2021 8:30 pm

Looking at the above image of the “S.S. Governor Blackall,” I note that even then they had wind power backed up by fossil fuels.

Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 26, 2021 9:29 pm

Not difficult, even for politicians/lawyers/accountants, to work out why wind power gave way to steam powered coal or timber fired boilers engines and later oil (diesel) fuelled engines on sea and on land.

Gary Pearse
August 26, 2021 8:48 pm

Man, the Clime Syndicate is losing control of the Clime Numbers Racket these days! They’ve threatened dissenters, gatekept the climate journals, had editors fired, terminated careers of questioning scientists …for over 40yrs, all the while, first praying it would eventually warm up, but after their CO2 temperature Control Knob wound up predicting Catastrophic Anthropo Global Warming that was 300% higher than observations despite CO2 emmissions galloping faster, they resorted to crafting their own Ts.

Horror of horrors, we had slipped into The Dreaded 18yr Pause without warning. How could the Clime Family stand the pressure! They grabbed at the straw of an El Niño in 2015 that temporarily gave relief, but in a year serious La Niña conditions popped up in a cooling sea and a six year cooling trend ensued. That was the limit!

James Hansen (Father of Cat. Anthropo Global Warming and inventor of the Temp jiggering industry) head held high stated that 30yr cooling period can’t be ruled out. His protegé Gavin Schmidt shrugged and admitted the models are running a way too hot, something must be done. So, it seems the best that can be offered is a maximum of double the 0.6C of the last150 years by 2100. The show has been cancelled but Syndicate is trying not to notice.

Peta of Newark
August 26, 2021 8:48 pm

Back Of Envelope:
Water at 31 Celsius, assuming unity emissivity, will be radiating 485 Watts/square metre
El Sol is typically assumed (as by solar panel makers/users) to shine at 1,000 Watts and for 12 hours per day.
Thus, on average, the sun inputs 500 Watts and the water outputs 485 Watts

Near as makes no odds, is that why open water never goes above the temperature it does?

Even if there was validity to the basic theory of Green House Gases, the wavelengths they (re) radiate at, ‘see’ or regard all liquid water surfaces a perfect mirrors – the green house re-radiated energy cannot enter and or be absorbed by the water. The 2nd Law also prevents is happening.

So unless Sol is burning hotter/stronger or there are fewer clouds (water, smoke, dust, volcano-smut) in the sky – the temperature of open sea/ocean water here in Earth is going precisely nowhere.

Yet the theory of Green House Warming requires more water in the atmosphere, not only to create the extra warming but also the extra extremely extreme and unpecentetnedended extreme floods.
While creating fewer clouds that would dim/darken the sun.
How does that happen?

Somebody has really rather badly, completely, totally & utterly, Lost The Plot
and as this BoE calc shows, the very authority that they appeal to in order to create the GHGE, (Jozef Stefan) contradicts them

Too damn right, it really is Worse Than We (or anybody) Thought

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 27, 2021 12:09 am

The atmosphere is still 99.96% CO2-free (up by 0.01% in 100 years) -> so good you could almost breathe it!

The issue about ocean temperature is that the heat balance is dominated by convection, which removes latent heat from the surface and ejects it to the upper atmosphere. Convection increases with surface temperature. The more convection there is, the more latent heat is removed; cloudiness increases which is also cooling. Compressed into a few words, this is what a self-regulating feed-back looks like. In addition, convection and resulting rainfall leave behind ice crystals (cirrus clouds) that reflect incoming solar back to space.

The process is well known and was previously outlined by Rick Willoughby in his 4-part series (

Thanks for your interest.

All the best


Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bill Johnston
August 27, 2021 11:58 am

“Compressed into a few words, this is what a self-regulating feed-back looks like.”

That’s just what it looks like.

August 26, 2021 9:23 pm

I understand that the early in 1900s British Scientific Expedition by sea sailing around the coastline of Australia created high water marks on rocks at various locations and those marks remain accurate, no significant rise at high tide over the past 120 years.

Climate believer
Reply to  Dennis
August 27, 2021 12:22 am

The whole accelerating sea level story is absolute tosh.

a happy little debunker
Reply to  Dennis
August 27, 2021 6:39 pm

Hunter Coleman and Pugh analyzed the oldest southern tidal markings @ Port Arthur (made in 1840) ad concluded that sea level had been rising between 1984 & 2000 had been occurring @ a rate of 0.8mm+/-.02 mm per annum.

A quick and dirty glance @ Hobart’s sea level rise (the nearest tidal station) over the last 40 years shows a rise of 0.9mm per annum – well within the error bars of Hunter, Coleman and Pugh’s research.

Reply to  a happy little debunker
August 27, 2021 9:14 pm

Similar to Port Jackson, Sydney Harbour, Fort Denison high tide mark.

August 26, 2021 9:26 pm

No doubt scholars have reviewed historical ships logs secured in storage at Greenwich UK to obtain weather data etc?

August 26, 2021 10:23 pm

I don’t understand according to a well meaning young black woman I was told the the Great Barrie reef was gone, at least the what her sources told her. She had bought the left’s cool-aid 100%.

Peter Ridd
August 26, 2021 11:51 pm

BIll Johnston’s report is well worth looking at, and very comprehensive. He has gone to a lot of effort to analyze the Great Barrier Reef instrumental temperature data so that he can put the “new” older data into context.
Peter Ridd

Matthew Sykes
August 26, 2021 11:54 pm

But but, leather buckets! But but, bigger ships! etc etc etc

They will adjust this data away too if they get to hear of it.

Patrick MJD
August 27, 2021 12:06 am

But but but, models say it’s getting more acidic!

Pamela Matlack-Klein
August 27, 2021 1:47 am

Good job, Bill, for finding this data but more importantly, for understanding its value. One has to wonder how much more treasure like this is moldering in various marine archives around the world. Those brave early explorers collected data everywhere they went, well aware that it would be of value to those who followed them.

August 27, 2021 1:57 am

Wonderful…A WUWT writer has found another cherry to pick. But seriously, why relay on an older, and therefore most likely less reliable dataset?

Reply to  Tony
August 27, 2021 3:15 am

Because it’s there Tony, that’s why.

I encourage you to do0wnload the paper and form an opinion of just how bad the modern AIMS datasets are. Or even download some AIMS data and look for verifiable trends.

Then report back …

I appreciate your feedback,


Reply to  Tony
August 27, 2021 3:18 am

Well, there may be several answers to the question of why rely on older data sets.
One answer is that you just have to establish an historical benchmark somehow. And a scientific expedition may be one way of doing this. Otherwise, what does it mean to measure something today and not have anything to compare it with? Nothing at all.
Dr Johnston has also analysed some shorter term datasets of ‘today’ such as the recent 29.5 year record of SST at Cape Ferguson, near Townsville. The sad news is that this also shows no rapid upward trend. So we have a 29.5 year dataset and a 150 year span data set which show the same thing. So what more do you want to at least question the rapidly rising sea surface temperature in the Reef assertion?
We’re not forcing this down your throat, we’re just asking you to question some of the conventional wisdom things you have assumed to be true.
And another reason to rely on historical data sets is that the advocates of the rapidly sising SST temps hypothesis rely on a vast array of random SST temps from long a go. For example, in a recent interview with an ‘expert scientist’ from Aust Institute of Marine Scientis (AIMS) he sent me what he regarded as an authoritative paper on historic measurements SST back to 1850. Bizzarly, this included bucket samples of SST in the Indial Ocean from ships of the British East India Company more than a century and a half ago. What this had to do with the Great Barrier Reef, I’m not sure. But the point is, if the random measurements of the East India Company are valid, why would the measurements of a scientific expedition to the Reef in1871 suddenly be Invalid?
Food for thought. Thanks for your comment. David MJ

Anthony Banton
Reply to  David Mason-Jones
August 27, 2021 10:51 am

“But the point is, if the random measurements of the East India Company are valid, why would the measurements of a scientific expedition to the Reef in1871 suddenly be Invalid?”

How about if we know they left the buckets on deck in the sun before measuring the temperature?
Not for a minute suggesting that for the GBR 1871 data tho.

What does concern me with this paper is that Johnston compared SSTs for one expedition against a mean of SSTs since 1990 (am I correct?).

That is akin to comparing weather against climate.
Comparing a point in the ups/downs of temp variation with a linear trend line.
AT least that is what I think he has done?

Widespread coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in 2016 is often reportedly caused by El Niño and/or global warming. However, the GBR is not in a region where it is straightforward to anticipate sea surface temperature (SST) warming during El Niño, and the role of climate change is unclear. This study uses a diverse range of observations to investigate the physical causes of SST anomalies that developed on the GBR in 2016. Warm SST anomalies developed in two stages. Initial warming was caused by El Niño shifting the global-scale pattern of convection, increasing solar radiation in the Coral Sea. The warm anomaly was extended and amplified near the coast by a terrestrial heat wave propagating across eastern Australia, further warming the GBR through turbulent heat flux. It is concluded that El Niño caused the SST anomaly, and global warming increased its amplitude and extended it by several months.”
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Reply to  Anthony Banton
August 27, 2021 9:53 pm

Dear Anthony,
Regarding East India Company vs. 1871 measurements.

The protocols followed by the 1871 expedition are provided in the footnote to the original data tables which are provided as a PDF on BomWatch.

East India Company measurements were opportunistic not systematic. They did not use the same instruments/protocols and observations were not made along transects over a window of time. Gluing disparate data together then allocating a space/time window, then stacking those data as to mimic a time series leaves plenty of opportunity to wrangle in a few trends. Also, a single datapoint may be overweighted because it is the only one for that grid square at that time even though it may be wrong or biased. Although I have read many background papers over the years about how gridded data were derived, I remain to be convinced that they are fit for purpose.

My final point is that if climate scientists mostly use the same (faulty) data to calibrate their models they will tend to converge to the same outcome.

Regarding the paper and methodology.

Critical to understanding the data generation process is that mean temperature is dynamically related to latitude. For the 1871 dataset, we actually have two transects – data observed on the ‘up’ trip in November vs. that for the return voyage 2-weeks later in mid-December. As I explained, error bars relate to the position of the line describing the relationships; meaning there is a 95% likelihood that the ‘true’ line lies between the error bars. I applied a test that showed those transects (i.e., the relationship between T and Lat) was significantly warmer in mid-December cf. late November.

Starting with high-frequency raw AIMS data (30-minute, 10-minute or 5-minute) it was clear that datasets embedded numerous inconsistencies. Also, upon extracting daily max, min and mean it was clear that the daily extremes picked-up spikes etc. which caused them to be unreliable/highly variable. For each AIMS site that I looked at I obtained other data attributes such as counts/day, standard deviations etc and I calculated from those data, monthly max, min and mean and anomalies too, which I graphed-up. Following cursory analysis of a larger number of sites (60 or so), I short listed about 30, then settled on 27. I then sampled within AIMS datasets for average-T corresponding to dates represented by day of the year (which I explained). We end up them with a set of data averages for day numbers corresponding mostly to the start and mid-point of each month. We like being transparent so the derived 27-point dataset can be downloaded from BomWatch.

Those averages were used to construct the various figures in the paper.

As for your section called “Abstract”.

There is a relationship between El Niño and mean sea-level (MSL), with MSL being less during El Niño events, which would result in increased exposure of surface corals. For reasons already explained, it is not possible for solar radiation to increase in the Coral Sea without an increase in convection. Furthermore, warming of the Reef in summer (the Eastern Australia Current) is due to the Southern Equatorial current, which traves from east to west ‘above’ the Coral Sea. A terrestrial heatwave cannot propagate against the trades, which are also on-shore – turbulent heat flux; really? How does that happen?  High pressure cells, typical of dry warm terrestrial temperatures centre on about 40 DegS in summer, winds are anti-clockwise so air masses in NE‑Australia are on-shore.

Finally, as mean temperature along the Great Barrier Reef depends on Latitude, and the relationship is asymptotic (quadratic) with a fixed upper-T limit in January at Latitude 13.5Deg and a spread, southwards, how can there be a ‘average’? At what latitude and for which month would the average be calculated? How does that average increase by 0.8 degC when average T of the Southern Equatorial Current is held constant by feed-back processes? I know their datasets intimately. Nowhere can SST be measured within an error bandwidth less than 0.8 degC especially by scraps of data of the kind collected by AIMS since about 1995.

Thank you for your interest Anthony. However, based on all the data I’ve examined, the conclusion “that El Niño caused the SST anomaly, and global warming increased its amplitude and extended it by several months”, is unsupported.
All the best,
Bill Johnston

Reply to  Bill Johnston
August 29, 2021 3:04 am

Under the section referred to as called “Abstract” I made a blue.

The second sentence ” Furthermore, warming of the Reef in summer (the Eastern Australia Current) is due to the Southern Equatorial current, which traves from east to west ‘above’ the Coral Sea.”

should read:

Furthermore, warming of the Reef in summer (the Eastern Australia Current) is due to the Southern Equatorial current, which travels from west to east ‘above’ the Coral Sea.

Surprised it was not picked up!



Tom Abbott
August 27, 2021 11:26 am

From the article: “Australian website BoMwatch”

BoMwatch! Love it!

We need a NASAClimate/NOAA watch, too.

We already have a pretty good one in Tony Heller’s website.

I would like to see a discussion of why there is a 0.4C discrepancy between the NASA/NOAA surface temperature charts as compared to the UAH satellite chart when comparing the difference between the year 1998 and 2016.

The bogus, bastardized NASA Climate/NOAA Hockey Stick charts show 2016 to be 0.4C warmer than 1998, yet the UAH satellite chart shows 2016 and 1998 to be statistically tied.

The weather balloon data when compared to the UAH satellite data shows that the UAH satellite data is correct data. The UAH satellite is reading the temperatures correctly, according to the weather balloon data.

This means that the NASA Climate/NOAA bogus Hockey Stick charts are garbage. They were created to sell the Human-caused Climate Change scam and do not agree with either the weather balloon data or the UAH satellite data.

How does a discrepancy this large get ignored for so long?

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Every adjustment NASA Climate and NOAA have made should be questioned.

There’s a website called NASAwatch, that details all the goings on at NASA with regards to the space development side of the organization.

I would love to see a NASAClimateWatch website along the same lines detailing all the manipulations NASA Climate goes through to propagandize the rest of us.

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