Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

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Bureau of Meteorology statement on temperature observations


The Bureau of Meteorology holds the integrity of our weather observations and climate data to the highest possible standards. The Bureau rejects allegations aired in some media outlets that it has sought to tamper with temperature data.

Contrary to claims, the Bureau has not deliberately set limits on the temperatures it records. The Bureau's systems are designed to flag unusually high or low temperatures so they can be checked for veracity before being confirmed.

Through this process it was identified that hardware at Thredbo and Goulburn was not fit-for-purpose, with outages occurring at very low temperatures below -10 degrees celsius. Initial analysis indicates this has occurred on one day in Goulburn and on six days at Thredbo. The hardware was replaced as a matter of urgency.

The CEO and Director of Meteorology Dr Andrew Johnson has established a review to ensure the matter is understood and resolved thoroughly. The panel for this review will include expertise from outside the Bureau.

As a priority, the Bureau is also replacing this hardware in four additional locations (Tuggeranong in the Australian Capital Territory, Butlers Gorge and Fingal in Tasmania, and Mt Baw Baw in Victoria) where the climate record indicates it might be reasonably expected to reach below -10 degrees celsius. It is important to note preliminary analysis has found no outages related to this issue at these sites.

It is also important to note that while all of the Bureau's hundreds of automatic weather stations contribute to the Bureau's weather forecasting models, not all contribute to the official temperature record used for monitoring long-term temperature change, ACORN-SAT (the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network Surface Air Temperature).

The initial analysis is that the ACORN-SAT temperature record has not been directly or indirectly affected by this hardware issue.

The two affected locations are not ACORN-SAT sites and have not been used for quality assurance for ACORN-SAT during the time periods when the outages occurred.

Dr Andrew Johnson’s letter to the Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP about this matter is available here.

Updated at 12.55pm, 1 August 2017