DECONSTRUCTION can be affirmation rather than questioning. Jaco Vlok and I have been deconstructing various temperature series from the Brisbane region with a view to developing an index that is an accurate, and affirming, representation of Brisbane’s temperature history.
To progress this work, we are making the following two recommendations, that concern the Australian National Archive:
1. The Australian National Archive needs to digitise the long temperature series from the mercury thermometer that was recording temperatures at the Brisbane airport (station number 40842) from 9 June 2004 until 3 September 2014, as shown in the Gantt chart. Only when this data is available will it be possible to begin to know if measurements from electronic probes now recording official temperatures, have any equivalence with temperature measurements from 100 years ago.
2. The first government weather station at Brisbane (station number 40214) opened in 1840, which is 179 years ago.
The daily recordings from this mercury thermometer should be There may be daily temperature readings and they may be archived in the Australian National Archive. This needs to be confirmed, and the daily maximum values digitised to enable the current record for Brisbane to be extended back in time. For the period from 1840 to 1896 the mercury thermometer was housed in a Glaisher stand rather than a Stevenson screen.* It is unknown how the thermometers where housed before the installation of the Stevenson screen in 1896.
There will potentially need to be an adjustment when joining the series. Adjustments are currently made by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to all the Brisbane series for the period from 1950, through the process of homogenisation.
There is intense interest in climate change as a cause, but perhaps not enough interest in the quality of the data underpinning all the rhetoric. If we really care about this issue of global warming then we will want to know exactly how much temperatures have really warmed over recent decades. So, we will need to know the equivalence of temperatures now measured using electronic probes with temperatures previously measured using mercury thermometers.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology measures temperatures from electronic probes that have not been calibrated relative to the mercury thermometers that were once used. Further, the Bureau makes adjustments to temperatures after they have been measured, recorded and archived in the creation of the new official temperature series, known as ACORN-SAT. These homogenised series are then used to calculate national and global averages.
Mark Huxley Akin (Huck) has suggested that we just get on and start constructing regional climate indices based on real and unadjusted/unhomogenised temperature series.
Specifically, he has suggested we use “a good sample of well-sited stations with long histories”, using the analogy of the Dow Jones Average. He writes:
No one ever tries to establish an impossible-to-define ‘average stock price’— including many stocks of doubtful provenance — and nobody cares. These pre-selected indexes of certain representative stocks, that are then followed over a long time-span, tell investors what they really want to know: how the market moves over time, relative to itself.
It is the case that for some Australian locations there are long consistent records through much of the twentieth century. For example, temperature data recorded at Brisbane (station number 40214) are currently publicly available from January 1887 to March 1986. This is one of the longest continuous high quality temperature records for anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere with measurements taken using the same mercury thermometer at the same place every day (although the Glaisher stand was replaced with a Stevenson screen in 1896).
Problems begin, however, around the late 1980s, when there are site moves and equipment changes. In the case of Brisbane, in order to continue any index beyond 1986, it is going to be necessary to join different temperature series and yet there is no data to quantify the equivalence of the measurements from electronic probes, mercury thermometers and also thermohygrographs — that were also used at Brisbane.
The first ever detailed list of the equipment used to measure temperatures at Brisbane has just been compiled by Jaco Vlok, as shown in master_table4 which is a work-in-progress.
BRISBANE MAXIMA IN THE RAW
According to the available metadata, maximum temperatures were measured at Brisbane (40214) from January 1840 until July 1994. There is only data available online, however, to construct an annual mean series from 1887 to 1985, as shown in Figure 1. For most of this record, from 1896, temperatures were recorded using the same mercury thermometer in a Stevenson screen. This very long continuous record does NOT show a pattern of warming consistent with human-caused global warming theory, Figure 1.
Consistent with many other such high-quality and long continuous records from Australia, this maximum temperature series shows cooling to about 1960 and then warming.
THE OFFICIAL BRISBANE RECORD
The official temperature record for Brisbane is from a combination of two official Bureau series both recorded at the airport (Series 40223 and 40842), and subsequently homogenised. The homogenisation method is outlined in general terms in a peer-reviewed article by Blair Trewin published in 2013.
In the case of Brisbane, Blair Trewin has decided to begin the official record in 1950, which is presented as a bar chart at the Bureau of Meteorology website, as shown in Figure 2.
The temperature series used to construct this bar chart are shown in Figure 3, as well as the resulting ACORN-SAT versions 1 and 2.
ACORN-SAT version 2, as shown in Figure 3, represents the official record for Brisbane and data from this series is incorporated into international datasets.
The latest official ACORN-SAT maximum temperature series for Brisbane (version 2 in Figure 3) suggests warming of 0.9 degrees Celsius per century.
To be clear, this temperature series does not show the early measurements for Brisbane, so it does not show how hot temperatures were in 1902 and then again in 1912 and 1915. The official record also does not show the period of overall cooling, to about 1960.
CHANGING SITES AND CHANGING EQUIPMENT
It is a fact that understanding the true temperature history of a place can be difficult because of: site moves, changes in equipment, changes in the method of recording for the same equipment, and homogenisation of the raw data.
A true representation of temperatures over the last 100 years for Brisbane would not ignore the long series beginning in 1840. Nor would a true representation gloss over the many equipment changes particularly since 1995, as shown in the first Gantt chart, and that Jaco Vlok has began to document in Table 1.
Since 1996 the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been transitioning away from the use of traditional mercury thermometers to electronic probes in automatic weather stations for the measurement of maximum temperatures. This is a major change in equipment — a major change in how temperatures are measured — yet when this change occurs the Bureau keeps the same station number and just continues to add to the previous record.
This is in contravention of its own policies that clearly state that a new station number should be assigned, and that there should be at least three years (preferably five) of overlapping/parallel temperature recordings at the same location.
This parallel data exists for a limited number of stations, but the Bureau has so far not made the data accessible. Much of it is currently held by the Australian National Archive as manual recordings into observation books. The numbers need to be digitised so that we can see whether or not the measurements from the electronic probes are comparable to the measurements from the mercury thermometers.
After much effort, I obtained parallel data for Mildura – as thousands of photographed records. Manual transcribing of some of the data has established that the current electronic probe at Mildura often records 0.4 degrees Celsius hotter — for the same weather. The first electronic probe at Mildura actually recorded cooler. So, the custom-built probes installed sequentially at Mildura have different time constants. It was only possible to establish this after the parallel data was provided to me, and I began an analysis of some of the manually transcribed data.
We know that since 1996 the temperature record for the Brisbane airport (station number 040842) actually represents measurements from an electronic probe, not a mercury thermometer. We don’t know what the time constant is for this probe. We do know that there is parallel data available from 14 February 2000; that is temperature measurements taken from a mercury thermometer in the same shelter (Stevenson screen).
We know that there have been four different probes used at the Brisbane airport site, as shown in Table 1.
The Bureau has not published the time constants for these probes. Depending on the time-constant, a probe may be much more sensitive to temperature change than a mercury thermometer and thus record warmer temperatures for the same weather.
APPROPRIATE QUALITY ASSURANCE
Breaking down the Bureau’s series into their component parts and then plotting the available data on one chart, can give an indication of temperature change since 1897.
The extent to which the many different Brisbane series move in synchrony suggests they are an accurate representation of climate variability and change for this region, as shown in Figure 4. Consider, for example, the first three records in the table for the period from 1950 to 1986; including the Brisbane Regional Office (40214), Brisbane airport (40223) and Amberley (40004) series: they generally move in unison but do not show a consistent warming trend.
At the moment this is all a work in progress, with the labels for the series charted in Figure 4 not yet corresponding to the new codes/numbers in Table 1.
Brisbane’s temperature record could form the basis of a new index of temperature change. The construction of such an index would be aided by the provision of parallel data, that is data from both a mercury thermometer and electronic probe recorded at the same time and place.
Specifically, the most useful data right now would be the mercury thermometer recordings from the Brisbane airport (station number 40842) from 9 June 2004 until 3 September 2014, as shown in the Gantt chart. This information is held by the Australian National Archive and needs to be made publicly available, and digitised.
The image featured at the top of this blog post is from https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blogs/jol/inclement-wragge-pioneer-weather-forecaster. It shows Clement Wragge, Government Meteorologist for Queensland, with temperature recording equipment, and the Brisbane Tabernacle Baptist Church in the background.
I would like to acknowledge all the advice from Lance Pidgeon regarding ‘Brisbane’ over the years. He will also be acknowleged in the more detailed report that Jaco and I are working-up.
Also, the final recommendations in this report, and the nature of our index may be informed/improved by your comments (and Lance’s comments/input) in the following thread.
Thanks to you and your colleagues Jennifer for this interesting project.
As a native of Brisbane growing up in the 1950s & 60s, I should think there would be no surprise if significant warming showed in the raw records due entirely to the inner urban development impacts, including overbuild / replacement of high-set “Queenslander” houses, curb-to-curb asphalting of streets & roads, laying of concrete footpaths over grass verges, disappearance of suburban vegetated vacant allotments, etc, etc, etc.
As but one example, our childhood “adventure park”, – Kedron Brook – was then a serpentine jungle that meandered from Stafford through about 7 other suburbs, flanked by market gardens and flood plains.
That natural, heavily-vegetated urban breezeway became a wide, concrete-shouldered, open straight-line drain by the ’70s. No cool, shady nooks or swimming holes there any more. 🙁
Lance will no doubt be able to shed more detail on this overall effect.
Well thanks for surprise invite to comment on this ” work in progress”. Am not a local at all but have found a few useful bits of history to demystify things and will post some in further comments below.
First up I have never any record of a Glaisher stand being used in Queensland. These were the standard screen throughout South Australia and the N.T. thanks to sir Charles Todd until he began to use a version of Stevenson. I think the Queensland methods may have been more random until Wragge took over in 1887. It would be interesting to see if any of your contributors can find proof that any Glaisher stands were used at all. I would not be surprised to see a Lawson stand or two turn up in the history but suspect most records were from well shaded locations chosen by the observer. Thus maximums are likely to be cooler than the wooden box in the sun we use now. The shaded locations being protected from frost unlike the wooden boxes which are a micro climate of their own, minimums may have been higher. Later in the day now the modern Stevensons are above the convection from hot grey steel poles in the sun. Unlike the thin white wooden supports in the old picture above.
Early meteorological records from Brisbane were taken by captain John Clements Wickham who was the “Government Resident”, the most senior role before Queensland had a governor. An extract from his temperature observations at the link below only shows May for 1843 then begins again in June 1844. With those observations are three years of rainfall records from “Mr Kent” for 1841,2 and 3.
These temperatures appear to be 9AM temperatures. If I read the description correctly. He may not have had maximum or minimum recording thermometers.
It is likely no coincidence that the picture of Wragge and his three Stevenson screens above is taken looking across Wickham Terrace in the background.
More information about the recordings before Wragge at this link below. With hints that a good less urban heat island affected long record may be reconstructed from the old Warwick recordings and more recent curiously missing Warwick records.
Ooops That should be rainfall records from “Mr Kent” for 1840,1 and 2.
Jennifer Marohasy says
Lance, Much thanks for this information!
It was wrong of me to assume a Glaisher stand. I’ve put a line through the relevant text in the above post, and added some … that I have marked in italics.
I guess that there is a need to track down and open that box hopefully somewhere in the National Archive to find what they were using … as I’ve previously done for Bourke (NSW), where I discovered they had thermometers hung on a veranda before installation of the Stevenson screen.
Jennifer Marohasy says
Mr. , Thanks so much for your comment with information about growing up in Brisbane in the 1950s and 1960s.
Some of the changes you have described are known collectively as potentially generating an ‘Urban Heat Island’ (UHI) effect. This is often most obvious in the minimum temperatures, and this is also the case for Brisbane. We haven’t yet got to explore the minimum temperatures, with this blog post focused just on maximums.
It is interesting that such a UHI effect is not pronounced in the maximum temperature record for Brisbane, it may be because the maximum thermometer was located some way up Spring Hill until 1986? For years I had assumed, based on incorrect metadata information, that the thermometers were recording the temperatures in the Botanical Gardens … Lance went to the trouble of getting to the bottom of this, and getting the correct Lat and Longs.
“Mr” above mentions the overall effect of the changing ground surface of the city. Perhaps some “light could be shed” on that if the data taken from these underground thermometers sunk behind the curators home at the Botanic gardens is available. Even better if these tubes still function.
The tubes were positioned with the intention of recording the effects of solar cycle variation on temperature and rainfall.
“An important development In meteorological observations recently has taken place In Brisbane, and as a result, It is hoped in the years to come valuable Information will be made available for seasonal forecasting in Queensland”
“On the afternoon of November 9, the Mayor of Brisbane (Ald: W. A.Jolly. C.M.G.) secured the first set of deep earth temperatures in the Botanic Gardens in’ Brisbane.”
“The tubes go down 15, 20, 25, and 30 feet, and have a small quantity of water at the bottom of each. A bucket thermometer, supplied by the Barrier Reef Committee, is lowered and remains about three minutes at the bottom, and is then hauled up and read at once. The readings here as follow:
At 15 feet, 67.5 degrees; at 20 feet, 67.0; at 25 feet; 67.6; at 30 feet, 68.5.”
For constructing a parallel and long record index for Brisbane and surrounding Queensland, some clues to data that is not available on the BoM Climate data online website follows.
You will remember i mentioned Warwick above.
At that link you see.
“I find that in 1860 observations were taken at Brisbane only, but subsequently new stations for observing, with complete sets of instruments, were established at Warwick, Toowoomba, and Cape Moreton. At Warwick an observatory was established under the care of Mr. T. Towel, and one at Too
woomba, under the care of Mr. T. C. Cowl.”
Those Towel and Cowl efforts do sound like professional screens of some type.
All of Wragge’s thermometer readings came from Stevenson screens. It was the first thing he did at any site during his first few years from 1887. Priority no 1, New screen.
Here is a list of all those Queensland sites operational in 1898. Note that many of these places are Brisbane suburbs. Notice also Warwick and the Hermitage Warwick on the following page.
Use the zoom button for clarity and the next button for the rest of the list.
There are more year books like this.
Here is the observer sheet with thermometer readings from Warwick in 1918.
Try finding these even as non daily digitised monthly data on the BoM site.
Here is the observer sheet with thermometer readings from Warwick in 1921.
Good work as usual Jen. Your statement that you need the mercury thermometer records for Brisbane Airport for 20014-2014 to relate the newer electronic probe measurements to the older records is probably the reason why you wont get them.
Call me cynical, but I have seen how BOM and fellow travelers work to protect their fiefdoms, and the manipulated ACORN-Sat I and II temperature records. After all, there is a lot at stake for them.
Looking at the lats and longs given in this 1899 book.
It says they have been re-determined using the latest official data.
Some seem messed up. Take for example “New Farm”. -27,29 153,8 converts to decimal as -27.483333,153.133333
Nailing down the exact location and time of the Stevenson screens at the corner of Edward and Wickham in the photo at the top as January 1887.
The Brisbane Courier Mon 17 Jan 1887 Page 5 THE NEW GOVERNMENT METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT.
“ In the grounds outside the Observatory will be
noticed three while painted boxes, raised ,
some 4ft. from the ground. All of these
contain thermometers. The boxes are
fitted with double louvres, something
like Venetian blinds, and are called
Why did Wragge call it “the observatory”. Notice in the photo at the top of your page, the roof of the building has lids that open to let the telescopes see out. This building would have been part of or at least associated with the “Wind Mill tower” observatory just a short walk up Wickham Terrace.
On that very spot now where the three Stevensons where, is a building not coincidentally named “the observatory tower”.
This building I think may have a small area dedicated to the memory of the old building inside it near the top. Just a hunch. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/19/Observatory_Tower%2C_Brisbane.jpg/576px-Observatory_Tower%2C_Brisbane.jpg
The exact lat and long is here and agrees fairly closely with the hours, minutes, seconds location given in the 1898 and 1899 books linked to above.
Further nailing down the exact location of the January 1887 Stevenson screens at the corner of Edward and Wickham by triangulation.
Warwick Hughes has some interesting old photos on his website of the Stevenson screens there. Just as the location of the screens can be shown in the photo at the top of this post by the city Baptist tabernacle church in the back ground, one of his photos shows a different church in the background.
Warwick says “This scene sent to me as hard copy from the State Library of Queensland as “View from Windmill looking east” – ca 1890 – three Stevenson screens can be see in the Observatory yard.”
“Second Wickham Terrace Presbyterian Church in Brisbane, 1890 This church, which replaced the first one on the corner of Creek Street, was opened for service on 6 November 1887.”
Now that Wickham Terrace location before Wragge.
If you followed this link earlier in my comments you may have read
“Mr. Edmund Mac-
Donnell, Government Meteorological
Observer, September 1868 to 1886 in-
Where was he taking these recordings and where they good?
“But meagre as
that information was it was at any rate
looked upon as useful, and regarded
with some considerable interest, so that
it comes with the force of a shattering
blow to be told that what little was
vouchsafed to us has been proved to be
practically useless. Nobody who has
seen the structure on Spring Hill, Bris
bane, could regard it in the light of an
observator tower. In fact we must
confess to having compared it very often
with Greenwich hill and assuming the
latter to be the Great Panjamdrum
look upon Mr. E. Macdonell’s studies
at “the little round button on top.”
While Wragge was selling himself to Queensland, before being appointed his opinion on Brisbane and Rockhampton were published.
What journos and self infatuated weather gurus say is worth re checking.
“Not to enter into details, nor to make invidious
comparisons, it may be generally mentioned
that of Mr. Wragge’s order of merit, not a
single station, not even Brisbane earns the
title ” very good,” and only about half a
dozen-in which Brisbane and Rockhampton
are included-are classified as ” good an
overwhelming proportion are “bad” or
‘. very bad,’ and their published readings
arc ” utterly valueless and misleading.”
More evidence that the old lats and longs cannot be trusted comes from this link below. MacDonnell gives the 1876 lat and long for Cape Morton and his Brisbane measurements. Both are approximately 2 kilometers to the east of the known locations.
The Cape Morton location is not only out to sea but 320 feet up.
I have looked at Gayndah
Site name: GAYNDAH POST OFFICE Site number: 39039 Commenced: 1870
Latitude: 25.63° S Longitude: 151.61° E Elevation: 106 m Operational status: Open
Air Port 39066 commenced: 2003
I think the Gayndah airport is about 2 km from the post office. There was six years overlap between the two. The PO site definitely had some UHI maybe from the 1960’s.
I did statistical comparison of monthly max & min temps for the two sites between 2003 and 2009 (when the PO site was closed). Both max & mins on average were 0.3C lower at the airport but SD were the same. I suggest that the airport although very much more rural also has some UHI as I think the weather station is next to small terminal buildings and the airport parking area. Gayndah PO had a Stevenson screen (tied to get a photo from the local museum but they had no photo) with max. & min thermometer. I suspect that Airport has electronic instruments and recording. At least the overlap gives a calibration.
My data only goes to 2016 . I also download monthly rainfall back to 1870. I was thinking of analysing monthly rainfall and monthly temperatures but have not got around to it. I think Gayndah is not in Acorn but the area is one of the earliest settlements in a rural location with a long record.
What a great project, actually comparing the differing technologies.
A veritable box of chocolate, filled with surprises to unwrap.
Keep up the good work!
Why were the early lats and longs messed up and different?
Some of the reasons are fairly basic. In order to get the surveying of a young city off to a good start you need a well qualified expert in the trade, good well trained help, accurate equipment and stable references.
“At some point between 1839
and 1842 the Tower Mill was the scene of the execution
of two Aboriginals, Merridio and Nengavil, who were
convicted of the murder of surveyor Granville Staplyton
and his convict assistant William Tuck (Heap, 198323)”
Here is some of that wonderfully accurate, latest state of the art equipment.
Published on Apr 5, 2016
Museum founder Bill Kitson talks about instruments for measuring distances”
Oh and Australia is currently moving to the north-northeast at a rate of around 0.07M per year. Over 150 years that error alone is 10.5M. Trees grow faster. Like that local official datum reference point, which was for a while the one remaining tree on “One Tree Hill”. Add to that the lack of an accurate time reference to clock the angle of the sun against. The use of radio for the time did not begin until 1927. Then there is the shifting earths magnetic field to throw off the compass that is already affected by minerals in the ground.
Wragge in his 1899 book mentions the government’s latest information.
“In 1899, the use of the magnetic meridian as the datum was abandoned. Determining the bearings of lines in this way using a compass created problems, as the readings from compasses could vary due to external factors (e.g. location of iron ore deposits).
A more accurate system that used a County Arbitrary Meridian (CAM) was introduced. In each county a location was chosen by government surveyors, usually in the centre of the county, called the Initial Point for that county.”
Who was in the chook house just before Wragge?
We can be confident that both the time reference and the astronomical references were good for his lats and longs in 1887.
The big clue is here 33 seconds into this video.
Museum founder Bill Kitson talks about clocks and standard time in Queensland –
Well maybe we can be confident.
“The clock war” March 1886
“l can quite under
stand my friend making such a swooping con
demnation of all the Government clocks as be
ing a disgrace to the colony. No doubt a large
order for clocks during these times would be
very acceptable, but if the present clocks are
a disgrace, it is to the firm who supplied them,
and not the Government.”
There are a few reasons to suspect that the meteorological readings were not taken at the exact same location as Wragge’s chook house on Spring Hill immediately prior to January 1887. One is the description of the place Edmund MacDonald took his recordings quoted from the December 1886 newspaper about about that building.
“Mr. E. Macdonell’s studies
at “the little round button on top.”
While Wragge’s building as shown in the picture at the top of this blog post could be described as a “chook house” it is not like a “round button” and not as close to the top as the other observatory.
Then there are all those clocks, telescopes, meteorological equipment, records and associated activity. All too much for one little building.
Then there is an even more curious lat and long problem.
Location Magistrate E Mac Donnell’s gives for his observations till may 6 1873
Lat -27,28,3 long 153,6.16 at 140 feet.
Metric -27.4675, 153.104444 42.7M
Notice he gives the elevation. Perhaps we can trust that!
Location Magistrate E Mac Donnell’s gives for his observations from may 7 1873
Lat -27,27,32 Long 153,2,40 at 130 feet.
Metric -27.458889,153.044444 39.6M
Google earth shows the ground level as 140 ft here in Wickham Terrace. Is this the “round button”?
It seems no coincidence that google earth shows the ground level as 130 ft at the “chook house” just a bit further down Wickham Terrace.
JD Vlok says
In response to Siliggy’s first comment (July 20, 2019 at 6:07 pm) regarding Glaisher stands being used in QLD (“I have never any record of a Glaisher stand being used in Queensland. These were the standard screen throughout South Australia and the N.T. …”):
Simon Torok published a list of changes made to weather stations across Australia as part of his PhD thesis (“The development of a high quality historical temperature data base for Australia” available here: https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/39449). This list (Appendix A1 with direct link: https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/39449/72523_Torok%2520vol%25202%2520new.pdf) contains the following information for Brisbane on p. 248 :
“Brisbane 40223 and 40214
07/1896: Glaisher stand replaced by Stevenson screen.
07/1911: New screen.
02/1915: New screen.
01/1950: Move for composite data.”
40223 (1949-2000) is the original airport site and 40214 (1840-1994) the “Brisbane Regional Office”, separated approximately 10 km (40223 was moved around a few times according to the BoM meta data: http://www.bom.gov.au/clim_data/cdio/metadata/pdf/siteinfo/IDCJMD0040.040223.SiteInfo.pdf).
Although Torok’s list groups 40223 and 40214 together, the screen details presumably only relate to 40214, as 40223 was only commissioned in 1949.
Furthermore, the term “Glaisher” occurs 13 times in Torok’s list:
SA: Clare, Cape Borda, Roseworthy, Adelaide, Mt Barker, Cape Northumberland, Mt Gambier and Robe
QLD: Cooktown and Brisbane
NSW: Sydney, Richmond & Windsor
Therefore the Glaisher stand was presumably also used in QLD and NSW.
“Your statement that you need the mercury thermometer records for Brisbane Airport for 20014-2014 to relate the newer electronic probe measurements to the older records is probably the reason why you wont get them.”
Sad, but likely true.
Jen, I think the only way to show this so they’ll take notice is the one we discussed – set up your own parallel weather station, collect every second of data, then decimate it to match BoM method, and give to BoM. Wait. When BoM makes claim based on that data, you can trot out 1) the decimated data showing good match with BoM data 2) show what the missing data shows (eg, a single 2 or 3 second peak temp x amount above the average for that minute/5minute/whatever period). Even non-technical people can easily see the distortions caused by BoM method using this “trick” – even politicians and rabid CO2phobes can understand that things may not be as they seem and questions need to be answered…
JD Vlok There is less chance of Wragge having let data from a Glaisher stand be used after 1887 as official data than a snowflake has of surviving a ride through the sun.
The best source for information about these times are state records. The BoM did not exist then.
If you read through these four meeting minutes below you will see how Wragge using Glaisher stands would have gone against every atom of his very being. I suspect if any official observer had used one during his time like that, he would have called for them to be publicly executed after taking to the stand with an axe in a rage of anger.
However as you will see from the link below he like the other colonial heads of meteorology before federation had agreed to keep parallel data from both the Stevenson screens and the stands used in other colonies. So he would have had one to just to compare. He is likely to have run a comparison at Cooktown also. So these replacement dates mentioned by Torok would mark the end of these comparisons. They may also mark the start of comparisons between Wragge’s Stevensons and the BoM ones. To be clear i am saying that many more side by side comparisons of Stevenson and Glaisher exist than the well known one at Adelaide. There are also side by side comparisons of different screen types. I have some of the data from the Adelaide and Darwin Glaisher – Stevenson comparisons.
As i have shown clearly above at the links provided and will continue to show below Wragge used ONLY Stevenson screens at all sites from 1887. He did not consider anything else to meet the bare minimum of standards required.
At this link click on the “Browse this collection” button.
You will also see why there are three Stevenson screens in the picture at the top of this post in the 1888 minutes. Wragge pushed for all “first class” observatories to have not one but three Stevensons.
Oh wait up. There may have been a Glaisher stand in Cooktown before 1887. My spies in Cooktown, apparently otherwise known as the worlds largest unfenced asylum, inform me that there are two possible sites for the very old meteorological station(s) there. One is known as “Grassy hill”. It is very close to the coast and was the wireless telegraph station site. The other about 9km out of town was an old wired telegraph station site. More accurate info may come soon. Hope they find photos.
The wired telegraph station predates Wragge and an interesting name pops up in 1876. I do wonder if Mr T. C. Cowl above was related to the telegraph station master there, Mr Thomas H Cowl.
Wragge gives the date of his Cooktown equipment being installed in both of the books linked to above as December 1889. It is not marked with a “t” to indicate further equipment needs to be installed. He lists it as a 1st class station. Not a 1st class observatory but these must have at least one Stevenson screen to meet his strict criteria. He gives the location as “on the coast”. My spies tell me this could describe “Grassy hill” but not that old telegraph station site.
The newspapers record his travels with the equipment to personally set up these stations.
“He reached the latter sta-
tion on the afternoon of the 30th, but unfortu-
nately owing to the extremely bad road found
that one of the barometers had, notwithstanding
that it was packed with great care, been broken.”
July 24, 2019 at 4:34 pm
I have looked at Gayndah
Site name: GAYNDAH POST OFFICE Site number: 39039 Commenced: 1870”
You will notice Wragge lists it as having been “established” in September 1893.
He did not trust the work of those prior to his own equipment having been installed with his own hands. He list it as a second order station. This means it had a Stevenson screen from that date.
What a second order station has is listed here. Click on the picture to zoom in.
Two page turns later there it is.
The BoM have daily data from the 2nd of September 1893. Looks like all concerned did their Jobs well for this one. That is all Stevenson screen data.
Here some newspaper versions of the Gayndah Stevenson installation, details of a site move for Maryborough, the complexities of rainfall at Bundaberg and clues to the whole area.
JD Vlok says
Apart from Simon Torok’s PhD and the references provided by Lance, there is information regarding screen types in the BoM’s observation practices document (http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/acorn-sat/documents/ACORN-SAT_Observation_practices_WEB.pdf).
Table 4 (p. 10) of this document lists the types and number of screens used throughout the BoM’s network (last updated Jun 2011) – including large, small and marine Stevenson screens, RM Young 41002, Vaisala, Vaisala DTR 13, and also “Other” and “Unknown” screens. Of the 1212 screens listed, 894 (74%) are small Stevenson.
The document provides further detail on the ACORN-SAT sites (107 small and 5 large Stevenson), with Table 5 including the installation/change-over dates of large/small screens of nearly all ACORN-SAT sites.
For the Brisbane region considered in this post, only Brisbane Aero II (040842) and Amberley AMO (040004) are ACORN-SAT sites – and therefore the BoM observation document only provide dates for these two sites (as can be seen in https://jennifermarohasy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/master_table4.pdf).
To evaluate the equivalence between measurements taken in different screens, the installation and change-over dates (and screen types) of all sites around Brisbane should be obtained. This would form an important part of developing a temperature index for the region.
This information is however presently not publicly available – apart from snippets in newspaper archives and minutes of meetings as discovered by Lance. It is also not yet digitised.
I requested a quote from the BoM to extract the screen type information of 22 sites around Brisbane, including all sites measuring air temperature within a 50 km radius of the historical regional office (ID 40214). This would cost $6,900 as the information would need to be extracted and quality controlled from paper records from several observing locations.
For far lesser price at least someone with pockets not quiet that deep could ring the National archives of Australia and get the plan fro Wragge’s Stevenson screen scanned online. Phone (02) 6212 3600
“Plan of Stevenson’s double louvre thermometer screen to be used at all the government meteorological stations throughout Queensland
Contents date range
1887 – 1887
Accumulation start date
At Cooktown it seems it was the same Mr Cowl taking observations at the telegraph station as the earlier Toowoomba Cowl.
Report of the Meteorological Observer for the year 1878.
He seems to have been there until moving to Brisbane in 1884.
The picture at the top of this post shows the above Wragge stevenson screen design or similar at the “Chook house” observatory on the corner of Wickham Terrace and Edward St Brisbane. These two below show a different and later BoM design Stevenson screen at the same building but on the other side of it.