Melbourne's Historic Weather Station


Until now, most of the surface temperature measurement stations I’ve highlighted as substandard locations for measuring temperature accurately have been in the USA. Today, courtesy of Geoff Sherrington, we are treated to the sight of the main Australian historic site, Melbourne metropolitan, near LaTrobe St, Melbourne. He reports it has max-min temp records daily since 1855 to late 2007.

Yet look at the pictures, this station is only 2 meters from a sidewalk, and a couple of meters more from a major street intersection and voluminous traffic. Hardly the best place to measure temperature. This site demonstrates the growing trend of climate monitoring stations that have been gradually surrounded by increasingly closer urban influences, and demonstrates that the problem is not unique to the USA.

Here are some additional pictures, click for large versions.



And a satellite image of downtown Melbourne showing the intersection is available at Windows Live Maps

UPDATE: Kristen Brynes has offered a couple of photos she had available taken from different angles of the same site, see them below. Thanks Kristen.



Additionally, the Lat/Lon of this station is:

-37.8075, 144.9700

A PDF document from Australias BOM lists the METADATA for this site and is available here

Steve: GHCN reference info is

50194868000 MELBOURNE -37.82 144.97 113 29U 2579FLxxCO 5x-9WARM FOR./FIELD C


  1. JimC
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    How many sites in the Arctic exhibit this type of urban environment? Not many I’d reckon 🙂 Could that explain why direct measurements in that region show the 1930’s were warmer than current?

    This is one reason why my recent interest in this field of “science” doesn’t give warm fuzzy feelings.

  2. Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 9:16 PM | Permalink

    Could someone post the Melbourne temperature records.

  3. M. Jeff
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    It would be interesting to compare the Melbourne and Melbourne Airport historical temperature records. The current readings from “Latest Weather Observations for the Melbourne Area” Issued at 1:25 pm EST Wednesday 24 October 2007, Melbourne Station low 11.6 deg, high 18.4 high. Melbourne Airport low 10.4, high 17.8. Difference due to UHI effect? Highest wind gust at Melboure 20km/h, Melbourne Airport 39 km/h.

  4. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    From GISS … most Aussie records in the area seem to end in 1992.


  5. Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:14 PM | Permalink

    Here is the Melbourne temperature history in the GHCN database – unfortunately the data ends in 1992. Interestingly, the adjusted data removes the warming in this case. I wonder how the HadCRU data represent it.

  6. richard
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

    Wow, I don’t live in Melbourne but live in the country to the west of Melbourne. I would go past this intersection regularly and didn’t even realise that Melbourne’s weather station was situated there – I’m too busy looking at the traffic. It is a very busy road and area. But no wonder the temperature is going up. Sydney’s observatory might be better. I believe its been moved recently from the old observatory, which has now been turned into a planetarium. But the point is that records go back a long way in Sydney, unlike the rest of Australia.

  7. James Lane
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    The Latrobe St site in the Melbourne CBD is a joke. I used to ride past it every day on my bicycle on the way to Uni. It is literally a few metres from one of the busiest roads in Melbourne.

    Laverton remains a pretty rural site, although it is an airport, recently upgraded to take domestic jet traffic.

  8. Bruce
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    Is it the “Melbourne Regional Office”?

    Coordinates found in text file referenced here:

    -37.8075 144.9700

    I think those coordinates match.

  9. richard
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

    re post 3: There is an altitude difference between airport and Melbourne – although Melbourne is closer to Port Philip Bay, which provided moderating breezes in summer.

  10. James Lane
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

    Richard, the Sydney Observatory (Observatory Hill) weather station is still operational, although I believe that Jones moved the Sydney data to Sydney Airport some years ago for CRU purposes.

    Sydney Observatory is not a planetarium, but more a working museum, and well worth a visit.

  11. Alan Woods
    Posted Oct 23, 2007 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

    Re: 7

    You’re thinking of Avalon airport aren’t you?

    I often walk past this Weather Station – its about 5 minutes walk from my work. I would often chuckle to myself at the location, but I never imagined it was the official Melbourne site! Still, I don’t think the microclimate would have changed in 20 years. Its always been heavily paved and very busy.

  12. Anthony Watts
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 12:08 AM | Permalink

    RE12, Alan. “Still, I don’t think the microclimate would have changed in 20 years.”

    Note the construction crane in the very bottom photo. How much building has gone on around that station in the last 20 years? How much extra traffic has it seen on the roadways? City environments are far from static, so I would think the changes in the immediate vicinity would be significant.

    Does anyone have access to historical photos of this locale? If so please link to or post them.

  13. Alan Woods
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    Re: 13

    I meant to say not changed much, and also meant with respect to the changes that would have occurred over the lifetime of the site. Clumsily put I admit, but I was still giddy from seeing my hometown featured on climateaudit!

  14. James Lane
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

    #12 Alan, you are quite right, I wa thinking of Avalon. I’m not sure where Laverton is.

  15. HarryH
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    I live just out of Melbourne. Whenever the proponents of AGW point to increasing global temperatures, I simply recall the location of the LaTrobe St CBD observatory and know the Inconvenient Truth is not being told. How many other LaTrobe Streets are out there! Anthony Watts’ volunteers reconn efforts in the US indicates a very high proportion. What about elsewhere in the world? This coupled with the dramatic decrease in the number of global surface stations especially between 1989-91(statistical aberration), plus inconsistencies of the measurement protocols, you really must wonder about whether in the 1990’s were the hottest in the total record! Based upon this dodgy primary data, western governments around the world are willing to commit economic suicide plus waste huge sums of taxpayers money on ‘renewable energy’ boondoggles and ration energy use to the wealthy!

    Also couple notes w.r.t #7 James’s comment: Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine (~19km NNW of CBD @ 114m elevation) has been in operation since ~1971(?). Prior to that Melbourne Airport was at Essendon 10km NNW of CBD @ ~77m elevation). Essendon airport is still operational for some non-regular passenger/freight services. Thus there may be confusion when looking at weather station records w.r.t Melbourne Airport. Laverton (~19km WSW of CBD @ 16m elevation) is defunct Air Force Base and is now a housing development area. Avalon is a secondary domestic airport and maintenance base located ~50km WSW of CBD @ 9m elevation. Note elevations sourced from Google Earth.

  16. James Lane
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

    Laverton is just east of Werribee. Semi-rural, and not far from Avalon.

  17. chrisl
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    Earlier this year I was working at Moonee Ponds(approx 8km north of Melbourne) and there was a light frost on the ground. The radio was telling me it was 4 degrees Celcius in Melbourne.
    Seems about right

  18. Alan Woods
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 1:12 AM | Permalink

    Re: 13

    This photo, taken in the 1960s, shows part of the site. The weather station would be behind the blue car and off the left of the photo. (Photo looks lik it is taken from the North and looking across Victoria St). I’d imagine the shading from the fence would be an issue.

  19. Dave Adamson
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 3:23 AM | Permalink

    Observatory hill Sydney is situated at 33deg52.33.70 south and east. Right next to the expressway going over the Harbour Bridge. Obervations have been made at this site since 1859, and I have purchased the complete records from the Bureau of Meterology for A$17.
    currently I am working on some frequency analysis in my spare time and hope to publish soon

  20. Chris Hanley
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

    The tall buildings to the south in the main photo were constructed around the early to mid 90s.

  21. Chris Hanley
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 3:35 AM | Permalink

    The main photo is incorrectly labeled.
    It is looking south.

  22. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 4:32 AM | Permalink

    Re #13 Alan Woods and #22 Chris Hanley.

    Chris, my error, the first image is looking SSE, not E as labelled. As such it is a similar view to that from Alan from the 1960s, showing the extent of urban encroachment. Alan also shows a parking meter, which was held to be accurate by the force of the law, under penalty of a fine. I do not recall the same caveat on thermometers.

    A lesson. I sent several emails to the Bureau of Meteorology this year, asking what was in the screen box, whether I could photograph, whether the BoM scientists were “in consensus” with IPCC 2007 and more. Result – not a single reply. Reaction – publish in CA or surfacestation (thank you, guys). Lesson to BoM – a little more courtesy might help.

    Part of the BoM metadata words are (quote) “For the above reasons it is recommended that all metadata prior to 1998 be considered as indicative only,
    and used with caution, unless it has been quality controlled. The Bureau of Meteorology should be contacted if further information or confirmation of the data is required. Depending on the nature of the inquiry there may be a fee associated with this request.” (End quote.) So the procedure is in place. The mention of a fee is troublesome for one who has paid taxes for decades to pay for the gathering of these data.

    My take on the temperature record for Melbourne metro (alone) is incomplete and I am not a climatologist. I would expect the data to be relatively constant until the post WWII boom years, when the UHI effect might cause (especially minimum) temperatures to increase a degree C or two to now.

    Both Tmax and Tmin, from radio an TV weather reports, have risen about a degree since 1997, but in that decade it seems more like a step function than a steady increase. We have had severe drought for several years, but the Tmax has been level rather than screaming up in this decade which in any case is too short a term to infer much.

    Re #5 Alan Cheetham,

    The graphs seem to be adjusted in reverse. The unadjusted blue line is fair enough, but the century 1850-1950 sould be lowered to match it. I know of no reason to adjust temps upwards in this time. Would be delighted to be educated. Then, post 1950 or so, the red adjested graph should dip down with the subtraction of UHI effects.

    The magnitude of UHI can be calculated because there are a dozen stations within 40 km which are much more rural than Melb metro. This includes airports at Point Cook, Laverton (5 km apart), Essendon, Tullamarine, Avalon and Moorabbin. I used to be at the RAAF Academy at Pt Cook and might have some old photos of there and Laverton. There are no signficant altitude differences.

    Some fertile fields of data have been sown around Melbourne. We have data used by Phil Jones, by Hadley, by the US of A with the first release, remake 1.1, revision 1.1a, model 2 in technicolour, adjusted model 2.2.b, retake 3, release 3a(i) in cinemascope and so on. In short, Melb has the same problem as ROW. Nobody seems to know which version is best, why others were adjusted, by how much, when or why.

    I do not assume that this Melbourne metro site depicted here is still used by the BOM or others. I have to assume that competent scientists would realise its shortcomings and act accordingly.

    The BoM might find benefit in releasing a properly-constructed paper explaining just what goes into the mix that ends up on the daily weather report, temperature wise; and the nature, direction, authorship, code etc of the calculations made to Melbourne metro over the years; and a straightforward discussion of how the BoM places its data in context with that of other authors such as the above.

    This is not too much for a citizen to ask about his own country.

  23. MikeM
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

    Looking at the map, it appears they could get better readings just by moving the equipment into Carlton Gardens, one block away.

  24. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 5:08 AM | Permalink

    Time series graph of monthly Melbourne data is at The page also contains a link to the GISS annual plot.


  25. Nick
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 5:39 AM | Permalink

    Melbourne has a lot of weather stations, some of which are no longer active. Looking around the weather stations in the Melbourne metropolitan area, many of which have suitably long records, are no more than 30m above sea level and within 10km of Port Philip Bay, any UHI anomaly at the Melbourne Regional office site does not seem to be obvious.Those stations closest to the Bay have the higher annual mean minima, as would be expected. Annual mean maxima are pretty similar across the city. Why talk up a UHI effect without crunching the data? Also, the nominated Reference Climate Station Network site is the Laverton RAAF station.

  26. henry
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 5:40 AM | Permalink

    You all realize that the temp errors don’t matter, because Australia is only x% of the Earths surface…

  27. morry w
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:47 AM | Permalink

    Well I’ll be…. who’d of thought that there’s this many Aussies following CA. Is there enough interest in starting a surfacestations Oz project? I’ll get a throwaway email address which I’ll post here tomorrow for anyone interested.

    Morry in Melbourne

  28. Gunnar
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know what you folks are complaining about. It’s in a wooded area.

    Seriously, please remember that the purpose of the station is to tell people what they want to know: the temperature and conditions where the people are. Lots of people live there, it makes sense that it’s there. The error is that obscure climatologist are using weather data for other purposes.

  29. richard
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

    Having been a regular visitor to Melbourne over the last 30 years and spending significant time there during those stays, I’d say the traffic along Latrobe street has got a lot heavier and office building density has increased a lot in that time. I would be more than happy to be corrected by the facts, but my observations might be an impetus for someone else to look at this in more detail. Bear in mind, over the last 30 years Melbourne has gone from a city of 2 million to 3.7 million or somewhere in that vicinity. Thus, over the last 20 years, one would have surely have expected a reasonable UHI impact.

  30. Goz
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

    G’day from Melbourne as well !!

    Hoddle St carries over 44,000 cars per day. This isn’t just a major road, it`s one of the busiest roads in all of Australia.

  31. JackV
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

    For an exquisite appreciation of how much of our world is NOT dense, urban, asphalt-covered or air conditioned human habitat, and where surface temperature measurement stations OUGHT perhaps to have been located, peruse the following at leisure:

    I’d hazard that these degree confluence points serve as a better proxy for the “real world,” and thereby “real climate,” than any data collection sites used to drive the global warming panic.

    In all my scolling, I have yet to find a confluence point in the heart of any metropolis.

  32. Anthony Watts
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    RE29, Gunnar, agreed.

    The inverse corollary to that is George Carlin’s statement of “when you are watching the the weather on TV, why do they always give the weather at the airport? Nobody LIVES there!”

  33. Anthony Watts
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    I fixed the photo label to read SSE per Geoff.

  34. HarryH
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    A couple points to add

    Re My post#16 & Nick #26. ‘Laverton RAAF’ weather station is operational, but the Air Force base itself is a defunct wreck. Housing / warehouse development is encroaching.

    Re Mike #24. The Carlton Gardens are well wooded and may have shade issues. Moreover local councillors would probably object for the equipment to be located there (in fenced off enclosure). If moved there, I don’t know how the BoM will rationalize their data if a sharp cooling trend is observed in following few years. …..due to GW!

    Re Alan Woods #19. Your photo may have been in 1970’s as the crappy old Chrysler Valiant cream two-tone parked on the right looks around 1969 vintage.

    Also on some days LaTrobe street is the most perfect wind tunnel, especially now with the apartment block over the road, therefore the wind gust readings may be affected upward(?). Another sure sign of GW(?)

  35. braddles
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    The fact that so much of the GISS data for Australia ends in the early 1990s is very frustrating. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has created a list of “high quality” stations which they use for climate calculations, but data for individual stations does not appear to be online. I recently took a look at the GISS data for Australia and came up with a few figures:

    1. number of Australian stations in GISS: 580.
    2. Of these 580, 96 are also in the BoM “high quality” network.
    3. Of the 96, 42 have GISS data after 1995.
    4. Of these 42, 21 are listed as “rural” by GISS.
    5. Of these 21, 15 have a present-day population of less than 4,000 (others are fast-growing towns).
    6. Of these 15, 10 are on the mainland (the others are distant offshore islands).
    7. Of these 10, just one has GISS data going back to the 1930s.

    In other words, out of 580 GISS stations, just ONE (Cape Leeuwin) is a “high-quality” completely rural mainland station with data extending from the 1930s to the present day. Still, this station shows a warming signal, so I suppose that is proof of AGW.

  36. Bruce
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 4:47 PM | Permalink


    Go to this page.

    Graph the 30 year stats and pick 1961 to 1990.

    9am – Just slightly cooler this year
    3pm – ditto

    Statistics Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual Years
    Mean 3pm temperature (°C) 21.6 21.9 21.2 19.9 18.0 16.2 15.2 15.3 15.9 16.8 18.7 20.3 18.4 101

    Statistics Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual Years
    Mean 3pm temperature (°C) for years 1961 to 1990 22.0 22.2 21.6 19.9 18.2 16.3 15.4 15.4 16.1 17.2 18.8 20.7 18.7 3

  37. Bruce
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

    Oops. My mistake. #37 is comparing 101 years to the 30 year period 1961 to 1990.

  38. Anthony Watts
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

    Re34, weird, something up with the image cache, it’s now back to “east” instead of SSE.

  39. BrettP
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 7:31 PM | Permalink

    RE #37 – If you go back a bit on the BoM site & get “all available” – you can see the peak temperatures for Cape Leeuwin over all it’s record (it’s about 3 hours south of me here in sunny Perth)- & guess what, 1933 is the HOTTEST !!

    Strange, seems to match up with the US peak in the 1930’s ?? Here’s the link:

    All Cape Leeuwin

  40. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

    Re: 23:
    The plots in item 5 are from the GHCN database — in this graph I am only reporting the data (unadjusted in blue and adjusted in red). If you go to the GISS data graphing site you will see the same data plotted individually (but starting in 1880). The graph I posted is from my web site where you can interactively graph the GHCN data.

    “The graphs seem to be adjusted in reverse… Would be delighted to be educated.”

    According to the GHCN documentation:

    “GHCN temperature data include two different datasets: the original data and a homogeneity-adjusted dataset. … Our approach to adjusting historical data is to make them homogeneous with present-day observations, so that new data points can easily be added to homogeneity-adjusted time series.”

    Thus the older data is adjusted, and this case it was inceased. Since long-term climate studies convert the data to anomalies (and this is what the GHCN was created for), the actual value doesn’t matter – only the difference between the values (which gives the trend). In this case the warming trend is removed since the “highly correlated neighboring station” is rural and doesn’t exhibit the warming. This seems to be a sample case where the homogeneity adjustment has worked as one would expect — i.e. urban warming removed from the trend.

  41. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    Re: 23: You state: “I do not assume that this Melbourne metro site depicted here is still used by the BOM or others. I have to assume that competent scientists would realise its shortcomings and act accordingly.”
    It appears that it is used by GHCN, GISS and by HadCRU (if the one pictured is in fact station 948680 Melbourne regional office). If you look in the HadCRU list of stations used (basically any station that has data from 1961-1990) you will see it listed as one of the stations used. It is used after adjustment by GHCN. How HadCRU adjusts it is unknown until they release their station temperature data.

    HadCRU: “948680 -378 -1450 35 MELBOURNE REGIONAL O AUSTRALIA”.
    GHCN / GISS: “50194868000 MELBOURNE -37.82 144.97 113 29U 2579FLxxCO 5x-9WARM FOR./FIELD C”

    Interesting that it is designated as “warm forest / field” in the GHCN.

  42. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 3:25 AM | Permalink

    Re # 23 Alan Cheetham

    Thank you for your commentary. Do you wish to venture an opinion as to how Melbourne’s temperature response has been so flat for all those years in the face of an increase in global carbon dioxide? This is not a trick question, I am seeking to find effects specific to this region where negative offsets might counter the much-accepted CO2 global waming trend of the experts.

    I am told that the BoM will sell you a CD for $A100 or so which has many station records, by day, max and min temps, for their periods of reliable observation. I’m told the data go to mid-2007. I’ve also noticed many SH graphs that end in the 1990s.

    I’ve also wondered about the value of methodology that assigns a reference term for comparisons of differences. I’m more used to working in absolute units; with unsmoothed values with missing data not interpolated; and with running means not calculated with fill-in values beyond the periods of observation.

    BTW, I did not mean to infer that Melbourne had claims in history above Sydney in terms of stations and importance. Somehow “an” historic site unintentionally got the status of “the” historic site, probably through my poor wording. We have lived in 12 homes in Australia, in many States, and I have worked in most parts of most States and Territories, both as a scientist and at the interface between business and Governments. I love them all. The States, that is.

  43. pliny
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 5:21 AM | Permalink

    I live in Melbourne, and know it well. I do not believe the GHCN data comes from this Latrobe St site. If you check with Google Earth, you will see that the latitude and longitude and altitude do not match this site (North of the City and River) but rather the Melbourne Observatory, near the Shrine and Botanical Gardens, South of the City. This is in an extensive garden area, well away from any major traffic. It has been used for observations since the 1850’s.

  44. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

    Re # 44 Pliny the Younger,

    What lats and longs do you use? I know the Melbourne observatory site well – we have donated plants to the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens and it is hard to miss those telescope domes as you enter next door. But what makes you think that they contribute to the temperature records kept by BoM? Geoff.

  45. pliny
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 7:26 AM | Permalink

    Well, it’s latitude that distinguishes, as the longitude (and altitude) of all relevant sites is similar. There is, or has been, a weather station at the observatory, and the BOM metadata says:
    086167 86 MELBOURNE (OBSERVATORY) 1862 1907 -37.8314 144.9714 ….. VIC 28.0 .. .. .. ..
    086232 86 MELBOURNE BOTANICAL GARDENS 1964 .. -37.8319 144.9753 GPS VIC 31.0 .. .. .. ..
    086071 86 MELBOURNE REGIONAL OFFICE 1908 .. -37.8075 144.9700 GPS VIC 31.2 32.2 94868 1986 ..

    The GHCN spec says:
    50194868000 MELBOURNE -37.82 144.97 113 29U 2579FLxxCO 5x-9WARM FOR./FIELD C
    None of the relevant stations has lat 37.82, but the observatory is closer. Google Earth would put the GHCN coords somewhere in the Domain/Alexandra Gardens area.

    Now it is true that the BOM metadata says the recording finished in 1908. But there is a nearby Bot Gardens station which has current records. And as you say, the Observatory is still very much there (with an excellent cafe).

  46. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

    It seems that the only official site of those you discuss is at -37.8075, 144.9700, as per the heading to this thread. Google Earth puts the photographed station at 37 deg 48 min 27 sec by 144 deg 58 min 12 sec which is close enough for me. I cannot find a reference to the Gardens Observatory being used.

  47. Alan Woods
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    Pliny is right. The Observatory cafe IS excellent!

  48. pliny
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

    Re 47 – Geoff:
    They are all BoM official stations with WMO numbers etc as listed.

    But I was wondering – do we even know if the one you have photographed is the “BoM regional office” weather station? Their regional office was originally in Drummond St, then 10 Lonsdale St, now in the Docklands. This is hundreds of metres from any of those locations. Where it is is on the site of the Royal Society of Victoria.

    Now RSV doesn’t function so much now as a scientific society, but it was once, and I think it is very plausible that they would have had a weather station of their own.

  49. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 10:32 PM | Permalink

    Re # 49. Pliny, the RSV does still function as a scientific society. In fact, on 13 September 2007 it was host to Dr. Jim Peacock, Chief Scientist of Australia, immediate past President of the Australian Academy of Science and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. His advertised title was “Science for Australia’s future”, but his actual subject was climate change.

    Dr. Peacock’s one-page hand-out began “The challenge of climate change and the role of human activities contributing in a major way to the rapidity and magnitude of greenhouse gas emissions was not long ago the sole provenance of comment and attention by scientists”, and went on to say that “The evolution of argument, discussion and data acquisition have established the reality of climate change, removing it from disbelief, debate, at least among rationally thinking people.”

    I don’t know what station was used for the observations and projections of Melbourne’s climate that were recently published in the CSIRO/BoM study “Climate Change in Australia – Technical Report 2007” (p. 134). These showed that the number of days over 35 C in Melbourne was projected to rise from the “current” level of 9.1 per year to between 10.6 and 12.8 days per year in 2030 (p. 134). The text explained that these averages “are based on a common 30-year period from 1971-2000” and therefore “tend to be higher than the ‘present’ averages for capital cities in Table 1 of the CSIRO (2001) projections because the 2001 figures were based on longer-term averages up to the year 2000, e.g., the ‘present’ average for Melbourne was based on data from 1856 to 2000.” The ‘present’ average number of days over 35 C in Melbourne was given as 8 in the 2001 publication (this average is now stated to have been based on the average of the preceding 145 years), and was projected to rise to between 9 and 12 days per year by 2030.

    In the meantime (May 2006), the Australian Greenhouse Office had published “Climate Change Risk Guidance Scenarios for 2030”, based on projections prepared by three CSIRO scientists, which showed the “Change in climate for Victoria by 2030, relative to 1990”. According to this publication, “the number of days above 35 C (in 2030) could average 10-16 in Melbourne (now 9).” On the day of release of the WGI SPM (2 February), Dr Graeme Pearman, former head of CSIRO Atmospheric Science, said on an ABC program that the AR4 put the number of days over 35 C in 2020 (not 2030) at between 9 and 12. When the WGI report was finally released three months later, the figures that Dr. Pearman had quoted for 2020 were shown to be for 2030 (i.e., the AR4 reverts to the same figures as had been published by the CSIRO 2001). With the new publication, the figures have been revised again, although not significantly.

    There have been larger changes elsewhere. For Perth, the CSIRO 2001 publication put the ‘present’ number of days over 35 C at 15 and the projected number in 2030 at between 16 and 22 days per year. Dr. Pearman cited these figures in his presentation on the ABC earlier this year, but said that the projections were for 2020. The new publication puts the ‘current’ number of days over 35 C per year at 28 days, and projects that this will rise to between 33 and 39 days per year in 2030.

  50. pliny
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the reminder, and I’m very sorry I missed Jim Peacock’s talk. I’m well aware of the very good things RSV does. However, there was a time when they undertook projects like organising the Burke and Wills Expedition, and could well have maintained a weather station, and I don’t think they do that sort of thing now.
    Nick Stokes

  51. Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    Re: 43: I don’t have an opinion on why Melbourne is flat (the adjusted data shows slight decrease until 1960 then slight increase after that). What I do have an opinion on is this: many regions of the world are NOT exhibiting temperatures that are unprecedented (see the regional summaries at, and southern Australia is one of those.

    The following two figures provide further insight for Southern Australia (SAU). The first one compares the GHCN average temperature for SAU (unadjusted) to the IPCC AR4 graph for SAU. The data are actually within the IPCC model graph without CO2. There is discrepancy between the IPCC historical line (black line) and the GHCN data. The second figure compares the GHCN line with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology data, illustrating that the GHCN is more closely in argreement with the ABM – the IPCC data (HadCRU) is not in agreement (see the regional summary for Australia for more details on this).

  52. Jeff
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve; I have all Melbourne Max / Min records since 1/5/1855 through to current – problem is they’re in hard copy. If you’re interested, let me know.

  53. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

    Re # 49 Pliny,

    Records indicate that the LaTrobe St/Victoria St site where photographed is the active climate station. There might be more stations elesewhere, or admin offices, but nothing I have seen says that the Observatory or Docklands or Drummond St contribute to BoM data.

    I am more interested in the deafening silence about why Melbourne, on corrected data shown in red above, has apparently escaped global warming and cooling for 150 continuous years, within error limits. We once had local Councils erecting signs saying “Nuclear Free Zone.” Maybe they have erected signs saying “CO2 Free Zone.”

    I know that Melbourne was the last place to survive nuclear war in the movie “On the Beach”. At filming, Ava Gardner said that Melbourne was suitable to be the ass end of the Earth.

    Maybe she was just passing through.

    She had passed through Los Angeles too, which made her comment even more curious.

  54. James Lane
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 6:28 AM | Permalink

    #55 Geoff:

    I know that Melbourne was the last place to survive nuclear war in the movie “On the Beach”. At filming, Ava Gardner said that Melbourne was suitable to be the ass end of the Earth.

    Actually, the purported quote was more like that “Melbourne was great place to make a movie about the end of the world”. But Ava never said it. It was invented by a Melbourne journalist, Neil Jillett.

  55. pliny
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

    Re 55:
    Geoff, I think you are right – Google Earth confirms that the location of the Melbourne Reg Office station is the one you have photographed. The latitude discrepancy of the GHCN spec is still puzzling.

    I don’t have an explanation for the flatness of the adjusted temperatures in Melbourne.

  56. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Re #49, #55, #57: The outcome of these posts appears to be agreement that the Melbourne Regional Office station is the one in the photograph on Anthony Watts’s original post, for which Geoff Sherrington reported that there are max-min temp records daily since 1855. Alan Cheetham has said (#42) that records from this station are used by GHCN, GISS and HadCRU, and that the adjusted data shows Melbourne temperature as flat (#52). I’ve noted (#50) that the recent CSIRO/Bureau of Meteorology publication “Climate Change in Australia – Technical Report” stated that records for Melbourne from 1856 to 2000 were used in the analysis underlying the CSIRO projections for the city published in 2001. We’ve only been talking about one place but if it’s correct that there’s no disagreement on any of these points the discussion seems to have had a useful outcome. Am I missing something?

  57. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:21 PM | Permalink

    #55 James,

    Thank you, I stand corrected. My apologies for a misquote from memory. I’m often happy to blame a journo.

    #50 Ian Castles.

    Temperature – daily maximum data for the Melbourne metro site pictured above, full years 1856 to 2000 incl, show the number of days with temperature of 35.0 deg C or greater as 1406, or an arithmetic average of 9.7 days per year for these 145 years, 35 deg or more. I have no idea what adjustments might have been made to the data beforehand, since such adjustments if any are not described with the data. Of course, I do not know if “days above 35 degrees” includes “days equalling 35 degrees”, especially given that the thermometer might have been read only to the nearest whole degree, while angels dance on the heads of pins.

    I am bemused that eminent people would want to count these warmer days to make political points. I am concerned if they cherry pick the intervals they quote, when the full interval is officially avalable.

    It’s recreationally Saturday so I thought I’d throw some more figures into the “robust” set upon which decision makers prognosticate. Frankly, I’d rather hear Chief Australian Scientist Dr Jim Peacock explain why this site has not warmed significantly (within error estimates) in these 145 years of alleged global warming. There was no need for the Emperor to remove clothes because of increasing heat, if he wore them at all.

  58. pliny
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:31 PM | Permalink

    Re 55: Not quite. See #46. The main weather station was the Melbourne Observatory from 1862 to 1907. Then it transferred to the Melb Regional Office of BoM when that was established in Drummond St in 1907/8. Details of this site are here.

  59. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

    Just some historical notes about the site in question. All pictures are from the State Library of Victoria.

    The Drummond Street office of the BOM is visible here (dated December 1963):

    To the north, the Carlton Gardens have always been there, although the European plantings date to the late 19th century, and it has periodically been used as a tent hospital, exhibition grounds, or army camp when required.

    The Royal Society of Victoria, to the west, was built in 1858, with modifications in the 1880s and 1954. More importantly, the caretakers cottage was built in 1869, and the meteorological station in 1907. Details here.

    I can’t find a decent photo of the site online, though there are at least three in the catalogue either not digitised or at poor resolution (see below in 1966). I can’t tell therefore, whether the wooden fence in the picture Alan posted surrounds the site, or stops at the back of the caretakers house, as now.

    The buildings to the south were originally the Latrobe Cement and Brick Company, and a few houses (see in 1950):

    They were torn down in the mid 1950s to be replaced by the Commonwealth Centre – the ‘green latrine’ – seen above. Built in stages (1958 and 1963) and surrounded by car parks. This was subsequently (and fortunately) torn down in the mid-late 90s for the apartment buildings seen in the photos in the main post.

    Trying to work out the surface of the surrounding roads is a hassle. As near as I can tell they were dirt or very poor macadam until 1900-1901 when things were improved for the Federation celebrations. From then until the early 1940s when more modern asphalt was lain down, both Latrobe and Victoria Streets seem to be wood blocks, but the photos are very unclear and they may be just an improved tar macadam. In the absence of any business along there, the footpaths were probably dirt until the 1950s, and asphalt since, but that may be wrong.

    On traffic we can make some rough estimates. Total car traffic double between the end of WWII and 1954, and again between then and 1964 when it was 180,000 car trips a day to the CBD. Currently, approximately 250,000 cars travel to the CBD per day. Most of that increase has occurred in the past 10-15 years because of better freeways and more parking.

  60. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    Re #61 Russ and # 58 Ian Castles

    For Russ, Thank you for the extra information. The BoM assigns one station number, 086071, for the given lats and longs, with a string of data from 1855 to present, but it also had a qualifier in its metadata file that information should be confirmed with them (sometimes for a fee), as I noted above. So, the first assumption was reasonable, that all data came from this site from 1855 onwards. However, on re-reading Anthony’s links to metadata, a start date of 1908 is given. It’s a matter of reading the fine print when arguably one should not have to. If the station was shifted in 1908, one might expect a new number to be assigned. I do not know if the Royal Society of Victoria took its own records from 1855 or, if it did, whether these are included under station 086071.

    For Ian Castles, as the devil is often in the detail, I have been trying to get the detail on a firm basis as a preamble to the next part of the exercise. Melbourne is mentioned here mainly because it has a long daily record and has a chance of having better quality observations than some remote places. My interest is not so much in Melbourne as in the corrections that might or might not have been applied to the raw temperature data, by whom, for what purpose and by how much.

    As you observe, “Alan Cheetham has said (#42) that records from this station are used by GHCN, GISS and HadCRU, and that the adjusted data shows Melbourne temperature as flat (#52).” I think that they were also used by Jones et al a couple of times before Hadley interceded. The problem is that the various versions do not agree. I am still studying them, so I can only illustrate some differences at this stage.

    For example, I can select the average annual temperatures for 4 hot years, not for climate significance but because they are easy to see on graphs.

    Column one, year.
    Column two, GHCN adjusted from red graph in #5, degrees C
    Column three, GHCN NOT adjusted, from blue graph in #5, degrees C
    Column three, BoM recent data degrees C
    Column four, GISS relative anomaly from Willis Eschenbach #4, degrees C

    1915 16.3 15.5 15.5 +0.7
    1961 16.5 16.2 16.1 +1.3
    1981 16.3 16.1 16.0 +1.3
    1988 16.4 off page 16.4 +1.3

    This short table shows that there are data differences of up to almost a degree, but when one examines graphs, one finds a lack of apparent system to the adjustments of these and other years. We shall not need to start an argument about which past year was the warmest, as happened for the USA data, but no easy answer is apparent here.

    Readers who have annual records for portions of these years, from various authorities, are invited to send them to me at
    together with useful metadata.

    After the Melbourne exercise, we will go to the rest of Australia, having learned from the CA experience with the USA.

  61. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

    Re #62, Geoff Sherrington, Many thanks for this interesting information. I’ve no data to contribute but in my opinion the exercise is well worth while.

  62. Philip_B
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

    The BoM document below lists the stations used in the BoM’s high quality data network. Melbourne is shown as

    086071 -37.81 144.97 0031.2 melbourne
    (station number lat long elevation name)

    Google earth confirms this is the intersection of LaTrobe and Victoria (or within a couple of 100 meters due to the lat long rounding)

  63. Posted Nov 12, 2007 at 5:11 AM | Permalink

    Can someone provide FTP addresses for some airport weather stations to be able to display information automatically on our desktops?

  64. JerryB
    Posted Nov 12, 2007 at 6:32 AM | Permalink


    This is not an FTP address, but it may be of some use to you:

  65. Pankaj
    Posted Feb 4, 2009 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    I think the equipment require much more space in order to
    give the accurate and precise temperature readings.


  66. rajesh
    Posted Mar 18, 2009 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

    This site demonstrates the growing trend of climate monitoring stations that have been gradually surrounded by increasingly closer urban influences, and demonstrates that the problem is not unique to the USA.
    so it would be better to to have such good whether station

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