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Australian sea surface air temperatures

Air temperature data from the Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project is charted on this page, beginning from the first year of recording in 1991.

The project, funded through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, aims to identify long period sea level changes, "with particular emphasis on the enhanced greenhouse effect on sea level".

The National Tidal Centre operated by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology maintains an array of 14 Sea-Level Fine Resolution Acoustic Measuring Equipment (SEAFRAME) stations which accurately measure sea level and record meteorological paramaters including temperature. The network is designed "to monitor sea level and climate around the coastline of Australia".

"SEAFRAME gauges not only measure sea level by two independent means, but also observe a number of “ancillary” variables - atmospheric pressure, air and water temperatures, wind speed and direction. The SEAFRAME observations contribute to the research and analysis efforts of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) and the Bureau’s National Climate Centre to investigate and monitor regional climatic and oceanographic conditions." (Source)

The stations are at Cape Ferguson, Rosslyn Bay, Port Kembla, Burnie, Spring Bay, Portland, Port Stanvac, Thevenard, Esperance, Hillarys, Broome, Darwin, Milner Bay and Cocos.

These stations are scattered around Australia, all are at sea level and are said to be isolated from Urban Heat Influence - although the satellite images below suggest that questions might be asked about heat from nearby industrial and urban development, dependent upon prevailing winds.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology has dismissed the validity of the tidal station thermometer readings because 20 years is not considered an adequate time span and the instruments are not calibrated to the required bureau standards - see below.

seaframe temperature equipment

Below are charts of each of the stations with air temperature data beginning in 1991. Many of the stations started at a later date and/or have missing months of data which makes comparative time series analyses and averages inaccurate.

However, each station has different periods of unbroken monthly temperature records within which accurate trendlines can be calculated to 2011. These charts are marked below as "clean".

Download spreadsheet data (Excel 418kb). See also Sea Level Change in Australia: What’s Likely? by Ken Stewart.

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all tidal station sea temperatures

Note: the chart above of all 14 stations is since they were operating without major interruptions, although Jun-Nov 03 had no temperatures recorded at Groote Eylandt; Feb-Mar 04 at Rosslyn Bay; Oct 2003 at Cape Ferguson; and Dec 10-Oct 11 at Port Stanvac.

tidal sea temperatures

Note: the chart above of all 14 stations is since all had begun operation, although there are significant breaks in recording: Dec 95-Feb 97 and Oct 03 at Cape Ferguson; Dec 95-Feb 97 and Feb-Mar 04 at Rosslyn Bay; Sep 96-Apr 98 at Port Kembla; Mar-Apr 97 at Burrie; Apr-Jul 08 and Dec 10-Oct 11 at Port Stanvac, Mar 96-Feb 98 at Thevenard; Oct-Nov 98 and Apr-Aug 2000 at Esperance; Jul 96 and May-Aug 2000 at Broome; and Jun-Nov 03 at Groot Elylandt.

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In January 2012, climate researcher Trevor Prowse put questions to the Bureau of Meteorology about the results charted above, making the point that as the 14 tidal stations are mostly free of urban heat effect, all are at sea level and are well scattered around Australia, they may be more accurate than any other land-based data.

Mr Prowse received the following response from the BoM's Acting Director of Meteorology Dr Rob Vertessy:

australian tidal station temperatures

Mr Prowse further enquired about what deficiencies invalidated the tidal station thermometer readings, with the following response:

australian sea air temperatures

Mr Prowse has contacted the manufacturers and installers of tide stations for the BoM in the late 1990s (Sutron Corporation in Virginia, U.S.A) and the company has advised that to its knowledge the stations have always worked and no sensors have been sent back for calibration.

The dismissal of the tidal station thermometers as inadequate for temperature trends raises pertinent questions:

  • If the thermometers aren't considered accurate, why bother having them?
  • As the tidal sea level project is funded by the Department of Climate Change, shouldn't it demand accurate sea surface air temperatures for monitoring of climate trends?
  • What is the cost and what has prevented the installation of properly calibrated thermometers?
  • What is wrong with the calibration?
  • If 20 years is too short a duration for temperatures, why was the sea level data from the stations adequate for reference in the Climate Commission's The Critical Decade report in 2011?
  • If 20 years is too short a duration and the thermometers do not satisfy BoM specifications, why are they used for air temperature trends referenced in the project's annual report?
  • Even if the thermometers don't meet BoM instrumentation standards, more than half still show a neutral to cooling trend for 20 years within their own unacceptable but consistent parameters.

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cape ferguson satellite image rosslyn bay satellite image port kembla satellite image burnie satellite image spring bay satellite image portland satellite image port stanvac satellite image thevenard satellite image esperance satellite image hillarys satellite image broome satellite image darwin satellite image milner bay satellite image cocos satellite image