David Bidstrup: Is it getting hotter in Boulia?

With summer just around the corner we should be ready for the usual hype about heat waves and “hottest days on record”. These events will be presented as “proof of climate change” so it is worthwhile putting this into perspective. Some readers might have seen a couple of my musings on temperature records for Adelaide and Sydney some time ago but this time I have found a set of records spanning 120 years for the Queensland outback town of Boulia.

With droughts affecting many areas of the country I wanted to see if there was any noticeable change in temperatures in the outback. Boulia provided the longest record I could find. It’s a bit out of the way sitting almost half way between Birdsville and Mt Isa and the country is pretty unforgiving.

The records are sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology and cover the period from 1888 to present. Like most BoM records there are holes in the data. There are 47,783 days in the data record but 2,609 have no temperature assigned leaving 45,174 actual records or about 90% of the total record. In the past I have noticed most BoM records have holes in them.

In this analysis I am looking only at maximum temperatures for two reasons. First, any use of “averages” is meaningless and of no value and secondly I am looking to see if it is getting hotter absolutely rather than relatively.

The analysis looks at the temperature record in nominally 10 year blocks, the differences being the first period from 1888 to 1900 is 12 years and the last from 2010 to 2017 is 7 years.

Each block is analysed to find the maximum temperature ever recorded and the number of days 40 degrees and above. I chose 40 degrees because Boulia is a hot place. The locals would be putting on jumpers when it got down to 30.

The table below shows the analysis.

The first column gives the time period. The second gives the number of days in the period, (remember the holes in the data mean that there will not be even numbers for each period). This is followed by the number of days in the period when the maximum temperature was 40 degrees C or above and that is expressed as a percentage in the next column.

The highest temperature for the period, T max, follows and the mean of Tmax records, (for reasons I will outline below) and the difference between T max and “the mean”.

The last column gives the date when the corresponding T max occurred, (For some reason I cannot get 12 December 1888 to format like the rest – technology!!!!!).

I have also shown the lowest temperature ever recorded at Boulia, -1.4 degrees C.

When the results are graphed it is clear that there has not been any “warming” in Boulia for around 120 years in fact the absolute T max has been fairly steady if a bit in decline – see the blue  trend line on the chart. The days above 40 degrees range from 9% to 18% and “on average” occur 13% of the time so Boulia should expect around 48 days each year above 40 degrees.

On the graph below the absolute T max for each period, (series 1), is shown along with the “mean” of all temperatures for the entire record, (series 2, remember this looks only at maximum temperatures). The variation between T max readings and “the mean” vary up to 16.5 degrees.

When you look at the range of temperatures that the good folk of Boulia have lived within over the 122 years of records it is 49.7 degrees C, from the lowest recorded minimum of -1.4 to the highest maximum of 48.3.

I also used a technique I learned from Dr Darko Butina where the temperatures are analysed to see whether the data fits a bell curve. This is done by calculating the “distance” in standard deviations that each record sits from the mean, and then seeing whether 98% fit within +/- 2 standard deviations. In this case  0.12% lies outside +2 standard deviations and 1.8% outside -2 standard deviations leaving 98.08% within the +/- 2 range. Anyone interested should look at the articles on his site for the details.

I suspect that analysing records for other places in the region like Longreach, Mt Isa, Winton, Bedourie and Birdsville would yield the same results. The problem is finding a record of sufficient time duration. Boulia had 122 years so it was a good one.

My conclusion is that nothing has changed over 122 years. Boulia is always hot but it is not getting “hotter”. The “hottest day on record” was February 7 1915, over 100 years ago.

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40 Responses to David Bidstrup: Is it getting hotter in Boulia?

  1. Dr Fred Lenin

    Boulia, reminds. E of a guy who said,” west Queensland is the asshole of Australia and Boulia is many miles up it “ . Been to Outback Qld ,no desire to revisit .

  2. stackja

    AGW scamsters still get most attention.

  3. v_maet

    It’s amazing they haven’t adjusted down the past and artificially adjusted upwards the recent data to “impove” the data set. They had a good go at removing 5% of the data set though.

    Having said that, they forecast 36 in Brisbane last Friday and it only got to 31 which is normal temps.

  4. Kneel

    Reasons why alarmists will ignore this:
    * you are not a climate scientist (assuming your analysis is accurate, who cares, it is what it is, who’s in denial here?)
    * you are only looking at one place, the issue is global (that’s why we don’t focus on the north pole… oh wait)
    * doesn’t prove anything ( same as their “evidence” offers no “proof”, only “indications”)
    * you are looking at max temps when GW should affect min temps more (then why the claims that hot days are because of GW?)

  5. Mak Siccar

    An intersting analysis, albeit of one place but with a long record. Do we know if the temperature has been measured in the same spot and that the local environment (ground conditions, proximity of buildings etc) at that spot hasn’t changed significantly over all those years? If there has been little change, then, in my view, the results and interpretation are greatly enhanced in significance.

  6. David Bidstrup

    All records are from one station.

  7. Dr Fred Lenin

    David ,religions are noted for never taking any notice of the truth ,it’s the story that counts ,I mean arguing about how many angels fit on head of a pin is a classic . Same as going to paddle a canoe to the North Pole stating all the ice had melted because of AGW and giving up hundreds of miles away because of too much ice. Or taking believers to the Antarctic because AGW was melting all the ice and having to be rescued by air because your icebreaker is ice bound , then still preaching lies . Another is the 72 virgin caper for fools ,noticing that the preachers of this Never practice what they preach they are in no hurry to get to paradise. These items prove the preachers of these extreme beliefs never really believe in them . In the Middle Ages the popes librarian stated the rings of Saturn were the foreskin of Christ ? Now there’s one the AGW gang won’t ever top Cream of the lies that one ,wonder if anyone really believed that?

  8. RobK

    Have you been able to compensate for the Min Min lights? Might explain the missing records.

  9. Genghis

    I’m with Kneel.
    Data just has to be wrong. Boulia is Toooo far inland to be influenced by the warmer oceans (sorry I forgot they are not warming).
    IPCC warming data does not consider inland Australia – nor it should – backward place anyway!
    Cold atmospheric down draughts are know to exist over Boulia – influencing the strong increase in temperatures experienced around the rest of the world. This will be proved when we find these draughts and until proved they WILL remain as serious explanations .

    More reasons please.

  10. a happy little debunker

    From my limited understanding of AGW it is not Tmax that should show warming, rather it is Tmin.

    So for this past drought ridden winter in NSW Tmin was below average – in some cases very much below average.

    In fact in all of Australia, only Tassie showed any warming and us Taswegians all appreciated that.

  11. RobK

    AGW it is not Tmax that should show warming, rather it is Tmin
    Given that the IPCC argument is supposed to be about energy balance of sorts, surely the only meaningful way is to find the area under the temperature curve over time. Plotting short term min or max or average, what ever, is never going to say if earth is gaining or losing energy in the form of sensible heat. Its a waste of time and none of the data is of the sort to draw to a meaningful conclusion.

  12. How on earth can people live in such heat? We are constantly told that heat kills.

  13. Dr Fred Lenin

    Bemused they live in pretty foul conditions ,had a spell in that climate working years ago before aircon at Marble Bar ,27 days of 40 odd degree heat ,mind you it did cool down at night to 38 , Only way to sleep was a belly full of beer ,for hydration you understand ,that got you flaked out for a few hours ,hate to buy that amount of beer nowadays , that was In the days before Keating found a way to steal more money from the workers by indexing excise ,as usual the alp looking after the worker ,yeah right !

  14. iggie

    You may be interested in these two maps. The first is the BoM mean anomaly for Australia in Sep 2018.
    Note the below average areas in a large area around central/southern Australia.
    Now here is the GISS NASA map for mean anomaly for Aust for the same period.
    Note the below average area has now been replaced by above average mean.
    This is how they can ‘prove’ temps are rising. Just adjust the temps.

    (You can adjust the GISS map to the 1961-1990 base temp to bring it in line with the BoM).
    Same result.

  15. duncanm


    thanks for doing this.. I always like to point out isolated station data to people – because its not corrupted by UHI, so there can be little argument for subsequent adjustments without raising suspicion.

    The evidence to support Boulia data is definitely there at many other isolated stations on the publicly available BOM records, even at just a cursory glance.

  16. Mark M

    BoM’s Dr Peter Stone @ drought summit:

    “It has been an unusually warm year; the third warmest Jan-Oct for Australia; 1.3 degrees Celsius above average. The gold and silver went to 2013 and 2017.”


    Gold Warmist: 2013
    Silver Warming: 2017
    Bronze Warm: 2018

    This is not the trend you are looking for.

  17. Mark M

    My favourite ‘no change in climate in xx years’ …

    First Fleet: ”New Year’s Day 1788 was greeted by another storm and very cold weather around Tasmania, with reports of snow.”

    January 31, 2018: Summer in Australia… snow in Tasmania

  18. Mark M

    FWIW, before being blocked on twitter, I managed to get these two links to Nate, the weather guy on abc breakfast.

    He was doing a “ask Nate’ thing.

    This appeared on [email protected] later:

    ABC News Breakfast with Dr Joëlle Gergis

  19. yarpos

    I realise its the weather , not the climate, but……

    yesterday I was looking at a site that lists record temperature extremes globally, so you can hottest by country, region, hemisphere and globally. One thing that struck me was, that despite all the trumpeting of the hottest EVAH! more than 90% of hottest days ever recorded anywhere are a long way in the past. Odd.

  20. Sydney Boy

    These climate fucksticks keep talking about “more extremes” yet the BOM’s own graph of tropical cyclones in Australia shows a general downward trend in the number and intensity of tropical cyclones which have made landfall since the 1950s. That’s a bit inconvenient, isn’t it?

  21. Sydney Boy

    David, you have heard the term “lies, damn lies, and statistics”? The unwashed will not believe you and will suspect you manipulated the statistics to derive the solution you wanted.

    Can you please do the same analysis (I assume you can do this fairly easily as you have all the data in an excel spreadsheet?) using different time periods – e.g. 8 years, 14 years, and 21 years; and then do the same for the minimums? If you get the same results then that will remove any chance of a statistical bias.

  22. Biota

    While analyses like this are interesting, nothing can stop the climate juggernaut because it is not primarily about climate but a total reshaping of the global order. I doubt even high energy prices, rationed power or global cooling will have any effect.

  23. Tel

    In this analysis I am looking only at maximum temperatures for two reasons. First, any use of “averages” is meaningless and of no value and secondly I am looking to see if it is getting hotter absolutely rather than relatively.

    Maximum temperatures are meaningless for comparative purposes if you want to compare old equipment (glass thermometers that react slowly) with modern equipment (electronic probes that react very quickly and often give a significantly higher maximum temperature than any of the 5-minute averages taken that day).

    At any rate, the very concept of a “maximum temperature” for a local area is fraught with definitional difficulty when you are talking about small timescales and single point of measurement. It’s much like measuring the height of a person and including their hair. Maximum temperatures only exist for a few minutes every day, so they give you essentially zero coverage of the daily cycle.


    Check Figure 1 where real world side-by-side data shows significant lean towards warming on the electronic weather stations.

    Averaging at least gives you a stable figure that is largely independent of the time response of the probe, but in the older data there was no way to run an average over the full 24 hour cycle because it would require a dedicated team of humans to achieve that.

  24. David Bidstrup

    Sydney Boy: Not sure I have enough life to spare to do it again. My point is simply that the place is not getting “hotter” if the temperature record is to be believed.

    Tel: Average temperatures are meaningless. The better measure is the temperature range. You might read the Essex paper about the “global average temperature”. As I said above, the records do not show any “warming”. Some might argue that the analysis is simplistic and it probably is but also probably as good as any other.

  25. Tel

    Tel: Average temperatures are meaningless.

    Why? At least you get something stable.

    You might read the Essex paper about the “global average temperature”.

    We aren’t talking about a global average, that’s a completely different thing.

    All temperatures are averages, I should point that out. It’s a fundamentally statistical measurement. There is literally no such thing as an instantaneous temperature at a point in space. The difference is whether you choose to average over a small patch for a short time, or you choose either a larger patch, or a larger time, or both.

    Given that perfect thermodynamic equilibrium is also impossible in the physical world, all temperatures are approximations, so if you want to claim “meaningless” then forget about even measuring temperature ever under any situation.

  26. Aussieute

    The problem with averages
    A man got his head stuck in a hot oven. While trying to extricate himself he got his feet stuck in the freezer. Not knowing what to do, his wife summoned a doctor hoping he could ease her husband’s pain. But after a careful examination, the doctor concluded her husband was just fine. On average, his body temperature was perfectly normal.

  27. Tel

    Aussieute: As I said, the further from thermodynamic equilibrium you are, the worse your measurement, but you already knew that, obviously.

    Thing is, the weather outside is NEVER at thermodynamic equilibrium, nor is anything about the troposphere ever in any sort of equilibrium, so the best you can do it choose where to make an approximation.

    Averaging temperatures at least gives you a stable number, if you want to try to detect long term change. It doesn’t tell you whether you will get frost on your lawn, but it wasn’t designed to do that. Maximum temperatures don’t tell you about frost on the lawn either (unless the maximum is very low) but nor do they tell you anything about what happens 99.9% of the time. You could assume that if you knew the maximum and minimum then the rest of the day follows a consistent profile, but this is again an approximation.

    Since maximum temperatures are not statistically stable they are a poor choice to detect a long term trend. Think about anything with a long tail distribution, like poker machine wins for example. Suppose you play the poker machine every day and only write down your maximum single win for each day, what does it look like? I suggest it would be very unstable. Could you chart this to detect whether the poker machine was getting more or less generous over a long period of many years? I think the accuracy of that approach would be very poor, because all of your measurements are coming from the tip of that long tail.

  28. Flyingduk

    Just wait till the BOM ‘adjusts’ these data to fit the theory….

  29. duncanm

    Tel – the real scandal is the BOM don’t even low-pass filter the automatic weather station data to give a mercury-equivalent type measurement for comparison; they do not comply with World Meteorological Organisation guidelines to calculate their 1minute averages.

    As you say – the 1s (second, not minutes, see Jennifer Marohasy) maximums are bogus. They could be caused (and have been) by a parked car, jet on the runway, or similar fart-in-the-wind type anomaly.

  30. RobK

    It is good to know that the max temps have not gone up in Boulia. It certainly was warm in the late 70s around there when i was working for an exploration company. We didn’t do much field work Nov to Feb.

  31. MACK

    In related research, this long-term study of droughts in eastern Australia concludes that: ” water management in eastern Australia needs to account for decadal-scale droughts being a normal feature of the hydrological cycle.”
    Nothing unusual has happened to the climate recently.

  32. Ben

    From BoM data: 9 out of 14 hottest summer records prior to 1990

    From BoM data: 7 out of 11 lowest winter records since 1990

  33. Up the Workers!

    It’s not the temperatures that are getting any hotter – just the bovine excrement and the rancid rhetoric of the Leftard carpet-bagging fraudsters and money-gouging hucksters who run this nutty religion for the scientifically illiterate and the desperately gullible.

  34. Kneel

    “Since maximum temperatures are not statistically stable they are a poor choice to detect a long term trend.”

    “Unstable” is generous, IMO.
    Does temperature data have a unit root? (autocorrelated? how much?)
    Is Max (or min or avg) normally distributed?

    If either of these tests fail, a great many of the statistical calculations will provide meaningless data, eg a linear regression (you know, the math that gives you a trend line – you remember trends, that’s what they say is worrying, right?)
    Both of these tests actually fail on real temperature data (cooked & raw of all of min, max and avg)

    Q: What does this mean for the so called “proof”?
    A: this “proof” is bogus. Full stop.

    It may get the “correct answer”, but only by chance. Most people are dubious about investing real money when there is no way to distinguish skill from chance – except in CliSci of course.

    But then, I’m a denier, so you can ignore me….

  35. LBLoveday

    I don’t profess to know to a degree even approaching certainty, what, other than the Sun, can and, or, does warm Earth, but a recent visit to Bandung, a West Java city where I lived for 2 years 30 odd years ago was instructive to me. It has tropical weather, back then relatively cool due to its high elevation, and there is small day-to-day and month-to-month temperature variation – Wikipedia gives average daily maximums for 1974-1994, neatly encompassing the period I lived there, varying in the narrow range 26.7 (Feb) to 28.9 (Sep & Oct), which is about right; I used to say, “Max every day 28, min every night 18, never need a/c or heater, never need a jumper, never need a blanket, ideal”.

    It is now noticeably hotter; I noticed it, locals who have lived there all their lives complained of it, and watching the weather reports since confirms it – it’s now commonly 30-31 maximum; 28 a “cold day”.

    So why? Again I can’t know with certainty, but the extra 2-3 million or so people living in the greater metropolitan area, many housed where there used to be forests, the concrete toll-roads, the extra million or so vehicles, pumping out heat from their engines and exhaust gases, the acres of paved parking areas around the new shopping malls, cannot rationally be overlooked as the cause; whether the extra CO2 they may generate has any general effect I can’t know, but I can’t see how it has a large specific effect on Bandung – the massive increase in people, vehicles and concrete/tar areas surely are the reason for the increase in temperature?

    Local temperatures, if not weather, must be influenced by local human activities, as in the Bandung example, where much as changed, compared to Boulia and other outback towns.

  36. Tel

    As you say – the 1s (second, not minutes, see Jennifer Marohasy) maximums are bogus.

    I was not aware that they were running at a 1s sample for the maximum. If that’s true then anything is possible, the results will be ridiculously noisy.

    However, even if they decide to go for 1m samples which apparently are some sort of standard. So what? It could be 2m or 5m or whatever you like. Unless you can firstly prove that all glass thermometers were the same, and secondly accurately simulate the properties of a glass thermometer then you have an arbitrary discontinuity in your data collection. Picking a standard NOW for future use might be a nice thing for consistency but then you must wait another 100 years.

  37. Tel

    Is Max (or min or avg) normally distributed?

    That’s a fair question, I agree that Max & Min will not be normal, but if you take a proper time average (i.e. all samples throughout the day averaged out, and a good number of samples) then I think you might get close to normal. Many of the supposed averages are just (Max + Min)/2 because that’s what they had on record.

    There’s a bunch of other problems, like the fact that they put the Stevenson screen box on an open grassy patch so at least to some extent you are measuring soil moisture. Putting it over concrete avoids that problem, but now you are measuring the local properties of concrete (e.g. reflectivity, thermal mass, etc)… and so it goes.

    Sticking an electronic thermometer UNDER a meter of concrete might work better.

  38. RobK

    This Water for the Recovery of the Climate
    It is 100 pages, easy to read, written by hydrologists, it explains the situation you descibed and others. A recomended read.

  39. Kneel

    “I agree that Max & Min will not be normal,”

    Then by all means please explain how a standard linear regression on a non-normally distributed series is meaningful – in short, it’s not without great care; the kind that is missing from almost every analysis of temps.
    You need several times more data to make it work; or, your confidence levels are significantly lower for the same amount of data.
    But hey, this is climate science – we don’t need no stinking confidence levels, we already know we’re right, we just need to adjust the data to prove it!

    “I think you might get close to normal.”
    And that’s the problem, right there: no-one has taken the time to actually find out, and people who point this out (such as S. Mc) get told they’re wrong even before they finish the analysis.

    None of this says AGW is “wrong”, “fake”, whatever – but it’s massively concerning to people with even a basic knowledge of engineering or science that we are being pushed to act on what amounts to “the vibe”, and that serious questions regarding process are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant if we “think about the big picture / the children” etc blah blah.
    “Scientists” trading on emotions and feelings to get their way, ignoring evidence contrary to their “beliefs”, arguing the man instead of the idea? – the truth is, these are free-booters, bludgers, main-chancers, and they have found their easy mark. Or they are fools beholden to their own lies and misdeeds. Either way…

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