Australian Meteorology Bureau Corrects Record On Former Research Head William Kininmonth's Actual Climate Change Experience

Thu, 2012-02-02 17:50Graham Readfearn
Graham Readfearn's picture

Australian Meteorology Bureau Corrects Record On Former Research Head William Kininmonth's Actual Climate Change Experience

WHEN it comes to climate change science, as with most things in life, it pays to listen to actual experts with a solid background in their field.

On Monday the Wall Street Journal and, later, The Australian newspaper, ran an editorial from a group of climate science contrarians which claimed global warming had stopped and that CO2 was food for plants, rather than a potential pollutant. 
 
In a scathing response in the WSJ, also published by The Australian, 38 genuine climate change scientists, explained the original WSJ 16 were “the climate-science equivalent of dentists practising cardiology.”
 
“While accomplished,” the response explained, “most of its authors have no expertise in climate science. The few who have are known to hold extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert.”
 
The group also debunked the misleading notion that global warming had stopped. “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade,'' the group wrote. “In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter.”
 
Several journalists and bloggers, including Media Matters, have also investigated the expertise of the signatories to the original op-ed, which included members of free market think-tanks, climate science denial organisations and even a former researcher for Exxon.
 
One of the WSJ 16 in question, did appear on paper though to have some solid experience on his CV. William Kininmonth, a long-time sceptic of human caused climate change, was described in the WSJ editorial as the “former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology”.
 
Now that sounds pretty impressive and lends Mr Kininmonth an air of credibility. 
 
Mr Kininmonth is also an adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute, whose chief adviser is Lord Christopher Monckton. Mr Kininmonth also sits on the science advisory board of the International Climate Science Coalition. Both organisations have consistently promoted climate science denial and both note Mr Kininmonth's former position at the bureau. 
 
He is also an advisor to Australia's Galileo Movement, whose patron, popular radio shock-jock Alan Jones, says global warming is a hoax.
 
When The Australian newspaper decided that the misleading WSJ op-ed was worthy of a news report, the reporter was so impressed with Mr Kininmonth's former job that she outlined it in the first paragraph.
 
Except, the bureau has now confirmed to me in an official statement that during his time as head of the climate centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, Mr Kininmonth's department didn't actually do any research on climate change - change being the operative word.
 
Rather, the department was engaged in gathering and improving weather observations which, as it turned out, established Australia had “significantly warmed” since 1910. Mr Kininmonth's former position, it now appears, is of very little to no relevance on the issue of human-caused climate change. 
 
In the statement, the bureau confirmed that “William Kininmonth was Superintendent (’Head’) of the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre from 14 November 1985 to 8 January 1998.”
 
So had Mr Kininmonth or his department been involved in any climate change research during his tenure?  The full statement from the bureau reads:
 
Work undertaken in the National Climate Centre during the period 1985 to 1998 mainly centred on climate database management and climate monitoring activities, with the National Climate Centre responsible for the management of the national climate database known as ADAM (Australian Data Archive for Meteorology). Climate monitoring activities included improving the datasets for monitoring climate variability and change.
 
The processes and methodologies developed within the National Climate Centre have established that Australia has significantly warmed since 1910.  A warming trend was established and published by the National Climate Centre during the period of 1985 to 1998.  Mr Kininmonth was a contributing author for the observational chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Second Assessment, Climate Change 1995.
 
Aside from some limited research activity on historical observations, The National Climate Centre had no formal role in undertaking or directing climate change research during the period of 1985 to 1998. Specifically, the National Climate Centre did not have responsibility for climate change attribution work (i.e., linking observed climate change to CO2 emissions/concentrations). Such work in Australia was undertaken in the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, CSIRO and the University sector during the 1980s and 1990s.
 
The role of the National Climate Centre was, and still is, somewhat distinct from the Bureau's research operations, which were formerly managed through the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre (BMRC). The research centre has primary responsibility for climate change research. The BMRC is now part of the joint Bureau-CSIRO Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR). Scientists in CAWCR contribute significantly to international climate change research, including work on the link between increasing greenhouse gases and climate change.
 
Now that statement is as clear as the warming trend which Mr Kininmonth and his co-signatories attempted to deny.

Previous Comments

Mr Kininmonth makes an ideal spokesperson, being a person with no relevant experience yet making exaggerated claims about his credentials. No wonder he gets on well with lordy lordy Monckton, that paragon of virtue and expert on everything.

Why, if we could not get such eminent leaders to talk to the media, we would have to put up with, oh, I dunno, maybe a climate scientist or two. Imagine how boring that would be: WSJ and Fox reduced to reporting facts. Horrible idea.

“The group also debunked the misleading notion that global warming had stopped. “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade,” the group wrote. “In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our “planet is getting hotter.”

Benny Peiser is one of the leading sources of the misinformation campaign that there has been no global warming this century, with the graph on the home page of his GWPF website.  Can anyone point me at the data that explains the contradiction between that graph and the above statement that “it was the warmest decade on record”?

Thanks

Keith I’m not sure which graph you’re referring to from the GWPF - is it this one? http://www.thegwpf.org/the-observatory/4868-the-mail-on-sunday-the-met-office-and-the-temperature-standstill.html (that’s the only one I can find on the GWPF front page).

As you can see, the GWPF graphic is a tiny snapshot of time - ie only 13 years (1997-2012), which suits the denier claims of hottest years.

In contrast, check out this one that shows a much longer timeframe (up to 2009, but 2010 was hotter than 2009 so that data would have gone up) of 130 years.  Then you get to see what everyone is talking about.  Could even be described as a hockey stick.

http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010500/a010557/

To take just a ten year window to make claims about the long term trend is just silly - and pretty unscientific in terms of looking at climate change. 


 

“with the graph on the home page of his GWPF website.”

I could only see one on the banner that went from 2001 to 2011. Its the ol escalator trick.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/NCDC_Escalator.gif

Obviously, a ‘skeptic” would want to narrow in on any leveling out & cherry pick that as evidence. Ignoring the overall trend.

“To take just a ten year window to make claims about the long term trend is just silly - and pretty unscientific in terms of looking at climate change.”

Exactly, he GWPF/Monckton/Carter/WUWT/Plimer/Audit/Depot/Nova etc etc are looking at small variations & cherry picking any flat or downturn, then completely erasing the long term trend. I like this short video on trend & variation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0vj-0imOLw&feature=g-all-f&context=G2a65fe4FAAAAAAAANAA

 

Shindig and Phil M,

Yes, it was the graph on their front page banner that I meant.

I know the arguments about cherry picking and short term trends, but surely the evidence that the same period was the warmest on record should trump that. The GWPF are making as much mileage out of that claim as they are about “climagate”, so it would be good to have a straightforward way to discredit their graph, which the hard of thinking can understand:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/03/thick_kids_racist/
(Study links dimwits to conservative ideology)
  

“The GWPF are making as much mileage out of that claim as they are about “climagate”,so it would be good to have a straightforward way to discredit their graph, which the hard of thinking can understand:”

Skeptical science has covered the whole sorry Daily Mail & GWPF saga in detail.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?p=1&t=55&&n=1252

Lots of easy graphs there to check out. A noticable absence in the comments is the usual “skeptics” with science background or training. They know the Daily Mail & GWPF stories are con jobs, where the only acceptance they would gain would be on WUWT, where commenters jettison objectivity & critical thinking. It is left to a brave, but ignorant denier Elsa.

  

Phil, thanks for the link to that timely article on skepticalscience.com.  I enjoyed the graphic depictions for the skeptics’ guide to global warming!

I wonder how long it will be before the denialati start trying to cherry pick the lowering sea levels discovered between 2010-2011? No doubt the Daily Mail & GWPF will have articles for their kool aid loving fans like ” so much for global warming causing sea level rises”.

http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2012/02/jpls-josh-willis-looks-ahead-to-continuing-sea-level-rise/

When so much water is picked up out of the warming oceans & dumped on Australia, Asia & South America, its easily explained.

 

…it’s already going back up

http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

Just curious.. You’re from somewhere over there right?

Is Australia’s drought over?  Has food production returned to the affected regions?

“Just curious.. You’re from somewhere over there right?”

Yep.

“Is Australia’s drought over?”

Mostly , yes. There are pockets here & there that didnt get a drenching last year & are still in drought.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/archive/20110906.shtml

But this year Western QLD & Northern NSW have recorded record floods again for the 2nd year in a row.

http://www.bom.gov.au/hydro/flood/qld/fld_reports/st_george_fact_sheet_2011.pdf

Some town have been completely evacuated this time with 13M (42 feet) flooding. Reinforcing the link that I posted above from Yale that so much water was sucked out of the pacific & dumped on QLD & other parts of the world, that ocean levels actually dropped.

 

[x]

Canadian climate science denialist Patrick Moore is at the beginning of a tour around Australia speaking to audiences across the country.

But here’s a warning. 

If you do find yourself in the audience and don’t want to be compared to the “Taliban” then don’t even think about walking out in protest.

Less than two weeks before flying to Australia, Moore spoke on the campus of Amherst College in Massachusetts. 

When members of the college’s environmental...

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