Update-ABC response below
ABC environmental reporter Sarah Clark interviews a senior BOM climatologist at the weather bureau's National Climate Centre as part of a scary weather story titled “2010 on track to be hottest year” and ends up promulgating a few half truths. We provide the missing half below.
Half truth: “We actually got into the low 50s for parts of the Middle East and Pakistan a couple of weeks back”
Truth: Parts of the Middle East and Pakistan record temperatures into the low 50’s pretty much every year.
Half truth: Beijing the other day just fell short of 41.
Truth: The recorded temperature was 40.3 (104.5F). http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/photo/2010-07/05/content_10067517.htm. Note that this "record" is based on Beijing’s official temperature records commencing in 1951.
The Melbourne Argus reports on earlier heatwaves to affect Beijing (then known as Peking) in the following manner:
HEAT IN CHINA.
MANY DEATHS REPORTED.
LONDON, Aug. 15. (1909)
Intense heat is being experienced in Peking, the capital of China, Tientsin, and other places.
In Peking the thermometer has registered 115deg. in the shade. Many deaths have been reported.
Intense Heat in Peking
PEKING, July 26 (1927).
Peking is sweltering in the fiercest heatwave for many years, the temperature reaching a maximum of 114 deg. Hundreds of native Chinese are succumbing.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 25 July 1900 also offers “some interesting details”:
PEKING AND ITS CLIMATE.
THE TWO EXTREMES.
INTERVIEW WITH A FORMER RESIDENT.
SOME INTERESTING DETAILS.
Mr W. H. Davis, R. N. , the naval inspector of machinery at Garden Island, is one of the very few residents of Sydney who have been in Piking the Chinese capital, and perhaps no one in the colony has travelled over so much of Northern China and Siberia as this gentleman has. He was altogether four years in China on her Majesty's business, during which time he resided for 12 months in Peking and neighbourhood. He travelled up through Manchauria passing over the Great Wall and beyond the Russian frontier into Siberia; and on other occasions he visited the interior and southern provinces of the Flowery Land
On being seen by a " Herald " reporter last evening, Mr Davis said - ' Those of your readers who regard Peking us a fairly central city of China and I think that is the general impression-will not be surprised to learn that during July and August the temperature ranges between 105 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and stays there night and day. Even when a slight fall comes with the night in the capital, in Tientain, and the level plain between the two cities swelter in the heat of a moist noonday. My personal experience was of a temperature of 112, unvarying night and day for seven weeks. (http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/14326386)
115 deg F would be 46.1C. Seems official records have a while to catch up with historical records.
Half truth: We're seeing 40s right up and down the US eastern seaboard.
Note 40 C is 104 F
Truth: Perhaps 40 at just one location!
America sizzles as heat wave hits East Coast Hindustan Times 7 July
America is sizzling with temperatures breaking records in atleast four cities as the season's first heat wave swept across much of the East Coast reminding Indians of summer back home. New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island, broke records on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
In New York's Central Park, it was 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.44 C) at 4.45 p.m., topping the previous high of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.33 C) in 1999. Baltimore Washington International Airport hit a sizzling 105 (40.55 C)degrees.
Temperatures topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.77 C) in many other places, with the weatherman warning of the heat wave continuing through Wednesday night for most of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, as well as south-western Michigan and eastern Kentucky.
Power cuts in Connecticut, rail service disruptions in Washington and warnings to conserve electricity in New York City marked the second day of the Northeast heat wave.
In the national capital of Washington, temperatures crossed into triple digits by noon on Tuesday reaching 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.33 C) at Reagan National Airport.
The sizzling weather has fallen a few degrees short of all-time record highs in the capital region. The temperature has crossed the 100-degree mark (37.77 C) six times in the last decade. The record for Tuesday was set in 1999, according to AccuWeather: a crispy 103 (39.44 C) degrees Fahrenheit.
Blistering Heat Wave Settles Over East Coast NPR 6 July.
The heat is on. Sweltering weather gripped the U.S. from coast to coast over the holiday weekend, leaving residents in the Northeast bracing for triple-digit temperatures expected to last several days and strain utility grids.
The mercury could reach as high as 102 degrees in parts of the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, meteorologists said.
NYC Temperatures Falling Short of 90, Streak May End. Bloomberg 8 July
New York broke daily temperature records and reached above 100 degrees for two days in a row for the first time since 1999. Central Park posted 100 degrees yesterday and 103 the day before, the peak of the heat wave.
Half Truth: We have seen an increase in heatwaves in Australia in the last 30 to 50 years
Truth: And what about the 30-50 years prior?
EXCESSIVE HEAT. The Brisbane Courier... Friday 11 February 1887
HEAT WAVES IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT. The Sydney Morning Herald... Wednesday 29 January 1896
SUNSTROKE AT GUNDAGAI. The Sydney Morning Herald... Tuesday 2 February 1897
THE HEAT WAVE. The Sydney Morning Herald... Thursday 30 December 1897
EXCESSIVE HEAT IN MELBOURNE. The Brisbane Courier... Wednesday 12 January 1898
GREAT HEAT IN ADELAIDE. The Argus Friday 1 March 1901
A HEAT-WAVE IN QUEENSLAND. The West Australian (Perth,... Monday 5 January 1903
THE WEATHER. SEVERE HEAT AND GREAT STORMS INLAND. The Sydney Morning Herald... Saturday 12 December 1903
THE EASTERN HEAT WAVE. The West Australian (Perth,... Monday 2 January 1905
THE HEAT-WAVE REACHES QUEENSLAND. The West Australian (Perth,... Wednesday 4 January 1905
THE WEATHER IN VICTORIA. ANOTHER HEAT-WAVE The West Australian (Perth,... Tuesday 10 January 1905
THE VICTORIAN HEAT-WAVE. FURTHER EXTRAORDINARY TEMPERATURES. Melbourne, January 11. The West Australian (Perth,... Thursday 12 January 1905
HEAT-WAVE IN VICTORIA. SOME EXTRAORDINARY RECORDS. Melbourne, January 16. The West Australian (Perth,... Friday 17 January 1908
THE HEAT WAVE. 106.7deg. IN THE CITY. CONTINUANCE PROBABLE.
The Argus (Melbourne,... Wednesday 18 February 1914
HEAT WAVE. SWELTERING DAY IN SYDNEY. TEMPERATURE, 104.6.
The Sydney Morning Herald... Wednesday 27 January 1915
HEAT WAVE IN NEW SOUTH WALES. MAXIMUM SHADE TEMPERATURE, 107 DEGREES. SYDNEY, December 20.
The Mercury (Hobart,... Friday 22 December 1916
SATURDAY'S HEAT. Bushfires in Suburbs. MANY COLLAPSES. Beaches Crowded.
The Sydney Morning Herald... Monday 24 February 1930
ADELAIDE HEATWAVE Northern Territory Times... Friday 22 January 1932
Heatwave The Sydney Morning Herald... Saturday 29 December 1945
Four Dead, In Vic. Heatwave The Sydney Morning Herald... Monday 31 January 1949
HOW SYDNEY COUNTERED HEATWAVE The Sydney Morning Herald... Tuesday 18 December 1945
Another heatwave on way The Argus (Melbourne,... Monday 16 January 1950
HEATWAVE ACROSS THE STATE The Sydney Morning Herald... Friday 16 November 1951
HEATWAVE AT END BUREAU SAYS The Sydney Morning Herald... Saturday 26 January 1952
TITLE TENNIS IN HEATWAVE The Sydney Morning Herald... Tuesday 13 January 1953
DRESSED FOR THE HEATWAVE The Sydney Morning Herald... Thursday 28 January 1954
Gratifyingly the ABC story ends with a statement we can agree on "It's a pretty complex story out there; lots of extremes in the weather."We whole heartedly agree, there always has been and always will be.
Here's ABC's response received 1/9/2010
Thank you for your email of 10 July regarding the ABC News Online story “2010 on track to be hottest year”.
Your concerns of inaccuracy have been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit separate to and independent from ABC program areas.
With regard to your concerns about the accuracy of statements made by Dr David Jones, a senior climatologist at the weather bureau's National Climate Centre, the ABC does not consider opinions or the views of a specialist commentator to constitute factual content; therefore, it is not subject to the accuracy provisions outlined in the ABC’s Editorial Policies. However, while there is no obligation to fact check opinion, it is expected that the specialist commentator or expert is properly qualified to speak to the subject at hand, and that their views are clearly attributed.
On review, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that Dr Jones is appropriately credentialed to comment on temperature trends, and that the views he expressed were properly attributed. While noting the points you make, we are satisfied that there was sufficient context in the story, and that it is in keeping with the ABC’s standards for accuracy.
Nonetheless, your comments are noted. The ABC’s Editorial Policies are available online at: http://www.abc.net.au/corp/
Audience and Consumer Affairs