Mainstream journos doing what journalists should do. There’s hope!
A REPORT warning of increasing heatwaves across western Sydney fails to account for wide variations in temperatures recorded in different parts of the city and over time.
The claim of increased temperatures in western Sydney is a central plank of the Climate Commission report, which also links temperature increases to a rise in human deaths and hospital admissions.
The report compared the number of days when temperatures exceeded 35C at two Bureau of Meteorology stations – one at Observatory Hill on Sydney Harbour and the other at Parramatta in the city’s west.
It finds: “The gap between coastal and western Sydney temperatures has widened, and the number of extreme hot days has increased in the west.”
Analysis by The Australian, however, shows the report fails to mention available data from other bureau sites across the city.
Our analysis shows that fewer extremely hot days were recorded over the past five years at both Observatory Hill and Parramatta than in the preceding five years of observation – or the five years before that.
The commission supports its argument about increased western Sydney temperatures using a graph indicating an increase in the number of days when the temperature reached more than 35C at Parramatta in the years since 1968, and particularly over the past 20 years. This is compared with data from Observatory Hill, which shows far fewer days hotter than 35C during that time and without the same rate of increase.
The report does not mention another weather station at Bankstown Airport, about 14km south of Parramatta, which recorded far fewer 35C-plus days than Parramatta over the past 20 years. The Bankstown station recorded 186 days where the temperature reached more than 35C during the 20-year period, compared with 239 such days at Parramatta.
Comparisons for the decades before 1992 are complicated by gaps in the available data. The Climate Commission report also makes no mention of another bureau station at Sydney Airport, which, like Observatory Hill, is near water, yet is apparently much hotter than the harbourside site.