When is the First Frost?

This year (2017) the first frost at Manilla came on the 11th of May, close to the middle date for it: the 13th of May. In just half of the years, the first frost comes between ANZAC Day (the 25th of April) and the 19th of May.

Graphical record of first frost dates
(See the notes below: “Observing Frosts in Manilla.”)

The date of first frost from year to year

The graph shows the dates of first frosts in the last nineteen years. One feature stands out: from a very early date of the 4th of April in 2008, the dates got later each year to a very late date of the 8th of June in 2014. Otherwise, the dates simply jumped around.

Graphical log of frostsThe date of first frost hardly relates at all to the number of frosts in a season. This graph, copied from an earlier post, shows how poorly they match. The earliest first frost, in 2008, was in a year with a normal number of frosts. In the least frosty year, 2013, the first frost did not come late.

The central date and the spread

To find the central value and the spread of a climate item like this calls for readings for a number of years called a “Normal Period”. (See note below on Climate Normals.) I chose the first eleven years of my readings (1999 to 2009) as my Normal Period. For this period I found these five order statistics:

Lowest (earliest) value: 4th April;
First Quartile value: 25th April (ANZAC Day);
Median (middle) value: 13th May;
Third Quartile value: 19th May;
Highest (latest) value: 24th May.

These five values divide the dates of first frost into four equal groups. For example, the first frost comes before ANZAC Day in one year out of four. This could confirm what Manilla gardeners know already!

Is the first frost getting later?

Talk of global warming leads us to expect the date of first frost to get later. By how much?
Dates on the graph after 2009 seem to be later in the season than during the Normal Period. As shown, a linear trend line fitted to the data points slopes steeply down towards later dates in later years. A curved trend line (a parabola) slopes down even more steeply. However, with so few data points, these trend lines are wild guesses, not to be relied on for forecasting future frosts.
Data for NSW from 1910 shows that daily minimum temperatures have been rising at 0.11° per decade.  (That is much faster than the rate for daily maximum temperatures, which is 0.07° per decade.) To work out how this might affect the date of first frost in Manilla, one needs to know that the daily minimum temperature in this season gets lower each day by 0.15°. One day of seasonal cooling will more than cover a decade of climate warming. The effect of global warming is to make the date of first frost only one day later in fourteen years. If the middle date of first frost was the 13th of May in the Normal Period, centred on 2004, the forecast middle date of first frost next year (2018) would be the 14th of May. This is shown by the flattest of the three trend lines on the graph.

Looking ahead, it seems unlikely that the date of first frost will get later by as much as a week within a lifetime.


Notes

1. Observing Frost in Manilla

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February Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for February

This post is the twelfth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for February

Extreme values of February anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (3) -4.2 deg: February 2008; -3.3 deg: February 2012; -3.3 deg: February 2013;
Daily Mean Temperature Anomalies (1) -3.3 deg: February 2008;
Rainfall Anomalies (1) +120 mm: February 2012;
Dew Point Anomalies (2) -4.6 deg: February 2014; -4.6 deg: February 2015.

Trend lines for February

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began slightly low and ended slightly low. They had a low peak about 2004, and a trough later. The trough was deepest and earliest for daily maximum temperature (2011), followed by daily mean temperature in 2012, daily minimum temperature in 2014, and subsoil temperature in 2015 or later.

Moisture indicators log for February

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January Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for January

This post is the eleventh in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for January

Extreme values of January anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (1) -3.7 deg: January 2012;
Rainfall Anomalies (5) -70 mm: January 2002; -75 mm: January 2003; +80 mm: January 2004; +94 mm: January 2006; -85 mm: January 2014;
Dew Point Anomalies (2) +3.1 deg: January 2006; -7.4 deg: January 2014.

Trend lines for January

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began low and ended slightly high, and had a low peak in 2003, -05, or -06, and a shallow trough about 2012.

Moisture indicators log for January

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December Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for December

This post is the tenth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for December

Extreme values of December anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (2) -3.6 deg:
December 2010; -4.7 deg: December 2011;
Rainfall Anomalies (1) +80 mm: December 2004;
Minus (Temperature Range Anomaly) (1) +3.7 deg: December
2010;
Dew Point Anomalies (1) -4.4 deg: December 2013.

Trend lines for December

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began low and ended high, and had a peak in 2003 or 2004 and a trough in 2010. The range from peak to trough was greatest for maximum anomalies and least for minimum and subsoil anomalies.

Moisture indicators log for December

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November Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for November

This post is the ninth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for November

Extreme values of November anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (4) +3.6 deg: November 2002; +5.5 deg: November 2009; +3.0 deg: November 2012; +5.0 deg: November 2014;
Daily Mean Temperature Anomalies (2) +4.6 deg: November 2009; +4.0 deg: November 2014;
Daily Minimum Temperature Anomalies (1) +3.8 deg: November 2009;
Rainfall Anomalies (4) +65 mm: November 2000; +66 mm: November 2001; +65 mm: November 2008: +176 mm!: November 2011;
Dew Point Anomalies (2) -5.4 deg: November 2013; -4.1 deg: November 2014;
Moisture Index (1) +3.3 deg: November 2011.

Trend lines for November

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began low and ended high. The trends for daily maximum and for subsoil had a peak in 2003 or 2004 and a trough in 2008 or 2010. The trend for daily mean was constant from 2004 to 2008, while the trend for daily minimum persistently rose, at a reducing rate.

Moisture indicators log for November

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October Climate Anomalies Log

Heat Indicators log for October months

This post is the eighth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

This series of posts gets more than its share of views. This is strange, as they contain little information. Comparing graphs for adjacent months shows widely different values and trends. In due course, I will compare all twelve months with each other. Perhaps that will yield interesting results, or perhaps not.

Raw anomaly values for October

Extreme values of October anomalies in this period were all in the “Moisture Indicators” group:

Cloudy days % anomalies (2) +31%: October 2010, 2011;
Dew Point Anomalies (5) +3.9°: October 1999, -3.9°: October 2002, -6.6°: October 2012, -7.8°: October 2013, -5.9°: October 2014.
Moisture Index (2) -3.1°: October 2012, -3.2°: October 2013.

Trend lines for October

Heat Indicators

The trend lines of daily maximum, mean and minimum temperature anomalies all had an early trough in 2001, a peak near 2006, and a trough near 2011. The daily minimum trend had the longer period and the larger amplitude. The subsoil temperature trend peaked early, in 2001, and had a very broad trough around 2009.

Moisture Indicators log for October months

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September Climate Anomalies Log

Heat Indicators log for September months

This post is the seventh in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for September

Extreme values of September anomalies in this period were all in the “Moisture Indicators” group:

Temperature range anomaly (minus) +3.6 deg: September 2010;
Cloudy days % anomaly +33%: September 2010;
Dew Point Anomalies (4) -3.8 deg: September 2011, -4.7 deg: September 2012, -4.9 deg: September 2013, -4.1 deg: September 2014.

Trend lines for September

Heat Indicators

The trend of daily maximum temperature anomalies was concave, with a minimum at 2007. The trend of mean temperature anomalies was similar, but less concave. The trend of minimum temperature anomaly was almost straight, but had a weak maximum in 2008 and ended low. The subsoil temperature anomaly trend was parallel to that of the daily maximum, but higher.

Moisture Indicators log for September months

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