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Preparing meteorological data for court cases
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  1. Preparing meteorological data for court cases Presented by Dr Harvey Stern Australian Bureau of Meteorology Thursday 19 October 6pm for 6.30pm start Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre, Forensic Drive, Macleod The Victorian Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS)

  2. Preparing Meteorological Data for Court Cases Harvey SternVictorian Regional Office Bureau of Meteorology Acknowledgements: Neal Moodie (metadata); John Cornall-Reilly; Tim Forster; Trish McBride; Chris Kelly.

  3. Presentation Definition Introduction Processing (Certified Extracts) Illustrative Examples METADATA applications Concluding remarks

  4. Definition Meteorology … is … used by forensic investigators, lawyers, and prosecutors to look for specific information to be used in court when climate conditions are of relevance in explaining an event … Meteorologists may be requested by courts or by companies to give information necessary for reconstructing ship or airplane accidents, or on wind chills affecting outdoor workers, or to present a detailed weather reconstruction for a given area on a particular day. Meteorologists are sometimes requested to explain events associated with air pollution and airborne spread of dangerous substances, or to clarify whether a given meteorological event is abnormal or expected in a certain region and period of the... "Meteorology." World of Forensic Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Thomson Gale, 2006. eNotes.com. 2006. 10 Oct, 2006 http://science.enotes.com/forensic-science/meteorology

  5. Introduction We usually receive requests for certified extracts {or data or statement or opinion} – we suggest certification in all cases, via: Mail. Telephone. Email. In all instances, the first step is to contact the person making the request in order to clarify exactly what is required. If no file reference and/or postal address has been provided by the client, it is necessary to obtain one from him/her. Certifiable Data Only data from the Bureau's official data bases may be certified.

  6. Expert Knowledge Sometimes, a client may desire an analysis to be carried out, or an opinion given about the data provided. In such circumstances, the results of such an analysis of the data and/or the opinion should appear in the covering letter. Analyses and/or opinion come under the area of "expert" knowledge. If given, they would likely result in the author of the analysis and/or opinion attending court as an expert witness and/or sign a witness statement. Signing Certified Extracts Certified extracts are usually signed by the Senior Meteorologist (Climate and Consultancy) (SMCC) "for Regional Director, Victoria". In the event that SMCC is unavailable for signing a certified extract, the Regional Director may sign such documents.

  7. Processing …

  8. EVIDENCE ACT 1995 No. 2 of 1995 – SECTION 155 CERTIFIED EXTRACT FROM THE OFFICIAL METEOROLOGICAL RECORDS OF THE COMMONWEALTH BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY Appendix 1 shows the official three hourly precipitation observations as recorded by the Bureau’s cooperative observer at Wonthaggi 86217 from 3am EST on Saturday 20th April 2002 to 9:00pm EST on Saturday 27th April 2002. Appendix 2 shows the official observations of precipitation for 24 hours ending 9am daily as recorded by the Bureau’s cooperative observer at Wonthaggi 86217 from Saturday 20th April 2002 to Saturday 27th April 2002. I, HARVEY STERN, meteorologist in charge of the Climate and Consultancy Section of the Victorian Regional Office of the Bureau of Meteorology, MELBOURNE, HEREBY CERTIFY that this document consisting of 3 pages is a true extract from the meteorological observations’ database, of which the said databases are one of the official meteorological records of the Commonwealth of Australia Australian Data Archive for Meteorology, AND I FURTHER CERTIFY that I am the Officer to whose custody the said records are entrusted. SIGNED by the said HARVEY STERN at Melbourne this 11th day of October 2006. (Harvey Stern) For Regional Director (Victoria) 11th October 2006 Ph: 9669 4949

  9. Process for Preparing Certified Extracts Request Received From a lawyer, Police, Court case, etc. Failed QC check Is it a CE? QC= Quality Control Completeness > 90%? Yes No Data available? AWS? No Yes Clarify by phone Search for sites Extract Data Check data QC flags Yes Pass QC • Price • What they need • What we can offer • Delivery date • Payment process Yes Was instrument in calibration? No Send to client Archive Get CE signed Get CE checked Produce CE document

  10. Processing (cont.) … Receive Request for Certified Extract Read Request details received by email, post or fax. What to look for? Postal address. Reference (File) number, or similar, from them. Check:  Date, time, location and description of event. Date due. Check:  If the request for a Certified was posted, ensure there is not a faxed copy already being processed here.  (Saves doubling up)

  11. Processing (cont.) … Ring customer by phone to clarify details Obtain any details missing from above. Confirm Court date (for deadline), cost & method of payment. Advise what we can supply (data elements & resolution). Be aware of limitations of what can be certified or not. Confirm that the weekday for the date supplied is correct.  (Just in case the customer has made a mistake with their request date) Why do they need weather data?  (Help you supply the appropriate data for their purposes – establish units required) Advise statement is prepared as per the FEDERAL Evidence Act 1995, No2 of 1995, Section 155.

  12. Processing (cont.) … Develop a data presentation plan (maybe in association with other Sections – e.g Hydro). Sometimes, a client may desire an analysis to be carried out, or an opinion given about the data provided. In such circumstances, the results of such an analysis of the data and/or the opinion should appear in the covering letter. Analyses and/or opinion come under the area of "expert" knowledge. If given, they would likely result in the author of the analysis and/or opinion attending court as an expert witness and/or sign a witness statement.

  13. Processing (cont.) … Search for sites using TCZ Sitefinder: The Aim is to provide: Nearest or most representative station with required element. Only data from the Bureau's official data bases may be certified. Data from other authorities {Government astronomer, EPA, Melbourne Water}: Could be included on an attachment (suggest client contact other authority for certification).

  14. Processing (cont.) … Only select sites that meet the following criteria: Check: Is data >90% complete. Check: Low instances of accumulated values. Check: Has been quality controlled and doesn't have, wrong or low quality values, eg. High/Low values, spikes or missing data. Check: If site is an AWS, check the calibration history from Sitedb.

  15. Processing (cont.) … Extract Data from EVE, TCZ or AIFS: Consider the following special circumstances: "Derived" data or "Forecasts/warnings" should be presented as "Attachments". Consider providing a short period each side of requested period; e.g. an hour each side of requested period of time, or an issue of forecast each side of what is requested. Format Data Check: Clearly understood labelling of weather variables.  Station Number of data supplied is indicated. Check:Use local times and include days of the week.

  16. Processing (cont.) … Forecasts Locate required forecast from web archive. Copy text of required forecast from webpage, which becomes an Attachment. Producing the CE documents CE computer files are saved. Select next available file number from certifieds’ directory and save . Name the file with that file number and include the client's name for ease of reference etc.

  17. Processing (cont.) … Covering Letter should include synopsis of: Stations supplied, e.g. Melbourne Airport 86282 Why the site(s) were chosen. i.e. Distance of 4km from requested location, etc. (keep all distances to rounded km, we cannot be more precise with our search facility) Reason a site was not used.  e.g. Site 86071 was not chosen because it did not meet quality checks, calibration checks, or wind is not representative of the area, etc.

  18. Processing (cont.) … Date supplied Check: Include in covering letter descriptions of included data and how observed or obtained,  And explanations of Meteorological terminology. Add in extra paragraphs for any additional data sources supplied (ie. forecasts, maps, etc).  Label them as Attachments.

  19. Processing (cont.) … Actual Certified Letter Copy paragraph from covering Letter, explaining data supplied, into 1st paragraph of certificate and also paste into Appendix 1 on the following page. Copy the data from the prepared Excel file and paste below the paragraph for Appendix 1.  (A table of data will appear on the page) Highlight the table.

  20. Processing (cont.) … For long tables, you may need to re-format the table of data in Excel to include headings at the appropriate intervals. Change dates of preparation below signature area. Record Keeping Original sent to client. CCS CE folder: Copy of full document and include the  original request and any other  data or  info used in preparation, for our records. Cost: Standard Certified $110, but higher for complex requests and urgent requests.

  21. Processing (cont.) … Check Certified Extract (CE) Someone other than the person who prepared the document should sign "Checked by". Check: Continuity of observations, correct conflicting data, inappropriate data supplied for requested purposes, typographical errors, dates, etc. Sign CE Certified extracts are usually signed by the Senior Meteorologist (Climate and Consultancy) "for Regional Director, Victoria". Send CE By Normal Post, if not urgent (may be faxed prior). By email as pdf, if urgent (post original) – note urgency fee. By courier if necessary.

  22. Illustrative Examples Observations (manual or automated) Sea State, Swell (water police) Special clothing Children / pets in cars on hot days (or) left in exposed situation in cold weather RSPCA Fires (sparks from a train?) Fire ban days (arson/carelessness) Trees falling on campers (wind speed)

  23. Illustrative Examples (cont.) Strategy to “put off” the other party, when they hear Bureau will attend Dew (observations) Slipping (3rd party Insurance Claims) Pong Su Expert witness statements Fixing time of death Witness vs weather conditions (credibility)

  24. Illustrative Examples (cont.) Car accidents Cloud types Weather phenomena e.g fog, frost, (black) frost Completeness of record Data sparse regions Forecasts Validating witness/suspect statements

  25. Illustrative Examples (cont.) Linton fires Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Sydney hailstorm Observations via electronic measure Snowboarders (lost in snow) – rain vs snow (AWS) Thredbo – landslide (prepared data and then outside consultants were involved)

  26. METADATA Application

  27. METADATA Application (cont.) … Site Surroundings Metadata may explain inconsistencies in the data Ulladulla in 2001

  28. METADATA Application (cont.) … Where did those bushes go? Ulladulla in 2002

  29. METADATA Application (cont.) …

  30. METADATA Application (cont.) … Instrument Metadata may explain inhomogeneties in data

  31. METADATA Application (cont.) …

  32. METADATA Application (cont.) … Basic Level Metadata for rainfall instrument

  33. METADATA Application (cont.) … Medium Level Metadata for rainfall instrument

  34. METADATA Application (cont.) …

  35. Concluding Remarks • We undertake many checks and balances; and, • We are thorough with our data-quality assessment. Contact by email: climate.vic@bom.gov.au Contact by phone: 96694956

  36. THANK YOU Any Questions?