Poorly sited U.S. temperature instruments not responsible for artificial warming

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:57 PM GMT on January 25, 2010

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Former TV weatherman Anthony Watts, who runs the popular global warming contrarian website, "Watts Up With That", was convinced that many of the U.S. network of surface weather stations had serious flaws in their siting that was causing an artificial warm bias in the observed increase in U.S. temperatures of 1.1°F over the past century. To address this concern, Watts established the website surfacestations.org in 2007, which enlisted an army of volunteers to travel the U.S. to obtain photographic evidence of poor siting of weather stations. The goal was to document cases where "microclimate" influence was important, and could be contaminating temperature measurements. (Note that this is a separate issue from the Urban Heat Island, the phenomenon where a metropolitan area in general is warmer than surrounding rural areas). Watts' volunteers--650 strong--documented the siting of 865 of the 1,218 stations used in the National Climatic Data Center's U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) for tracking climate change. As reported in Watt's 2009 publication put out by the Heartland Institute, the volunteers "found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat." Watts surmised that these poorly-sited stations were responsible for much of the increase in U.S. temperatures over the past century, due to "a bias trend that likely results from the thermometers being closer to buildings, asphalt, etc." Watts concluded, "the U.S. temperature record is unreliable. And since the U.S. record is thought to be the best in the world, it follows that the global database is likely similarly compromised and unreliable".


Figure 1. A poorly sited temperature sensor in Marysville, California, used for the USHCN. The sensor is situation right next to an asphalt parking lot, instead in the middle of a grassy field, as it is supposed to be. The sensor is also adjacent to several several air conditioners that blow their exhaust into the air nearby. Image credit: surfacestation.org.

Analysis of the data disagrees with Watts' conclusion
While Watts' publication by the Heartland Institute is a valuable source of information on siting problems of the U.S. network of weather stations, the publication did not undergo peer-review--the process whereby three anonymous scientists who are experts in the field review a manuscript submitted for publication, and offer criticisms on the scientific validity of the results, resulting in revisions to the original paper or outright rejection. The Heartland Institute is an advocacy organization that accepts money from corporate benefactors such as the tobacco industry and fossil fuel industry, and publishes non-peer reviewed science that inevitably supports the interests of the groups paying for the studies. Watts did not actually analyze the data to see if taking out the poorly sited surface stations would have a significant impact on the observed 1.1°F increase in U.S. temperatures over the past century. His study would never have been publishable in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.


Figure 2. Annual average maximum and minimum unadjusted temperature change calculated using (c) maximum and (d) minimum temperatures from good and poor exposure sites (Menne 2010). Poor sites showed a cooler maximum temperature compared to good sites. For minimum temperature, the poor sites were slightly warmer. The net effect was a cool bias in poorly sited stations. The dashed lines are for stations ranked by NOAA, while the solid lines are for the stations ranked by surfacestations.org.

Fortunately, a proper analysis of the impact of these poorly-sited surface stations on the U.S. historical temperature record has now been done by Dr. Matthew Menne and co-authors at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). In a talk at last week's 90th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, Dr. Menne reported the results of their new paper just accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research titled, On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record. Dr. Menne's study split the U.S. surface stations into two categories: good (rating 1 or 2) and bad (ratings 3, 4 or 5). They performed the analysis using both the rating provided by surfacestations.org, and from an independent rating provided by NOAA personnel. In general, the NOAA-provided ratings coincided with the ratings given by surfacestations.org. Of the NOAA-rated stations, only 71 stations fell into the "good" siting category, while 454 fell into the "bad" category. According to the authors, though, "the sites with good exposure, though small in number, are reasonably well distributed across the country and, as shown by Vose and Menne [2004], are of sufficient density to obtain a robust estimate of the CONUS average". Dr. Menne's study computed the average daily minimum and maximum temperatures from the good sites and poor sites. The results were surprising. While the poor sites had a slightly warmer average minimum temperature than the good sites (by 0.03°C), the average maximum temperature measured at the poor sites was significantly cooler (by 0.14°C) than the good sites. As a result, overall average temperatures measured at the poor sites were cooler than the good sites. This is the opposite of the conclusion reached by Anthony Watts in his 2009 Heartland Institute publication.

Why did the poorly sited stations measure cooler temperatures?
The reason why the poorly-sites stations measured cooler temperatures lies in the predominant types of thermometers used at the two types of sites. An electronic Maximum/Minimum Temperature System (MMTS) is used at 75% of the poor sites. These MMTS sensors are attached by cable to an indoor readout device, and are consequently limited by cable length as to how far they can be sited from the building housing the indoor readout device. As a result, they are often located close to heated buildings, paved surfaces, air conditioner exhausts, etc. It turns out that these MMTS thermometers have a flaw that causes them to measure minimum temperatures that are slightly too warm, and maximum temperatures that are considerably too cool, leading to an overall cool bias in measured average temperatures. In contrast, only 30% of the "good" sites used the MMTS sensors. The "good" sites predominantly used Liquid in Glass (LiG) thermometers housed in wooden shelters that were more easily located further from the buildings where the observers worked. Since the poorly-sites stations were dominantly equipped with MMTS thermometers, they tended to measure temperatures that were too cool, despite their poor siting.


Figure 3. Comparison of U.S. average annual (a) maximum and (b) minimum temperatures calculated using USHCN version 2 temperatures. Temperatures were adjusted to correct for changes in instrumentation, station relocations, and changes in the time of observation, making the trend from good sites show close agreement with poor sites. Good and poor site ratings are based on surfacestations.org. For comparison, the data between 2004 - 2008 taken by the new high-quality U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN, black dashed line) is shown, and displays excellent agreement for that time period. Image credit: Menne 2010.

Independent verification of recent USHCN annual temperatures
Clearly, the siting of many of the surface stations used to track climate change in the U.S. is not good. To address this issue, in 2004 NOAA created the U.S. Climate Reference Network, a collection of 114 stations in the continental United States for the express purpose of detecting the national signal of climate change. The stations were sited and instrumented with climate studies in mind, and can provide an extremely high-quality independent check on the old USHCN network. Each of 114 stations at 107 locations (some stations were installed as nearby pairs) is equipped with very accurate instruments in a triplicate configuration so that each measurement can be checked for internal consistency. As shown in Figure 3, the USCRN air temperature departures for 2004 - 2008 are extremely well aligned with those derived from the USHCN version 2 temperature data. For these five years, the the difference between the mean annual temperatures measured by the old USHCN compared to the new USCRN was just 0.03°C, with a mathematical correlation coefficient (r-squared) of 0.997. Menne et al. concluded, "This finding provides independent verification that the USHCN version 2 data are consistent with research-quality measurements taken at pristine locations and do not contain spurious trends during the recent past even if sampled exclusively at poorly sited stations. While admittedly this period of coincident observations between the networks is rather brief, the value of the USCRN as a benchmark for reducing the uncertainty of historic observations from the USHCN and other networks will only increase with time". The authors finally concluded, "we find no evidence that the CONUS temperature trends are inflated due to poor siting".

Crediting Anthony Watts
The surfacestations.org effort coordinated by Anthony Watts has made a valuable contribution to science, helping us better understand the nature of the errors in the U.S. historical temperature data set. In his talk last week at the AMS conference, and in the credits of his paper, Dr. Menne had some genuinely grateful comments on the efforts of Anthony Watts and the volunteers of surfacestations.org. However, as of this writing, Watts has made no mention on surfacestations.org or on wattsupwiththat.com of Dr. Menne's study.

I'll have a new post Wednesday or Thursday.

Jeff Masters

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Big discovery for biogenic magnetite
Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

One of the most significant characteristics of the Anthropocene (the present age of geologic time) is the rate at which humans are perturbing the global carbon cycle. The potency of carbon dioxide and methane as greenhouse gases and their effects on Earth's temperature balance is well established (1), and the myriad of climate and ecological changes and feedbacks in response to this abrupt warming is the focus of much ongoing research (1, 2). The geologic record is one of our greatest assets in understanding the short- and long-term environmental responses to extreme fluctuations in the carbon cycle, and the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which occurred ≈55 million years ago, is an ideal analogue for the Anthropocene. The PETM is marked by an abrupt negative carbon isotope excursion that indicates a massive injection of light carbon into the oceans and atmosphere over a period of a few thousand years. This perturbation to the carbon cycle resulted in supergreenhouse conditions that persisted for as long as 180,000 years. Mean annual temperatures and deep and surface ocean temperatures at all latitudes rose by 5–8°C (3). Terrestrial plants and mammals diversified and radiated, and new marine microorganisms evolved and flourished while others disappeared forever. In this issue of PNAS, Schumann et al. (4) report evidence for new microorganisms that appeared and disappeared with the PETM, signaling another specific ecological response to the biogeochemical changes associated with this extreme warming event.
http://www.pnas.org/content/105/46/17595.full
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Mother nature might yet have the last laugh. One supervolcano mega-eruption, and both global warming and overpopulation go bye bye. We have become pretty arrogant as a species. I do think we are impacting global temps through our emissions, but I also believe nature reigns supreme. If we keep pushing the envelope of our species' biosustainability, mass die off or extinction is the likely outcome -- any study of biological history shows this to be true. Of course, too many of us make our living/fortune on cheating the planet and each other, so I don't anticipate we'll change until we reach a crisis point. Hate to be cynical, but I see it getting worse before it gets better. On a related note, anybody been watching this earthquake swarm in Yellowstone that is now approaching 1,300 tremors this week????
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
I disagree by the means of reason and rationality.

Scientific opinion on climate change is given by synthesis reports, scientific bodies of national or international standing, and surveys of opinion among climate scientists. This does not include the views of individual scientists, individual universities, or laboratories, nor self-selected lists of individuals such as petitions.

National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 that states:

An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.

Since 2007, no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion. Some organisations hold non-committal positions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus_on_climate_change

You downplaying the risc of catastrophic climate changes, which we already see. There is not a single scientific - peer reviewed study which would support your "ideas".


Just want to ask everyone a question here. I see that quite a few people cite Wikipedia as a source. Why do people cite such a source? Its probably the worst possible source anyone can use since Wikipedia can be manipulated so easily and really isn't truly objective. Most college professors would deduct letter grade(s) from research papers for using Wikipedia as a source.
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OK Folks,

I am a glutton for punishment. Made one post (my one and only until this one) in reference to GW with a date error and got flamed. But since I obviously have no sense, I am going to try again.

GW and GC have been going on since the beginning of the earth and will continue with or without Man's influence.

Does Man's existence influence the changes? Without a doubt!!!

Is man's influence, to date, significant to the changes to GW/GC? I doubt it!!!

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320 sorry again I thought you were talking about like in the last 120 years! lol.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
I disagree by the means of reason and rationality.

Scientific opinion on climate change is given by synthesis reports, scientific bodies of national or international standing, and surveys of opinion among climate scientists. This does not include the views of individual scientists, individual universities, or laboratories, nor self-selected lists of individuals such as petitions.

National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 that states:

An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.

Since 2007, no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion. Some organisations hold non-committal positions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus_on_climate_change

You downplaying the risc of catastrophic climate changes, which we already see. There is not a single scientific - peer reviewed study which would support your "ideas".
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Even though I really hate getting involved in global warming related discussions, I have to make a few comments since it has become such an immense issue in the field that I still intend on becoming a member in.

Let me begin by saying that everyone is entitled to their opinion and nobody should judge others based upon their opinions. Thats why they're called opinions. Both sides have legitimate evidence to support their positions and it will continue to be such. I hate to break it to everyone, but there will likely never be a day where we have everyone agree on the issue.

In addition, with all the special interests and various scientists and statisticians involved in this issue, nobody will ever know the truth about the real happenings in climate change. No matter what, statistics are always manipulated in various methods such as altering sample size or fixing scales. It happens in elections and it happens with scientific data.

All in all, we need to remember that the Earth has been through far worse periods than this and for all the panic and division this has created, its getting ridiculous now. People need to calm down and think rationally.


Actually with regards to rate of change that is incorrect cchs. Also with regards to population.

There is accurate modeling of Greenhouse gasses. We know CO2 has increased. We know it causes warming (earth would not have sustained life were it not for greenhouse warming). We know the amount of warming and the percentage of the man made contribution - Sinks and sources are being thoroughly resolved now - so I dont see why opinion is necessary.
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Even though I really hate getting involved in global warming related discussions, I have to make a few comments since it has become such an immense issue in the field that I still intend on becoming a member in.

Let me begin by saying that everyone is entitled to their opinion and nobody should judge others based upon their opinions. Thats why they're called opinions. Both sides have legitimate evidence to support their positions and it will continue to be such. I hate to break it to everyone, but there will likely never be a day where we have everyone agree on the issue.

In addition, with all the special interests and various scientists and statisticians involved in this issue, nobody will ever know the truth about the real happenings in climate change. No matter what, statistics are always manipulated in various methods such as altering sample size or fixing scales. It happens in elections and it happens with scientific data.

All in all, we need to remember that the Earth has been through far worse periods than this and for all the panic and division this has created, its getting ridiculous now. People need to calm down and think rationally.
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Oh you guys mean now! I was talking about generation of the historical set (last century) ! lol - of course there are accurate measurements now - and the proven ability to infer accurate readings.

Good lord are you kidding?
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Quoting jpritch:
Thanks for the info. In regrads to street lights, this seems promising (and quiet cool) LED Street Lights
http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/414/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_street_light
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Do they contain more mercury than the old bulbs?
Are they mandated?
Will the majority of consumers dispose of them properly?
Will a portion of that Mercury end up in a Tuna?


Yes, they contain more mercury, but it is a very small amount. A coal-fired power plant emits more than four times the mercury in a CFL to compensate for the extra power used in an equivalent incandescent bulb. Moreover, that mercury is emitted directly into the air, and then deposited on land and washed into the oceans. Properly disposed of bulbs emit none.

No, CFLs are not mandated yet in most of the world, including almost all parts of the US. Where mandates are being phased in, there are also corresponding takeback programs and refunds like those for bottles and cans in the works.

Because the mercury in bulbs is not spewed into the atmosphere even when they are thrown into the trash instead of being returned for recapture, it is unlikely that any significant quantity of mercury from CFLs relative to what is generated by coal and waste incineration will ever end up in tuna.

Even so, we need to continue funding research and development of even more efficient, environmentally friendly forms of lighting. Fiber optic solar is a great option for many buildings for daytime, for example, especially combined with use of natural daylight from windows and skylights that properly designed and situated for the climate.
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a lot of good that would do on a surface temp map:

Altiplano Region has the highest elevation in all of Bolivia and is in Andean Mountain range.


Yea, really good place to get accurate surface temps. And NO it wouldn't be the same anomaly reading. It doesn't work that way.
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2009 saw a return to near-record global temperatures. The past year was only a fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest year on record, and tied with a cluster of other years -- 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 -- as the second warmest year since recordkeeping began.


Thats a rather stunning statement. - that is not going to come without a price.
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Quoting jpritch:
Please all I ask is to stop confiscating wealth to chase a natural phenomenon, all the while mandating Mercury laden bulbs that produce toxic Tuna.

You could at least TRY to be factual. Mercury in the oceans comes overwhelmingly from burning coal. CLF bulbs aren't even a tiny blip contributing to it.


Very true I just wished more people would care about environmental degradation as they do global warming, at least there is no bickering on that.
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Quoting spathy:
SSI
That map is an anomaly map.


How can you have an anomaly if you remove stations and still take averages?

That not an anomaly.

Thats skewed data.


Really you trust a political piece over NASA to disclose that. If so why?

Where is the scientific study?

Statistical study is a lot more complicated than that. You need to be just as astute in your posts as you expect of others on this subject.
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Quoting WaterWitch11:


i believe he was talking of the ones to come
this is most recent still image

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Please all I ask is to stop confiscating wealth to chase a natural phenomenon, all the while mandating Mercury laden bulbs that produce toxic Tuna.

You could at least TRY to be factual. Mercury in the oceans comes overwhelmingly from burning coal. CLF bulbs aren't even a tiny blip contributing to it.
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I just could not resist the chunky light part :)

293. spathy 10:40 PM EST on January 25, 2010
Please all I ask is to stop confiscating wealth to chase a natural phenomenon, all the while mandating Mercury laden bulbs that produce toxic Tuna.

LoL, please forgive me :)


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January 21, 2010, 4:19 pm
NASA Announces Designs for Personal Flying Suit
By DAN SALTZSLinkTEIN

A conceptional rendering of the Puffin personal flying suit.NASA/Analytical Mechanics Associates A conceptional rendering of the Puffin personal flying suit.


Forget the Segway. Leave that jet pack behind. NASA is working on a personal flying suit.

Conceptual designs for the experimental vehicle, called Puffin, were introduced by Mark D. Moore, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, at a meeting of the American Helicopter Society on Jan. 20 in San Francisco. The Puffin is designed to be 12 feet in length, with a total wingspan of 14 and a half feet; it would weigh in at 300 pounds (without a pilot).

Two major elements distinguish the Puffin suit from the jet packs of ’50s-era sci-fi flicks. First, it is completely self-contained: the pilot would actually step into the suit, which has a cockpit-like area and helicopter-style blades, allowing for high-altitude flying (unlike those sci-fi jet packs).
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
267. Not trying to be mean or sarcastic in any way. Was the first part of that post a rhetorical question?
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_soil_shift_evacuation

Homes evacuated in San Antonio as hill crumbles
By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 5 mins ago

SAN ANTONIO – Construction crews moved dirt to shore up a group of houses precariously perched on a crumbling hill in San Antonio on Monday as engineers tried to determine why the land below was shifting, causing dozens of homes to evacuate.

Gaping crevices, some 15 feet deep, cut across several yards as dirt cascaded into a towering stone retaining wall that nearly split in half. Fences crumpled like accordions as crews packed dirt under one home and around its exterior after part of its foundation was exposed.

One soil expert said the cause of the landslide appeared to be the result of poor retaining wall design, and a city official said the nearly 1,000-foot-long wall in the upper-middle class neighborhood of sprawling two-story homes was built without a permit.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
The problem with that 'Bolivian Hole' statement is that it is completely false. There are 36 first order temperature measuring sites in Bolivia which have been measuring continuously through the period from 1990 to today, as can be seen here: Link

Just another case of a global warming denier making stuff up.


Are they in the models? L8R


Edit=286 - a bit of elaboration would help :)
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Which actually agrees with Glacial melt and Biological information.

We are in for a rough ride.
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This map, produced by scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, shows the 10-year average (2000-2009) temperature anomaly relative to the 1951-1980 mean. The largest temperature increases are in the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula. Image Credit: NASA/GISS
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Quoting Ossqss:
282 - the question was -- Is it wrong?

Yes.
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282 - the question was -- Is it wrong?
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Quoting Ossqss:
We shall see KOG, the space weather site seems to think is getting quiet :)

QUIET SUNSPOTS: There are two sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the sun today, AR1041 and AR1042, but neither one is threatening to produce strong solar flares. Here is what a "quiet" sunspot looks like:



http://spaceweather.com/


i believe he was talking of the ones to come
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1707
Quoting Ossqss:

Is this video wrong? I sincerely want to know..







In the fall of 2007, he described the current concern over global warming "a fictional, manufactured crisis, and a total scam." [3]. In 2008, Coleman gave a speech of the same tone, before the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, blaming the "global warming scam" and environmentalist lobby, for rising gas and food prices. He also declared the scam "a threat to our economy and our civilization." [4]

Coleman has also made appearances on Fox News Channel and on the Showtime program, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, to share his global warming views. Coleman recently published an article entitled "The Amazing Story Behind the Global Warming Scam"[5] in which he promotes the idea that many scientists and politicians have been embroiled in fraudulent activity based on incomplete science and a political motive for a world government. Coleman says the genesis of the global warming movement was the claims of scientist Roger Revelle, an early mentor of Al Gore.

In January, 2010, Coleman produced a special report for KUSI-TV, entitled Global Warming: The Other Side, in which he forwards his view on Global Warming as a scam -- and lays out what he believes to be evidence of a deliberate manipulation of world temperature data by NASA and others.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Coleman_%28news_weathercaster%29

Make your choice, belive a weathercaster and a random programmer or the work and data of scientist and their consensus of climate change. Sure thing it seems not easy decision for everyone.
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We shall see KOG, the space weather site seems to think is getting quiet :)

QUIET SUNSPOTS: There are two sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the sun today, AR1041 and AR1042, but neither one is threatening to produce strong solar flares. Here is what a "quiet" sunspot looks like:



http://spaceweather.com/

But then again, when do they write the update. LoL

Coronal Holes look impressive.

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Just a note regarding Al Gore's electric bill...

What the Gore bashers conveniently neglect to mention is that 100% of the electricity the Gores purchase is generated from renewable sources - wind, solar, etc. In addition, those high bills oft quoted include power used during the construction process that converted the mansion to an efficient, LEED certified building.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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