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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Quoting atmoaggie:
I think my PC is going crazy. A lot of strange clicking noises...

Maybe you got hacked?

Oil companies hit by 'state' cyber attacks

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/25/oil_companies_attacked/

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Quoting Floodman:


A penny in the fan?

LOL.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
I think my PC is going crazy. A lot of strange clicking noises...


A penny in the fan?
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Everytime I come on the blog it seems as JFLORIDA is always attacking somebody. People are allowed to have there on opinion.

There is having an opinion and trying to shove that opinion down someone that doesn't agrees throat.

Goodnight
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Quoting presslord:
I took archery as a PE @ UGA...that was pretty cool...

I took racquetball. Learned a lot in there about physics...
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Quoting presslord:
I took archery as a PE @ UGA...that was pretty cool...


need some practice? :P

got some kids down the hall who like to be obnoxious at 4 in the morning Lol
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
Quoting Jeff9641:


Everytime I come on the blog it seems as JFLORIDA is always attacking somebody. People are allowed to have there on opinion.


but if your opinion isn't my opinion then you're wrong ;) jk lol
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
I took archery as a PE @ UGA...that was pretty cool...
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Quoting GodisinControl:
i never post on blog but i say to much bickering is happening on a bogus subject

Us inteligence, God, ehm the vatican, Scientist and the majority of the people have identified climate change as a threat.

Pope Benedict: environmental crisis requires review of world's economic model

the Pope asks: "Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of 'environmental refugees', people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it - and often their possessions as well - in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement?"

Highlighting that these environmental problems are intricately linked to the world's current economic model, the Pope calls for a "a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications."

One way to achieve this according to the Pope is "to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all."

"Natural resources should be used in such a way that immediate benefits do not have a negative impact on living creatures, human and not, present and future; that the protection of private property does not conflict with the universal destination of goods; that human activity does not compromise the fruitfulness of the earth, for the benefit of people now and in the future," the Pope writes.

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1215-hance_benedict.html
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Gonna go play chess online for little while. It's been a slice....
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Quoting AussieStorm:
I'm off to bed, Kids are back to school for the start of the new school year. Goodnight all.
Tampa, What do you think of TL OLGA???


have a good one Aussie
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
I'm off to bed, Kids are back to school for the start of the new school year. Goodnight all.
Tampa, What do you think of TL OLGA???
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here comes more snow :P

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
mornin' all!
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Sky you said last night you was using Satellite feeds to watch for Earthquakes in Haiti.....How are you doing that. Can you explain please.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



The bogosities abound.


bogus bogosities
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
Quoting TampaSpin:


BOGUS.........not seen that word used for a while....I like it tho!



The bogosities abound.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Matt now be nice! You need to graduate...LOL



LOL nah :p jk
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
Quoting JFLORIDA:
So how does climate work ? Its climate science Unfortunately those majoring in Met are going to have to go through some kind of science based climatology I fear and the atmospheric chemistry/physics of radiant heat transfer is the only thing going now.

GW actually makes the earth habitable.

Right Atmo?

Right (greenhouse gases, that is)

And relevant required courses for a met/atmo sci BS degree at A&M include:
Physical Climatology (that means the physics of climatology; I refer back to the text once every couple of months or so)
Atmo Physics (including radiative transfer)
Atmo chem (required about a year after I optionally took it)

Optional:
Air pollution Met
Numerical weather prediction
Global climate change

(I took all of the above, and 1900-guy could update what I list-possible I am mistaken as to what is optional or not)

Cannot speak to what others schools require/offer, but I would have to say that A&M offered everything one could hope for relevant to the subject. And those were all available to undergrads, even.
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Quoting tornadodude:


LOL I asked that question once :P


Matt now be nice! You need to graduate...LOL
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1354. Skyepony (Mod)
GW actually makes the earth habitable.

Yes without the magic of greenhouse gas it would be way too cold for most..

Here's another of 10P

Looks pretty gamely..
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1353. Ossqss
CERN's CLOUD experiment


The final chemistry frontier
Molecules of the interstellar medium must break the rules to make the stuff of space


Some interesting items I read this AM for those interested :)
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Are you Qualified..........ROFLMAO


LOL I asked that question once :P
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8357
Quoting atmoaggie:
Wow, is the RAMMB/CIRA OHC different from the TCHP...and not just a little, either.

(thanks, Aussie, forgot to check this one)



From: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/cyclone/data/sp.html

Maybe related to that depth thing I mentioned.

I always check the OHN. I forgot to post the shear maps







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Quoting GodisinControl:
i never post on blog but i say to much bickering is happening on a bogus subject


BOGUS.........not seen that word used for a while....I like it tho!
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the 00z and 12z of the GFS where vary wet for N CA and S CA looks like we will be doing this all overe
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1348. Skyepony (Mod)
I think 96P is 10P now..
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Wow, is the RAMMB/CIRA OHC different from the TCHP...and not just a little, either.

(thanks, Aussie, forgot to check this one)



From: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/cyclone/data/sp.html

Maybe related to that depth thing I mentioned.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Wow we do need new posters here and the ignore is nice. After five that dont really contribute any information are gone the blog is empty. Shame good people have until now been turned away though by bullies and cliques.


Are you Qualified..........ROFLMAO
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"i never post on blog but i say to much bickering is happening on a bogus subject"

Think of it as a bunch of kids, running around with these:

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I think my PC is going crazy. A lot of strange clicking noises...
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"hairspray doesn't contain CFC's"

It was just a joke!

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Quoting Jeff9641:


Big rains on the way for Florida TampaSpin, could be a wet week starting Saturday.



Ya it sucks! Gasparilla is this Saturday...Forecast appears to be very bad just as the event starts......Hopefully the timing of the Rains can stay away until very late in the evening....Hopefully a road block can be set up for some type of dalay of the front.
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Quoting Skyepony:
96P




















TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 29
Issued by the BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY, DARWIN
at 11:00 pm CST [11:30 pm EST] Wednesday 27 January 2010

A Cyclone WARNING continues for coastal and island communities from Cape Shield
in the NT to Burketown in Queensland, including Groote Eylandt and Mornington
Island.

A Cyclone WATCH continues for coastal and island communities from Burketown to
Kowanyama in Queensland.

At 9:30 pm CST [10:00 pm EST] Ex-Tropical Cyclone Olga was estimated to be 10
kilometres west southwest of Borroloola and 230 kilometres south of Groote
Eylandt, moving west northwest at 15 kilometres per hour.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Olga is forecast to move slowly offshore during Thursday
where it is expected to redevelop into a tropical cyclone.

GALES with gusts to 110 kilometres per hour are expected to develop between the
NT/Qld Border and Cape Shield, including Groote Eylandt, late on Thursday
morning. GALES with gusts to 110 kilometres per hour may extend as far east as
Burketown in Queensland, including Mornington Island, during Thursday if the
developing cyclone follows a more easterly track.

GALES are not expected between Burketown and Kowanyama within the next 24 hours.
However, GALES may develop late on Friday or early Saturday

HEAVY RAIN may lead to significant stream rises and flooding of low-lying areas
in the Roper-McArthur and Arnhem districts.

Abnormally high tides are expected between the NT Border and Burketown tonight
and Thursday, where the sea level may exceed the highest tide of the year on the
largest tide of the day. Large waves are likely along the beachfront.

People between Burketown in Queensland and Cape Shield, including Groote Eylandt
and Mornington Island, in the Northern Territory should take precautions and
listen to the next advice at 2 am CST [2:30am EST]. If you are unsure about
precautions to be taken, information is available from your local government or
local State Emergency Service.

Details of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Olga at 9:30 pm CST [10:00 pm EST]:
.Centre located near...... 16.1 degrees South 136.2 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 95 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the west northwest at 15 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 85 kilometres per hour and INTENSIFYING
.Severity category........ below cyclone intensity
.Central pressure......... 993 hectoPascals

The next advice will be issued by 2:00 am CST Thursday 28 January [2:30 am EST
Thursday 28 January].
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1336. Ossqss
1324, It might get discredited by the end of the day due to a funding source. That seems to be a big part of the peer-review process to qualify as legitimate science :)

L8R
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Quoting AussieStorm:

It's going to suck in all that moisture and grow to a Cat 3.
Just watch

It isn't going to get there with that TCHP (assuming it is accurate, which is contentious in shelf waters)

And it would be more likely to spin up that well so quickly if it were a smaller circulation.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Yeah there are a few knunkle heads on here for sure. A bunch of Al Gore followers.


You think..Dam which one's.....LOL...J/K
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Quoting Nimitz:
WILL YOU PLEASE STOP ALL THE GLOBAL WARMING CRAP!!!!!

I come here a LOT. I mostly lurk. WU has been my best resource for finding out the weather forecast, providing me with timely information. That is, until the past week.
I think you must have visited a diffrent blog. Think again.
This discussion is there it just becomes more pronounced. During an active hurricane appraoching the GOM, many will focus on this topic. Now we have almost february and this is a great time to have indepth discussion on this topic.

Hower this topic will not go away. It will increase with the uptake of climate changes and related disasters, anomalys, casualties, catastrophes etc etc etc.

And don't forget that this discussion is so "Hot", because there are hired peeps who spread lies and discredit science for money. Crimes against humanity - please have the time and visit my blog and educate yourself.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Those darn clouds are throwing a curve in the science :)

Ozone hole healing could cause further climate warming

The hole in the ozone layer is now steadily closing, but its repair could actually increase warming in the southern hemisphere, according to scientists at the University of Leeds.

The Antarctic ozone hole was once regarded as one of the biggest environmental threats, but the discovery of a previously undiscovered feedback shows that it has instead helped to shield this region from carbon-induced warming over the past two decades.

High-speed winds in the area beneath the hole have led to the formation of brighter summertime clouds, which reflect more of the sun's powerful rays.

Press Release


I would actually rather see the ozone layer heal than become further degraded since I really don't think anyone wants to deal with cosmic rays penetrating to the surface.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

It's going to suck in all that moisture and grow to a Cat 3.
Just watch


IF, it stays over the water long enough

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.