The picture above is of Conconully, Washington and comes to me courtesy of Josiah Mault, of the Washington State Climate Office. Mault has been surveying all of the Washington stations for that office, and has been regularly making contributions to www.surfacestations.org The picture illustrates how human activity can spring up around a station. The MMTS electronic temperature sensor is shown next to a lean-to used for rafting gear storage. I presume the life preserver is placed next to the sensor as a reminder that we may need it in case of catastrophic sea level rise. The metal ore cart full of stones is a nice touch, and makes a perfect high mass IR radiative heatsource to keep the overnight lows a bit more “comfy”. There are also stones directly under the sensor whic you can see in this photo.
But perhaps it is not the curator’s fault, but rather that of the NWS/NOAA employee that made the placement, as we see in the next photo:
more pictures available here on surfacetstations.org
Once again, we have a climate station of record in the middle of a parking area, near buildings, and directly in the middle of regular human activity. One of the downsides to the NWS COOP modernization program started in the 1980′s and continuing today is the MMTS unit itself. It requires a cable, and that cable has be be buried to be brought into the domicile containing the electronic readout.
As anyone knows, especially rabbits, digging short holes is far easier than digging long ones. So its far easier and less time consuming to dig a short trench and place the sensor nearer the building. This proximity bias seems to have been repeated regularly when the MMTS system has replaced the traditional Stevenson Screen and Mercury Max-min thermometers.
There’s a reason that NOAA specifies that temperature sensors should be a minimum of 100 feet away from buildings, concrete, and asphalt which may introduce biases into the reading. What we don’t know is why there has been such an apparent regular failure to adhere to such specifications.