How not to measure temperature, part 34

I recently made a trip into Oregon to survey several USHCN stations there, including Klamath Falls, Crater Lake, Bly, and Lakeview. I also made a stop at another remote USHCN station in Cedarville, California.

Klamath Falls was one of those places where you have to wonder “what were they thinking?” when they placed a  climate monitoring station. Imagine measuring the temperature in the middle of acres of asphalt combined with huge amounts of waste heat from electric power conversion. That’s’ Klamath Falls USHCN official climate station of record.

Below is an aerial view of the electric power substation facility operated by Pacific Power and Light:

Klamath Falls Aerial View

And here is a wide view of the location where the Stevenson Screen was:

Klamath Falls Wide View looking East

And a close up view:

Klamath Falls shelter location looking East

As is typically found, the station location was chosen for the convenience of the  observer, who had an office in the old administration building, shown on the right side of the photo. Only a few short steps were needed to get the reading. The station closed in May 2002, when the observer at the power company retired, and nobody wanted to assume the job. All that remains is the walkway to the screen, and an old Heathkit rain gauge on a post.

Can you imagine the heat from the transformers being transported by wind, or the heat from the massive asphalt in the service staging facility yard being pushed toward the sensor by the wind? Being almost exactly in the middle of the complex, it’s hard to imagine any bias free day there, wind or not. It’s a likely scenario, and one well suited for a study this coming summer where I may ask permission to place a sensor at the old measurement location, and position some temperature loggers around the facility to quantify the difference.

Another thing this location may have been doing in the long term is measuring waste heat generated by the transformers as a function of power usage demands. Historically, power use has not declined, so its safe to assume that this facility, its transformers, and capacity has been upgraded over the years to handle increased demand.

Yet we measure temperature there. Here’s the temperature trend graph from NASA GISS:

Klamath Falls station plot

The photo gallery and site survey are available on my surfacestations.org database.

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9 thoughts on “How not to measure temperature, part 34

  1. If not for the photo documentation it would be hard to believe the standards could be so flagrantly ignored. And yet I can see the 1940 to 1960 downward trend and then a leveling turning to an upward trend beginning about 1980 – just like so many other sites. The power plant heating bias surely is there, but there seems to be that underlying signal as well. Hopefully you can find clean stations reasonably nearby for comparisons.

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  3. Looks like they’ve got some fairly stiff tumble weed controls in place in nearby fields as well. Just a wee bit of albedo mod.

  4. Anthony –
    I see that there’s a parking lot filled with transformers. They may not be on, but they sure will have some huge amount of thermal mass. Absorbing heat all day long – releasing heat all night. Wonderful!

  5. Gary: Consider that the warming bias that is there now was not there in 1900. I believe in the basic shape of the 1930s upswing, followed by the eenie-weenie Ice age (EWIA), followed by SOME sort of warming.

    But all you gotta do is to *ahem* “adjust” the left end down a wee dram and add a tad of warm bias to the right end (as violations overtake the stations MUCH faster than they do the earth as a whole), and there you have it:

    “Manmade” global warming!

  6. “Absorbing heat all day long – releasing heat all night. Wonderful!”

    And in the commercial greenhouse biz they call that one the . . .
    “greenhouse effect”.

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