Sometimes, words fail me in describing the absolute disregard of the placement of NOAA official climate monitoring sites. For example, this one in Clarinda, Iowa submitted by surfacestations volunteer Eric Gamberg:
Click for larger image
The MMTS temperature sensor is the short pole next to the half pickup truck.
For those of you that don’t know, this station is located at the wastewater treatment plant there. I’ve written many times about the placement of stations at WWTP’s being a bad idea due to the localized heat bubble that is created due to all the effluent coming though. The effect is especially noticeable in winter. Often you’ll see steam/water vapor in the air around these sites in winter, and more than one COOP observer has told our volunteers that snow sometimes does not stick to the ground at WWTP’s.
The larger pole appears to be a gas burnoff torch for excess methane. I can’t say how often it is activated (note the automatic ignitor circuit on the pole) but I can tell you that putting an official NOAA climate thermometer within a few feet of such a device is one of the worst examples of thoughtless station placement on the part of NOAA I’ve ever seen. Here is an example of a methane burn-off device at another WWTP.
We’ll probably never know what the true temperature is in Clarinda because untangling a measurements mess like this is next to impossible. How many days was Tmin and/or Tmax affected at this location by gas burnoff and to what magnitude? We shouldn’t have to ask these questions.
And, adding insult to stupidity, the GISTEMP Homogenization adjustment makes the trend go positive, especially in recent years:
According to the NCDC MMS database for this station, the MMTS was installed on October 1, 1985. Who knows what the data would have looked like if somebody had thought through the placement. Whether or not the temperature sensor has been significantly affected or not by this placement is not the issue, violation of basic common sense siting guideline that bring the data into question is. Anything worth measuring using our public tax dollars is worth measuring correctly.
Dr. Hansen and Mr. Karl – welcome, feast your eyes on the source of your data. You might want to think about changing this description on the NCDC website for USHCN:
The United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) is a high quality, moderate-sized data set of daily and monthly records of basic meteorological variables from over 1000 observing stations across the 48 contiguous United States.
I suggest to NCDC that “high quality” doesn’t really apply in the description anymore.
I really could use some help, especially in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas to get the USHCN nationwide climate network survey completed. If you have a digital camera and can follow some simple instructions, why not visit www.surfacestations.org and sign up as a volunteer surveyor. If you can’t help that way, donations to help fund trips such as these that I’ve been doing are greatly appreciated.
UPDATE 11/20 4:20PMPST: Some commenters such as Krysten Byrnes and Steve have suggested that the blink comparator above is wrong due to the fact that the scale on the left changes in offset. I realize that may create some confusion. A couple of clarifications are needed to address that.
First, these graphs are generated by the GISTEMP database, not me. I simply copied both from the GISTEMP website into my animation program. This includes the scale offset which is part of the difference in the original GISTEMP generated images. You can do the same thing also by visiting here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/station_data/ and putting Clarinda in the search box. Use the pulldown menu to select either data set you want. The above is the “combined sources” and also “after homogeneity adjustment”.
Second what is important to note here is that the slope of the trend changes as a result of the adjustment applied by GISS. It becomes more positive in the “homogenized” data set.
Third, in the “homogenized” data set, the past has been cooled, the present also made warmer, making the slope more positive over the timeline. Here is the Clarinda GISTEMP Homogenized data plot overlaid on the “raw” data plot. Again these are the original unmodified GISTEMP generated graphs using a simple cut and paste with transparent background technique:
Click graph for full sized image
Note how the hinge point appears around 1980 where the data appears to match. Note also how the divergence between the two data sets increases either direction from this hinge point.