Title with apologies to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
In my last post, part 77 of “How not to measure temperature” I pointed out that the National Weather Service in Upton NY has a weather station that is way out of compliance due to the way it is setup and the proximity to bias factors such as the parking lot.
There are thousands of weather stations across the USA, some run by various agencies. Often we’ll see them at national parks with interpretive displays. This one I encountered in Ely Nevada on my last road trip to finish the Nevada USHCN station surveys was part of an air quality and environmental monitoring program jointly run by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI).
It is an impressive station with multiple state of the art sensors, solar power, and a datalogger with a satellite uplink to DRI’s HQ. You can look at hourly data from the station at the CEMP DRI website here.
It is located about 2 miles northeast of town on government property, BLM land:
What is unique about this station is that it has an interpretive exhibit with live data readouts. I applaud DRI/DOE for doing this. Here are what the they look like closeup:
Click for larger images to read the text on the interpretive displays
As I said, I applaud DRI/DOE for doing this. Taking the effort to make such a wonderful educational display is a good use of taxpayer funds.
Except, that is, when they miss one critical detail.
Yes, the expensive satellite uplinked state of the art interpretive educational weather station is sited in the middle of two asphalt parking lots. One is for RV storage, the other is the parking lot for the Ely District Office for the Bureau of Land Management.
Here is the the view to the northeast of how the temperature sensor sees the BLM land:
Here is the aerial view of the placement:
With the parking lots on both sides being active with cars and RV’s, I would imagine that a fairly variable albedo exists, especially on weekends and holidays.
This wouldn’t be so bad if it was only an educational station with an interpretive exhibit, as one could explain it was placed here for the convenience of viewing and science really doesn’t advocate measuring the temperature of parking lots.
Except that this station is used for an active science project. How much of the other data measurements and calculations for such things as Tritium dispersal, gaseous pollutant volumes, etc are dependent on the temperature, humidity, and dewpoint data gathered here, all of which would be affected by the siting?
Contrast it to the ASOS station siting at the airport across the road. The ASOS is about 1000 feet NW of the southern runway intersection which you can see here in Google Maps
Normally ASOS stations are much more poorly sited than state of the art stations, but this example illustrates how spending tens of thousands of dollars on hi-tech measurement gear can be undone by lack of simple planning.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!