How not to measure temperature, part 78 – teach the children well

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:

ely_dri_closeup-510

Ely, NV Weather Station operated by DOE/DRI -click for larger image

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:

ely_displays-510ely_displays2-510

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.

ely_dri_sw-510

Ely, NV Parking Lot Education Weather Station operated by DOE/DRI - click for larger image

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:

ely_dri_ne-510

What the temperature sensor sees - click for a larger image

Here is the aerial view of the placement:

ely-nv-dri-aerial-520

Aerial view - Ely, NV Weather Station operated by DOE/DRI -click for larger image

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

ely_asos_west

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!

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52 thoughts on “How not to measure temperature, part 78 – teach the children well

  1. Looks like someone’s going to be eating a heaping plate of crow on Thanksgiving Day.

    Great job, Anthony. I hope you and your family enjoy the fruits of your incredible work and work ethic. Thanks for all of your yeoman’s work on exposing much of the sloppy and/or fraudulent “science” being conducted in the name of AGW “climate change”.

    REPLY: I don’t know that fraudulent would be the applicable word here. But “sloppy” certainly is. Thanks, Anthony

  2. Once again you have shown us that the US and indeed the world is making a joke of science and weather measurement.

    I am not sure if any politicians are aware of the totally absurd and fraudulent practices of the CCRO Climate Change Religion Opportunist;
    A) Heat Island Temperature Sampling generates Useless Data samples of MICROCLIMATES.
    B) Absurd extrapolations from nano sized inaccurate data, relative to the age of the earth.
    C) Climate models of dubious “completeness” and gross inaccuracy.
    D) Failing to include soil stability in ocean level measurement, generating false ocean rise rates.
    E) Migration of CO2 in Ice. – negating any arguments for temperature vs. co2.
    F) SEA and LAND ICE advances and retreats.
    G) Volcanic contribution.
    H) Geo-Thermal contribution.
    I) Solar contribution.
    J) Magnetic influence.

    I am sure i have missed much… basically this is an absurdly “wicked” “problem” that merits continual study, but no IRRATIONAL CAP and TRADE.

  3. When our boy did his Eagle Scout project 9 years ago, he landscaped a school, put in sprinklers, lawn, stepping stones, benches, arbors, etc. Every Boy Scout has to do a significant project as part of becoming an Eagle Scout.

    I was just thinking, building a Stevenson screen and the whole setup for a climate station would be a pretty straightforward project. Once one was built, detailed instructions could be written up so others could duplicate the station exactly. The plans could be emailed to Scout troops worldwide.

    There are Boy Scouts everywhere. This sort of thing would surely appeal to science-oriented high school kids. The labor would be done free by 17-year old Eagle candidates [and naturally, with their dads helping] who would be interested in doing a good job they’d be proud of.

    The troop could take on the responsibility of maintaining and monitoring the station.

    …Just a thought, for anyone involved with the Scouts.

  4. Another turkey site.

    What’s that expression again? Oh yes, location, location, location.
    All they’ll get will be skewed readings.

    Oh well, at least the smells from the kitchen are really getting seductive about now. Time to eat. ** Happy Thanksgiving to all. **

  5. We’ve changed our products and the way they are installed several times because folks have a tendency not to read instructions. After some years of following up on how the products are used in real life, we’ve learnt to make them more fool-proof.

    With the results you have shown, it begs the question, have senior officers responsible for the measuring programmes ever conducted a similar study of how temperatures really are measured? Is Anthony Watts et al the only quality assurance efforts there is?

    (Our products.)

  6. You asked, “Is Anthony Watts et al the only quality assurance efforts there is?”

    Don’t laugh. They may be the very few that are objective. Please remember that you get what you pay for, and we fund a lot of “climate change” science. I certainly respect Anthony’s honesty. While we all would like to see clean data, I suspect that certain parties are all to eager to apply their “corrections” to dirty data.

    My suspicion is only that, an unproven suspicion…that happens to fit the data.

    Rob

  7. I’m a little confused. I’m familiar with the USHCN network, having done one of the station surveys. But your statement that “…Normally ASOS stations are much more poorly sited…” makes me wonder if the ASOS network isn’t quite as good as I thought it was, although I understand that you were comparing it to a theoretical state-of-the-art station. My impression was that it was at least partially designed to create a better surface record than USHCN once it has had enough time to be in place. Did I read too much into your comment?

  8. If memory serves me, it gets rather warm in that part of Nevada. With lots of sunshine. Parking a hot RV next to the sensor?

    Nah. They wouldn’t do anything like that.

    I don’t think we need better fools. The current crop seems to do quite well.

  9. It may be a long shot but is there comparable data from each of these stations? Be a good indication of the differential between them with a 1000′ lateral separation it would be expected that the ‘weather’ should be the same at each station.

  10. Just to clear up any possible misunderstanding from my first comment— I wasn’t necessarily talking about this particular station being being fraudulently set up. I was referring to Al “BS I” Gore and his lap dog, James Hansen, and their ilk. The guys or gals who set up this site, along with numerous others, could have just been “following orders“, as someone, somewhere, once infamously said.

  11. Data users are cautioned to carefully consider the provisional nature of this information before any application, particularly for decisions that concern personal or public safety or the conduct of business that involves substantial monetary or operational consequences. Information concerning the accuracy and appropriate uses of these provisional data may be obtained by contacting the Western Regional Climate Center at wrcc@dri.edu or by calling (775) 674-7010.
    these data are provisional and therefore may be subject to change. Provisional data may be adjusted for various reasons including disruption of sensors, instrument calibration, equipment failure, and problems with data transfer. These data are not valid until thoroughly reviewed and evaluated by the Desert Research Institute

    LOL or the bankrupting of the coal fired power plants by left loonies.

    I want a chart of both temp censers , and when the jets turn at the runway how much jetwash is there on that sight?
    tiny tim

  12. It really amazes me the SLOPPINESS of this ‘supposedly’ educational setup. Whatever happened to the phrase…”If you’re going to do something, do it right!”

    Maybe this is how the AGW/Climate Change clowns ‘prove’ their hypothesis..by installing these weather measuring devices over blacktop where lots of cars drive by….sheeeeeez!

    http://www.cookevilleweatherguy.com

  13. Anthony, Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you and yours. Your family is very kind to let you work at your computer in order to give us this delectable bit to read at the end of the wonderful feast day.

    You write that this station is “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. ” However……

    One begins to wonder if anyone anywhere is minding the store with respect to accurate gathering of data for very important decisions that must be made nationally and globally. I am hoping that your work and that of those who read your blog puts so much egg on the face of our supposed civil and military and academic servants who gather data that we will see a transformation in the siting of these stations. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, perhaps we can believe that they were so taken up with their good educational deed that they forgot the scientific rigor necessary to their undertaking. I hope everyone writes them a letter with a copy of this blog essay included.

    Unbelievable!

  14. Big Mc (15:00:04) :

    I’m a little confused. I’m familiar with the USHCN network, having done one of the station surveys. But your statement that “…Normally ASOS stations are much more poorly sited…” makes me wonder if the ASOS network isn’t quite as good as I thought it was, although I understand that you were comparing it to a theoretical state-of-the-art station.

    Yep, you’re a little confused. You’re thinking of CRN (Climate Reference Network), see http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn/

    ASOS is for airport weather conditions, though some of them made it into USHCN.
    Google USHCN ASOS for many other refs.

  15. Hi Anthony,

    all the best for your Thanksgiving!
    I am just curious, since you write about a good and a possibly bad station directly next to each other . . Do you think there is a way to compare their data?

    All the best,
    LoN

    REPLY:
    yes we have a plan for that, but first I need to get a majority of stations surveyed. 75% is my minimum target. – Anthony

  16. The ASOS setups are primarily there for the pilots, who are concerned with wind and pressure, and temperature isn’t usually a concern unless you’re right around freezing.

    ASOS have the advantage of open spaces, and consistent location and conditions, but the disadvantage of large expanses of pavement nearby. They are sited out of the way of jet exhaust, but when the wind blows the wrong way you would get transient spikes. but an automated system could ignore temps that weren’t present for at least a certain amount of time. Don’t know that they do, tho. They are well maintained, and would be good for trends, which is what the alarmists and we deniers are interested in.

  17. “Ian B (15:32:47) :

    The problem with making something fool-proof?

    They always invent a better fool.”

    :-)
    When I was a practicing engineer my expression for it was:

    Just when you think you have something idiot proofed they come out with smarter idiots.

  18. just reading at NASA,

    “There is also the matter of solar irradiance ,” adds Pesnell. “Researchers are now
    seeing the dimmest sun in their records. The change is small, just a fraction of a
    percent, but significant. Questions about effects on climate are natural if the sun
    continues to dim.”

    Rani Gran
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    10.06.08

    We are getting close to the new month, can we get a new post/update on our sun?

    Dr. Leif Svalgaard? Anthony?

    Rani Gran has he bumped into James Hansen?
    Or is some one there starting to buffer up to a cool down?
    We shall see

  19. Any comparative data ASOS v. Ely NV DRi site to tease out any bias? I think M. McMillan above has it about right on ASOS sites. They were not designed or intended for longitudinal climate study, but rather to provide realtime data to airman. That being said, there are some small airport ASOS sites that compare favorably to much of what has been found in the network. The ASOS equipment/sensor pak is I think pretty standardized, and well maintained given the critical safety mission.

  20. Mike, have you ever heard of density altitude? Temperature is a big factor, hot day, high altitude and crash.

  21. Tim L (20:40:04) :
    “There is also the matter of solar irradiance ,” adds Pesnell. “Researchers are now seeing the dimmest sun in their records.

    No, this is incorrect. Dean Pesnell is probably referring to the so-called PMOD composite of TSI. But it has been degrading in recent years [space is a harsh environment] and the sensors are getting weak [although the PMOD people tell us that they try to compensate for this by various means]. You can see the difference between PMOD and the SORCE TIM-instrument here. It is clear that the PMOD values are decreasing with respect to the SORCE values. The latter are calibrated regularly in flight by comparison with non-varying stars are are considered the best TSI dataset [only going back to 2003, though]. You can normally get the data at http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?page=input_data_for_tsi.ion although access may be a bit shaky the next few days as they upgrade their software for calculating the distance to the Sun [we have discovered a few minor problems in this regard, which they are fixing].

  22. “…They always invent a better fool.”

    And

    “…they come out with smarter idiots.”

    Made my day – and it’s still morning here where I live… :)

  23. Leif Svalgaard (22:18:41) :
    …. a bit shaky the next few days as they upgrade their software for calculating the distance to the Sun [we have discovered a few minor problems in this regard, which they are fixing].

    Interesting. What exactly is the nature of these problems? What was wrong?

  24. Janama
    thank you for the reference to the Chinese site. ( http://bcc.cma.cn/en/ ) Being China I would think that the Global information would be Chinese, not third party, can anybody suggest a program that could do a comparison with available non Chinese data?

  25. Carsten,

    haha, they had to put in a new if statement.
    If some periodicity observed then add some barycenter nonsense.

  26. Smokey (12:55:15) :
    Good thought on Boy Scouts. Similarly for 4H. Propose the following:

    Global Warming Science Project
    Set up a Class 1 temperature weather station in a rural area and measure the Urban Heat Island Effect between that and a nearby Class 2-5 (typically urban) temperature weather station.
    Report results to SurfaceStations.org

  27. 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

    A bit reminiscent of the station at Badwater in Death Valley reported by John Daly years ago — although Daly conjectured that the Badwater station seemed deliberately sited for terrain effects.

    http://www.john-daly.com/stations/badwater.htm

  28. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (02:25:07) :
    [...]distance to the Sun [we have discovered a few minor problems in this regard, which they are fixing].
    Interesting. What exactly is the nature of these problems? What was wrong?

    The errors are all at or below the ppm [parts per million] level [0.0013 W/m2] so have little practical importance, but since the precision of the SORCE TSI measurements is so high [they report to the 0.0001 W/m2], one should strive for removing all known sources of systematic errors.

    The largest of these comes from the realization that the distance to use is that of 8 minutes and 17 seconds [varies a bit over the year] before the measurement, corresponding to the time when the photons actually left the Sun, rather than when they arrive at Earth. This amounts to a 1.6 ppm error. A smaller variation comes from the Doppler effect: during half a year the Earth is moving towards the Sun, during the other half away. This distorts the spectrum [shifts blue or red] and needs to be modeled correctly, using the full relativistic equations. An even smaller variation [0.25 ppm] is caused by the Moon perturbing the distance, leading to a bare detectable variation with a period of 29.53 days.

    All of these very small variations are of little consequence for the user of TSI or for our discussion of the Sun-Earth distance, but are at a level where we expect possible variations due to internal processes [e.g. oscillations of the core] of the Sun to occur, so these systematic variations must be eliminated in order to search for these more subtle effects.

  29. Mike McMillan (19:28:10) : The ASOS setups are primarily there for the pilots, who are concerned with wind and pressure, and temperature isn’t usually a concern unless you’re right around freezing.

    Actually, “right around freezing” is only of concern to pilots in clouds, in wet snow, frosting, or if there is warmer air overhead which can lead to freezing rain. The key is the presence of visible moisture. I’m happy to say that I’ve only encountered icing only twice in my 20 years of instrument flying: once on the wings and once in the carburetor. Other than that colder is better. The opposite is true of higher temperatures. Density altitude problems are much more insidious than icing. Knowing the temperature on the runway is always preferred (but rarely gotten).

  30. Robert Gregg said:

    Mike, have you ever heard of density altitude? Temperature is a big factor, hot day, high altitude and crash.

    You aren’t kidding, brother. (Warning: Rambling comment ensues.)

    After a few years of flying numerous “Spook” missions out of the Athens International Airport in Greece, we deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in August of 1990 for a bit of fun and frolicking in that little slice of desert Hell paradise. The runway that we shared with the Greeks, from our home at Hellenikon AB, was just a few tens-of-feet above sea level (ASL) (You could hit the water with a couple of good, long drives and a chip shot.). Our take-off runs out of Athens were a lot longer than any of the civilian aircraft that used the airport (Or just about ANY other aircraft, for that matter, due to the ungodly amount of weight jammed into the old RC-135 airframes. But, that’s another story for another time.), but we got used to the amount of time it took to reach S1 (“Go/No-Go” airspeed) and “Rotate” (“Wheels Up” airspeed).

    After we’d flown into Sand Land and flew a mission (en route), landed at Riyadh AB, found a place to sleep and had returned to the plane a few hours later, we got permission to taxi out to the runway and line up for take-off. When the pilots got clearance for take-off and started rolling down the runway, us “back-enders” (“Spooks”) tightened up our 5-point harnesses and said our usual prayers, asking for divine intervention that engines or wings didn’t fall off before got back. Well, after we’d been rolling down the runway for almost a minute without hearing “S1″ from the navigator, we all started thinking “What the Hell is taking so long?”. After what seemed like another eternity, we finally lifted off the runway and, when we were cleared to talk over the intercom, one of my buddies pipes up with “D*mn! For a minute there, I thought we were going to DRIVE this mission!”. We’d found out, firsthand, why the runway was over 13,000′ long.

    Thus ends the story of taking off at 2,000’+ ASL in 100°F heat, before sunrise, after years of taking off at less than 100′ ASL and less than 100°F.

    Sorry for rambling on, Anthony.

    *Sniff* Ah, the halcyon daze of youth.

    Addendum: We did notice that it took considerably longer, in relative terms, to take off from Athens in the summertime than it did in the winter, due to the “density altitude” that Robert brought up in his original post.

  31. Leif, for the sake of the discussion about small changes in the Sun (heat, brightness, magnetic field, solar wind, cosmic rays, sunspots, plasma ejection, etc), what is the temperature change in the heat source that occurs in water between non-boiling and boiling (or any substance that is being heated)? Up to the boiling point there seems to be nothing much happening ‘cept steam and increasing heat from the source. But then the substance being heated reaches it’s boiling point with only a small change in temperature from the heat source. Might there be something about Earth and its atmosphere that reacts the same way to just a percentage change in one or more of the above factors of the Sun? Maybe the answer isn’t in finding some big change in the Sun. Maybe it’s the small change in the heat source that creates the big change in some cascading trigger factor related to climate (atmospheric and oceanic) here on the Earth.

  32. Leif Svalgaard (07:21:44) :

    The errors are all at or below the ppm [parts per million] level [0.0013 W/m2] so have little practical importance, but since the precision of the SORCE TSI measurements is so high [they report to the 0.0001 W/m2], one should strive for removing all known sources of systematic errors.

    Thanks for the explanation Leif, it is appreciated. Yes, adjusting for finite light speed is sometimes an issue.

  33. Pamela Gray (09:03:56) :
    But then the substance being heated reaches it’s boiling point with only a small change in temperature from the heat source. Might there be something about Earth and its atmosphere that reacts the same way to just a percentage change in one or more of the above factors of the Sun?

    Boiling is a very distinct phenomenon and its physics is very different from what goes on in the atmosphere. Once the Sun swells to a red giant in 5 billion years time, that physics will be applicable to the Earth’s atmosphere. Before then I don’t think we can compare the situations, not even for the ‘sake of the argument’. What is so strange is that people so desperately want to Sun to be the culprit, when this is really not necessary as the climate system is complex enough for internal oscillations to happen without direct external drivers.

  34. Anthony,
    I’ve been reading your website entries for some time and commend you for your excellent work! I have spent part of my meteorological career dealing with the NWS and their erroneous temperature readings, including those from the infamous HO-83 devices. The HO-83’s were replaced, eventually, after persistent complaints and peer-reviewed articles in BAMS, etc. What has been the response from NOAA regarding your complaints about the data quality from the climate network? Any articles forthcoming?

    REPLY: HELLO Robert, thank you for the kind words. NCDC invited me out to do a presentation in April 2008. See it here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/04/23/road-trip-update-day-1-at-ncdc/

    But other than that there has been no response. The NWS doesn’t really much concern themselves with the issue I believe because the main purpose of the network is forecast verification, with emphasis on hydrology/rainfall.

    Climate is a secondary or tertiary consideration. As you have witnessed with the HO83, there is a huge inertia involved which resists change.

    -Anthony

  35. Smokey…

    Great Idea To Get the Eagle (Boy) Scouts to come to the rescue…

    If Anthony will detail all of the plans down to the last item… including Operations Oversight as that seems to be a major issue here.

    The Boy Scout Troops could monitor the stations and we might get a bit better data set.

    I remain concerned that we are dealing with an infinitely tiny data set relative to the earths age of 4.5 Billion years – but it should be fun anyhow.

  36. I’ve just discovered a discount source for a professional weather station. (This is probably a close-out item, like most of its stock.) The source is American Science and Surplus. (It’s been in business for about 71 years.) Here’s how the item is described in its catalog and website:

    The Ultimate Weather Station

    Digital, wireless and absolutely full-service. This P3 Professional Weather Station lets you read the indoor/outdoor temp, humidity, rainfall amounts, wind speed (including a 24-hour history for wind and temps) barometric pressure, moon phase, sunrise and sunset times, time and date without getting dressed and leaving the house. Then you can just look at the little icon on the display to see what he’s wearing and dress the same way. The outdoor sensor has a 6″ dia anemometer, a 6″ x 5-1/2″ rain vessel, and is on a 6-1/2-foot pole. The cool-looking indoor display module is 8-5/8″ x 6-3/8″ with a 5″ x 3″ LCD. Some calibration required. Takes a total of (7) “AA” batteries, not included. A fully-functioning weather station at an affordable price, which you don’t find everywhere or, in fact, almost anywhere.
    93576 WEATHER STATION $179.00

    93576 is the item number–just plug it into the “Express Shop” or “Search Our Site” box when you get to http://www.sciplus.com. Or go direct to the item with this deep link:

    The catalog also has all sorts of cheap oddball gadgets and “novelty items.”

    REPLY: Roger, that weather station is one I once evaluated for my own online store at http://www.weathershop.com and rejected. If you’ll notice, it does not have wind direction, only wind speed. So much for “ultimate”. Another cheap POS from China I’m afraid. I’ve dealt with the P3 company, that is all they sell, Chinese imports. Like the Oregons Scientific, it won’t last and the accuracy is dubious. – Anthony

  37. Anthony: Thanks for the correction. If anyone finds good-quality items on sale, they should post info. on them.


  38. Leif Svalgaard (11:26:21) :

    Carsten Arnholm, Norway (11:15:43) :
    Yes, adjusting for finite light speed is sometimes an issue.
    and also for the finite speed of gravitational effects…

    Indeed. I have recently considered that that precise issue, as I have been making a 3d simulator of the solar system based on Newton’s law of gravity. It works well assuming infinite speed of gravitational effects, but I realise it is more correct to adjust for the actual, finite speed. But as you say, the difference is quite small.

  39. You’ll be waiting until hell freezes over for the Chinese to join in Kyoto or Kyoto like measure to limit so-called greenhouse gases…I’m sure they are watching with amusement as Al Gore, James Hansen and the IPCC pull the puppet strings of western governments. They are smart enough to know better and practical enough to care less about trendy junk science…

  40. Actually, “right around freezing” is only of concern to pilots in clouds, in wet snow, frosting, or if there is warmer air overhead which can lead to freezing rain.

    Not quite correct.

    On the ground, OAT at or below 6 C, with less than a three degree temp/dew point spread can cause inlet icing due to induction cooling.

    Also, if the airplane had been flying at high altitude, under the same conditions, cold soaked fuel can cause clear ice to form on wing surfaces.

    ASOS locations are good enough to make anti- and de-icing decisions, but I doubt anyone installing them cared about anything other than that.

  41. But Leif, cosmic rays monitored here on Earth change with cyclic changes from the Sun. Levels of CO2-14 change as a result of the Sun. A slight change in the tilt of the Earth changes climate. Particles that Earth or the cosmos sends into orbit creates a changed climate. All are reactions of the Earth to the Sun. Are you saying that there are NO instances where the Earth is sensitive to the small changes from the Sun and that it is all internal? I don’t argue that the Sun appears to be stable over time, in both cycles and substance, but I do think that the variables here on Earth react to the Sun in ways that can explain temperature and climate changes. I think the Sun could be an indirect and powerful driver of Earth’s climate. And maybe that is what we quibble with. If I asked you about indirect relationships, what would you suggest were possibilities yet to be experimentally studied? The argument that CO2’s reaction to the Sun is the only variable that can heat the planet seems terribly flat Earth to me and is the same side of the coin that says the Earth is the stable entity to changes from a variable Sun.

    So here is my partial list of possible variables that when given Sun time (and all its attributes, not just sunspots, heat or brightness), change weather and climate to a far greater degree than man-made CO2. I am asking: Would these things change themselves thus having effects on weather and climate without any influence from the Sun, or must the Sun do its thing as well? I find it rather simplistic to think that the Sun’s only weather influence, direct or indirect, is nighttime vs daytime temperatures. My hunch is that we would not quibble over indirect influences that work in tandem with a variable Earth.

    Ozone layer
    Water vapor
    Cloud formation
    Dust
    Ocean cycles
    Jet stream and pressure changes
    Stratosphere temp changes
    Long term tilt/orbit wobbles

  42. On you Nevada trip did you happen to visit Lake Tahoe. The National Weaher Service in Reno has a Weahter Station at the Coast Guard station in Tahoe City. the Temp Sensor is right next to the parking lot (about 2 feet) and roughly 3 feet off the ground under a Pine Tree that provides it Shade pretty much year round. And, when it snows the station’s snow plow covers half the Temp Sensor’s stand. Leaving the sensor about a foot off the packed snow.

  43. Hello, my name is Ted Hartwell and I manage the program that is the subject of this post. My intention was to contact Mr. Watts directly to give him the opportunity to clarify and correct some of the information about the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) that he has posted here, but I was unable to locate a direct contact link for him (my apologies, Mr. Watts, if this information is available on your site somewhere…I’m afraid I’m an inexperienced blogger, so I’m a bit new to these things!).

    First, I want to thank Mr. Watts for the parts of our program that he applauds, and for providing links to our web site. However, the criticisms that have been made regarding the siting of this station vis a vis the temperature sensor would be valid only if the objective of the CEMP were to measure long-term temperature trends and document local or global change. However, this is not the purpose of the CEMP. The CEMP is a network of monitoring stations located within communities and at ranch sites that surround or are downwind from the Nevada Test Site (NTS), where the U.S. conducted nuclear testing until 1992. The Desert Research Institute (DRI), a non-profit environmental research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education, operates the program for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Its purpose is to give local stakeholders a direct hands-on role in the monitoring of airborne radioactivity that could result from past or ongoing activities at the NTS, and also to provide as much public transparency and accessibility to the monitoring data as possible.

    Since 1999, the communications systems at the stations have been upgraded and a public web site developed at http://cemp.dri.edu/ so that the public could access near real-time data for most of the network. The data are managed by the Western Regional Climate Center (http://wrcc.dri.edu/) which DRI manages for NOAA. Contrary to comments in the post, there are no expenses associated with maintaining the satellite uplink for the six stations in the network that use this mode of communication…this service is provided to us at no charge through Wallops Island. In fact, the Ely station itself does not use a satellite uplink, but instead has a wireless internet connection to the web. The cost for this service is the same as for a residential wireless connection. This allows two-way communications with the stations for remote trouble-shooting and programming, which provides a significant cost savings to the program. Automated data collection is one of the factors that allows the network to be operated for approximately 60 percent less in total cost today compared to as recently as 1998.

    The other significant action that DRI took was to install a full suite of meteorological equipment and interpretive displays at each of the stations, which were at that time simply platforms for real-time gamma radiation monitoring and continuous air sampling for monitoring for gross alpha and beta radiation. The meteorological sensors allow us to track changes in background radioactivity that result from weather events. Mr. Watts asks in his post, “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?” The answer is “none.” We do not measure for such things as “Tritium dispersal and gaseous pollutant volumes.” The weather events that are most closely associated with changes in background radiation are precipitation, and to a lesser extent, barometric pressure; these are worldwide phenomena. Our ability to correlate the two is not affected by the station’s siting. The remainder of the meteorological sensors across the network help fill in lots of data gaps across the southern Great Basin and northern Mojave Desert. Mr. Watts is correct that some of the sites (such as this one at Ely) are inappropriate for tracking long-term trends with regards to looking at issues such as climate change. However, the primary purpose of the meteorological data is the interpretation of radiological monitoring results, and they are perfectly adequate for tracking current conditions (as well as trends) within the communities themselves.

    I apologize for being so long-winded with this post, but I felt, based on the direction that the comments seemed to be taking, that there was a significant misunderstanding of the purpose of the CEMP station. The majority of this information is available in our interpretive materials or online on our web site, and there are many email and phone contacts listed in these materials as well. I would be happy to answer any questions anyone has about this program, its history, and public participation. Feel free to contact me directly at ted.hartwell@dri.edu or via phone at (702) 862-5419.

    Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far!

    Sincerely,
    Ted Hartwell
    Program Manager, Community Environmental Monitoring Program
    Desert Research Institute
    Las Vegas, Nevada

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