Backstory on the new surfacestations paper

I’m a bit burnt out, so this is a just a few notes to quench some speculations about Steve McIntyre’s role and to help everyone understand what this week has been like.

  1. Evan and I have been working on this since June 2011, complete redo of all station ratings…huge amount of work. Evan deserves a huge a amount of credit. After Muller could not find strong signal that we knew must be there by physics of heat sinks…and neither could we in Fall et al 2011, we went looking, and discovered the new Leroy 2010 classification system and WMO ISO approval. We knew it would take a lot of work to get old metadatabase into shape. And so it began.
  2. Started on paper in Spring 2012, but some of the team of people onboard  had no vested interest, and with their academic burdens and no budget to pay them anything they could only devote small bits of time for reviews and writings. No fault of theirs, but like herding cats when there’s no funding and all is pro bono.
  3. Evan and I decided to go ahead anyways and I started writing, steep learning curve as this was my first stint as lead author.
  4. About a week ago I learned Muller was going to release and do the media blitz, thought he’d be at EPW Senate hearing on August 1st too. (turns out he was passed over, John Christy will be there though.). IPCC deadline coming up too. Added anxiety.
  5. Tried to get stats guy to the stars Matt Briggs onboard early last week (he was on list of original authors)  to help with significance tests, last big hurdle. Most graphs and analysis was done.
  6. Turns out Briggs was on vacation camping, no fault of his, it is summer…so I figured only way I was going to get this done was to shut down WUWT and stay home from short vacation with wife and kids in Yellowstone.  They went on with grandparents and I went on authoring blitz with Evan and with Dr. Pielke Sr. helping edits. Christy provided support too and I helped him craft his EPW section on this.
  7. So made announcement Friday. Figured on Sunday at noon so WUWT could provide peer review, and dumped my plane tickets in trash.  Admittedly I was a bit overwrought when I wrote it. I’m truly sorry if anyone was mislead. Dialed it back. Went on crash self taught stats diet…not my thing, but capable of learning. and being a broadcaster, deadline pressure is a huge motivator. You learn to get it done. On-air waits for nobody. Careers die when you miss deadlines.
  8. In his post Friday, Steve McIntyre truly didn’t know what this was about. He was out of the loop.
  9. Steve McIntyre, being the classic gentleman he is, emailed me and said “anything I can do to help, I’m here”. I took him up on the offer and he did all the stats tests from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, then polished last bit of text/graphs early Sunday morning. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He is a true gentleman and a scholar.
  10. Joe D’Aleo and Willis helped with editing/proofing too. Gary Boden solved an Excel map issue for us. Evan came up with powerpoints and helped editing. He was a machine. Pielke Sr. helped with edits and citations. Bob Phelan helped with some PR language. Thanks to all.
  11. And the result is what you see in the press release today.
  12. Finally got to take a shower today about 2PM. Prior to that, Kenji was offended.
  13. Now on to final polish thanks to WUWT peer review and submission.

Thanks everyone for your support and patience! – Anthony

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118 thoughts on “Backstory on the new surfacestations paper

  1. You have done brilliant.I hope you can take a little break for yourself and wait for the barage of commentary you will get. Congratulations on your first paper where you are lead author, what a great effort.

    Steph

  2. You did it perfectly, Anthony. All of you. A HUGE effort and HUGELY important. I think you’ve torpedoed CAGW (that’s my opinion, anyway). :)

  3. I was at Yellowstone this weekend, weather was great. Hope your kids made it to west Yellowstone to feed the grizzlies.

    Kept checking here all the way back to SLC this AM.

    REPLY: “Hope your kids made it to west Yellowstone to feed the grizzlies.” Not sure what to make of that – Anthony

  4. There is a Grizzly Bear research center just outside the park, they let kids in to hide food for the captive bears to find. Mine loved it.

  5. You’re a star Anthony and so is each member of your team
    Can you keep the press release post as a top sticky for a week or so please

  6. “After Muller could not find strong signal that we knew must be there by physics of heat sinks…and neither could we in Fall et al 2011, we went looking, and discovered the new Leroy 2010 classification system and WMO ISO approval.”

    Red flag, IMO. Researchers looking for a signal that “we know must be there” makes things ripe for confirmation bias. I truly hope that all involved live up to the standards that us skeptics so commonly cite when reviewing the works of others….namely to look to shoot holes in your own work; try to find areas where your own bias may be affecting results…etc.

    Aside from all that, kudos for the seemingly very comprehensive work….and continuation of the unique crowd-sourcing methods.

    Any word on where this will be submitted for publishing?

    REPLY: Understood, but please think about the physics of heat sinks, specifically when it comes to Tmin and I think you’ll see where we were coming from. Confirmation bias is a huge problem in AGW science, and if this new ratings system had not revealed the solution, I would have had to accede there was no effect. Persistence paid off. – Anthony

  7. Let the reviewing begin!….. What are the other sites saying about the findings of the paper?

  8. Well Done Anthony and all your team of citizens scientist. Thanks for acknowledging our contribution to the data collection phase of the surface stations project.

  9. IPCC & co will try to avoid a paper like yours under any pretext; the first cop out would be that yours is not accepted for publication “in a respected journal” (pal review).
    How are you dealing with that one?

  10. Fantastic effort from all of you, and thank you for the explanation. It makes a lot of sense now. The paper will stand on its merits, let us hope that it will be treated with the respect that it deserves, and gets quality reviews. Any scientist truly worth their salt will look at it and evaluate its implications, outside of politics, because when the story of CAGW is told in the future, they will want their contribution to be a credit to science.

  11. Again, thanks to you and your team for doing something constructive to make the world a better place despite the best efforts of those many misguided and human-hating zealots to enslave us all.

  12. Man years of labor boiled down to a few graphs and charts, Pure gold Anthony Watts…Another solid factual whack to the warmers.

  13. Man, I can’t express in words how impressed that I am with AW and the team … just awesome work !

  14. Anthony, I was also at Yellowstone with my kids this weekend. You missed a fabulous time. I know something about scientific publishing and can imagine the great effort you have gone through (not that the effort is finished). I’m impressed with your dedication and energy. I have been following the station survey project for some years, and I am glad to see it come to fruition. I hope you will be able to catch up on vacation time with your kids soon.

  15. I’m reminded of a James Brown performance. Old James would get himself so worked up toward the end of a tune that he’d leave his backup musicians behind and wondering what on earth had gotten into him as they improvised to keep up with his grand finale hyperactivity. At the end, James would fall to the stage floor in an exhausted heap while the other musicians fanned him with towels and feigned concern James might not make it off the set alive.

    I do hope the substance in this case lives up to the theatrics.

    REPLY: Oh please, read this is you want theatrics – Anthony

  16. As one of your regular non-scientific lurkers, Anthony, the best way I can thank you is to fling some Oz dollars in your Tip Jar. What a fabulous job.

  17. J.Hansford says:
    July 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm
    Let the reviewing begin!….. What are the other sites saying about the findings of the paper?

    Steve Hayward on Powerline: “Watts’ conclusion is indeed a bombshell if it proves out: that the U.S. surface temperature rise has been overestimated by a factor of two…”

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/07/breaking-from-best-to-worst-in-less-than-a-day.php?

    Climate Depot has a pageful of links to additional reactions: “Anthony Watts delivers devastating scientific blow to Muller’s claims: ‘New analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temp trends are spuriously doubled’.”

    http://climatedepot.com/

    …and I started writing, steep learning curve as this was my first stint as lead author.

    I’m guessing that *that’s* why the carpal tunnel popped up when it did.

  18. Anthony,

    Figure 23 may be important for follow up work.

    Cat1+2 stations have (in mean) identical trends for tmin, tmax, tmean, while 3,4,5 stations have very different trends.

    This could be turned around and used as a global station selection criteria.

    -> Select only those stations globally, where tmin, tmax and tmean trends are very similar.

  19. Well done. You have put in a huge amount into this and I hope that you receive many good things for your efforts.
    But I can see there will be many who would deny your results and say it is all due to big oil/coal etc.
    Please take care and try to get some time with your family.God bless you.
    James Bull

  20. Anthony, many thanks to you, your co-authors, assistants and those who contributed to the surface stations project. Funds have been forwarded to assist with publication of this important paper.

  21. Well done, Anthony, a HUGE achievement. Incredible dedication so heartfelt thanks to you and yours for the sacrifices made for what is a massively important project.

  22. Dialed back expectations?? What could be better than what we got? Its way better than any more FOI type stuff. Everyone knows that their covering up. What we needed is a model to correct the surface data and now we have it. We can adjust the networks data and publish corrected set, ideally in real time, test for predicive value and prove them solidly wrong. Politician that have been wavering will now stand firm. Countries will scrap CO2 bans. Not in huge numbers but enough to matter. The IPCC will have to respond. The probabiltity of an insane rant is high and that will cost them votes. Good work Anthony and team.

  23. A minor point, but you might provide the expansion of the acronym CONUS prior to its first use in the paper. I guess its obvious to everyone who reads your blog, but it wasn’t to me and I had to search several pages to find out what it was.

  24. These last few days have been exciting, with waiting and guessing.
    Any doubts anyone could have had, after reading the the “New… “, and it’s heaps and heaps of posts , have gone “caminito de Jerez”, as we say in Spain, with this commentary.
    Giving thanks where thanks are due, is a sign of greatness.
    Your children will be proud of you, and will forgive your missing Yellowstone .
    May the gods stay and smile with you!

  25. Congratulations to all.
    Ok – confirmation bias might be a concern, but this confirms a huge amount of what I have been saying for years.
    Not sure if anyone has actually carried out a data logging exercise, but around here, an adversely located concrete wall re-radiates in both directions and can take up to 7 months to cool down. Bit difficult to monitor concrete slabs and driveways.

  26. No fault of theirs, but like herding cats when there’s no funding and all is pro bono.

    So much for the “well funded denialist machine” they talk about. They must bite the bullet and understand that this is David V Goliath. (Volunteers taking photos of thermometers around the US). What if Anthony (like say Mann on other research?) received 1/2 million US Dollars for the project?

  27. Re: S. Geiger: Red flag, IMO. Researchers looking for a signal that “we know must be there” makes things ripe for confirmation bias.

    While you have a point, it is a weak one. Almost every experiment is setup to to record a signal of a type that “we expect to find.” This is true science: hypothesis, set-up, test, and analyze.

    Where people go wrong is when then they use improper selection of the results to filter down to data that shows the signal.

    When an experiment fails to support or refute a hypothesis, then the hypothesis needs to be altered and the conditions of the experiment altered. In the Michelson-Morley experiments, failure to find the aether signal, the experimenters tried multiple times with different and more sensitive apparatus, but they didn’t invent a signal that wasn’t there to find. After Fall 2011, the researchers checked to see whether the NOAA station Classification was sufficient criteria to segment the data. The Leroy 2010 not only gave them an approved alternative method of station classification, but confirmation that someone else asked the question. The results of Watt’s 2012 are not confirmation bias but an example of finding the coherency of the signal in the data.

  28. So, while these new results include input from Richard Muller of Berkeley and BEST, what are we to make of the Google Science News story just posted regarding a new study from Muller et al.?

    Climate-change skeptic has ‘turnaround’
    Published: July 30, 2012 at 2:18 AM
    BERKELEY, Calif., July 30 (UPI) — Global warming is real and is caused “almost entirely” by people, a University of California physicist and “converted” climate change skeptic says.

    The “converted” skeptic is Muller.

  29. Congratulations to Anthony and all the people who helped to make this happen, including the many volunteers who made the base for the siting problems! This is a huge result and I hope that it may reduce the “man-made-global-warming” scare to more normal proportions…

  30. And the Guardian runs with Muller, yesterday’s Hickman column, no comments allowed.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jul/29/climate-change-sceptics-change-mind?CMP=EMCNEWEML1355

    They do quote Judith Curry, but there’s this:
    “Prof Michael Mann, the Penn State palaeoclimatologist who has faced hostility from climate sceptics for his famous “hockey stick” graph showing a rapid rise in temperatures during the 20th century, said he welcomed the Best results as they “demonstrated once again what scientists have known with some degree of certainty for nearly two decades”. He added: “I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions. They are certain to be attacked by the professional climate change denial crowd for their findings.”

    Seems a little different from what he said elsewhere…..

  31. “After Muller could not find strong signal that we knew must be there by physics of heat sinks…”

    Could you please explicit ? What is the “physics of heat sinks” ?

    Constant temperature bias does not modify trends: I understand well that a poorly sitted station with a lot of heat sources would be biased (physics of heat sinks ?), but if the bias is constant, there is no influence on decadal trend… If a modification of microsite environement produces discontinuity in the record (as knonw from “physics of heat sinks” ?), the discontinuity is corrected by the homgenization procedure… The surfacestation project is not aimed at detecting microsite environement changes.

  32. What I wanted to say, before, and utterly failed to say is this:
    Being old, I thought there were no gentlemen anywhere, any more.
    My mistake!!!
    Thank you and Thank Mc Intyre.

  33. The faint sound you hear in the distance is Michael Mann working furiously to change the goalposts.

  34. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Cut the abstract as I suggested.
    ==================================
    Seconded…… plus, we need the numbers to do any real review.

  35. Anthony,

    I first came across WUWT when I was looking at Stephenson’s paint jobs, and you were carrying out an experiment on the screens. I was fascinated then by your natural curiosity, and how the experiment was designed.

    It has now led to this piece of research, an example of outstanding citizen science.

    Well done to all concerned. If only the professionals, would get out a bit, leave their computer models behind, and feel the wind in their faces, and take a temperature or two, they might benefit from the experience.

    I for one have always been offended by those who adjust, homogenise, or just change data which has been collected by others in the past, so that it ‘fits’ the narrative, and then don’t show their methods.

  36. We all owe a vote of thanks to your family and the Good Lady in particular for their understanding of a deep-alligator-situation.

    I’d be inclined to put out for a nice meal and a very good bottle of something.

    Please pass on my thanks.

  37. Skeptik says:

    July 30, 2012 at 1:07 am

    The faint sound you hear in the distance is Michael Mann working furiously to change the goalposts.

    *

    LOL. I bet he won’t be the only one. :)

  38. S. Geiger says:

    Red flag, IMO. Researchers looking for a signal that “we know must be there” makes things ripe for confirmation bias.

    I disagree. Most science works like this. You look for effects that theory predicts should be there (or not there sometimes).

    The way to avoid confirmation bias is to to be rigorous in data collection/selection, ie no cherry picking.

  39. “David Paper Kills Goliath-made Global Warming”

    This really was a stone to the forehead of the giant, well-aimed. Well done. But now you have to remember that Saul got jealous of David because of the accolades (after having befriended him), and for the next few years, David was in hiding and on the run. But that was the time he wrote his psalms. IMHO.

    You don’t have to be a believer to see the psychological keenness of that story. But like Evan Jones says “Nobody Beats the Rev” and you’re the one who has been “anointed”, Anthony. Sure you didn’t ask for it, that’s just the way the universe is happening.

    Now what’s the contemporary and scientific equivalent of those psalms? The climate skeptics’ wiki I started and JustTheFacts here did sterling work for, but is currently sleeping? Just a thought. Heartland have a wiki too but in some respects (not all) my wiki has the edge. I would be very very happy to pass on the wiki torch and let its research side drop lower in priority.

  40. Warm wrote:

    “Constant temperature bias does not modify trends”

    True for a single weather station. But we are dealing with multiple biases introduced at different points in time collectively to a large collection of stations (as well as to individual stations). Collectively, the introduction of those biases can result in a trend and there are many reasons to expect that would be upwards.

    Urbanization and economic growth are well established trends. Energy consumption has risen -more air-conditioners are put in place. Car ownership has risen -more asphalt laid for roads and parking lots. Etc.

    “the discontinuity is corrected by the homgenization procedure”

    Could you be explicit, how is it corrected?

  41. Interesting to see if Watts et al. 2012 gets picked up for next IPCC report. Somehow, why do I get the feeling IPCC will end up including Muller’s study and simply ignore Watts et al. 2012?

    Anthony, you’ve proven again that you are the much better chess player, not only in terms of strategy, but also in terms of integrity and innovation. Muller, second BEST again. LOL

  42. Wait a minute…

    Anthony. In your paper you state the following…

    …The USHCNv2 monthly temperature data set is described by Menne et al. (2009). The raw and unadjusted data provided by NCDC has undergone the standard quality-control screening for errors in recording and transcription by NCDC as part of their normal ingest process but is otherwise unaltered. The intermediate (TOB) data has been adjusted for changes in time of observation such that earlier observations are consistent with current observational practice at each station. The fully adjusted data has been processed by the algorithm described by Menne et al. (2009) to remove apparent inhomogeneities where changes in the daily temperature record at a station differs significantly from neighboring stations….

    Then near the end of the paper you say….

    …We have shown that the site-classification value is a clear factor in the calculation of the trend magnitude. We are investigating other factors such as Time-Of-Observation changes which for the adjusted USHCNv2 is the dominant adjustment factor during 1979-2008.

    Correct me if I am wrong here but your paper seems to essentially be looking at raw vs fully adjusted data, then looking at the impact of station categories, the two classification schemes, airports etc. But all the analysis seems to be raw vs fully adjusted. With a strong leaning towards ascribing the result you see to station siting issues.

    But the elephant in the room here is TOB (Time of OBservation) changes. How has your study evaluated TOB factors to rule them out or at least understand them as a factor in this? Particularly as you point out, although not until the end of the paper, that TOB adjustments are the dominant factor in the USHCN adjustments. As they should be.

    TOB has nothing to do with measurement quality, site rating factors, instrumentation etc. Changing the time of day that measurements are taken or even what constitutes a 24 hour period can have a huge impact on the data and then results. Until you have analysed TOB factors, what confidence can one place in these results.

    Perhaps a better approach, if you didn’t want to explore TOB issues, was to have done the analysis based on the GHCN data in 3 stages. Raw data only based on Site Classification; TOB adjusted data only based on Site Classification; Fully adjusted data only based on Site Classification only.

    Otherwise, how can you possibly know you are comparing apples with apples?

    Here are some examples of past research suggesting how big the TOB factor might be:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0450%281977%29016%3C0215%3ATOOTBA%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    Time of Observation Temperature Bias and “Climatic Change”
    Lawrence A. Schaal and and Robert F. Dale
    Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. 47907
    Received: August 27, 1976; Accepted: February 14, 1977

    Abstract

    Historical changes in time of once daily maximum and minimum temperature observations at cooperative climatological stations from 1905 to 1975 have introduced a systematic bias in mean temperatures. Unless corrected, this bias may be interpreted incorrectly as climatic “cooling” and may also affect the assessment of agricultural production potential and fossil fuel needs. Maximum and minimum temperature data for two years from the National Weather Service station at Indianapolis International Airport were used to evaluate the differences between mean temperatures obtained by terminating the 24 h period at the midnight observation and the mean temperatures obtained by terminating the 24 h period at 0700 and 1900 hours, typical observation times for AM and PM observing stations. The greatest mean temperature bias occurs in March when a 1900 observation day yields a monthly mean temperature 1.3°F above a midnight observation, and a 0700 observational day gives a −1.3°F bias. Since the number of AM observing stations in Indiana have increased from 10% of the total number of temperature stations in 1925 to 55% in 1975, the March mean temperature shows a decrease of 1.2°F in the last 40 years, solely because of the change in substation observational times. Unless the time of observation bias is considered, the mixture of AM and PM observations complicates interpretation of areal temperature anomaly patterns. This bias is accumulated in monthly, seasonal or annual values of the mean temperature-derived variables-heating degree days, cooling degree days and growing degree days—and may provide misleading information for applications in industry and agriculture.

    http://www.agci.org/dB/PDFs/05S3_DEasterling_Uncertain%20Record_0722.pdf

    Issues Related to Uncertainty in the Observed Climate Record

    …The U.S. Cooperative Observing Network (COOP) uses an observing system that records both the highest (maximum), and lowest (minimum) temperature in the previous 24h period, then these values are recorded by the observer at a set time each day (e.g. 7 am or 5 pm), and the thermometers are reset. Figure 1 shows the bias introduced into March temperatures by a change in the observing time from late afternoon to morning, which has been the trend in the COOP network over the past 20 years. This change has resulted in an artificial cooling in the time series due to a step change to cooler monthly averaged temperatures….

    Figure 1 from Easterling’s paper (follow the link) shows -1.0 to -1.5 C impact on station temperatures across most of the continental US from TOB changes. Certainly enough to explain most of the difference between the raw and fully adjusted GHCN data. Leaving very little scope for site specific factors to be significant.

    Until you incorporate TOB changes into your analysis, how can you actually make any meaningful claims about anything?

  43. Thanks for the backstory, Anthony and well done, “The Team 2″!

    Of course, this work was restricted to the US so what chance is there of global extension?

  44. Interesting to see if Watts et al. 2012 gets picked up for next IPCC report. Somehow, why do I get the feeling IPCC will end up including Muller’s study and simply ignore Watts et al. 2012?

    Beautiful smokescreen by all. McIntyre and Motl playing their parts perfectly, sending the alarmists off on a wild goose chase. Result: Muller’s pseudo-scientific claims killed off within a day of publication.

    Anthony, you’ve proven again that you are the much better chess player, not only in terms of strategy, but also in terms of integrity and innovation. Muller, second BEST again. LOL

  45. Congratulations to you and your crew, Anthony. If this is what you guys can do with no budget, Lord only knows what you could do with a fraction of the megabucks routinely thrown at global warming research.

    Pointman

  46. But the elephant in the room here is TOB (Time of OBservation) changes. How has your study evaluated TOB factors to rule them out or at least understand them as a factor in this? Particularly as you point out, although not until the end of the paper, that TOB adjustments are the dominant factor in the USHCN adjustments. As they should be.

    You make an important and valid point. I commented in the main thread that TOBS will be the main way in which this paper will be attacked. I’ll have to through the paper in detail to understand what implications this has for Karl’s TOBS adjustment.

  47. Anthony , pity you are not a Brit , such work would get you on the ladder to becoming ‘Sir’ Anthony Watts . My cap is doffed to you sir ! Well done you and your team . Cheers Tony

  48. Excellent work, well done all.
    Did you notice ChiefIO has been doing this –

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/salt-lake-city-airport/

    and that Steven Goddard had this on his site –

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/another-eureka-moment/

    You and the team have pulled a lot of loose ends together with this piece.
    What will the warmistas do now (?) as even the raw data from a lot of urban and airports sites is now looking very suspect.

    And again well done

  49. Philip Bradley says:
    July 30, 2012 at 4:05 am

    But the elephant in the room here is TOB (Time of OBservation) changes. How has your study evaluated TOB factors to rule them out or at least understand them as a factor in this? Particularly as you point out, although not until the end of the paper, that TOB adjustments are the dominant factor in the USHCN adjustments. As they should be.

    You make an important and valid point. I commented in the main thread that TOBS will be the main way in which this paper will be attacked. I’ll have to through the paper in detail to understand what implications this has for Karl’s TOBS adjustment.

    TOB is important but perhaps not that important.

    Anthony’s paper compares various classes of met. station. TOB is handled the same for all stations. The paper shows that ‘good’ stations display much less warming than ‘poor’ stations. Unless there is a systematic difference in the way TOB is handled for the different classes of stations, TOB shouldn’t much matter in the overall result. ie. ‘poor’ stations showed much more warming than ‘good’ stations.

  50. Hell hath no fury like a scorned weatherman.

    Great job, Anthony. Get yourself a white hat. You deserve it.

  51. There’s nothing to attack in this paper wrt TOBS. Watts 2012 included the adjustment. What they did was use Leroy 2010 in SHAP instead of Leroy 1999. Leroy 2010 is the new WMO- ISO gold standard so I don’t believe that leaves much room for attack.

    Someone asked we don’t know how much trend TOBS is responsible for. Nonsense. NOAA provided a lovely graphs of the effect step. I’ve posted a link to the graph a great many times.

    TOBS and SHAP were each responsible for about half the warming trend. Watts 2012 puts paid to SHAP. TOBS is next up for scrutiny. As far as I can determine TOBS is sound enough from a theoretical standpoint but there’s a long row to hoe between theory and application. In other words the meta-data that determines where, when, and how TOBS adjustment is applied to invididual stations may be a problem. The reason I’ve been suspicious of these adjustments since I learned of them a few years ago is that they produce ALL the warming trend from a raw dataset that has no warming trend in it. Adjustments to datasets like this nominally improve the data on the margins making it marginally more accurate. These adjustments don’t improve the data on the margins they introduce a trend that didn’t exist before the adjustments. This is suspicious because data with errors usually has errors in both directions and in large datasets the errors cancel out. Systemic error largely in one direction only, as was the case with both SHAP and TOBS is huge red flag. Watts saw the flag waving and it took him and his cohorts years to figure out what was waving it. Good on him for having the perspicacity to see and the perseverance to eventually ferret it out.

  52. As with any good sceptic, I will not just automatically believe this due to it supporting my own bias, but I will await further peer review and then, so long as it remains credible I will congratulate you.

    I do heartily congratulate you upon your achievement so far. But I refuse to get carried away too soon. If the conclusions of this impressive piece of work are true, then it will survive close and rigorous scrutiny and will be found to be true.

    I can wait for that, for it will be well worth waiting for.

    Thank you Anthony for your persistence and your dedication to the pursuit of TRUTH, no matter where the data lead you. As a real, dedicated supporter of serious, evidence based science, I thank you and salute your work.

  53. So this is what the Maya meant when they said that (Watts)2012 would be the end of the (CAGW)world? ;-)

  54. OK, the 60,000 foot overview from a non-scientist, non-statistician:

    1) There are significant differences between properly-sited and improperly-sited stations in the subject set, with improperly-sited stations showing greater warming.

    2) There are significant differences between urban and rural stations in both properly-sited and improperly-sited stations in the subject set, with urban stations showing greater warming.

    3) There are significant differences in airport and non-airport stations in both properly-sited and improperly-sited stations in the subject set, with airport stations showing greater warming.

    4) The above three results hold true for both major station instrument types.

    5) The differences in 1-3 above largely disappear after NOAA adjustments, which in every case increase the amount of reported warming by factors of 2 or more.

    Items 1-4 are really just confirming that long-asserted station siting biases are real. To me item (5) is the real zinger. One would think some (or even most) adjustments would be slightly negative to compensate for siting bias; to have all the adjustments up so significantly suggests very faulty methodology.

    I’d be really curious to know the intersection between the station set in this study and the one used for BEST — what percentage of the BEST stations were used here?

    Keep in mind what we refer to as “improperly sited” stations may still be perfectly usable for their original purpose. I’m thinking of airport stations here: what matters in flight operations planning is the temperature (and therefore air density) at the airport. That the same aircraft would get more lift over a corn field three miles away is irrelevant.

    The importance of station siting bias studies is to guide the selection of ones that are useful for documenting climate trends. Not all stations are.

  55. @David Ross

    “True for a single weather station. But we are dealing with multiple biases introduced at different points in time collectively to a large collection of stations (as well as to individual stations). Collectively, the introduction of those biases can result in a trend and there are many reasons to expect that would be upwards.”

    Yes, but the discontinuities induced by abrupt change in microsite environement (new road, new building, etc…) did not occur simultaneously in all stations: it is the principle of homogenization.

    “Urbanization and economic growth are well established trends. Energy consumption has risen -more air-conditioners are put in place. Car ownership has risen -more asphalt laid for roads and parking lots. Etc.”

    Well established ? I can also imagine that some stations experienced improvement of their environement.. And there is also a cooling bias induced by urbanization: shadows of new buildings.

    ““the discontinuity is corrected by the homgenization procedure””
    Could you be explicit, how is it corrected?”

    When a discontinuity is detected (a large change in temperature mean), you can see in the neighbouring stations if the same jump exists. If no, you must adjust for the jump…

  56. Thanks, Anthony, et al. for not giving up on this. It is personally very rewarding to have played a small part in this. Echoing Russ Steele, thank you for acknowledging the efforts of your volunteers.
    Chris Dunn

  57. @Glenn Tamblyn

    I fully agree with your comment.

    The main claim of the Watts et al. article is “Not only does the NOAA USCHNv2 adjustment process fail to adjust poorly sited stations downward to match the well sited stations, but actually adjusts the well sited stations upwards to match the poorly sited stations.”. IMHO, this is not well supported by the results, because, beside good/bad sitting, other factors (TOBS, instrument changes) play a role.

    The solution seem straightforfard. Take the raw data, discard poorly sited stations, and then homogenize the new dataset. Compare the “official” trend with the trend of the homogeneized with only good stations: if the second one is well below the official trend, well, Watts is right: it is a contamination of poorly sited stations to well sited stations.

  58. I’d comment this way, as pointed out if TOBS is treated uniformly then the effects should average, but even if not, Anthony has now established a new benchmark for adjusting temperature which now will require that
    A. The area of heat sinks surrounding the thermometers must be accounted according to Leroy 2010, and
    B. The warming bias of badly sited stations, be adjusted down to match prime sites, rather than the prime sites adjusted up to match the majority (of poorly sited thermometers)

    This work will now need to be done, if done honestly this will end up with climate data sets adjusted to have much lower UHI influence. It doesn’t matter now what attacks come, the new benchmark IS now established. Anthony should be congratulated for achieving that even if the paper doesn’t stand.

    This is going to be very tricky for the Global warmists as it’s certain that this will be the first downward revision the data sets will see. I can see more, there was an Australian study that showed if the average temperature was calculated from hourly temperature rather than min-max the trend is much less, pronounced. Now if we could combine hourly obs, with Anthony’s siting analysis I wonder what falls out?

    Congratulations Anthony.

    Bob

  59. Congratuations on your first lead authorship, Anthony. I’ve been there a few times and it’s a wrenching experience, so well done to see it through. Agree with Leif on the merits of a concise abstract — the historical tracing can go into the introduction.

  60. you will never know how much the world owes you.
    well done.
    wish I could afford to help you.

    [REPLY: Good wishes are noted and gratefully accepted. Help takes many forms, not just monetary. Informed commentary both here and at other sites, including in the MSM, is assistance beyond price. -REP]

  61. One more point that maybe the paper could make (IE a takeaway). The significant difference between Class 1/2 Airport sites and Class 1/2 Rural sites suggests that the Leroy 2010 procedure does not remove all the UHI bias in the record. Leroy 2010 needs to be improved upon.

    This seems intuitive in that Leroy 2010 deals with heat storage but not really with direct atmospheric heating due to humans dumping GW of heat energy straight into the atmosphere. Here in in Brisbane for example this means that while the fringe rural areas are experiencing frost, Brisbane does not because of a layer of atmosphere being directly heated by the waste heat energy of millions or radiators, this affects winter results acting over many kilometers. Mind you the carbon tax may well lower winter temperature in cities, since many will no longer be able to afford their heaters any more and those pesky pensioners will just die of hypothermia instead.

  62. Whether this will stand up to peer review, be published in a mainstream journal and cause a change in thinking for the IPCC, MSM and politicians remains to be seen. At first reading it looks to be a rigorous piece of work on an issue that 97% of climate scientists have chosen to overlook. That it took an ‘amateur’ scientist to pull this together is shameful (H/T to Evan and the other contributors).

    I suggest every poster on this thread contributes $50 (or whatever amount you can afford) to the site so that, hopefully, Anthony can at least get away with his family for a few days. Just consider what your time is worth and whether you would have had the initiative and stamina to do this work.

    [REPLY: Thank you RMS. Any amount of support is greatly appreciated. -REP]

  63. Tip jar hit to help fund your next vacation – well earned. Come on people, lets show some appreciation for the Surfacestations team!

    [REPLY: Your support, Varco, is greatly appreciated. -REP]

  64. Thank you, Anthony. My buttons are busting with pride….. and all I had to do was read.
    The backstory is quite lovely. Separate the fascinating and intense particulars, this is a story about why the pompous old ….guys? who bluster and sputter at each other about nonsense that would make Alice in Wonderland blush in feigned confusion are not — and will not — do honest science. They chase the funding and they’ve ceased with the scientific integrity schtick long long ago.

    This is a wonderful back story and many folk are very proud.

    My best to Kenji, for his support, also. I hope he wears his laminated Union of Concerned Scientists membership card around his neck at all times, just in case he needs to get out of a tough scrape with some idiot. ….Lady in Red

  65. Anthony,
    I’ve been following your site since you started questioning the Stevenson Screens. I followed your surfacestations reports and said to myself “sheesh – no way there’s no bias has crept into the data, particularly from UHI”. Then a few years ago I was on a hill and could see Boston on a bright, clear blue cloudless day. Except that there was a cloud lens over the downtown urban area, and nowhere else. (I didn’t have a camera, dammit!) That, plus surfacestation, proved that UHI/siting issues were real and distorted the data. So when I read about Muller’s report, I thought stick that horse hockey!
    For what it’s worth, it appears that (NOAA?) has distributed about 114 new temperature stations equidistant across the U.S. in the last few years. They appear to be all located in ideal Category 1 locations. Their website says they hope to get truly accurate American measurements so that in about 30 years they can do reliable analyses of the temperature trends. I believe that they did this in response to Anthony’s critiques on station siting. Kudos, Anthony!

  66. Most of my browsing is performed on an iPod while sitting in Starbucks. I looked for a tip jar but only found “tips” in the menu! I have donated to two other “non-charitable” entities in my life and I would like to make you the third. Anthony et al are heros! Now, where is you tip jar on my iPod?

    [REPLY: I don’t use an iPod and have no idea what you are actually seeing. Perhaps one of our commenters can help. On dinosaur PCs the tip button is labeled “donate” and is part way down the right of the screen just under the “World Climate Widget”. If you scroll down to the blog roll you’ve scrolled down too far. -REP]

  67. The periodic table had several holes filled in with elements only theory said existed. It was up to dedicated scientists to find them. Good job Anthony.

  68. Anthony writes:

    “REPLY: Understood, but please think about the physics of heat sinks, specifically when it comes to Tmin and I think yuo’ll see where we were coming from. Confirmation bias is a huge problem in AGW science, and if this new ratings system had not revealed the solution, I would have had to accede there was no effect. Persistence paid off. – Anthony”

    It seems to me that many people are missing the importance of Leroy’s work and Anthony’s use of it. By the “physics of heat sinks,” what is meant is that temperature stations are rated according to physical characteristics of their individual sites. Specifically, temperature stations are rated according to the predictable behavior of concrete, asphalt, or whatever is found on site that influences temperature readings. For the precise details, you have to read Leroy.

    The huge importance of Leroy’s work and Anthony’s use of it is that now we have an empirical measure over temperature sites that allows comparison and grouping among them. This innovation in scientific study of the data is a far cry from the strategy employed by the Warmistas who have always been happy to compare any two temperature measurements with total disregard for the facts on the ground. (Yes, Warmistas use Urban, semi-Urban, and Rural but with total disregard for the facts on the ground.)

    Perhaps more important is the fact that Warmistas have stonewalled (against) this kind of empirical research since the phrase “global warming” was first uttered. Leroy’s work and Anthony’s use of it are total game changers. There will be no going back.

  69. I remember when you started in on the Stevenson shelters at CA. I had some thoughts then. But this is way beyond that. Kudos. Most of my time these days is spent on electronics and politics so I have not been a regular contributor to the climate debates for a while. Thanks for all you do and continue to do. And tell Willis – “a long way from Olema eh?” ;-)

  70. Superb, just superb.
    Kudos to Steve M. for his help in pushing the ball over the goal line, and keeping the stats pristine. He’s certainly eminently qualified for the job! A potent shield against inevitable attempts to disparage your fine work.

    Glad your family got to get the vacation in; at least you get some close-to-home vicarious benefit!

  71. Donation made — well earned. Hopefully this work will lead to (a) correcting much of the warming bias in the official record, and (b) improved siting and selection for those stations used to compile the official surface temperature records.

    [REPLY: Thank you for your support. -REP]

  72. Warm says:
    July 30, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Constant temperature bias does not modify trends: I understand well that a poorly sited station with a lot of heat sources would be biased (physics of heat sinks ?), but if the bias is constant, there is no influence on decadal trend…

    The problem is that the bias of a poorly sited station is not constant. Think of a small increase (say 1%) in the number of sunny days over a year. In a perfect station, that would give a small increase of yearly averaged temperature (say 0.1°C). In a poorly sited station, the temperature on a rainy or clouded day is about the same as in a good station, but the temperature on a sunny day is getting much higher (think of a station on an asphalted parking…). Thus instead of a trend of 0.1°C, the trend of a poorly sited station gets 0.2°C or 0.3°C, only by a small increase in number of (even partly) sunny days…

  73. Good work! Thanks for your dedication.
    I doubt Kenji was offended. Dogs and UCS member seem to be attracted to things that stink.

  74. “The problem is that the bias of a poorly sited station is not constant. Think of a small increase (say 1%) in the number of sunny days over a year. In a perfect station, that would give a small increase of yearly averaged temperature (say 0.1°C). In a poorly sited station, the temperature on a rainy or clouded day is about the same as in a good station, but the temperature on a sunny day is getting much higher (think of a station on an asphalted parking…). Thus instead of a trend of 0.1°C, the trend of a poorly sited station gets 0.2°C or 0.3°C, only by a small increase in number of (even partly) sunny days…”

    Nice SciFi story, I can wrote almost the same:

    “a poorly sited station, the temperature on a rainy or clouded day is about the same as in a good station, but the temperature on a sunny day is getting much lower (think of a station with a lot of shadows from surrounding vegetation or buildings, or a lot a water that uptake heat from the sun).”

    Microsite influence from shadows, water and asphalte are taken into account with the Leroy’s ranking:

    Class 4 (non-compliant, additional estimated uncertainty added by siting up to 2°C)  Close, artificial heat sources and reflective surfaces (buildings, concrete surfaces, car parks, etc.) or expanse of water (unless significant of the region, occupying: o Less than 50% of the surface within a circular area of 10 m around the screen o Less than 30% of the surface within a circular area of 3 m around the screen  Away from all projected shade when the Sun is higher than 20°.

  75. Okay, Anthony. Confession time. When you made your initial announcement, I got all excited, speculating with everyone else in the blogosphere. Then when you dialled back, I felt peeved and got a bit annoyed with you. But then, when you finally posted, I realised that the work you’d done really was important–quite possibly moreso than anything I’d like to have imagined.

    I suppose this paper might contain flaws (I really wouldn’t know), but you have some heavy guns on board and your data is out there for replication and critique, which is as it should be. I’m genuinely proud for you, and can see why, for you, (and as it turned out, everyone else) it was so significant–so please forgive me for doubting you.

    Glad I got that off my chest–glad to report you’re as much one of my heroes as ever! :-)

  76. Warm says:
    July 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

    think of a station with a lot of shadows from surrounding vegetation or buildings, or a lot a water that uptake heat from the sun

    That still gives:
    “The problem is that the bias of a poorly sited station is not constant.”, no matter if the bias is positive or negative. That is what makes the difference in trend with good stations. Positive or negative, but the figures show in average quite a lot more positive than negative bias for the poorly sited stations…

  77. Anthony/Evan–

    I understand the point about deadline pressure, so don’t take this as criticism of what has been done up to now.

    I would, however, have liked to have seen a few “poster child” examples, with pictures, and associated station trends, in the .ppt, of stations that were re-classified with the new standards.

    Will something like that be forthcoming?

  78. Just to make an obvious point — stations that are badly sited now may not have been badly sited (or as badly sited) before. Stuff keeps getting built. Also, airports are busier now than they were a few decades ago and lots more asphalt has been laid. The trend from concrete to asphalt may be important (and grass runways — which were once common — are now virtually a thing of the past).

    Watts et. al. have now given us a priceless look at how significant all this is.

    I do think posting first in this venue will prove appropriate and may so greatly improve the paper that it sets a new standard, especially due to contributions from experts like Leif.

  79. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm
    Cut the abstract as I suggested.

    +1. Leif’s version is the way it should be done.

  80. Next edition of the paper should attempt to anticipate and counter objections by Mosher.

  81. Mardler says:
    July 30, 2012 at 3:09 am
    Thanks for the backstory, Anthony and well done, “The Team 2″!

    Of course, this work was restricted to the US so what chance is there of global extension?

    This has been answered half a dozen times in comments on the preceding thread.

  82. rogerknights says:
    July 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm
    Next edition of the paper should attempt to anticipate and counter objections by Mosher.
    the usual [and effective] strategy in writing a controversial paper is to anticipate [and counter or at least mention] objections from the ‘usual suspects’. In many cases that stops the objections from being even brought forth.

  83. Bobl says:
    July 30, 2012 at 6:55 am
    there was an Australian study that showed if the average temperature was calculated from hourly temperature rather than min-max the trend is much less, pronounced. Now if we could combine hourly obs, with Anthony’s siting analysis I wonder what falls out?

    I believe you are referring to an article written by me, about the work of Jonathan Lowe an Australian statistician. It hasn’t been formally published in a journal. Although I urged Jonathan to do so.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/11/4/australian-temperatures.html

  84. Then a few years ago I was on a hill and could see Boston on a bright, clear blue cloudless day. Except that there was a cloud lens over the downtown urban area, and nowhere else.

    While I think the heat sink theory of warmer nights in poorly sited stations has merit, I don’t think it is the only effect at work. I think nighttime aerosol seeded clouds over urban areas also play a role.

    It is scandalous that there has never been a published study on the effects of urban aerosols on minimum and maximum temperatures. Despite many studies that clearly show the effect of urban aerosols on other aspects of weather.

  85. “I’m truly sorry if anyone was [misled.]”

    Actually, the whole thing was fun. It certainly attracted a lot of attention. Bishop Hill got over 250 comments on his “Cryptic” WUWT thread. Many thanks, well done. I’m impressed with your boffin bunch, some very big names in this field. They are to be congratulated and thanked for their fine (and arduous) work, too.

  86. @Phillip Bradley
    Yes, that was the one, although It wasn’t your article that led me to Lowe’s Blog, The simplistic min-max average seems to me to be just that – simplistic. Lowe clearly shows that there are factors at play (like cloud cover) that clearly form part of the trend. I revisited and Lowe has posted a bunch more stuff. Some interesting reading ahead.

    As I said in my previous posting, where might we be if we combines Lowe’s methods with Anthony’s revelations regards siting. Perhaps that will account for more, If we find that the trend is all at one point in the day IE; where maximum cloudiness occurs, does this change things… Well yes.

    Yes, I agree with you that Lowe should publish!

    Thanks for putting on the record where Lowe’s work can be read, he deserves exposure here for those still reading this thread its here http://gustofhotair.blogspot.com.au/

  87. Tallbloke said something that didn’t quite make sense to me: (paraphrasing) that this isn’t a big deal outside of the US.

    I disagree because this is supposed to be the best, largest national data set available, and also because if these problems exist in that data set, they will probably exist in most others. Anyway, SurfaceStations.org did a wonderful job, and it would be great if interested parties in other nations can organize similar data-collection efforts; perhaps then, Watts et al. (or others) will use the Leroy 2010 classification scheme and similarly analyse those data sets.

    Then Watts et al.’s recent paper will truly prove to have been of momentous importance in the advancement of climate science.

  88. “I started writing, steep learning curve”

    Truth. It is so hard to write. I’ve gotten to the point that I can “read” a scientific paper in about 20 minutes. First look at the title then look at the figures then scan through the equations then decide if I actually want to read the text. I’ve found that’s the best way to write one. First put all my figures in order then write out all my equations then write the text. Oddly the last part I write is the abstract which I used to write first thinking it helped organize my thinking.

  89. Dinostratus says:
    July 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm
    “I started writing, steep learning curve”
    Truth. It is so hard to write. I’ve gotten to the point that I can “read” a scientific paper in about 20 minutes. First look at the title then look at the figures then scan through the equations then decide if I actually want to read the text. I’ve found that’s the best way to write one. First put all my figures in order then write out all my equations then write the text. Oddly the last part I write is the abstract which I used to write first thinking it helped organize my thinking.

    This is how I do it too. Works for me.

  90. “So made announcement Friday. Figured on Sunday at noon so WUWT could provide peer review, and dumped my plane tickets in trash. Admittedly I was a bit overwrought when I wrote it. I’m truly sorry if anyone was mislead. Dialed it back. ”

    Anthony, I think your excitement was appropriate. If it holds up, it’s a genuine game changer. I see all sorts of arrogant, dismissive statements of course from the true believers…none of it based on substance.. But the implications are profound.

    Even if you didn’t have to shut down for 2 days..which I understand you did…it was a great pr move. They play it, so should we (hope you don’t mind the 1st person plural..I like to think we’re all in this together… even if all most us rank and file skeptics can do is cheer from the sidelines and contribute a few shekels from time to time.

  91. Congratulations on the results are way too premature. Let’s see how the substance of the [final version of the] paper stands up to rigorous scrutiny. Beware confirmation bias, people.

    Congratulations on the work done – which includes the marvelous volunteer effort for surfacestations.org – are entirely appropriate, and I heartily add mine.

  92. Re the claim that a constant temperature bias does not modify trends:
    – that would be so for something like inaccurate placement of a thermometer glass on the card giving the scale (thus a constant offset if the scale is linear as it usually is).
    – but are thermodynamic effects from heat sinks and sources constant? If not the trend is amplified. Frederick Michael reminds us of the obvious, that sites deteriorate due building/paving – wasn’t PHX the airport poster site for that?
    – are there as many sinks as sources, and of what relative magnitude? Obviously in summer there are many patches of asphalt absorbing heat in the day and releasing it at night, but no ice sheets (just vegetation?). OTOH, in winter the ashphalt may or may not be covered (more likely to be uncovered to increase use, i.e. snow clearing), snow does vary a bit and could be icy (though on the edge of a lake is probably not a good site anyway). Seems to me it is not simple, so it will be a long time before most corrections can be made. (Image analysis may be possible etc. but huge task, may be better to stop using poorly sited stations and build new ones instead of analyzing the bad.)
    – and my mind keeps coming back to min-max-mean, or more logically the integration of temperature and time. Recall that some data shows the min increasing more than the mean or max – higher min should help life, higher max in an already hot area probably hurts but in some areas would help (depending on the vegetation). Please remind me why anyone should care about monitoring global temperature, given that the climate has already disproven alarmist predictions (models/theories), and allegations of human causes of significant change have been disproven.

    – in any case reality (shown by Watts et al 2012 and some other papers) is that station siting creates major errors in the trend of increasing temperature.

    – as for “homogenization procedure”, what is that in each case it is used? A paper by Steirou and Koutsoyiannis claims it causes large errors (see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/17/new-paper-blames-about-half-of-global-warming-on-weather-station-data-homgenization/ for news on that, and search http://www.climateaudit.org for “Station Homogenization as a Statistical Procedure” in which Stephen McIntyre comments on the difficulty of doing it properly).

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