How not to measure temperature, part 31

It’s been awhile since I updated this series, and its not for lack of material. But I got busy with the UCAR conference, publishing a slide show, and other things. But this morning, über volunteer Don Kostuch sent me a note on his latest survey in Titusville, FL near Cape Canaveral and KSC. I’d like to point out that Don has traveled further and surveyed more stations in the USA than anyone. He is a surveying machine. He wrote this in his email to me:

“On your scale of 1 to 5, this is an 8. Peace, Don Kostuch”

Ok in the past we have seen stations on rooftops, at sewage treatment plants, over concrete, next to air conditioners, next to diesel generators, with nearby parking, excessive nighttime humidity, and at non-standard observing heights.

Imagine a USHCN station that embraces all of that. I give you the Titusville, FL USHCN station:




Ever thorough, Don also provided photographs of the Climate Reference Network site, just 7 miles east at KSC, which demonstrates the correct environment for measurement of near surface air temperature:


Now I know there will be the usual critics who will jump in and say “This can be adjusted for!”. Ok here is your chance, show me the equations to untangle Titusville’s temperature record from microsite bias. Personally, it looks FUBAR to me.


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September 19, 2007 1:17 pm

What’s the CRN graph look like?

Stan Needham
September 19, 2007 1:20 pm

I thought the site at the University of Arizona was pretty sad, but this one is like the perfect storm of “how not to measure temperature”.

Anthony Watts
September 19, 2007 1:54 pm

“What’s the CRN graph look like?”
Thats just it, there isn’t one, the CRN network isn’t scheduled for completion until 2008. This KSC site has only been in place since May 7th 2005, way too short for any trends.

September 19, 2007 3:08 pm

I can’t wait until the KSC “suspect” site is adjusted to conform to the Titusville reference data. The Rabett is running now.

George M
September 19, 2007 4:51 pm

OK, I give up. What’s the round white thing with the red splotch nearest the MMTS? At first I thought it was an old globe lamp, but apparently it is nearly 2 dimensional. Gimme some help here, Don

George M
September 19, 2007 7:35 pm

I did, and still don’t recognize it. One possibility which fits the front and side views better than any telemetry antenna I know about is a big fire alarm bell.
I pulled up Live Local aerial view images also, but they are not clear enough to tell either.

September 19, 2007 10:20 pm

George, ah “fire alarm bell…”
Not quite but I know for certain what it is now. It is a lift pump alarm bell. If the pump gets clogged, all hell backs up in the system and they have to take immediate measures to prevent crapal tunnel syndrome.

September 20, 2007 11:50 am

“Crapal Tunnel Syndrome.” LoL.
All this reminded me of was my eldest daughter who is a “County 4H All-Star.” That means she’s a role model. She is famous for a train skit where she and here co-cospirators give a “model” food demonstration while doing everything wrong. Loose hair, poor hygiene, picking noses, lax attitude, caught lying and making things up. The younger children laugh and learn and hopefully do not repeat the mistakes.
I just wish we could have historical readings of CO2 and CH4/C2H6 as well as the Sulfur series from this site.
In the mean time I hope you can comlete the survey and then use the results to winnow some 60-80 sites of Class 1 double pure with history and then look for North American trends.
Keep up the good work.

Chris Kaiser
September 20, 2007 12:02 pm

Has anyone managed yet to identify a list of “golden sites” that are: class 1 or class 2, rural location (lights =0?) and a long history without station moves?
I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what the long term temperature trend is just from such reference sites.

Chris D
September 20, 2007 1:30 pm

The closest you’ll see, so far, can be found here:
posts 266, 267, and 271, among others. Fascinating stuff. Totally validate’s Anthony’s work, imho. That’s the impression I get. Or at least it’s a good beginning.

Sam Urbinto
September 20, 2007 2:28 pm

Here’s a few ideas about temperature sensors, site standards, and data collection I’m just throwing out here. None of the figures are necessarily the correct ones, I’m just making them up. Some of these things will vary depending on if you’re talking about existing sites or new ones, but eh. It’s just some ideas I got over at CA I thought I’d rewrite a bit and put in one post.
Sensors need to have a high enough degree of resolution to track temperatures to .01 C
Sensors need to be regularly calibrated.
Sensors need to be shielded from wind, snow, rain, dust, and heat, and from possible human or animal interference or general damage.
Shields need to not heat or cool the air or otherwise disrupt the free mixing of the surface’s thermal characteristics with the air.
Sensors need to all be at a uniform height (5 feet?) consistent with measuring the Atmospheric Boundry Layer (ie not so low they measure the surface itself only directly under the sensor and not so high they’re not in the surface layer of the ABL.)
Sensors need to be far enough away (100 feet?) from obstructions and other materials that might interact with or influence the surface/air mix.
Sensors need to be located in a place indicative of the majority of the area being sampled (adjusting that size to fit the situation, as needed).
The area being sampled needs to be large enough to be meaningful, but not so large there are too many varied conditions in the area. (eg 5×5 is too big IMHO)
The area being sampled needs to be of a known size, so the sensor’s contribution to the whole can be weighted properly. (Why compare 10×10 to .5x.5?)
The location of the sensor has to be of a known altitude and there needs to be 1 hygrometer at the site to also track humidity.
There will be a minimum of 3 sensors at least 10 feet apart. (YMMV)
Sensors will take frequent samples and report them via radio, IR, satellite, wireless Internet or burried cable to a recording station.
Humidity readings will be transmitted at the same time as temperature.
Recording stations will collect the temperature and humidity information and in conjunction with altitude, generate an additional figure of effective temperature (or to normalize to some standard humidity and altitude?).
There will be 1 recording station per 5 sites, which will correlate the data from the sites with each other to ensure nothing abnormal is going on (and/or perform calculations on them?).
There will be an automated process to collect the data from the recording stations at 1 or more locations, where any further needed processing will take place at as many levels and to the degrees required.

Evan Jones
September 20, 2007 9:09 pm

And if you have any have reason to mistrust it,
We’ll adjust it!

George M
September 21, 2007 5:57 am

It seems to me that this exercise revolves around one point, whether the earth’s temperature is changing. But, consider this. Any site which has changed in any way is no longer certifiable as having a record which relates over a long period of time. So, whether the site is class 1 or class 8 (snicker), if it is exactly the same (not likely) as it was 50 or 100 years ago, then the data might be relevant. All this massaging of data to “compensate” for site changes is just obsfuscation for results dictated data taking. I have several remote reading thermometers scattered around the place here. All were checked against each other and read the same when adjacent. However, I see as much as a 4 degree difference around a 2 acre lot, which tells me that site location moves completely negate the validity of any long term comparisons, from which to derive trends. As Steve Milloy emphasizes, there can’t be much certainty about trends when there is no agreement on what the earth’s temperature is anyway, and this is just another example down at the individual location level.

September 21, 2007 6:58 am

Is there any chance that the CRN will be “calibrated” or “adjusted” by comparing it with the nearby MMTS site?

Stan Needham
September 21, 2007 7:26 am

The “adjust it” mindset is beginning to get picked up across the Internet in places other than climate blogs. The American Thinker had a great article yesterday that was easy for a layman like me to follow.

Steve Moore
September 21, 2007 10:11 am

“And if you have any have reason to mistrust it,
We’ll adjust it!”
That’s the old Groucho Marx song!
(I haven’t rewritten song lyrics in years. This one’s tempting)

John Hekman
September 21, 2007 1:22 pm

Are you aware of the study of California’s climate done by two climatologists from JPL and Cal State LA earlier this year? It suppposedly concluded from analysis of over 300 weather stations in Cal. that the increase in temp over the last 100 years was mostly due to UHI. Here is a story:

Steve Bloom
September 21, 2007 6:57 pm

Anthony, if there’s an blatant bias from microsite effects at this USHCN site, one would think that would be apparent in even a short-term trend comparison (probably of daily data) with the CRN station. As you note, over two years of data are available for the latter. I agree that subtle effects would require more years of CRN data, but I thought the point of this post was to single out a station where that wouldn’t be the case.
John Hekman, that Freep post was very confused. If you look at the JPL press release, things should become more clear. Unsurprisingly, the pattern of warming in California is complex. If you want a free copy of the paper itself, email the corresponding author (LaDochy) and I’m confident he’ll send you one (as he would have done for the Freep guy).

Evan Jones
September 21, 2007 8:44 pm

“That’s the old Groucho Marx song!”
Bingo. (Sorry about the typo.)

Evan Jones
September 22, 2007 7:19 am

SIR! Interesting artilce, SIR!
The gold speck seems to be that uncertainty over time is not, Not, NOT necessarily a constant.
So not only is the data that much fuzzier, but it’s also a moving target (even if moving into less fuzz). The problem being when we unconsciously assume the end-fuzz is as fuzzy and the at-start-fuzz.
(And how acurate can one get if one oversamples a 0.2C MoE? What’s the curve on that?)
And I thought liberal arts would suffice. That and a modicum of wargame-level stats. Obviously it won’t do. I shall have to work on that.

Ben Paterson
September 22, 2007 4:44 pm

In our email exchange last week I noted that I will be visting Cape Canaveral in 3 weeks, and planned to do the site assessment for Titusville, FL – looks like Don’s beat me to it. Very nice job on his part. He did not note it in his assessment, but this is a waste water treatment plant.

Stan Needham
September 23, 2007 7:30 am

I wanted to read more about the USHCN, and when I Googled USHCN I discovered a rather humorous irony with regard to this post. The USHCN home page appeared as the first entry in the Google search, accompanied by this one-line description:

The United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) is a high quality, moderate-sized data set of daily and monthly records of basic meteorological … (emphasis added)

September 23, 2007 5:53 pm

The ‘Old’ Consensus?
The ice under Hansen’s feet is getting very thin.

Evan Jones
September 24, 2007 1:28 pm

Gimme that Old Time Consensus?

January 2, 2009 6:18 am

[…] I started looking further, I never expected to find USHCN climate monitoring stations placed at sewage treatment plants, next to burn barrels, or in parking lots of University Atmospheric Science Departments, or next to […]

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