How Not to Measure Temperature, Part 33

Looking SSELooking SSE

Until now, most of the surface temperature measurement stations I’ve highlighted as substandard locations for measuring temperature accurately have been in the USA. Today, courtesy of Geoff Sherrington, we are treated to the sight of the main Australian historic site, Melbourne metropolitan, near LaTrobe St, Melbourne. He reports it has max-min temp records daily since 1855 to late 2007.

Yet look at the pictures, this station is only 2 meters from a sidewalk, and a couple of meters more from a major street intersection and voluminous traffic. Hardly the best place to measure temperature. This site demonstrates the growing trend of climate monitoring stations that have been gradually surrounded by increasingly closer urban influences, and demonstrates that the problem is not unique to the USA.

Here are some additional pictures, click for large versions.



And a satellite image of downtown Melbourne showing the intersection is available at Windows Live Maps

UPDATE: Kristen Brynes has offered a couple of photos she had available taken from different angles of the same site, see them below. Thanks Kristen.



Additionally, the Lat/Lon of this station is:

-37.8075, 144.9700

A PDF document from Australias BOM lists the METADATA for this site and is available here

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October 23, 2007 11:42 pm

Show here is the recent data regarding the melbourne based website that you have listed, which shows the maximum and minimum temperatures at the site, as well as other analysis of temperatrue that suggests that the sun is the major cause of global warming.

October 24, 2007 4:13 am

Yep, that’s it! There are thre lanes of traffic one side, six lanes the other, electric trams in the middle. The view labelled “looking east” was 2-3 storey buildings 20 years ago and a suburban paddock 100 years ago. The temperature effects of these changes must be an order of magnitude above any GHG effects!

George M
October 24, 2007 6:33 am

Shouldn’t the first photo be more correctly labeled looking south? Or southeast at best? Or has Oz turned 90 degrees when I wasn’t looking?

Bill Powell
October 24, 2007 8:05 am

Having observed life for 53 years now, it has become obvious to me that if one wishes to believe something, they can always find the evidence to do so. Witness: America can not win in Iraq. Everything came from nothing – literally (macro-evolution). Global warming will destroy the world. These are just a few examples of absolutist statements that are not necessarily destined to become fact. Add to them the numerous mutually exclusive religious beliefs that obviously, can not all be true.
If we know anything from science, it is that knowledge itself is always in a state of flux. Nearly every scientific theory has, over time, fallen to better theories which in turn are replaced. Our understanding of the world around us is woefully inadequate for the purpose of making grand predictions about the future with any certainty. Prognosticators and profits have always existed – and nearly always been wrong! Unfortunately there has always been a receptive audience among certain members of the human race. I suppose there always will be… lets just hope laws and policy are not made by those ‘faithful’.

Evan Jones
October 24, 2007 10:07 am

This is exactly what needs to be factored in but isn’t. It affects the temp change delta.
I wonder if there will be vitually any warming at all in the 20C, if this is factored in. (Considering the margins of error and statistical snow, I wouldn’t be too surprised by ANY result.)
P.S., I always assumed all religious people except Deists believed, de facto, in some form of intelligent design. By definition. I don’t see what the controversy is all about. Man, himself, has been actively and consciously engaged in “intelligent design” for 10,000 years, at the very least, if not long before. (Being an atheist, I think the whole argument is silly, but certainly not threatening, as do my fellow-liberals, who wouldn’t recognize a–real–threat if it bit them in the ass.)

Evan Jones
October 24, 2007 10:11 am

“Prognosticators and profits have always existed – and nearly always been wrong!”
Until Herman Kahn (inventor of futurology) whose anti-doomsday predictions from the 70s came in as astoundingly accurate and smashed the Club of Rome.

r. chamness
October 24, 2007 1:21 pm

in the global warming debate its not important what facts are gathered but rather who gathers what facts. so i expect that soon the locations of these sites will become classified information.

Evan Jones
October 24, 2007 2:45 pm

So long as all sides have access to all data, it’s cool with me. Anyone who refuses data and methods is out of court, from the getgo. How did my liberal brothers ever come up with the peculiar and profoundly anti-liberal notion that scientists arbitrarily designated as “good guys” are not required to abide by standard scientific method and must be taken on faith?
Those arguments leave me even colder than the notion that “God will handle it”.
There is no “faith” in science. In Science, everyone comes from Missouri. So, show me!

October 24, 2007 4:31 pm

There is no “faith” in science.
However, there is trust (trust that data and theories will be accurately presented and discussed), and it’s a commodity I find sadly lacking in even the good pro-AGW sources.

October 24, 2007 9:07 pm

So the fact all that hardscape development traps heat means nothing?
The polar ice caps are suddenly not melting just because a thermometer is near pavement?
I agree with the premise that if you put a thermometer next to a light bulb you’ll get a different reading than if the thermometer were a yard away — but the lit bulb still positively affects the heat in the room.
Whether or not the sun is “causing” global warming through increased activity (and the scientists theorizing this say the evidence is inconclusive, and that it may be just one factor among many anyway), shouldn’t we be attempting to not exacerbate this theorized phenonemon through additional greenhouse gasses?

Stan Needham
October 25, 2007 5:39 am

not exacerbate this theorized phenonemon
Robnesvacil, Is that sort of like pissing off the Tooth Fairy?

Evan Jones
October 25, 2007 12:22 pm

A liberal layman’s take:
I don’t think anyone is claiming that urbanization itself creates heat sinks that do have a warming effect. That much is obvious.
The problem arises because the surface stations are overtaken by urban and exurban creep at a rate higher than the “creep” is overtaking the planet as a whole. This not only created a higher reading than is accurate, but, more important, artificially increases the RATE of temperature change. This, in turn, creates a steeper curve in the projections for the future.
Bear in mind that this is a base data issue. NONE of those existing curves are valid if the data is invalid. Including the curves purporting to match solar irradiance with temp. increase–if the temp data itself is wrong, then nothing can be concluded from it.
It’s not that we should ignore the issue. But we need better data, we can easily get better data, and we have the time to do so. Meanwhile, EVERY billion we spend on GW–or fail to create–means that somewhere (not to put too fine a point on it) babies starve. So I say let’s make very damn sure before we trash our precious wealth that we work so hard to create.

Evan Jones
October 25, 2007 12:24 pm

Oops. Make that:
“I don’t think anyone is claiming that urbanization itself DOES NOT create heat sinks that do have a warming effect. That much is obvious.”

Wondering Aloud
October 25, 2007 3:34 pm

The Southern polar Icecap is most assuredly not melting. Earlier this month it set a record for all time greatest extent and the continental interior has shown a noticeable cooling trend over recent years.
As to your other comments, Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant,to plants it is the essential life giving gas. To animals it is harmless even at much higher concentrations than are likely in the future. Compared to most of earths geologic history carbon dioxide levels are near all time lows, not highs. There is little doubt that an increase would be good for the bioshere.

October 27, 2007 2:52 pm

Cute “Wondering Aloud” … don’t have an actual fact-based point to make so let’s start calling people names.
Please explain to the shipping captains on southern routes why they are dodging more and more icebergs as ice shelves calve from Antarctica.
And it’s mighty convenient for you to ignore completely what is happening to the exponentially shrinking northern polar ice(melt) cap.
CO2 is not a pollutant?
Definition of pollutant – any substance, as certain chemicals or waste products, that renders the air, soil, water, or other natural resource harmful or unsuitable for a specific purpose.
Pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere than the environment can handle (those plants only need so much CO2) fits that definition.
Or perhaps you are given to name calling because you’ve locked yourself in a room full of CO2.
PS: Every time the earth’s (except once, millions upon millions of years ago) that the earth’s temperature has risen to a noticeable degree there was a mass extinction event. You really want to put your completely unfounded “There is little doubt that an increase would be good for the bioshere” theory to the test?

Stan, the tooth fairy doesn’t exist.
Every scientist agrees global climate change does exist – what is in “debate” are the causes (if you can even call a very few paid-by-oil-cos scientists arguing against the rest of the world’s scientific community a “debate”).
We know for a fact that greenhouse gasses trap solar radiation. Some, including apparently most folks on this blog, question whether or not that effect is enough to cause the temperature and climate shifts we’re seeing.
Some scientists studying the sun also think solar radiation may be increasing and they theorize that may also be a cause for global climate change. They admit their own studies are incomplete and inconclusive (though that apparently doesn’t stop some pro-business political conservatives from touting their work as definitive).
Ergo, if the sun is the cause, pollution in the form of greenhouse gasses would exacerbate the problem.
Alternatively, if the sun is not the cause, pollution in the form of greenhouse gasses is still a factor — perhaps the main factor, perhaps one among several.
Even in the time of Galileo, Copernicus and Newton there were doubters and they probably had snappy comebacks too, maybe even about tooth fairies. Don’t hear much about those detractors these days.

October 27, 2007 10:20 pm

Actually most extinction events can be linked to glaciation, not warming. Life thrives when it’s warm.
And we’re actually at historic low points for atmospheric CO2.
Yes greenhouse gases trap SOME solar radiation for a certain amount or time and at certain wavelengths. The ability of CO2 to do so is logarithmic, which means the more you add less and less radiative absorbption occurs. the first 20ppm of CO2 had more radiative forcing capability than the next 300ppm.
Where’s your study that shows plants simply don’t need any more CO2? That’s a good one, lol.

Evan Jones
October 28, 2007 9:13 pm

Now, now, gentlemen, let’s be nice. robnesvacil started out all nice and proper, and it ill befits us that we should not repay in the same coin. Besides, he asked a question that any one of us are well able to answer clearly and convincingly.
I don’t want his type against us. I want to win him over. Or even vice-versa–we ourselvces also must remember the debate is not over. If we have common ground, I’m interested. If not, I’m still interested.
We all have our prejudices. But that doesn’t mean we can’t lay out what we consider to be the facts (or even make our attempts at jokes) in a respectful manner.
As for any mild snipes that have passed since, let us put them aside and proceed rationally as friends, as men of the world who, above all, want to get at the truth of the matter.

October 29, 2007 8:59 am

Hear hear, Evan. Though I don’t think R wants to get at the truth, only his truth.

Stan Needham
October 29, 2007 2:01 pm

Stan, the tooth fairy doesn’t exist.
robnesvacil, tell that to my 6-year-old grandson. He has more than theoretical proof, in the form of cold, hard cash, to the contrary. Besides, you’re the one who suggested we shouldn’t do anything to “exacerbate” a “theorized phenonemon”. I was merely pointing out the fallacy in your wording. If you have proof that what you say is true, let’s hear it. Like Evan, I still have an open mind on this issue, but I too would like to see your study on when plants reach the CO2 saturation point.

October 29, 2007 7:36 pm

More analysis here, suggesting that Melbourne has warmed up at a rate of up to 3 degrees per 100 years moreso than nearby Laverton

Evan Jones
October 30, 2007 7:52 am

So, wich is it?
Peter, Parker picked a peck of packed parking?
Or, she’s got Davis UHIs?

October 31, 2007 10:39 pm

Jonathon Lowe
Laverton would certainly record a lower temp increase. The site in La Trobe Street is five minutes walk from where I work, and is now in the northern part of downtown Melbourne. Laverton is on a windswept plain westwards around Port Philip Bay. It gets on shore breezes that are blocked from the La Trobe Street site by the bulk of downtown Melbourne.
Also, Laverton has a small airport and not much else, it is nowhere near as urbanised as Melbourne.

November 1, 2007 12:13 am

It’s not the plants that would reach a CO2 saturation point, it’s the animals who breathe the air.
And the “theorized phenomenon” I was discussing was the theory that the sun’s radiation may be increasing and that that may be the cause for global climate change.
Producing more greenhouse gasses, which we know create a greenhouse effect, would indeed exacerbate such a phenomenon if it were found to exist.
And if the sun is not the cause for climate change, what is? Or do you deny that anything’s changing at all?

Stan Needham
November 1, 2007 2:42 pm

And if the sun is not the cause for climate change, what is? Or do you deny that anything’s changing at all?
I know almost no one that denies that there have been changes over the last century or so. In the overall scheme of the geological history of this planet, they are quite small, and there is no proof that man is responsible for any but a very small part of that small part. I think we should constantly strive to be the best stewards of the planet that we can be. We should place a priority on finding and developing new, clean, renewable, economical forms of energy and share the technology with developing nations.

Evan Jones
November 1, 2007 2:58 pm

Yes, one would expect a higher constant for Melbourne. But the gold speck here is not the level of the temp but the differing rates of the temp change. One has to wonder how the Melbourne records were adjusted to account for urban creep.
I doubt if there’d be much problem for animal life if CO2 went from a thirtieth of a percent to, say, a twentieth. Other than its potential for climate change (degree still in dispute), I am not worried much about CO2 as a “pollutant”. (There are gasses which are seriously harmful to health at much lower levels.)
Yes, CO2 is a GH gas, but the “positive reinforcing” bit may be way offbase. It may not warm the atmosphere enough to matter worth a hill of beans (or it may). More study seems to be required.
It’s like UHIs. Yes, they are heat sinks that contribute to global temps, but at a–much–smaller rate than they contribute to increased surface station measurement because the % surface stations subjeted to UHI is much larger than the % of earth’s surface subjected to UHI.
We need to a.) set up a much better network (like the new CRN), and b.) readjust the existing records to reflect correctly the results of UHI and the unaccounted-for site violations. This will result in a fair amount of statistical snow, but that cannot be avoided.
Bt ti’s small comfort that the existing net is set up properly. We NEED those historical records, and currently, their data is a scandal. As it is, we can’t safely rely on the accuracy of the data we have.

Evan Jones
November 1, 2007 3:04 pm

P.S., the sun’s TSI and global temp measurements (in Kelvin) have both risen c. 0.02% over the last 30 years, But that’s such a short correlation that we cannot as yet conclude anything from it.
Besides, as we can’t rely on the temp measurements themselves, we can’t even make a reasonable correlation in the first place.

November 1, 2007 3:57 pm

CO2 doesn’t become toxic to humans until somewhere upwards of 6000ppm if I recall correctly. So in that respect we won’t be even remotely close in several thousand years.
I deny that anything is changing catastrophically outside of normal variability.

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