USHCN in the "ass end of nowhere"

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There’s a USHCN station out there, in the “ass end of nowhere”.

Apologist Eli Rabett (Joshua Halpern) recently lamented that in order for dendrochronologists to update tree ring studies used in MBH98/99 (aka Mann’s Hockey Stick) that they “have to drive out to the ass end of nowhere”. It’s such an inconvenience for those that just perform data wrangling in the office, instead of going out to get their hands dirty, that a study used as the basis for legislation hasn’t had its data updated in almost 10 years!

Thanks to Mr. Pete and Steve McIntyre, a recent outing in Colorado to get updated core samples from the very same trees used in Mann’s study proved that it’s not so hard after all. In fact they were able to have a Starbucks in the morning, do the field work, and were back home in time for a late dinner. No futzing with grant proposals, no elaborate plans submitted for approval, just basic honest field science. The samples they collected are in a dendrochronology lab undergoing analysis.

In that same spirit, I decided to survey one of the hottest and most remote USHCN weather stations in the USA, Death Valley. I was able to have a Starbucks’s coffee that morning, complete the work, survey an additional station, and an oddball station and head off to dinner and my next destination all in the same day.

The day started out in Baker, California, at the southern entrance to Death Valley. Appropriately, they have a Starbuck’s there, as well as what was once billed as “the worlds tallest thermometer” which has sadly been converted from a desert information center into the “worlds tallest mini-market”.

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Given that it’s over concrete, asphalt, and the roof of a mini-mart, I’ve going to give it a CRN rating of “5”. Of course that’s what they want here, hotter temperatures, because that’s part of the tourist attraction.

The drive in was long and desolate, and in a very small town I passed through, Death Valley Junction, I spotted one of the oddest weather station setups I’ve ever seen on the roof of a building.

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I’ve never seen a pint sized “Stevenson Screen” mounted on a rooftop tower before. It was on an adobe building that looked like it was once a motel. You can see the shadow of the tower on the southernmost rooftop in the Google Earth link. I guess they Like it hot here, and will go to lengths to make new highs. What better way than to put a station on a roof in Death Valley?

The next destination was Furnace Creek, CA, where the official USHCN station is located at the Death Valley National Monument Visitor’s Center.

I pulled into the Visitors Center and was struck by the large parking lot and RV parking lot just to the west of the center. Must be a lot of people that come here. Off to find the weather station. The B44 form I got from former CA State Climatologist Jim Goodridge indicated where the Stevenson Screen was placed, but the NCDC MMS record showed the station was converted to an MMTS, so I wondered if the old station still existed. Luckily for me, it did.

Death Valley CRS wide view  looking NW

As seems typical of many USHCN stations, the old station was placed more for the convenience of the observer than for separation from localized bias. Note the parking lot and propane tank. Off to west are RV’s from the large RV park. The station is just a few steps from the back door of the Park Service admin building.

Death Valley Screens looking East

Would the MMTS placement be any better? Off to find it, I walked the perimeter of the building, and found it, about 30 feet away from the east side of the building.

Death Valley MMTS looking NW

Note more weather stations on the rooftops. Like I said “they like it hot” here. The station on the left has a camera, which you can watch here.

 Death Valley Furnace Creek Aerial View

So in the hottest place in North America, both the historical and new thermometer are smack dab in the middle of the only island of human influence in a vast sea of desert. The visitor’s center wasn’t always there, the big parking lot wasn’t always there, and the RV parks surely weren’t there 50+ years ago. With such buildups, is it any wonder why the temperature trends are upwards at Furnace Creek?

The complete survey with photos from all angles is available on the surfacestations.org image gallery server.

Heading out of Death Valley, there was one more stop to make: Stovepipe Wells. While it is not a GISS or USHCN station, I had recalled seeing a Stevenson Screen in an historical photo from there once, so since it was along the way, it seemed like a good opportunity.

I wasn’t disappointed. It was easy to find, right behind the ranger station next to the parking lot.

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There’s even the ubiquitous a/c unit about 30 feet away:

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So let’s recap:

Of all the weather stations I visited in the hottest place in North America, how many were free of microsite biases from nearby human influences? Answer: none

Parking lots and buildings seem to be the biggest influence, and it’s clear that the two NOAA/NWS placed stations at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells were placed with the convenience of the observer in mind, not the measurement environment.

There’s one more weather station operated by NOAA in Death Valley, at Badwater, and it too suffers from the “some like it hot” mentality that seems to pervade weather stations in Death Valley. The late John Daly has an interesting writeup on it’s placement which seems to be for the sole purpose of edging out El Azizia, Libya for the hottest temperature ever recorded of 136°F. Currently Death Valley is second at 134°F.

Yes, some like it hot.

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15 thoughts on “USHCN in the "ass end of nowhere"

  1. As I recall those hours spent watching cowboy movies with my grandfather, that dastardly Black Bart would lead the posse chasing him into Death Valley to make his escape. Not only would they have to deal with the oppressive heat during the day but also the bitter cold at night. Unless they happened by the R.V. park and camped on the asphalt for the night. That would keep them warm.
    I wonder how many lights are present on Hansen’s night vision satellite images, so he can properly adjust for their UHI.
    Thanks for the effort at visiting the “ass end of nowhere” Anthony. In a way it is going around your ass to get to your elbow. With the IPCC report out, and the prediction of 1/3 of species being lost, we are going to have to live through another period of doom and gloom and “THE PLANET IS DYING”. We are going to need perspective and humor until the cooling begins.

  2. Death Valley is, of the places I have been, my favorite.
    Not a scientific observation to be sure, but I really wonder how much location issues can bias day-time readings there.
    As I recall, the Furnace Creek ranger station had three temperature probes, one buried, and all were in the 120 – 130 range daytime. But I have not been there in several years, so I might not be remembering well.

  3. Bob L says; “… until the cooling begins”.
    But “the cooling” began in 1998. Annual mean global surface temperatures have not again reached the high they did in that El Nino year, and they have been stable since 2000.
    Annual mean NH temperatures have risen but annual mean SH temperatures have fallen since 2000 and the combined effect is that the global temperature has changed little.
    Meanwhile, sea surface temperatures have fallen since 2000.

  4. Richard,
    While you are absolutely correct, the public inertia that has developed behind a warming world is going to take some pretty monumental changes in climate observations to reverse. The cart was given another pretty big shove over the weekend with the latest IPCC report where there was no equivocation about its occurrence and man’s culpability.
    We don’t have to convince each other that this naturally occurring variation, we have to convince those watching MTV and Jerry Springer. We have to convince those who are working 50 hour weeks, driving their kids all over town and try to stay informed by watching network news. We have to convince those people on Madison Ave. who are running for the tall grass trying to position each of their clients on the “green” side. The recent series of ads from BP and Chevron are two prime examples. We have to convince the producers who have flooded the History Channel with report after report about our warming world. I bet I have seen more caving ice shelves this fall then in the first 45 years of my life. Polls show that most Americans don’t believe in AGW, there are enough that do to cause politicians to develop vote buying policies to combat it. We don’t have to convince the hockey team, their smug superiority will never allow them to change their minds, and the main stream media has always been pretty kind to their previous errors ( the cooling of the 70’s and Ehrlich’s population problems)
    To get this inertia going has taken concerted efforts by many people for almost 30 years, since the Berlin Wall came down. They have changed from directly promoting socialism to injuring capitalism via the environment. Many use their celebrity to promote their sheet thin knowledge while the hockey team cheers from the corner.
    We are going to have to observe a prolonged period of record setting (since records began) cold and some pretty monumental events – Thames and Tennessee rivers freezing during the winter, blizzards earlier and later, etc- to reverse the thinking in the main stream media.
    Even when this starts, the hockey team will either keep quiet or point out that they predicted a new ice age for North America and Europe when the Gulf Stream grinds to a halt.
    I wonder how the next 5 years are going to go. We are poised for China to become the world’s lone superpower. The weak dollar is going to further erode the U.S.’s position and we can ill afford the huge financial impact of unnecessary CO2 curbs.
    I enjoy surfing for AGW stories and the skeptic point of view, but we are preaching to the choir. These camps are divided with very little movement between them. It is the middle (as always) that needs convincing and as always, my side is relative quiet.
    What does anyone else think we are going to have to see for this warming concern to change to a cooling concern?

  5. The U.N. Third Deputy Assistant to the Temporary Acting Under-
    Secretary of the Species Diversity Working Group attached to the
    Advisory Directorate on Climate Change Committees on Secondary
    Summary Oversight Panels for Exploratory Ministerial Councils for the Study of Possible Links To Plausable Correlations of Associa-
    tions of Global Trends and Relations, The Right Honorable Mr. U’
    Ban Kaufai spoke of The Valencia Report, “Why would anyone name a city after a varity of orange? and beside that, you know they have this wine called “sangria’ which I’m told means “blood”!”. When asked about climate change he added, “a little cool for this time of year.”
    This is a translation from U-Benhad News. Cheers!

  6. Thank you for remembering John Daly, and his early comments on the placement of the Death Valley apparatus to get maximum, not accurate, temperature readings.
    “The late, great John Daly”, as he’s often called on numberwatch was a true pioneer in this vast wilderness of lies. All of us at catholicfundamentalism.com congratulate you on being another brave explorer in this endless forest of fast-growing falsehoods.

  7. What does anyone else think we are going to have to see for this warming concern to change to a cooling concern?
    Bob L., I think you’ve pretty well nailed it. If we can succeed in stopping the implementation of massive carbon taxes, I think we can limit the economic damage. But there’s no doubt that Billions of dollars are being and will be wasted before it’s all over, which is really sad given the number of truly critical problems facing mankind like disease, clean drinking water, education and AIDS.

  8. Quote: “they “have to drive out to the ass end of nowhere”. It’s such an inconvenience for those that just perform data wrangling in the office, instead of going out to get their hands dirty, that a study used as the basis for legislation hasn’t had its data updated in almost 10 years!”
    I’m curious. Has anyone ever enumerated the number of office data wranglers in the climate business against the number of actual productive field scientists? Just wondering.
    One of the as yet unstated reasons for the warming hysteria, at least I haven’t seen it, is that it will eliminate one of the liberal’s favorite yearly topics, the cost of heating oil for the poor every winter. With universal global warming, they won’t need it.

  9. RE: “I wonder how the next 5 years are going to go. We are poised for China to become the world’s lone superpower. The weak dollar is going to further erode the U.S.’s position and we can ill afford the huge financial impact of unnecessary CO2 curbs.”
    Perhaps part of the plan. Those in Western countries who are labeled “progressives” are, at the end of the day, bourgeois “useful idiots.” Who chums their waters and enables them? Are there false flag ops? (geopolitics off) Back to regularly scheduled programming ….

  10. Anthony I realize this is off topic, but given the new ARB regulations calling for a 10% mix of ethanol in gasoline and that the acreage required to supply that much corn for processing would equal about 40% of California’s current farm land.
    Q. Would this massive endeavor cause warming on a regional basis where the corn is being grown?
    I’ve heard nothing puts moisture back in the air like corn and corn is a water intensive crop, aqnd if this is true, it could only exacerbate our future water shortage problem in SoCal.
    Q. Doesn’t ethanol produce carbon dioxide and isn’t this exactly what we’re supposed to be limiting in our quest to reduce our carbon footprint?
    It would seem that ethanol would also decrease fuel efficiency since it is not as volatile as gasoline, also addition more to pollution.
    What’s your take on the new ARB rules re carbon dioxide production and turning to ethanol as an additive?
    Thanks, Jack

  11. Jack,
    I’m not sure about corn crops raising the temp. but it sure raises the humidity ! I live near Chicago and the humidity this last summer was horrible because of the “bumper” corn crops just to the West. As a matter of fact, our local Meteorologist Tom Skilling (the best in Chicago and probably the Midwest) on WGN blamed much of humidity and the increased severity of storms on the corn. He spoke about it almost every day. I think he kept drumming it into people’s heads so no alarmists could claim “climate change.”
    Ty

  12. “But there’s no doubt that Billions of dollars are being and will be wasted before it’s all over, which is really sad given the number of truly critical problems facing mankind like disease, clean drinking water, education and AIDS.”
    Hmm. How ’bout one of those big-ass electronic clocks with running numbers for two totals:
    One for how much money is being wasted.
    The other for how many babies are being starved as a result.

  13. How do I find out where the official weather stations are? It would be great to go out and survey some of them. It could be a family activity.

  14. Go the the blogroll (upper right on this page. (Go to top & scroll down a bit.)
    Check out:
    Surfacestations Main
    Surfacestations Gallery
    That ought to fix you up. The wheres, hows, the various procedures necessary for scientific conformity.
    IRRC, the Mercury Monkeys badly need a midwesterner to fill out the set. But there are ares all over that need surveying. Hope you can be part of the team!

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