How not to measure temperature, part 42

Continuing our tour of some of the worst climate monitoring stations in California, we come to San Jose. In previous posts we’ve seen stations put next to parking lots. In this case we have not only that, but also a station next to a major city intersection. It never ceases to amaze me when I find another station that flagrantly violates NOAA’s own published siting standards.

 This station #04-7821 has been in operation since 1874. It is painful to see what was likely once a pristine site so thoroughly polluted by thoughtless placement.

The picture below is provided by the National Weather Service Office, San Francisco/Monterey. Click on it to see an interactive panoramic view, then you may have to click a second time to activate the Java panning applet. Note the somewhat comical post photographic placement of NOAA/NWS logos in this altered image. Note also the URL – none of this is my doing, purely NOAA.

san_jose_overall.jpg

Below is an aerial view, which you can also click for an interactive view:

san_jose_aerial.jpg

The location, on Mission street near the Police Station, is quite busy with daily traffic. It seems this station is well saturated with UHI. To the credit of the NWS, they closed down this station in early October 2007 citing this in the MMS database:

RELOCATION TO SJC ASOS SITE DUE TO CLOSE PROXIMITY/CLIMATOLIGICAL COMPATABILITY. THIS SITE IS WNW 1 MI AND 16 FT LOWER. STATION ID CHANGES FROM SJOC1 TO SJC

Unfortunately, the airport ASOS location doesn’t appear to be much better, as the ASOS temperature sensor there is in the middle of the runway complex, surrounded by an asphalt access road/pad and just a few feet from the a/c exhaust of the ILS instrumentation building:

san_jose_asos.jpg
Click the photo for a larger interactive view.

It seems like a far less than ideal place to measure temperature for climate tracking, but a great place to report aviation weather;  a proverbial jump from the fire to the frying pan in terms of UHI.

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20 thoughts on “How not to measure temperature, part 42

  1. What may be even more painful is thinking about all the station curators in the past who faithfully devoted years to collecting data on a time schedule in all sorts of weather. That good faith effort has been betrayed by the negligence of “professionals.”

  2. Yes. One wonders what some of them must be thinking now.

    Rev, I assume the first site is urban.

    Is the relocation site alsoc considered urban or do we get another “Lights = 0” (as the audience explodes with laughter)?

    REPLY: Well it’s San Jose Airport, so doubtful that it would be lights=0 in that setting

  3. These sites just keep getting ‘better’ and ‘better’.

    I don’t think the media will be interested until you find one positioned in the interior of an active volcano. Hell, even then it would be classified as ‘rural’ so still be acceptable.

  4. Pingback: Movies With Numbers in Their Titles » Blog Archive » How not to measure temperature, part 42

  5. Anthony –

    Have visited the surfacestations site, and love the map showing the surveyed/unsurveyed plots.

    Have you considered placing another map, one showing a surveyed/quality plot? Could be simple, green for CRN123, and red for CRN45.

    I would like to see if there is a clustering of sites, or if there is a equal distribution. An advancement of this idea would be to have different sizes of dots for those that sites that report, and those sites that don’t.

    People would have an easy graphic to see if there are more large red (bad reporting sites) than large green (good reporting sites).

    On other blogs, you’re being taken to task for the “how not to measure temps” series (i.e, not showing good sites). That graphic would drive home just what contition the reporting network is in. People would see that you’re not “cherry-picking” bad sites, just showing a lack of good sites.

  6. Maybe I’m not getting the point here. If you want to measure surface temperatures in urban areas, you need to place measuring stations in urban areas, right? Some of the stations you place in urban areas will be next to roads and intersections, as is most everything placed in an urban area. What’s the problem?

    If you think that meteorologists are making unjustified leaps from these temperature measurements to conclusions about global warming, then your argument is with their reasoning, not with the placement of the measuring stations.

    Has anyone considered asking the NOAA why they have these stations where they do, and how the data from them is handled?

  7. SJC is utterly surrounded by intensive office, industrial development and urban dense pack. It’s similar to Midway. Burbank, La Guardia etc (although with a slightly larger footprint than the first two). To the West lies a major FMC facility (home of M1, Abrahms) and an Owens Corning fiberglas plant (complete with grim, dingy smoke stack) among many other factories, and to the East many square miles of typical glassed out post 1970s (mostly post 1980s) High Tech / R&D / Office stuff. To the north, a mix of light industrial, retail and high tech. To the south, dense urban stuff. Also, quite unlike many airports East of the Rockies, there are roads along the entire perimeter of the airport, with Freeways along both the NNE and SSW perimiters of it.

  8. Oops, I forgot about the water along one side of La Guardia, also, to be fair, La Guardia is mostly surrounded by mid density residential … so scratch La Guardia, SJC is worse!

  9. “On other blogs, you’re being taken to task for the “how not to measure temps” series (i.e, not showing good sites). That graphic would drive home just what contition the reporting network is in. People would see that you’re not “cherry-picking” bad sites, just showing a lack of good sites.”

    Yes. (These cherries grow on trees. In bunches.)

    Also, the Rev ought to give them a good old “pie in the eye”!
    That picture (showing CRN 1-5 ratings distribution) is worth a thousand words. (Looking forward to an update.)

    Besides, the Rev has indeed posted several “How to measure temps” as well, to show how it should be done.

  10. “Has anyone considered asking the NOAA why they have these stations where they do, and how the data from them is handled?”

    They left the phone off the hook?

  11. An addition to Henry’s idea would be to designate CRN123 sites compromised by being at airports or using the HO-83 sensor.

  12. Maybe I’m not getting the point here. If you want to measure surface temperatures in urban areas, you need to place measuring stations in urban areas, right? Some of the stations you place in urban areas will be next to roads and intersections, as is most everything placed in an urban area. What’s the problem?

    Johnrobert, I’m not the person to answer your question, because I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but I’d like to describe a scenario and see if anyone here can expand on it from a scientific viewpoint.

    Let’s say you have a geographic area of 100 square miles consisting of 4 quadrants of 25 square miles each with a temperature monitoring station in the middle of each. Three of the quandrants are rural, or as Evan likes to say, “lights = 0”, while the 4th quandrant has a densely populated urban area of 5 square miles right in the middle with a temperature monitoring station in the heart of downtown. The average daily temperature for the urban site is 5 degrees F higher than the average of the 3 rural sites. Does your average temperature consist of the average of the 4 quadrants or, because 80% of the urban site is actually rural, does that factor into the average? And, to complicate it further, let’s say that in 1907 when these 4 stations were created, what is now the urban area consisted of 20 houses, a grocery store, a gas station, a Post Office and a couple churches, and the temperature monitor was in the middle of a 2 acre field behind the Post Office.

    I’ll bet someone here can come up with the answer. Just adjust the algorithm, right Evan?

  13. Re: Gary’s first post above:

    “What may be even more painful is thinking about all the station curators in the past who faithfully devoted years to collecting data on a time schedule in all sorts of weather. That good faith effort has been betrayed by the negligence of “professionals.”

    That really struck a chord with me. Having surveyed a number of sites in SC, those that stuck out as the most consistent and free of microsite biases were two that were part of the private observer program…at least up until the MMTS came along. Both Santuck and Walhalla were very exciting to me because of the long-term siting of the CRS harking back to at least the early 20th century. Santuck had few, if any gaps in the record. In the images, you can even see the little path the observer took every day from his house to the CRS and the wear pattern on the paint as he apparently used the same procedure of opening the CRS. One can almost reconstruct which hand he used to open and close it just from looking at the wear pattern. And then noticing the pride these folks have in the knowledge that this duty was carried down through two or more generations of their families. It’s a fascinating aspect of our history. One which I found a bit ironic and personally disappointing, considering that two long-term class 1 or 2 sites were actually degraded to class 4 because of the technological leap of the MMTS.

    I don’t really feel any ill will toward the aforesaid professionals. I’m sure there are some good reasons for wanting to convert to an electronic system. It may very well have been partially an effort to actually lessen bias and improve the lives of the observers who had to brave all sorts of weather day in and day out.

  14. “Maybe I’m not getting the point here. If you want to measure surface temperatures in urban areas, you need to place measuring stations in urban areas, right? Some of the stations you place in urban areas will be next to roads and intersections, as is most everything placed in an urban area. What’s the problem?”

    The problem is not just with “placing measuring stations in urban areas”. The problem is standards for placement have been set, and siting problems should have been noticed during the initial site survey (and few, if any, initial site surveys have been done).

    Even in urban areas, sites can be found that fit into the standards. As it’s been said many times, current sites are being chosen for the convenience of the people, not for the measurements. The sites HAVE NOT been chosen for climate monitoring.

  15. “I’ll bet someone here can come up with the answer. Just adjust the algorithm, right Evan?”

    Yes, SIR!

    One has to consider what % of the earth’s is urban, as compared with what % of the surface stations are urban. One will find that the latter is a much higher figure. The adjustment must be made on that basis.

    Also one must remember that the presence of heat sinks, according to McKittrick and LaDouchy not only produce a one-time jump in temperature, but add this jump cumulatively if temperatures actually do rise.

    If temps actually drop, of course, it stands to reason that this cumulation is undone at the same exaggerated rate, which may actually produce a “rate of cooling” bias, as the warming bias lessens.

    OTOH, waste heat such as air conditioning probably has no cumulative effect either way, which might explain the sharp, one-time offsets around 1980 when AC began to come into its own. (Plus increase in car ownership–the 2-car garage bit.)

    So it quickly becomes a very squrimy mess of worms that makes it very damn hard to adjust for.

    LaDo And MacK seem to be saying that there has been a modest rise since the nadir of the Eenie-Weenie Ice Age (1980) to near the top of the recent bump (2002) that has been exaggerated approximately twofold. Or a hefty 0 .3 C or so, to take a guess.

    If this is true, it puts the current “real” temps probably at a significantly lower level than in the 1930s. Though no doubt some of these factors (to a lesser but unknown degree) applied back then.

    (P.S., I know no more than our Retired Spook, Colonel Needham on this subject. Just putting it together as best as I know how.)

  16. ALSO:

    L&M do not, however, seem to be adjusting for microsite bias. If not, that’s a whole ‘nother factor to be bumped for.

  17. I’m actually beginning to understand the science better than I used to, but you still explained it better than I could, Evan. And thanks for the promotion.

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