Spot the thermometer in this photo


I have a new tool for evaluation of the micro-site measurement environment near thermometers. The first site I’ve surveyed has not one but two potential biases. Can you spot them? Can you guess what they are?

This may be the first image of it’s kind. I don’t recall seeing IR photo’s of NOAA thermometers in situ local environment anywhere before. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Read on to see the picture in visible light for comparison…


As you can see, the NOAA MMTS official thermometer is at the edge of a swimming pool, with the stucco wall of the observers residence just 29 feet away. You can see the heat from the residence in the stucco, and the pool, which is also warmer than the ambient air. The air temperature when this photo was taken was 54°F or 12°C. The pool appears to be about 14°C. of course the pool will be significantly warmer than the ambient air at night this time of year.

Here is another view with a wider angle:


This is the official USHCN station for Livermore, CA. I’ll have a complete writeup on this in the near future, but for now you can see the photo gallery here at

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 9, 2007 11:12 am

Anthony, you’re not supposed to open your toys until Christmas, but in this case we’ll make an exception. As for the biases, these are guesses: 1) the background (obviously nearby) looks 8 degrees C warmer than the MMTS and 2) the pole the MMTS sits on seems to be a degree or two warmer than the sensor housing.

December 9, 2007 12:09 pm

Heat exchange elements of a component air conditioning system? The giveway is how cool the windows in the air conditioned building relative to the wall.

December 9, 2007 12:33 pm

Last week I was thinking that it might be a good idea to do an Infrared scan of a site with bad micro-station issues (i.e., paving, buildings, concrete, A/C exhausts, etc.) and another scan of a clean rural site nearly simultaneously at different times of the day (noon, 6P.M., midnight, 6A.M.). Scans from the ground and, if possible, from neighboring flat roofs or windows overlooking the sites.
I have no idea how to do this or how one could calibrate the results for comparison purposes, but it might be revealing even if only on a visual basis.
Just a thought.

Larry Sheldon
December 9, 2007 1:35 pm

What a concept. Measure the temperature of the environment the environmental thermometer is in.
Amazing how obvious an idea is once somebody is bright enough to think of it.
A question that is sort of on the topic…..
A long time ago when I was young(er) and (more) foolish I was more interested in trying get the government out of my life and less interested in details like the price it was paying for toilet seats and coffee pots.
But in that era I think I recall a minor scandal involving hugely expensive thermometers designed to detect the dread global warming. The highlight of the story as I recall it was that the thermometers were found to have errors larger than the differences they were supposed to measure.
I am pretty sure it was not a siteing issue but rather something intrinsic in the design or precision (or accuracy–I’m not sure) of the instruments.
I have not run across anything recently that resonates with this–did I imagine it all>

Evan Jones
December 9, 2007 4:42 pm

What a great, simple idea. Makes a body think, “Why didn’t *I* think of that?”
What LS said.
Hats off to the Rev!

Harold Vance
December 9, 2007 9:23 pm

>two significant biases
The afterburners of a MIG fighter jet?
lol. Keep up the great work.

December 10, 2007 2:04 am

Some, if not all, micro-site biases should lessen the stronger the wind. It should be possible to use a subset of stations in a rural environment but with significant micro-site problems to estimate the overall impact of these on temperature? (If compared to a subset of well-placed rural stations on windy vs calm nights.) Someone who’s a good friend of math lab, with access to these data, should have a very interesting paper to publish with not to much work to be done…

December 10, 2007 7:25 am

Just wondering: how often is a wet towel draped over the sensor?

December 10, 2007 8:07 am

Do you know what the body of the mmts is made out of? Reason – plastic breaks down, becomes less shiny. Would go along with your paint experiment.
What time of day was this taken? Are max/min recorded at same time each day?
Reason – since it appears that the case is warmer than the surrounding air, did the case reach max daily temp before the air temp did? (if that makes sense…)
Also, did the case hold heat during min temp time?
I’m also wondering if the side of the sensor facing the “heat source” would show a diff temp than the side facing away.
It would be interesting to see if a particular housing/shield holds temp better under the same conditions (NIMBUS/MMTS/Stevenson Screen/HYG, etc).
REPLY: Henry they are made of a plastic, but I don’t know the composition. There seems to be a slight yellowing factor to some of them, but it does not appear to be large in magnitude. They are low mass, and seem to track air temperature fairly well.
I’m going to ask to come back to this site at night to get follow up IR pix to answer the questions about the home/pool radiating and causing a split bias on the MMTS housing.

Larry Sheldon
December 10, 2007 8:37 am does indeed appear to be what I was talking about.
Thanks, and thanks for what you do.

December 10, 2007 10:22 am

Anthony –
Just for general info, IR images should only really be used for qualatative assessment, unless there is a specific calibration to frequencies or to surfaces. That’s because every surface has a different emissivity. Brings me back to the first IR sensor I used that was similar to this – it was a $50K instrument and looked like a shoulder camera (like the ones you see news guys carry). Nonetheless, its interesting to see this.
REPLY: Understood and I’ve known that. My intent was to show the environment, and potentially biasing elements as an adjunct to the reasoning behind the distance based site quality rating system. There are those that complain that nearby objects don’t have the potential to bias the temperature measurement. Seeing an image of where heat is and is not is helpful in understanding the issue.

Bob L
December 10, 2007 2:03 pm

What we all have to keep repeating in the back of our minds as we look at the biases is that the warming observed over the last 100 years is .6 degrees C.
Could this be explained via another mechanism besides being caused by carbon dioxide build-up – such as an overheating Dodge parked on the acres of asphalt beside the foundry wall where the MTSS is attached?
I have a question that might be off topic but has anyone done a controlled experiment where CO2 levels were tested for their effect on temp. Imagine a round room, 30 feet in diameter, with a powerful full spectrum light source suspended in the center about 15 feet off the floor. Around the room, Plexiglas boxes, 1 meter square with appropriate concentrations of atmospheric gases sit on tables a few feet off the floor. The only difference would be the level of CO2, 200 ppm, 300 ppm, 400 ppm, etc. Thermometers in each box would record continuous levels of temp to determine this level of forcing we hear so much about.
I just can’t accept that a concentration that represents less that 1.5” on a football field means doom for the planet.

December 10, 2007 5:44 pm

All of us at urge that we all pray for the souls of those involved in this blatant, obvious fraud of siting thermometers to give desired results instead of accurate readings.
As Dante said, those involved in “complex frauds”, especially those that cheat taxpayers, end up in the 8th Circle of The Inferno.

December 10, 2007 8:45 pm

I assuming that you’d recommend situating the sensor somewhere more “natural”… but isn’t data like this important too? I mean… people live in environments like this, right? How important is it for someone to know the temperature of some pristine area? Just curious– this is TOTALLY not something I know about.

December 10, 2007 10:00 pm

All of us at (ok, not a real web site) hope that anyone perpetrating a fraud in order to further a political agenda regarding global warming get their just desserts, since we know that praying has zero effect on anything.

Steve B
December 11, 2007 12:19 am

to Bob L
I hunted on the net for 3 months for one and could not find any CO2 sensitivity experiment that did not include a computer climate model. It is amazing that after 30 years of computer climate modeling that there is not one controled experiment that validate CO2 sensitivity to any atmosphere (like your home).
If CO2 is that “forcing” to an atmosphere as computer climate models show, we would have had CO2 climate control systems in our homes 20 years ago to save energy. Think about it.

December 14, 2007 11:11 am

Global warming is real and we are in the 11th hour. Please tell your Congressperson to support the Bali initiative. Do you want your grand-children to drown, melt, or have to war for scare resources?

December 14, 2007 4:14 pm

[…] mean you trust this data, […]

December 15, 2007 6:34 am

The stakeholders of this issue are still sleeping. We need to act now.

December 15, 2007 9:02 am

Run, Johnny, Run! I noticed you haven’t given up your computer for a CO2-free lifestyle, so you really can’t be that scared…

Evan Jones
December 15, 2007 8:02 pm

Yes, remember the massive world-wide famines of the 1980s? And how all the resources ran out by the year 2000? And the mass extinctions? And the J-curve die-off that resulted in a 90% depopulation of the earth? And how it all resulted in World War IV? (Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget the tragedy of industry-caused Global Cooling.)
All sold to you by the same crowd that sells you AGW (at great expense).
Looking back on all that, we’f better ACT NOW. No time to think. (And for gaia’s sake, shut the deniers up before they multiply!)

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights