Cedarville and GISS adjustments

I got to thinking from discussions with Steve Mosher and others at Climate Audit about just what sort of adjustments might be made to a place with a good record and little in the way of station moves, and that had changed little in 100 years.

One place came to mind that I’ve visited; Cedarville, CA

It has it’s issues, such as the Stevenson Screen being encroached upon by things being built around it, like a new concrete pad for the Forest Service office.

Cedarville looking East

Click for larger image and other photos from surfacestations.org

But as the town goes, it has changed very little in 100 years. There is no Interstate highway nearby, its off essentially in the middle of nowhere by itself, a self contained agrarian community, mostly hay farmers. The small main street has many of the original buildings from 100+ years ago:

This is the sort of view (below) you can see to the east of the town, open land as far as the eye can see. It is definitely rural.

Image above from the Surprise Valley website

Here is a Google earth view. The weather station is at the far north end of town.

According to US census data:

As of the census of 2000, there were 849 people, 381 households, and 249 families residing in the ZCTA of 96104. The population density was 3.2 per sq mi. There were 457 housing units at an average density of 1.6/sq mi.

There are only 3 missing years all the way back to 1894, so it seemed like a good candidate. 1894 is a partial record, 1915 and 1957 are also partials with not enough data to complete the yearly average.

So this seemed like a really good candidate to test for what adjustments GISS might make to it.

I plotted the GISS provided USHCN data and the homogenized data from the GISTEMP website and the graph for that is shown below:


click for a larger image

Note the missing year at 1957, 1915 should have not plotted also, but for some reason my program insists on doing so.

But the important thing is that once again, GISS has made the past colder and the present is unchanged. Even more odd, the far past prior to 1900 is adjusted upwards, warmer.

Yet it is the recent past to present when the most change has occurred in Cedarville, such as the addition of a concrete pad to the Forest Service building, etc. If anything, pre 1900 data should likely be colder because exposure of thermometers was not standardized until after the US Weather Bureau was formed in 1892.

They seem backwards. Why does GISS do this? We’ll find the answer.

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Stan Needham
February 17, 2008 7:53 pm

Why does GISS do this? We’ll find the answer.
Anthony, my first reaction is to apply the old adage, “follow the money”, but I suspect it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. I think Bob Carter came pretty close in his email to me last fall (which I posted here a while back), when he said:

The blame for this state of affairs lies with a now tightly integrated (though not initially consciously conspiratorial) group of corrupted people and organizations foremost amongst which are doctrinaire environmentalists and green NGOs, self-interested scientists and science organizations, and ignorant, moralistic journalists and public celebrity figures.

While, for some, it probably is all about money, for others I’d be willing to bet it’s nothing more than winning the debate, or, more appropriately, not losing.

February 18, 2008 4:19 am

If that’s the raw data it hasn’t had the USHCN adjustments for TOB and instrument changes. Could that be part of the difference?

steven mosher
February 18, 2008 5:27 am

check nightlights

steven mosher
February 18, 2008 5:34 am

nightlights is 0. hmm. Check the giss data for combining with other
stations, second option at giss temp. It should match the raw.

February 18, 2008 7:02 am

It looks to me like the adjustments over the ENTIRE seires is exactly backwards. They’ve adjusted down when it should have been up, and up when it should be down.
This leads me to 2 possible conclusions:
1) The person(s) responsible for the maintainence of this data is/are incompetent.
2) It has been done deliberately to show “flatness” in the temp trend for 100 years, with an artificial hockey stick uptick starting in the 1990s.
Who is in charge of this data? GISS?
REPLY: Dr.’s James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)

February 18, 2008 7:19 am

So then, both of my conclusions are plausible…..

February 18, 2008 8:22 am

I have read that James Hansen was awarded a $1,000,000 dollar Dan David Prize for his work in science. I don’t know what year that was, but this year the million bucks goes to Lonnie Thompson.
That sort of incentive will buy plenty of deliberate incompetence.
We’re obviously on the wrong side.

February 18, 2008 8:24 am

Anthony, I have a couple of questions.
-When did these step-function adjustments (like Miami) begin to appear? Have these ALWAYS been in the record?
-If they have not always been in the record, did thier appearance in the record coincide with Hansen’s work in the mid-late ‘1980s?

February 18, 2008 8:32 am

Sorry for the multiple posts, but I have one more question.
If these adjustments have not always been in the record, is there any documentation at all as to when and why they were done? I’m guessing not, since the main question here is “why?”
I have a better question: Why does GISS not want us to know they are making changes to the historical record by not documenting these changes?
In the case of the Miami series, they have -.4C adjustment in 1920, going to zero adjustment today.
How much did we warm in the 20th century? .5C? Is this “warming” nothing but slight-of-hand manipulation by GISS?
REPLY: Too many questions, not enough Anthony to go around, help please?

Jeff in Seattle
February 18, 2008 9:29 am

Wow, a millyun bucks for hiding data, making calculation errors, and being a general [snip]. I can do that!

February 18, 2008 9:35 am

Can someone explain to me why between 1920 and 1955 this station was reading 1 deg C too low such that sometime in the 1990s someone was able to discover the error and knew how to correct it? I’d have gotten kicked out of school or fired for this kind of backdating. CEOs have gone to prison for less blatant curve fitting. Instead we base national policy on the adjustment?

February 18, 2008 9:36 am

N.B. Of course “too low” meaning adjusted lower the readings being too high. Sorry for the vague language.

February 18, 2008 11:31 am

I asked the other day whether these stations were actually included in the GISS (US or Global) average anomaly calculations. If you have already answered, I did not find it.
REPLY: Another person did, yes they are. The fact that they are 1) USHCN stations, and 2) In the GISS database, answers the question.

February 18, 2008 11:40 am

Thanks. I would think that GISS would use a little common sense in selecting it data. Something perhaps a little more than robust than “USHCN records this data so it must be OK”.
Its a shame we are not likely to get an answer fro GISS about the questions raised here.
REPLY: Well I’m going to try. They deserve the chance to answer the questions and to explain why this is either valid or a flaw.

Paul Wescott
February 18, 2008 12:09 pm

One thing that raising pre-1910 data did, in addition to more or less smoothing the pre-1990’s record to allegedly make way for a hockey stick, was to wipe out the evident (if you squint) long-term upward trend, perhaps recovery from LIA. This would tend to emphasize posited recent, anthropogenic influences and de-emphasize natural ones.

Evan Jones
February 18, 2008 12:33 pm

“and the hockey stick reappears like magic”
Got to LOSE that pesky PDO, Russ?
“Well I’m going to try. They deserve the chance to answer the questions and to explain why this is either valid or a flaw.”
I would be very interested indeed to know what they say. (I doubt any of the rest of us would even make it past the gatekeeper.)

February 18, 2008 2:11 pm

What concerns me most is that we will get a replay of past response. There has in the past been at first a reaction of pooh-pooh … as if the person offering the critique could not possibly understand all that was involved and that somehow what the person has found “does not matter” in the overall scope of things. And then something is changed but it is never documented exactly what changed and why. Data gets replaced and the new data is different and the old criticism now doesn’t make sense but the new data isn’t right either. It just appears to be a never-ending game of cat/mouse. More like “hide the pea” really, where one side gets to change where the pea is hidden at will.
And finally to top it all off, some big “name” will come along (Gore, et al) and “stand behind” the results and cast anyone who would doubt it as being a weirdo or something.
It is sad, really, to see what used to be science at one time turn into nothing more than a political marketing campaign.

February 18, 2008 4:01 pm

[…] Cedarville and GISS adjustments I got to thinking from discussions with Steve Mosher and others at Climate Audit about just what sort of adjustments […] […]

Evan Jones
February 18, 2008 5:02 pm

Hey, congrats to the Rev!
He’s hitting the top tier, and with just the right buckshot.

An Inquirer
February 19, 2008 8:33 am

There may be a better place to post this question, so my apologies in advance for not knowing where that is. On the subject of surface temperatures, someone recently commented on the urban designation of Las Vegas, and that got me to thinking about my visits to that area over the decades. The weather there seems to be warmer now. Although my personal experiences have limited scientific value, there is an empirical observation worthy of note. The Las Vegas area has had a dramatic increase in lawn watering, irrigation, water attractions, and vegetation. Is it possible that these development lead not only to increase humidity, but also to increased temperatures since water vapor is such a powerful greenhouse gas? Water vapor appears to be a local phenomenon. I recall a couple of years ago seeing temperature trends for a valley in California. The mountains had no temperature trend, but the valley which featured irrigation and vegetation development had increased temperatures. That is not consistent with my understanding of GCMs output. Could local water vapor – from human activities – be an additional reason for temperature trends beyond typical UHI considerations?
REPLY: You are thinking of John Christy’s paper, where he shows that Tmin has been affected by irrigation, I’ll see if I can find it, I have it somewhere.

February 19, 2008 6:14 pm

I was looking at a posting on the elder Mr. Pielke’s site today when a thought came to mind. If I have a station whose output is such that I must look at surrounding rural stations in order to adjust it to be “less bad” then I am probably better off simply discarding the data from that station than “adjusting” it. While I might be able to create something that approximates the climactic conditions at the site, it will probably still be wrong and wrong information would bias the result. So I would be better served to simply discard that data.
I am not convinced that simply having more stations for the sake of having more stations is a good thing. If many of them are biased by local microclimates, then I am better off not using them at all than in attempting to use a bunch of mathematical bailing wire to get the thing to “fit” the surrounding measurements.
Reply: Bingo!

February 21, 2008 3:40 pm

GISS has got to get rid of those warmer 1930s. So, cool them down and raise pre 1930s, then the whole series starts to look flat once smoothed and combined, and the hockey stick reappears like magic.

February 21, 2008 4:47 pm

Warm 1930s, check. Strange “glitches” near or at the ends of both world wars, check.

Evan Jones
February 21, 2008 9:08 pm

Late WWII: Massive particulates and aerosols? City firestorms? Massive aerial bombing Full War production Comtrail hell? Could all that have caused a blip?

Jeff in Seattle
February 21, 2008 9:56 pm

Evan, a blip, perhaps, which might have lasted a couple years, like a good volcano. But long-lasting effects? Nah.

Evan Jones
February 22, 2008 7:45 am

Not even a blip in measurements for CO2 emission, I’ll note. which makes me wonder about the accuracy of CO2 measurements in the first place. If Half of Europe and Japan can bun down in two years and the CO2 doesn’t even show up in the measurements? Does not compute.

Stan Needham
February 22, 2008 9:39 am

which makes me wonder about the accuracy of CO2 measurements in the first place.
Evan, someone posted this essay in a recent thread that spends 8 pages discussing the accuracy of the CO2 record (pages 12-20). In case you missed it, I think it’s worth a read. It’s the first piece I’ve ever read that addresses how CO2 was measured prior to the facility at Mona Loa. If this piece is to be believed, the historical CO2 record has been grossly distorted (adjusted?).

Evan Jones
February 22, 2008 7:40 pm

I started in on it, then put it down. I will readdress it, especially in light of my prejudices. Thanx.

Evan Jones
February 22, 2008 8:44 pm

“and 4 sets of measurements gave 350–415 ppm around 1940” –Beck (2007).
And according to the graph (p. 739) this goes in favor of–and against–two of my prejudices. (The 11-year averaging my be producing a skew, however?)
Where it agrees: The CO2 spike TOTALLY coincides with WWII effects as I understand them. I figure that if a city emits CO2 by burning more coal, how much more will it emit if the whole city burns down? And the drop coincides nicely with the post WWII recession.
Where it disagrees: The CO2 rise begins in the 1930’s at exactly the point where around a third of the world’s heavy industry was shut down, thanks to the great Depression. I need to look at coal use during this period.
What is most noticeable is the wild whipsaw of ver 100 ppm over relatively short periods. This is NOT shown in any of the CO2 curves I have ever seen.
Has Mr. D’Aleo seen this chart (Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 21, No. 4, p. 739, 2007)? has Ferdinand? I wonder what they would have to say about it!
If this is true, the whole CO2 thesis is thrown wide open (either way). What is going on here? Heck, the “accepted” graph shows a DECREASE of CO2 output during WWII, and how in heck could THAT be?
Either highly variable natural forces are an important prove mover in CO2 measurements, the measurements are wildly off, or . . . what?

Stan Needham
February 23, 2008 6:20 am

I thought that essay might reach out an grab your attention. Like I said, I’ve never read anything like it, so I have nothing to compare it to. The first thing that came to my mind was that perhaps CO2 is not as globally diffused as has been thought, just as humidity can vary dramatically geographically or even within a specific geographic area. This statement probably reveals my scientific ignorance, but I’d love to hear someone more knowledgeable than I expand on it. Ferdinand, where are you?
Anthony, how about it? Did you read the piece I (and a previous commenter) linked to? Is there any truth behind it? Is it true that Moana Loa is the only location on the planet where CO2 is measured?

Evan Jones
February 23, 2008 9:51 am

Yeah, well if CO2 measure is not constant worldwide, then why are we relying on measurements on a single area? And a volcano, for that matte, which I knew but wasn’t even considering.
“The weather there seems to be warmer now.”
The US West probably is warmer. By how much has become a big issue. And the world has probably warmed since 1979 after cooling since the 1940s.
But that corresponds with the PDO. Heck, maybe it even corresponds with CO2, if CO2 is a wildly variable as in the Beck study, but if it is, that (at the least) shoots down man as the sole factor contributing to rise (as measured on one volcano).
The CO2 argument is trying to have it both ways.
Possibility 1: It is stable and any rise is caused by man. But in that case it corresponds poorly with temperature rise (unless you “lose” the post WWII cooling, which seems to be happening in the recent scales).
Possibility 2: CO2 varies widely and wildly and it does correspond either (pro or post hoc) with temperatures. But in that case, man’s modest contribution might well be totally lost in the wash and not be an invariable upward pressure. Especially if the exchanges and their “springiness” is greater than posited.

Evan Jones
February 24, 2008 9:55 pm

“This statement probably reveals my scientific ignorance, but I’d love to hear someone more knowledgeable than I expand on it. Ferdinand, where are you?”
Well, I am beginning to wonder about the degree of scientific ignorance of the someones more knowledgeable than you or I.
We have it on one man’s word that there was an attempt to “lose” the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. It took a lot of time and trouble to smoke out that one. Is it true, as this essay clearly implies, that there has been an attempt to “lose” the directly measured historical CO2 record?
I want to find out. If it is true, it is an outrage; I shall tell everybody!

Stan Needham
February 25, 2008 7:00 am

I don’t know if you’re still monitoring this thread, and, unfortunately, it’s about to disappear into the archives.
I’ve been doing a little research on the claims made in the Beck paper that I and another reader linked to. This morning I came across this entry at Jennifer Marohasy’s blog, “The Politics and Environmental Blog”. Aside from the fact that the mingling of politics and the environment is getting somewhat tiring, I found what the commenter had to say interesting.

So how did the pre-industrial figure come to be accepted as 290 ppm? As mentioned in Beck’s paper, Guy Callendar, a British engineer and scientist, was influential. He examined 19th and 20th century CO2 measurements and rejected those he considered inaccurate, the ones he selected leading him to conclude that the pre-industrial CO2 level was about 290 ppm (G. S. Callendar, “The Composition of the Atmosphere through the Ages,” The Meteorological Magazine,vol. 74, No. 878, March 1939, pp. 33-39.). Callendar was a proponent of the theory that CO2 emissions from industrial activity would raise global temperatures, and had written a paper to that effect in 1938, at a time when Europe had just experienced five warm years.
Among the criteria that Callendar used to reject measurements, were any that deviated by 10% or more from the average of the region, and any taken for special purposes such as such as “biological, soil air, atmospheric pollution”. The first criteria is a rather circular argument, while the second seems to ignore the accuracy of the results. Whatever the validity of these exclusions, it turned out that the mean of 19th century samples he included was 292 ppm. The mean of the samples he had available to include was 335 ppm.
Not everyone agreed with Callendar. Giles Slocum pointed out in 1955 that Callendar’s exclusions from the 19th century data were mostly higher than the ones he included, while those from the 20th century that he excluded were lower than the ones he included, in line with his theory that CO2 levels had risen and were causing increased temperatures. As Slocum diplomatically put it ” Much seems to depend on the objectivity of Callendar’s decisions as to which data to keep.” (emphasis added)

No one else here appears to be interested in pursuing this line of inquiry. Would you be interested in doing some research together and posting the results here? If so, ask Anthony to give you my email address and reference this post as my permission for him to do so.

Stan Needham
February 25, 2008 8:09 am

Something else I ran across in my cyber travels was this post at CA from about 90 days ago. In it, Ferdinand is quoted as follows:

Here are some sensible comments on the matter by Ferdinand Engelbeen on this.
“As a result of a lot of discussions about the reliability of CO2 measurements, and the man-made part of the increase, I have made a web page about the basics of CO2 “background” levels and the increase at http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html, already mentioned by Hans Erren and others in this discussion. Unfortunately, that page is not yet complete, and several arguments which indicate that most of the increase is man-made are not yet in the page. Another part to come is a discussion of Beck’s data/paper, to be added after the base discussion.” (emphasis added)

This is just idle speculation on my part, but it would appear to me that if significant historical fluctuations in atmospheric CO2, particularly post-industrial, can be conclusively shown, and it can be shown that they’ve been “adjusted” out of the record, the whole AGW/Climate Change house of cards comes tumbling down. Much like a real-life version of the premise of “The Da Vinci Code.”
Fascinating stuff!!

Evan Jones
February 25, 2008 4:20 pm

It sure means that the cards go flying into the air. Whether they come back down as the house of cards, a different house, or a bunch of scattered cards is difficult to say. It is quite interesting that this Callendar item they are going with is a father of the CO2 = major effect on warming school.
I am going to take a look into this as time permits. Right now, I’ll start by follow the links you are posting and see what gives.
I’m not copncerned with the privacy of my own email, so I’ll just post it here:
evanjones[ at ]mindspring.com
You can get in touch with me at your convenience.
Maybe we can get the Rev to start a separate CO2 post/thread, and we can look at this. Until then, as you suggest, we can continue it here.
In order to arrive at what the hell is going on, I think we need to triangulate a bit and maybe it can be pinned down. (I assume you used to use the same sort of logic in you work for the government.)
1.) Is CO2 being measured anywhere else in the world by the same methods used in Hawaii? If so, do the results agree? (This would address the uniformity of CO2 question.)
Question 1 needs to be answered first, as the results would affect the following questions:
2.) IIRC, ice core samples are used for past reconstruction. So, are ice cores being used today? Do they aregee with the Hawaii results? (This would address the accuracy of the ice core proxy method. See also question 5.)
3.) Are ice core samples being used to measure CO2 for the time period of studies that Callendar junked? Do they agree with or vary from the 290 ppm number? (This would establish agreement or disparity between old methods of measurement and ice core proxy methods.)
4.) Are the 19th Century methods of CO2 measurement being used to measure modern CO2? If so, do those studies agree with the Hawaiii observatins or not? (This would establish agreement or disparity between old methods of measurement and Hawaii measurement methods.)
To sum up:
1.) Hawaii vs. elsewhere (modern method for both).
2.) Proxy vs. direct measure findings (modern).
3.) Proxy vs. direct measure findings (19th century).
4.) Hawaii today, using Modern method vs.19th century method.
The answers to that would go a long way towards proving/falsifying the past results and proving/flasifying the uniformity of worldwide CO2 distribution.

Stan Needham
February 25, 2008 7:39 pm

Evan, those are 4 good questions. I did a little digging today, and I suspect the answers are not going to be all that easy to ascertain, although there is an incredible amount of information out there.
One of the things that sticks in my mind about the first articles I read about water vapor, is it’s importance as a GHG and how little is understood about it, especially in the modeling community. I kept running across statements about how water vapor is even dispersed throughout the atmosphere. At the time I thought that didn’t sound right, unless water vapor and humidity are not the same thing, because, clearly, humidity varies greatly geographically. Exceptionally low humidity over desert areas is the main reason for such huge temperature swings between day and night. There are so many sources of CO2, and they are not evenly disbursed throughout the globe, well, except for the oceans. I suspect dispersal of a trace gas within the atmosphere is a matter of physics, a subject about which I know next to nothing. But then, one of the reasons I come here is to learn.
This has the makings of a fun project. I may be snowed in tomorrow (heh, so much for global warming), so I’ll get started in the morning. We’ve already gotten a couple inches in the last 2 hours, and we’re supposed to get 5-8 by tomorrow afternoon. I’ll check in with you via email sometime tomorrow. This thread will probably have disappeared off the current screen by then, and I don’t know whether or not Anthony performs moderation on old threads or not.

February 25, 2008 9:15 pm

[…] from a number of other bloggers. This prompted a review of stations previously surveyed, such as Cedarville, CA, which then prompted a larger investigation in the satellite city nightlights methodology used by […]

Evan Jones
February 25, 2008 9:34 pm

Cool. I look forward to it.
One thing I noticed that may complicate things is something I noticed on Ferdinand’s blog. Namely that CO2 was more highly concentrated in areas that had no air circulation.
So in all fairness we have to consider where those earlier CO2 readings were mode and esp. how/where the 1930s-40s data found in Beck was acquired.
(BTW, Rev, thanks for ‘unautomaticing? my email without actually deleting the info. A good and considerate move.)

March 4, 2008 5:53 am

Stan, Evan,
a problem I have with the critique from Beck et al is that CO2 levels have behaved rather lineary since modern techniques started to be used. Combining the older measurements and newer makes an ugly curve and those are rarely right. Hence I think that it is reasonable to examine Beck et al with a good portion of sceptisism.
However I do agree that that is what the IPCC should have done (examined it). They should certainly not have presented an amalgamated curve from two different sources of which one has been severely tampered with as an undisputed CO2 record. Such has a name: dishonesty.

April 10, 2008 12:22 am

[…] record has been adjusted for no discernable or apparently logical reason. Cedarville, CA, which I previously highlighted is another prime example of a rural station with a long history, little growth, no UHI, but with an […]

June 17, 2008 1:24 am

[…] adjustments of rural stations we’ve seen where the past has been adjusted cooler (such as Cedarville, CA) in this case the past has been adjusted to be warmer, resulting in a slight cooling trend for the […]

June 29, 2008 12:26 pm

[…] past of a rural station gets adjusted cooler, resulting in an increased temperature trend, such as what happens at Cedarville, CA. Hopefully we’ll have a detailed analysis of that adjustment from John Goetz […]

July 18, 2008 8:38 pm

[…] GISS would apply an urban adjustment to an obviously rural station, a topic which he explored in a previous post. I hesitated, because Cedarville had a lot of “nearby” (as defined by GISS) rural […]

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