How not to measure temperature, part 52: Another UFA sighted in Arizona

My post How not to measure temperature, part 51 was also cross posted over at Climate Audit, and has created quite a stir when Atmoz, who is at the University of Arizona, tried to demonstrate that the temperature spike shown in the GISS data at Lampasas, TX, was not due to the relocation next to a building and asphalt parking lot, but rather some problem with GISS algorithm to do homogeneity adjustment to the data.

Steve McIntyre had doubts and posted a tongue in cheek rebuttal where he blamed the problem on UFA’s (Unidentified Faulty Algorithms). It seems reasonable given the fact that Arizona is already the center of surface measurement weirdness given the parking lot weather station operated by the Atmospheric Science Department of the University of Arizona.

Enter serendipity. Warren Meyers’ son Nicolas, has been actively surveying Arizona stations for his school science project. My inbox had a new station from him today, Miami, AZ. So I decided to take a look at it.

As is typical when an MMTS sensor gets installed by NOAA/NWS to replace the traditional Stevenson Screen, it got closer to human habitation, and in this case, a LOT closer. Too close I’d say:


click for full sized and additional images at database

So I though I’d take a look at the raw GISS temperature plot for Miami, AZ to see if the move would show a spike, it did:


From NCDC’s MMS database, they have a map showing station moves. This is at the Magma Copper Mine in Arizona, and the station used to be further away from the administration buildings near the pit:


Seeing a similar scenario to what occurred in Lampasas, TX, where a rural station was moved from a cooler location to a much warmer one, I decided to do the same sort of comparison on the GISS temperature plots as I did before:





Note that I changed the color to red using a hue shift to prepare for the next step, to see the original GISS data, click on the image.



Notice that after the GISS homogeneity adjustment, the past temperatures go down, with the present acting as a hinge point, thus making the slope of the temperature trend rise. The new slope is purely artificial, and appears to be an artifact of data adjustment by NASA GISS on this rural station. This is the second instance of this happening, the first being seen in the GISS Lamapasas, TX data adjustment for homogeneity.

In both cases, the abnormal spike coinciding with a station move near the present time remains in the record, and that is what the homogeneity adjustment is supposed to catch and remove as I understand it.

In a comment on the subject, Steve Mosher offers an explanation:

In Hansen 2001 Hansen says he uses nightlights to determine

if a station is Rural in the US and population everywhere else.

Miles city population is less than 10K which makes it rural,

BUT, nightlights ( satellite imagery taken in 1995)

indicates a brightness factor for Miles of 26! effectively making it urban.

I concur. There appears to be a flaw in the GISS nightlight methodology and adjustment algorithm. I look forward to seeing GISS investigate, and if this problem is indeed verified, a dataset correction.

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Jeff in Seattle
February 17, 2008 9:40 am

Nice post, Anthony, but you need to proofread before clicking submit 😉
REPLY: I run a spell checker, but sometimes it doesn’t catch everything. I’ve run a new check. Also please point out specific errors, I can’t always find what others see.

February 17, 2008 11:49 am

The GISS adjustment is almost a deja vu of HNTMT part 51, but not quite as severe. Same basic deal: Stick a thumbtack on the righthand side of the data and pull downwards on the left.
REPLY: More like a deja vu of Detroit Lakes, MN I’m thinking.

Stan Needham
February 17, 2008 1:05 pm

My post How not to measure temperature, part 51 was also cross posted over at Climate Audit, and has created quite a stir when Atmoz, who is at the University of Arizona…..
I have to confess I don’t follow Atmoz’s blog, but I am curious whether or not he’s ever expressed embarrassment over their local weather station/Walmart parking lot experiment there.
REPLY: No, in fact he’s tried to defend it.

Bill in Vigo
February 17, 2008 1:13 pm

Anthony, the raw data didn’t show up and on the overlay the raw data seemed to stop some time in the mid 1990’s. But if many of the stations have this type of adjustment I would wonder if the whole mmgw and maybe part of the warming is a joke. To my untrained eye it apears that the last few years are stable or cooling a small amount.
REPLY: Bill you missed the point, this is a visual OVERLAY, the “raw” (not really, still has USHCN adjustments applied) is underneath the homgenized data plot…the present is the hinge point, the past gets cooler, which is why you can see the data plots there.
Past cooler + present unchanged = larger slope upwards from past to present. Large slope upwards from past to present implies a trend that isn’t real, but artificially created by adjustments to the data.

February 17, 2008 2:13 pm

Why do the Adjusments seem to be making things worse rather than better (this ones rhetorical)? And how would you use lights, anyway, for station data going back a hundred years or more?

February 17, 2008 2:38 pm

I think I’ve figured out the Issue Anthony.
The quality dataset is: crn =1; nightlights =0; population <5000.
That’s a good guess.
REPLY: Yes, all six of them. (just a gues from …at least from what we have surveyed so far)

February 17, 2008 8:28 pm

You have to keep doing this, Rev. For every data history you post, you have to keep doing this. You have to drum this one in and drum it good.
If it is all this bad or nearly so, you have got to keep pounding on it. This is a ghastly error at least and an outrage and a scandal at the most. But you must set your teeth in it and not let go. Same as you did with the station observations.
One would think that those who so err in their adjustments would take careful note and hasten to reexamine and correct. But it is not so. I do believe they would simply be grateful if your impertinent observations would just go away.
There’s more.
I looked in on some of the other threads in the “you-know-where-with-the-asterices” blog. I saw the abuse that was dealt out to Raven, you, fred, and others, and I thought it was greatly disproportional, and it made me feel ill. That has hardened into a cold anger. These people seem to me to be less interested in the facts of the debate than in disparaging those who disagree. They are teachers-turned-destroyers. (I’d comment on it there, but I doubt the post would survive.)
Maybe it’s that they were doing so well in the debate, but recently have run very badly afoul of the fact-checkers. Therefore fact-checkers must be demeaned and fact-checking itself must be prevented. The very term “gatekeeper” in regards to scientific process is an infuriating concept. A concept that is not only profoundly unscientific, but outright insulting. And an affront to liberalism itself.
They (not all, but most) are saying that those who question are “not nice”. I am getting mightily tired of smiling back at them and telling them we are “nice”. One of the things that stuck a blow that sent me reeling was an answer to why pseudonyms are used: it is because the “brownshirt denialists” will harass and physically threaten them and their families if they reveal their identities. As if they were some sort of brave partisans in Nazi-occupied Denmark during WWII. What face! What presumption!
I have been sticking to the very basic point that the historical climate data has problems and needs to be checked. The response is not, “fine, check, you will find you are in error”. It is that no checking need be done, no checking should be done, and that any checking that is done is and will be a lie and is to be discouraged on all levels. With an implicit (or not so implicit), “who do you think you are, anyway?”
It made me feel quite poorly that one person with whom I had been politely debating in another blog (Consimworld) descended immediately to what I considered personal insult in “that other blog” (you know which one I mean).
I want Global Warming to be a debate between people who disagree but respect each other. I want to find out what is going on without the fear that those engaged are not cheating. I want this to be a contest between chivalrous intellectuals who may slay each other’s arguments but would die rather than stoop to dishonor or degrade. I think it is an issue too important to be decided by argumentum ad baculum and ad hominem. And I do I want to see people like you or Raven or fred (and others) suffer for trying to disagree in a fairminded and respectful manner.
Your blog has had its moments of harshness, but that’s the exception, not the theme. Even those who disagree with the basic skeptic approach have commented on this. But this is getting worse than the game I was a part of back in the 70’s and 80’s when arguing against the panics regarding population and resource depletion. In those days there were those who applied labels to the other side, but not even the extremists were talking Population or Resource “Nuremberg” or seriously encouraging the jailing of their opponents.
I once had an phys-anthro teacher who strongly disagreed with me on every point, but gave me the top grade in a class of 70 (only 3 got As) because I respected his subject matter and worked so hard to learn his science–and because he was an honest man. But he is long retired and I do not think that this would be possible today.
While I still do not think it will come to that, it is finally beginning to dawn on me that there is an honest-to-God intellectual war going on here, not a sometimes-impolite discussion among professional peers and interested amateurs. One in which careers may be ended and lives ruined. I did not want it to be this way, and I feel an almost wild unhappiness that it has come to this.
You keep posting those adjustment comparisons, Rev.
REPLY: Thank you for the insight Evan. I have no intention of slowing down because of the opinions of a few rude folks, and I don’t have time to harrass or to argue endlessly with people either, and to what end? To feel superior? That is a game for the ego-centric. The data will speak louder than any opinion I could ever utter. In the end, whether I’m right or wrong, the data will show the path and nature will be the final arbiter.

February 17, 2008 11:50 pm

Re 1950 hinge point —
This strangely corresponds to the original expose of the use of whitewash on the screens. Isn’t that about the time estimated for the changeover to paints other than whitewash? What else happened physically that would cause 1950 to be used as a point?

February 18, 2008 12:04 am

As you have so properly refused to come to any premature conclusions it is impossible that you will be wrong. You will have noted violations and performed due diligence.
Therefore, whatever the results may be, you will be “right”.

Stan Needham
February 18, 2008 5:17 am

The data will speak louder than any opinion I could ever utter. In the end, whether I’m right or wrong, the data will show the path and nature will be the final arbiter.
Anthony, that’s the most concise statement I’ve ever seen on how this is all going to be resolved. Until mankind knows everything there is to know, it will never end, but just like every other scientific controversy, it will reach a new plateau which will then be challenged by a new generation of skeptics. And should nature “be the final (or even the interim) arbiter”, that would be the ultimate poetic justice, IMHO.
Although I readily admit that I’m not a scientist, I do know a little about the scientific method. The fact that it’s being subverted by, not just self-proclaimed scientists, but actual titled scientists, is what bothers me the most about this debate. If that subversion were in the interest of some greater good, I still wouldn’t agree with it, but at least I could understand it.
Great post, Evan — I concur with every word. This part of the picture is the one that puzzles (and disturbs) me the most:
But this is getting worse than the game I was a part of back in the 70’s and 80’s when arguing against the panics regarding population and resource depletion. In those days there were those who applied labels to the other side, but not even the extremists were talking Population or Resource “Nuremberg” or seriously encouraging the jailing of their opponents.
I remember those arguments well, and I suspect that they’re in the back of the minds of many engaged in this current debate. I sense that a number of those on the Warmist side of this debate are consciously or unconsciously saying to themselves, WE ARE NOT GOING TO SUFFER PAUL EHRLICH’S HUMILIATION.

February 18, 2008 6:06 am

Anthony, i think i counted 1 site that was nightlights 0 , pop LT 10000, non
airport crn = 1.

Stan Needham
February 18, 2008 6:41 am

Because it’s so apropos to the current discussion, I’d like to expand a bit on the Julian Simon — Paul Ehrlich wager in 1980. From the Wikipedia account referenced in my previous comment:

[Simon] always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they’d been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.” (emphasis – added)

Sound familiar?
And Evan, does this next part not dovetail with your philosophy about wealth creation as it pertains to solving humanity’s problems?

Simon’s cornucopian theory.
“More people, and increased income, cause resources to become more scarce in the short run. Heightened scarcity causes prices to rise. The higher prices present opportunity, and prompt inventors and entrepreneurs to search for solutions. Many fail in the search, at cost to themselves. But in a free society, solutions are eventually found. And in the long run the new developments leave us better off than if the problems had not arisen. That is, prices eventually become lower than before the increased scarcity occurred.” (emphasis – added)

February 18, 2008 6:53 am

Very well said, Evan.
Although I’d add that the ‘intellectual war’ is between intellectuals and anti-intellectuals. The former being sceptics and the latter being AGW believers.
Go hang out at a few non-overtly scientific forums and see the dismal ignorance and their virulent anti-intellectual tone. I’d characterize it as ‘How dare you question my right to my ignorance.’

Jeff in Seattle
February 18, 2008 7:40 am

Stan, I think if Ehrlich had chosen oil, he might have made some of his cash back… Seems pretty shortsighted of him. But it seemed the wager was constrained to metals.

Stan Needham
February 18, 2008 8:40 am

Jeff, they made that point in the Wiki article. I just don’t think Paul Ehrlich is the sharpest knife in the drawer. But even with oil, a wager on it’s price would depend on the time frame. Most people forget, but in the late 90’s (around 98, I think) the price of oil got down to around $10/barrel. I remember a trip from Indiana to my daughter’s place in Kansas in 1998 (10 years ago this month) where we paid as low as $.77/gal. for gas. Just as an interesting side note, since that time, the price of oil has gone up 10 times, but the price of gas has only gone up about 4 times.

February 18, 2008 9:23 am

Be of good heart Evan (and Andrew, and all the rest of you, come to think of it) – Nil illegitimi carborundum!

February 18, 2008 9:25 am

Whoops – my first post post, and I messed it up. I meant, Anthony, of course – not Andrew!

Jeff in Seattle
February 18, 2008 10:31 am

Stan, yeah Ehrlich has been nothing but a scare tactician, and not a very good one. Have any of his predictions come true? And for someone to say that his raising of awareness prevented these catastrophes is as ludicrous as one can get.

February 18, 2008 11:08 am

Stan: I totally agree. It’s as if mankind is surfing a huge wave while affecting a disbelief in water. I well remember Simon’s bet (both when he made it and when he collected on it). IIRC, the bet was not restricted to metals but could include any commodity of Ehrlich’s choosing. E. chose metals. (But he’d have done even worse if he’d chosen grain or oil.)
As to the “followup bet”, never made, I noticed the bet that the “gap between rich and poor” would be greater. Well, I should hope so! Show me a time in history when life got worse for the poor when the gap between rich/poor widened [The Rise of Rome, the Christian Era, The Rennaisance, the Enlightenment, The Industrial Revlution (for all it’s problems), the Postindustrial Revolution, the Information Age]. Show me a time when the gap between rich/poor narrowed where life did not get horribly worse for the poor [The sack of Rome, the Mongol Hordes, the 100 years’ War, the 30 years’ War, The Credit Mobilier, World War I, The Great Depression]. (The olnly exception I know of is the Haitian Slave Revolt.)
Philip: Thanks; I like to think there are honest men on both sides. But the personal venom is getting very severe. And I wish more of the the AGW advocates would recognize that skepticism and due diligence is a vital part of the process, to be encouraged, not avoided, even if they turn out to be mainly right.
Paulus: I will try. We all need reminding that once this controversy is resolved one way or another (or in between), that all parties need to work together to build a better world. I’d hate to see the current bad feelings between the two sides get in the way of that in the future. (Can’t we all just be content with calling each other foolish and move on? Why do they have to think of us as criminals?)

Stan Needham
February 18, 2008 12:07 pm

And for someone to say that his raising of awareness prevented these catastrophes is as ludicrous as one can get.
That may be, Jeff, but it is the kind of intellectual dishonesty we’ve come to expect from the glass-half-full crowd.

Robert Wood
February 18, 2008 12:17 pm

E J, the vehemence the RC people attack deniers with, and I wear that assault as a badge of courage (but I don’t have a livelihood at stake) is indicative of their desperation. After all, their livelihoods are very much at stake.
The Canadian AGW hysteric, David Suzuki, recently, in a public speech, demanded that politicians who are deniers should be put in jail. Imagine: a two-bit TV science hack demanded the president of the Czeck Republic to be put in jail. Can it get more surreal?
Apart from rhetoric, I can only stand back and cheer on the efforts of SM and Watts.

February 18, 2008 1:31 pm

Please keep this up.
I have been posting a few of this “How not to measure temperature” series at my forum.Thank you for your hard work in making these faulty weather reporting stations known.
It is worth the effort I think because “The Hockey Stick” and the strange GISS temperature measurements among other suspect science proclamations. Depend on the now exposed shoddy instrumentation and data gathering process.
GISS thanks to Stephen McIntyre has to relegate 1998 to 2nd place in their still suspect hottest years on record list.By posting 1934 as #1 damaged the hockey stick papers argument that it was the 1990’s with 1998 at the peak. The proof of CO2 emission driven global warming.
Because of your effort and Steve’s and others.We are FORCED to re-examine the data and see how they relate to reality and quality of the observed climate we live in.

February 18, 2008 5:04 pm

RW: That Suzuki dude is an Order of Canada winner, isn’t he?

Bruce Cobb
February 19, 2008 6:55 am

“That Suzuki dude is an Order of Canada winner, isn’t he?” More like, “Odor of Canada”, and the stench is some awful.

February 24, 2008 7:21 pm

I know a lot more about time series analysis, especially non-linear analysis, than I do about climatology. But after some conversations about global warming that quickly devolved from scientific debate to religious faith, I have slowly been slogging through rural GISS station data.
It has been amusing since the time series can be deconstructed into several cycles with periods that correspond to known cycles such as the PDO. The short version is that i can’t find any evidence of a linear warming trend since the late 19th century to the present. However, it’s pretty clear that the shorter 11 or so year sunspot also influences average local temperature. You can click on the website link to see the data.
I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in taking another look at the data, as mentioned in other posts. I hope y’all find these results useful in the ongoing debates.

February 27, 2008 2:43 pm

The rancor of the AGW crowd is understandable. After all, they KNOW that they’re right, they have all these numbers and charts and things, they KNOW, they have EVIDENCE that they’re RIGHT, because God–er, THE NUMBERS don’t LIE.
This means that you, by arguing the contrary position, aren’t just arguing against them–you’re arguing against fact, against logic, against the very concept of human reason. Why should they treat you well? To them, it’s like telling them that they shouldn’t laugh at a dog because they’ll hurt the dog’s feelings.
They don’t consider this a debate. To them, the debate is over. You, by saying that it’s still an open question, are on the same level to them as a Flat Earther, or someone who believes in Lamarckian evolution or spontaneous generation. You’re wrong–and what’s worse, they see you wallowing in your wrongness, and gleefully consuming its filth, and trying to fling your erroneous excrement onto others–the plush-bottom brainless Public who don’t know their arses from their elbows, whose brains are poisoned by freedom to the point where they think your fecal wrongness smells right.
Indeed, not only are you wrong, but if you can convince enough people that you’re right then THE WORLD WILL END. So you aren’t just wrong–you’re dangerously wrong, because if you win the argument then they will die. You bastard. You probably hate gay people, too.

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