How not to measure temperature, part 55 volunteers Liz and Don Healy captured this official USHCN climate station of record (COOP ID #22659) in Douglas Arizona on their cross country trip this winter. As is typical with many USHCN stations using an MMTS instrument, cable laying issues put the sensor closer to the building. In this case the sensor is over gravel and only 11 feet from the south (sun facing) wall of the Douglas Fire Department.


Click for a larger image

Don Healy writes in his survey form:

“…the MMTS was 11 feet to the south of a one-plus story stucco building, 9 feet from a concrete sidewalk to the south, 21 feet from a very wide two-lane asphalt street (10th St.), 36 feet from the Dolores Avenue Sidewalk. Additionally, the MMTS was positioned about 11 feet from the east and west from two concrete walkways providing access to the building from 10th street. The MMTS was 9 feet to the east of an estimated 25-foot tall Mesquite tree whose crown reached the area immediately overhead the MMTS. [The person interviewed] indicated that the tree had been pruned recently. The landscaping under the MMTS was lighted-colored gravel.”

Given all the elements in that description, determining the representative temperature for the area would certainly be a complex job of bias deconstruction.

The official MMTS temperature sensor also has a nice view of the street and its surfaces:


The thermometer wasn’t always there, the previous location (8th street park) was better in terms of bias proximity, but still not the best.


Click for a larger image

The original Stevenson screen was in the fenced enclosure in the 8th street park. You can see the ball field in the background. According to NCDC’s Multi Metadata System (MMS) database, it was at this location up to 11-01-2001. That is when the equipment changed from max-min thermometers to the MMTS electronic one.

See the complete picture gallery here.

Unfortunately, even though the station has been moved to the front of the Douglas fire station on 10th street, there is no mention of it in the MMS location records:


In the plot of temperature for this station, using the raw USHCN data at GISS, it does not appear that the data after the move was consistent. However, while only 4 years of data seems to have been plotted (in red), the appearance of a step function seems to have emerged that has not been caught in USHCN adjustments at NOAA:


Click picture for larger image,   see original image here

Perhaps our friend Atmoz can shed some light on the subject with his analysis skills which have been good at spotting such problems from a data perspective.

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Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 2, 2008 3:16 am

It just keeps getting beter…
Link provided by Dr Benny Peiser:
I guess we can’t blame them for asking.

Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 2, 2008 3:18 am

“The sum sought by China would amount to $66 BILLION a year from the U.S., according to Bloomberg data.”
Anyway, let’s get back to the MMTS stations.

Bruce Foutch
April 2, 2008 6:53 am

The tree in the first photo appears deciduous. Wouldn’t having no foliage in winter and being fully leafed in summer cause a winter warming bias? I know this seems a simplistic observation and may not, depending on sun angle and winds always be the case, but I do not recall seeing deciduousness specifically mentioned before and thought it might provoke an interesting discussion.
REPLY: Yes I’d say thats a good bet.

Steve Moore
April 2, 2008 7:38 am

My Mother (!) sent me this today:
John the farmer was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called ‘pullets’, and ten roosters, whose job it was to fertilize the eggs.
The farmer kept records and any rooster that didn’t perform went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of his time, so he bought a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so John could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.
The farmer’s favorite rooster was old Butch, a very fine specimen he was, too. But on this particular morning John noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all! John went to investigate.
The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.
But to Farmer John’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one. John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Renfrew County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.
The result…The judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.
Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making: who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention.
REPLY: Waaaayyy OT, but we all need a little humor. – Anthony

April 2, 2008 8:10 am

Wow, they can’t even keep up with the most basic recordkeeping, and they expect us to believe they know what’s going on with the global climate??

Evan Jones
April 2, 2008 8:12 am

So much for the false hope that rural area stations in the interior of the country would be better sited than those in the rest of the country.

Evan Jones
April 2, 2008 8:21 am

And the unadjusted station move (Go, SHAP!) seems neatly to demonstrate the c. 1°C difference between a roughly class 3 and roughly class 4 CRN site rating.
Since it seems to be such a big honking issue on certain sites that shall go nameless the CRN “estimates” are less than meaningless, it seems a good idea to keep an eye open for such measurement jumps..

April 2, 2008 10:30 am

Unfortunately, even though the station has been moved to the front of the Douglas fire station on 10th street, there is no mention of it in the MMS location records:

I sent an email to NOAA about errors in the MMS database. It bounced around for awhile, but I haven’t heard anything back.

Stan Needham
April 2, 2008 10:34 am

Steve Moore,
Anthony, thanks for not deleting Steve’s story. that’s one for the archives.

April 2, 2008 12:23 pm

The new location may better represent the ambient air climate than the old one. Do you know what the area around Douglas looks like?
But your cause is lost. You have no way of telling the local vegetation that the temperature changes are not happening. Douglas was included in the change in climate zones noted by USDA some years back. If only you could talk to each of those plants . . .

April 2, 2008 1:14 pm

There are no sudden deviations in the Douglas temperature in recent years when compared to surrounding stations. Part of the reason is the large number of missing data in the Douglas record.

April 2, 2008 1:43 pm

Hey Ed,
Take a deep breath and see if you can understand a little statistics.
The old data was pretty consistent from 1930 to 1990. Then they moved the station and started getting an average temperature that was a full degree higher. Nobody is claiming that we’ve had a full degree of warming in the last 20 years.
With 55, and counting, badly located recording stations documented so far, the data that is being used to justify global warming, not to mention man made global warming could be said to be less than authoritative.
The data is flawed, and should be adjusted.
If you aren’t at least open to the concept of global warming being proven by using junk science then your basing your beliefs on ideology, and “Al Gore said so”. Are you looking for the truth, or out to fulfill an agenda?
REPLY: Actually there are many more than 55, these are just the ones I chose to highlight See this:

April 2, 2008 2:58 pm

Thanks Anthony,
Those nubes(a.k.a. me) can be such a problem. LOL
So has anyone taken the 500+ stations that have been reviewed and adjusted them for the step change and rerun the data? I’m a relative rookie around here, so I may not have seen the post.
Obviously it would be better if all 1221 results were in, but it would still be interesting preliminary data.
I’ll admit, some of the science content makes my head spin and gives me a headache, but you don’t have to be a genius, to realize that the main voice for AGW happens to have started a company that sells carbon credits. And he’s a politician.
Speaking of carbon credits, has anyone else heard about fidelity credits? If you want to cheat on your wife and your conscience is bothering you, you can send me $50/credit. I certify that I have never stepped out on my wife. We’ve been married for almost 25 years.
If only people were as stupid about fidelity credits as they are about indulgences, I mean carbon credits.

April 2, 2008 4:16 pm

With 55, and counting, badly located recording stations documented so far, the data that is being used to justify global warming, not to mention man made global warming could be said to be less than authoritative.

And my point is that the plants don’t lie. It doesn’t matter what any recording station records, when the plants show spring hitting 8 hours earlier every year for the past 30 years. It’s only a 30 year trend, but the plants don’t lie.
Of course, the plants may not know that the recording stations get the wrong temperature. So, if you can just get the message to the plants and let them know, maybe they’ll stop blossoming earlier every year, growing farther north every year, and acting as if the climate were changing. You may have greater powers of persuasion with plants than farmers and God, since you seem to know so much more about the climate than they do.
Be my guest.
REPLY: You should ask the plants if they’ve seen a trend like this before, and what happened afterwards. If they are incapable of lying, I’m sure they’ll tell the truth, unless they are a particular set of Bristlecones that speak in tongues and have a bad translator.

April 2, 2008 5:46 pm

Is Ed Darrell referring to the same plants that were in CRN 1 a hundred years ago and now find themselves in CRN 5? And gosh no selection bias in the plants that are thriving. I’d be particularly interested in their views on climate vs anthropogenic warming especially since they seem to have more sense to keep quiet than some on the other side.

April 3, 2008 7:50 am

Hey Ed, do you think there might be a possibility of alternate causality? I’m not a botanist, but maybe you are. Is temperature the only factor in when plants bloom? Based on the fact that January and February were the coldest in years, it may be that something else in involved.
Al (Get your carbon credits here!!!!) Gore wants to control how much energy you and I are allowed to use. No matter whether it’s from solar at my house or oil from Kuwait. So he’s found a boogie man called global warming. He’s found a few scientists who are looking for research dollars to live on and a bunch of bureaucrats that can be lead around by the nose at the UN to blame the whole deal on the USA. Guess the scientists that are getting the research grants don’t really need the money. The scientists that point our the shoddy research are getting blackballed left and right. So don’t claim it goes both ways. The research money is being thrown at the AGW people, not the ones who are debunking it.
So by Al’s rules, when things get hotter, it’s global warming. When things get colder, it’s global warming. If rainfall is low, it’s global warming. When rainfall is high, it’s global warming.
Global warming will make the 2007 hurricane season one of the worst on record. Gee, I don’t remember anything about last years hurricane season except the couple storms that did occur brought some much needed rain to Florida and the Carolinas.
Al told us the sea ice between Greenland and Canada is GONE. Except after this winter it’s further south and thicker than it’s been in years.
Now they’re complaining about the trees blooming early. Well, through the global warming lens, what else could it be. Look through the scientific lens if you want that answer.
I’m pretty sure that Al recently claimed that sunspot activity doesn’t affect earths temperature. But there was a study posted here recently where the data doesn’t support his hypothesis. Not to mention that the hypothesis doesn’t make any logical sense anyway.
Al claimed on 60 minutes that non-believers in AGW are on a level with flat earth proponents and folks who think the moon landing was staged. It the typical ploy of claiming that “everyone knows” that x is true. If you say it long enough people start believing you.
Al Gore is a charlatan. When is the world going to wake up and realize we been taken for a fool?

April 3, 2008 8:35 am

Don’t worry about the sun so much. Researchers have found that there is no solar link according to the BBC:
If only we knew people who have recently proved the opposite.
John M Reynolds
REPLY: It seems they looked at the wrong particles. This is the telling quote:
“For example; sometimes the Sun ‘burps’ – it throws out a huge burst of charged particles,” he explained to BBC News.
“So we looked to see whether cloud cover increased after one of these bursts of rays from the Sun; we saw nothing.”
Of course he likely wouldn’t. Cosmic rays are orders of magnitude more energetic than sun driven partcles. Svensmark’s theory is about Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR), not protons or other sun emanated particles which are typically lower in energy.
Svensmark said as a quote: “Terry Sloan has simply failed to understand how cosmic rays work on clouds”
We’ll see how it shakes out.

An Inquirer
April 3, 2008 9:14 am

I am puzzled by the reaction to Ed’s comments about earlier springs. Longer growing seasons do match my personal observations. As a farmer, my father had problems with killing frosts in the 1970s, but they did not seem to be a problem in the 1930s. Now in the past several years, longer growing seasons seem to have helped crop production (more CO2 and better hybrids have also helped, but killing frosts are coming later and we are planting earlier — oops, not this year!) I am not saying that anybody has proved that greenhouse gases have caused the return to longer growing seasons, but l am surprised that anybody is challenging the observation of earlier springs than 30 years ago.

Jeff Alberts
April 3, 2008 12:25 pm

Inquirer, I think people are only challenging the issue that earlier springs are a problem. Alarmists like the person who posted it see it as proof of AGW. We see it as part of a cycle.

April 3, 2008 1:12 pm

Inquirer, you said I am not saying that anybody has proved that greenhouse gases have caused the return to longer growing seasons
The word “return” tends to imply that we used to have longer growing seasons. Was there AGW going on in the past? Did we stop it somehow? Just curious.

April 3, 2008 1:36 pm

well it is certainly not an “early Spring” here on the West Coast in BC. We just broke the record for a cold March . . . “In like a Lion, out like a freezer”

Evan Jones
April 3, 2008 4:25 pm

So has anyone taken the 500+ stations that have been reviewed and adjusted them for the step change and rerun the data? I’m a relative rookie around here, so I may not have seen the post.
I have done that using the minimum NOAA/CRN estimates and the stations are running an average of 2.0°C warmer than they should be.
However I have done this only for the present time. I can’t say how badly off they were, say, back in 1979.
On the other hand, much of the problems occurred after that date thanks to air conditioners, exurban creep, and, most important, the changeover to the MMTS systems which caused so many of the stations to be located right ext to buildings.
Therefore I assume there has been some exaggeration (an unkoown amount) in the measured temperatue increases in the last 30 years.

Evan Jones
April 3, 2008 4:30 pm

So by Al’s rules, when things get hotter, it’s global warming. When things get colder, it’s global warming. If rainfall is low, it’s global warming. When rainfall is high, it’s global warming.
Don’t forget the MSM GCM:
X=Global Warming
Everything = X
Anything = Everything
X (Anything and Everything) = X (Global Warming)
Therefore: Shut up and go away.

Evan Jones
April 3, 2008 4:33 pm

Come to think of it, I wonder if it is possible that increased CO2 can cause an earlier growing season even if temperatures do not increase.
I do not recall having read this anywhere. Has it occurred to anyone before to ask this question?

Evan Jones
April 3, 2008 4:40 pm

Wait, I see An Inquirer has touched on this. Hybrids also. (Maybe plants do lie if bribed.)
Was there AGW going on in the past? Did we stop it somehow?
GW (no A) was going on from the 1920s to 1940s. And, of course, the Medieval Warm Period. it looks as if it was PDO that stopped it this century and major solar minimums 600 years ago.

Don Healy
April 3, 2008 8:45 pm

Increased CO2 levels are very beneficial to virtually all plant species. “Sylvan H. Wittwer, professor emeritus of horticulture at Michigan State University, directed the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station for 20 years, and chaired the Board on Agriculture of the National Research Council. He is the author of the world’s leading textbook on greenhouse vegetables, and is co-author, most recently, of Feeding a Billion: Frontiers in Chinese Agriculture.” A paper he wrote describing the benefits of higher CO2 levels can be read at:
From the standpoint of the plant kingdom, current CO2 levels are barely adequate. At the levels experience during past glacial advances (180 ppm or so) many plant species are beginning to experience CO2 starvation. If the past estimates of CO2 levels during geologic history calculated by Scotese and Bernier, 2001 are correct, the atmospheric CO2 levels present when gymnosperms and angiosperms evolved were approximately 3000 ppm and 2500 ppm respectively. This might explain why most commercial greenhouse artificially increase CO2 levels to 1000 to 1500 ppm to increase productivity.

An Inquirer
April 4, 2008 5:12 am

Regarding, “the return to longer growing seasons,” I purposely put in the word “return.” After reading numerous research articles at CO2Science, I think it is clear that hundreds of years ago, growing seasons were longer on every crop-producing continent. Also, based on conversations with farmers, I suspect that the growing season in the 1930s (at least in the Midwest) was just as long as it is now. However, I have not seen any study on that latter assertion.

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