How not to measure temperature, part 56

Our newest volunteer at surfacestations.org is Keith Taylor, and he’s gotten off to a great start with 2 stations in 2 days. His first was the climate station of record for Williamsburg, KY, USHCN station #158709 (or maybe 158711). Like many USHCN stations, it is located at a sewage treatment plant. I’ve previously mentioned several times how the MMTS electronic thermometer has caused stations converted from traditional mercury max-min thermometers to MMTS to get closer to buildings because of cable laying issues. This one is a little closer than usual.

Williamsburg_KY Looking_East
view looking east -click for a larger image

Keith reports the sensor head is only 33 inches from the brick building wall. And, just off in the background, a new electric power transformer is being installed. In fact it looks like a lot of land use changes are going on around the station due to construction. From the home page of this wastewater treatment plant, we learn that:

 The Williamsburg Waste Water Treatment Plant underwent a state-of-the-art expansion in 2003. Today the plant is rated at 2 million gallons with a peak production of six million gallons per day.

Thats a lot of waste water (and waste heat) going through. It will be interesting to see what effects those construction and capacity changes may have to the temperature record in the years ahead.

Like many stations we’ve found, there is convenient parking available as well.

You can see the complete gallery of photos here.

Williamsburg_KY_Overall
view looking south -click for a larger image

Unfortunately, the NCDC MMS record for this station appears to be incomplete, possibly due to a move in 2004, from what was COOP station #158709 but there is no information to connect the two stations in 2004 that I can find. 

williamsburg_mms.png williamsburg_mms_pre2004.png
Click thumbnails for full size images

I’m not sure what the NWS COOP manager was striving for with this installation so close to the wall. It appears that this placement was done in 2004-01-01. Oddly though, it appears the current station in Williamsburg started exactly on New Years Day, while the other went on a few months. I didn’t know that NOAA COOP managers would be out installing MMTS thermometers on News Years Day.

williamsburg_mms_dates.png

Unfortunately we are left with a puzzle due to incomplete records and at this point we don’t know for certain if the prior station has been permanently closed and moved to this location in 2004, or if a separate unrelated station has been established. There is no connection in the NCDC records to indicate which of these has occurred that I can find. NASA GISS stopped reporting temperature for this station in 2004, so it appears they may unaware of what the status is as well. Without accurate records from NOAA/NCDC, how would they know?

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23 thoughts on “How not to measure temperature, part 56

  1. 2004-03-31 and 2004-0101? Just rounding error to the nearest year. BHTICS (“But hey, this is climate science.”)

  2. You wrote that one quickly.

    In your first paragraph, your second sentence says “Hi first” instead of “His first”. In the fourth sentence, you are missing commas and the word to: “… has caused stations, converted … to MMTS, to get closer to…”

    When you wrote, ” (and waster heat)” was that supposed to be waste heat, water heat, or waste water heat?

    Is this station’s data being used by anyone since the 2004 move?

    John M Reynolds

    REPLY: “You wrote that one quickly.” No I just have a massive head cold, so some of my focus is missing. Fixed, thanks.

  3. Hi-

    I find your blog very interesting, but I have not had time to digest much of the technical detail yet. I am trained as an engineer, and I share your Green-Sceptic attitude.

    I have a specific question that perhaps you can answer succinctly:

    What is the meaning of the metric, Average Global Temperature?

    That is, are the records from the various stations taken and simply averaged?
    Are the station records weighted in some way to reflect the geographic area which they are assumed or calculated to represent?
    Is there a weighting to take into account the unequal distribution of stations across the hemispheres?
    How are temperatures for the oceans gleaned, and are they treated the same?
    Why is the Average Temperature considered meaningful, outside of being a crude metric for calibrating models?
    Wouldn’t it be better to develop average temperatures for global sectors?

    Anyway, the one question is really many, but I’d appreciate a short answer if you can take the time for one. I really am puzzled by this. I have a background in computer modeling of large natural water systems, and I can’t imagine anything comparable being done there.

    Best regards,
    L

  4. Speaking of errors, “million” in the excerpt below is off by a factor of 1000.

    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/04/02/solar-wind-sun.html

    “Solar Wind Born of Colliding Magnetic Fields”

    … At the Royal Astronomical Society meeting, Harra planned to show images from the orbiting Hinode spacecraft showing magnetic fields linking two bright spots on the sun that were nearly 500 million kilometers, or 311 million miles, apart — a distance equivalent to 40 Earths placed side by side. …

  5. This sensor is located north of the building. Wouldn’t that produce “colder” readings?

  6. It is good to see that world changing policy is being based on work done by such consummate professionals as these guys.

    “Ah heck, it ain’t important, I’ll just put down 1st January. The debate’s over anyhow…”

  7. I just saw the temp plot. Looks like it has gotten cooler in Williamsburg.
    Wonder why?

    REPLY: AGW is not global in its “effects”. I’m betting that if someone can find the data for 2004 on and compare it to pre 2004, we’ll see a jump. This is a perfect test case.

  8. Ah, Massive Head Cold !

    More proof of global warming!

    REPLY: “It’s us against phlegm”

  9. REPLY: “It’s us against phlegm”

    Completely off topic, for which I apologise, but have you seen “Achmed, the dead terrorist” at

    especially 1.32 to 2.02. Hope you feel better soon

    REPLY: Thanks for the laugh!

  10. March 2008. Continental USA DOWN .877C

    Here in central Ohio, March was wet and cold.
    Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature, March – In like Lion Out like a Lamb.
    Well, it’s April and it’s still wet and cold.

  11. Pingback: Top Posts « WordPress.com

  12. For those who think the UHI doesn’t exist or is unchanging, see
    http://www.azcentral.com/12news/news/articles/2008/04/04/20080404heatisland0405-CP.html

    Money quotes on Phoenix:

    “Our freeways, streets and structures all hold in heat, creating a reservoir of heat in the Valley,” Fernando said. “There was almost no heat island effect in the Valley until the late 1940s but it was rising by the late 1950s and has risen quickly since then.

    “If you keep increasing the heat island effect, as we have, at some point it will become so uncomfortable that people will start leaving the Valley. It becomes the difference between comfort and misery.”

    The rising misery quotient in the Valley helped prompt the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality six years ago to sign an intergovernmental service agreement with Fernando and ASU to create a computer model to study air quality and meteorology, including the urban heat island effect.

    According to the computer model, which Fernando and his colleagues completed last year, Valley temperatures have climbed in recent years from three to eight degrees in some areas, and as much as 10 to 11 degrees in the most densely built areas during the summer.

  13. What is the meaning of the metric, Average Global Temperature?

    That is, are the records from the various stations taken and simply averaged?

    No. They’re not THAT bad.

    Are the station records weighted in some way to reflect the geographic area which they are assumed or calculated to represent? Is there a weighting to take into account the unequal distribution of stations across the hemispheres?

    Yes. They call that one “gridding”.

    How are temperatures for the oceans gleaned,

    At various depths. 3m is the main measure IIRC. The Argos buoys are the latest, greatest, most comprehensive.

    and are they treated the same?

    No. You get Land, Ocean, and the combo as sepearate measures.

    Why is the Average Temperature considered meaningful, outside of being a crude metric for calibrating models?

    IRTNOG. (From the Stephen Leacock story.) Everyone loves a bottom line.

    Wouldn’t it be better to develop average temperatures for global sectors?

    Yes. And they do, but no one pays any mind unless they live there. In one sense, all climate, like politics, is local. OTOH, “Everybody wants to rule the world.”

    There are also highly questionable “adjustments” involved. Most infamous are:

    –SHAP (Station History Adjustment Procedure), which adjusts for stations moves, or changes in environment. (Unless it doesn’t.)

    –FILENET, which fills in missing data from surrounding stations. (It gets very incestuous.)

    –TOBS, which ajusts for shift in Tmax/Tmin when different 24-hour periods are considered. (NOAA has been known to be so diligent they even apply warming adjustments to stations with quite consistent TOBS timing. But hush-hush!)

    –MMTS, for which they adjust the temperatures warmer. (After having turned them into walking, squawking CRN4 violations on account of cable issues.)

    –UHI, which is supposed to adjust for the well known urban heat island effects. When we delve closer, we are informed that cities result in upward (sic) adjustments almost as often as downward. (You may sart howling in anguish about now . . .)

    Satellite measurements are more consistent (and arguably less “political”), but they are not direct temperature measurements, but microwave proxies, and measure the troposphere and stratosphere, not surface.

  14. I have a background in computer modeling of large natural water systems, and I can’t imagine anything comparable being done there.

    Fear not. Your imagination would seem to be in proper working order.

  15. This sensor is located north of the building. Wouldn’t that produce “colder” readings?

    You make joke, yes-no?

  16. E. Jones:

    Thanks for your replies to my queries! Devilish business, this. So many potential sources of error and uncertainty to determine a final result of such relatively low magnitude (avg. temp. rise of a few degrees globally over many years.)

    I read a book some years ago called Ice Time. It was written in the late 80s, or early 90s when climatologists will principally concerned about a new ice age coming soon. The author made an excellent point which is never discussed these days and which troubles me greatly, i.e., investigations that are largely dependent on complex digital simulations comprise a new kind of “science.” Perhaps a kind that isn’t really science as we know and value it? More akin to informed speculation. It has its uses, but you have to know the difference.

  17. Devilish business, this. So many potential sources of error and uncertainty to determine a final result of such relatively low magnitude (avg. temp. rise of a few degrees globally over many years.)

    Worse. All this purports to measure a 0.72 increase from 1900 – 2000.

    “Adjusted” up from 0.60. For an unknown reason.

    NOAA adjusts temperatures UP 0.3C from the 1900 norm. This, when there is every reason to suspect that if SHAP were half up to snuff, the adjustments would clearly be DOWN.

    To make a long story short, according to NOAA/CRN’s own estimates, the observed stations so far (c. 40% of the US net) is running an average 2.0°C too warm. And the bulk of these violations occurred after 1979 as a result of the MMTS switchover.

    As to how much this has affected the rate of change is yet to be determined. This iis the sort of violation that a.) should never occur in the first place, and, b.) SHAP shoud adjust for (but clearly does not).

    Be sure to check the “Weather Stations” category on this blog which will give you the full cacophony of risible siting violations.

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