How not to measure temperature part 57

One of the intrepid traveling volunteers, Eric Gamberg, has been traveling through Nebraska as of late, picking up stations as he goes.

He recently visited the USHCN station of record, COOP # 256040, in North Loup, NE, not to be confused with Loup City, which he also visited. Records describe this station as being in a rural area, which is true. As some might say, it is surrounded by a “whole lotta nothing”. See the map. According to the Nebraska Home Town Locator website: “North Loup had a population of 339 with 192 housing units; a land area land area of 0.41 sq.” Seems quite small.

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much wrong with this station.

Looking South – Click for a larger image

No obvious heat sources or asphalt/concrete nearby. But let’s take a look at another angle:

Looking West – Click for a larger image

Notice all the shadows and the trees? Unlike many stations I’ve pointed out in the past, this station has an uncertain cooling bias from all the shade around it. The bias is variable, with seasons, with tree growth, tree pruning, and with windstorms that may remove leaves or whole branches from the trees.

Other angles of this station are visible in the gallery for this USHCN station. This is a new submission, and the surveyor hasn’t submitted his written report yet, so I decided to look closer at some of the photos and screencaps he submitted.

One of the pictures caught my eye. It was a single picture of a Stevenson Screen with the name: “NE_North_Loup_CRS_now_at_Neighbors”

Click for a larger image

The neighbors location also has a significant shading issue with trees around the station. Since it appeared from that description that the station had been moved, I wondered if NOAA had logged the change, so I consulted the NOAA MMS database.

The station map showed only two locations as being recorded for this station even though data goes back to 1892 and is used by GISS in their data plots.

It seems sloppy to me that NCDC doesn’t have any location records any further back than 1948. This lack of historical metadata is becoming increasingly common.

The location tab of the MMS database gave a hint of what might have changed recently though:


41.500000 (41°30’00″N) -98.766670 (98°46’00″W)



41.493330 (41°29’35″N) -98.774720 (98°46’28″W)



Obviously, NOAA is aware of the shade issue.

Looking at the equipment tab in the NCDC MMS database I found that it appeared the station had been converted in 1986 to MMTS from mercury max-min thermometers:

1986-06-11 | 1988-01-25 | MMTS ELECTRONIC SENSOR

0001-01-01 | 1986-06-11 | MAX-MIN THERMOMETERS

But this still didn’t answer the question of how did the Stevenson Screen end up “at the neighbors”? I guess I’ll have to wait until Eric Gamberg submits his survey report to find out, or perhaps he’ll chime in here to tell us the story.

I thought maybe I’d try looking at the GISTEMP record to see if I could find any obvious shifts in the data that might provide clues for a relocation. Here is the raw USHCN data plot from GISTEMP:

Click image to see source file at GISTEMP

While it might look like there’s a jump coinciding with relocation, other stations in the area, within 100 KM had similar jumps around that time. Click on the names below to see those plots from GISTEMP:

| Loup City 30 km | Saint Paul 36 km | Albion 68 km | Grand Island/ 72 km | Broken Bow 2w 76 km |

So it appears the jump was natural, likely due to our rising El Nino year peaking in 1998, or we have another one of those data splicing errors like what was found back in August of 2007.

As a final check, I decided to look at the GISS Homogenized data plot for the North Loup station, and here is where the surprise came, the scales of the two graphs didn’t match. There was a .5 degree C difference in the Y scale. The Raw GISS plot topped at 12.5°C while the Homogenized GISS plot topped at 12.0°C :

Click image to see source file at GISTEMP

This was perplexing, so I thought I’d try a data overlay to see what had changed, and what I found was another one of those counter-intuitive downward homogenization adjustments which used the present as a hinge point and made the past cooler:

Click for a larger image

So this begs the question: Why is a station that is classified as rural, with an apparent cooling bias due to tree cover, with a long history containing only a few moves, in a small agricultural town with little growth in the last century get an adjustment like this that causes the past to get colder, and create an artificially enhanced positive slope of temperature trend?

The nearest “large” city is Grand Island, NE, seen in this map, over 40 miles away. There is nothing but farmland all around North Loup, NE. I don’t care how you try to reason it, an adjustment for a station of this type wouldn’t need to be done for UHI. So what’s going on? Is this another one of those situation where other stations that have UHI that are within a larger radius are affecting this station and forcing an adjustment?

This is why I have trouble trusting GISS data. We keep finding instances like this one where the historical temperature record has been adjusted for no discernible 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 artificially enhanced positive temperature trend .

This question needs to be answered.

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April 10, 2008 1:09 am

It is interesting and valuable work. Whether, after you correct all the errors, it makes much or any difference to the overall trend is another issue. It all may cancel out.
But what is being shown again and again is that the stations are being maintained (and their data reported) to standards well below the standards which the taxpayer is entitled to expect for his/her money.
And why on earth it should take a team of volunteers to travel around documenting this stuff? And why the project should attract so much abuse? Extraordinary.

Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 10, 2008 1:44 am

Those are good questions.
What do the officials at GISS offer as an answer?
If they were honest, they’d take a closer look and adjust the data accordingly.

Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 10, 2008 3:26 am
Mike C
April 10, 2008 4:07 am

Another Hansen trick exposed.

Mike Bryant
April 10, 2008 4:36 am

This investigation is turning up a massive fraud by NASA. It is also turning my stomach. Isn’t there anyone, anywhere that can bring this fraud into the light of day?
Does someone have to bring a lawsuit against GISS?
What is the appropriate course of action to take now that Anthony has the goods on these creeps?
Any lawyers or judges in the audience?
REPLY: I don’t know that it is fraud. There is a difference between in and simple lack of due diligence. It may be the latter. Clearly nobody has visited these sites to determine the validity of any adjustment methods.

Bob B
April 10, 2008 4:51 am

Anthony, as always this is great stuff! But what is the end point? From all the work you and your surface team have done together with the work Steve at CA has done, it seems painfully obvious that the GISS temp system is broken. The surface stations are not capable of reporting a temp accuracy needed to resolve tenths of a degree that we are deciding public policy on. Steve has shown the algorithms used to splice station data have corrupted the GISS temp record, rendering it useless. The gate keeper of the GISS temp system (Hansen) is a hopeless AGW activist and in my opinion not to be trusted. So how can it be changed?
A petition from thousands of people to NASA asking for a change?
A publication from you and Steve in a journal proving the GISS system hopelessly flawed?
Organized petitions and letters to Congress asking for an investigation?
A lawsuit?

April 10, 2008 5:01 am

This is an old but recurrent problem; ironically GISS methodology has been used to establish problematic temperature trends by BoM in Australia; the issue with the BoM conclusions was also based on their allowance for UHI effects;

April 10, 2008 5:33 am

a question not fully on topic.
You are concerned about shadows and an “uncertain cooling” bias.
My concern is about IR shielding by trees or something else.
What is it more important, shadows during daytime with a well mixed air mass, or IR shielding in the nocturnal stratified and stable boundary layer?
I know that a non-aspirated station has a larger bias with Tmax than Tmin, but what is the effect of a tree (one with leaves all year around)?
REPLY: True, Pine trees might has a constant bias effect, but I didn’t see any that would cast shadows here/

Harold Vance
April 10, 2008 7:44 am

Talk about a tricky situation. This station is generating normal values during winter when the foliage is gone and cooler values during summer when the foliage is present. This is ridiculous.
I don’t really care if the “global” temperature is going up or down, but I do care when scientists use bad data for important studies or when they make claims about their data sets that cannot be substantiated in reality.
Garbage in plus garbage adjustments still equals garbage out.

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 8:13 am

Yes, Rev, it’s all about the slope.
(Must be calm.)
And you can forget UHI anyway. The overall adjustment by NOAA for UHI over the last century-plus is -0.1°F. Sic. As in, “Yes, I said ‘F’.”
And we know from CA that almost half of NASA UHI adjustments are UP (the famous urban cool park effect).

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 8:33 am

Just one red-hot “adjusted” minute, here!
This is NOT adding up. Let’s look at the “known factors”.
A.) We are assured the satellite data matches ground data (more or less).
B.) We are assured that satellite data is done utterly independent of surface measurement.
Thus, it would seem to be proof that the ground stations are totally accurate. Slam-dunk, Hanseatic League for sainthood. End of argument. Shut up. Go away, you flat-earther, you. See you at the upcoming Climate Nuremberg.
Yet . . .
1.) We know darn well that a vast majority of the stations are in serious violation.
2.) These violations average out to +2.0°C warm bias for observed stations using the minimum estimated effects as per the NOAA/CRN handbook, as I have posted earlier (calculations included).
3.) It is patently obvious from the station records that these violations are NOT being adjusted for.
3.) We also know these violations occurred mostly since 1980 (exurban creep, waste heat, MMTS conversion scandal).
4.) We also know that the main problem (heat sinks) not only offset the temperatures, they increase the CHANGE in temperatures over time (LaDochy, Dec. 2007). This is a–vitally–important point.
5.) We know that overall NOAA adjustments for SHAP and FILENET do not adjust the past much and adjust the present readings UP. And that the UHI adjustment is laughably small. (As Gore would put it, “Everything that is supposed to be UP is DOWN and everything that is supposed to be DOWN is UP!”)
It is therefore quite reasonable to conclude that temperature rise since 1980 has been exaggerated by some undetermined amount. Indeed, it is difficult to see how one can possibly escape such a conclusion, try as one may.
So the first set of observations (points A & B) does NOT reconcile with the second set of observations (points 1 – 5).
And, to be honest, I suspect there is a probem with set A/B more than I suspect the same of set 1 – 5.
And furthermore, I find the conversation in general has drifted away from this discrepancy. I think said discrepancy VITAL to both the scientific and political debate to reconcile these two paradigms.
So, what about it, then? Watts Up With That?

Anthony Isgar
April 10, 2008 8:55 am

I think the main reason we have seen a continuing downward revision of past temperatures is because all the models say we should have already had more warming. Since they can’t change the current temperature (there are more people who are recording the current temperature) they are forced to change the past temperature to artificially create proof of global warming. If all of their models turn out to be wrong (which they have so far) then they will have no leg to stand on and they will stop receiving the billions of dollars of funding that they are receiving now. Money which could have been much better spent elsewhere, on bootstrapping developing countries or forcing china to reduce its harmful pollution emissions- SO2 and such.

Mike Bryant
April 10, 2008 9:05 am

I think we should let McDonalds (the hamburger chain) run the weather stations… nice, clean and up to standards. Also all the numbers would add up.

Gary Gulrud
April 10, 2008 9:08 am

“This is why I have trouble trusting GISS data.”

David S
April 10, 2008 10:06 am

Anthony you mention a cooling bias from being in the shade of the trees. But can’t the trees also produce a warming effect by blocking infra-red, especially at night?
Also the sensor is not in the shade in the photo. Depending on the spread of the tree branches and the angle of the sun it might or might not be in the shade at other times.
REPLY: It’s winter, so no leaves, and low sun angle. Mentally extrapolate to what that would look like in summer. NOAA notes a shade issue in their MMS database.
And you are correct, a warm bias would exist at night. The point is the station is affected by many biases that changes with time (trre growth), seasons, and tree health/wind damage/pruning Untangling them to find the true temperature is the issue.

April 10, 2008 10:07 am

While it is unfortunate that the MMS system doesn’t contain station move information prior to 1948, there is a station history file that goes along with the USHCN data that provides station move information back to the late 1800’s and up to 1995.
It can be downloaded:
I’m not certain, but I believe NCDC had a goal to digitize all weather records including metadata from 1948 to present and I believe their next goal is to go back to 1935.
I’ve also recently discovered that some of the monthly climate summaries published back in the 1950’s (not sure on the exact span yet) contained station move data that is not available in the MMS database.

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 10:12 am

Yes. Indeed.
Well, what about it, then? The GISS anomaly does not diverge much from satellite data from 1980. We have the recent evidence from the surface station observations.
And it doesn’t seem that the stations from middle of the country are faring much better than the edges, so far. The procedure seems to be to carefully seek out the needles of bad sities from amongst the haystacks of bad sites and go for the former.
Alright, then.
So what are we to conclude; and/or what do we need to check out? let us not be coy about this. It does not add up. Where is the discrepancy?
This is a vital point that needs to be forced. Forgive me if I must . . . persist.

Jeff C.
April 10, 2008 10:30 am

This is really interesting stuff. It is pretty amazing to see how the relatively simple task of surveying the stations has branched off into numerous sub-categories such as the MMTS cable length issue, poor NOAA record keeping, inexplicable homegnization adjustments, etc. What is even more amazing is that the NCDC never undertook this study themselves, particularly in light of how the data was being used.
BTW – this may be obvious but the 1996-11-06 “move” was probably not a move at all but an updating of the lat-long coordinates. Prior to the mid 1990’s the NWS appears to have only used degree-minute coordinates probably obtained by by locating the site on USGS topo maps. In the mid-1990s the site coordinates were updated to degree-minute-second coordinates using GPS. This is noted as a “GPS update” in the site comments in the MMS database tied to the date of the update.
It is quite confusing as virtually every site has an apparent move in the 1990s that probably isn’t real. To complicate things more, when the coordinates are displayed on the map in decimal format (e.g. 41.500000, -98.766670) it’s not as obvious as when they are dispayed in the dd-mm-ss format (41°30′00″N, 98°46′00″W).

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 11:20 am

I persist.
Why would we trust satellite data if it agrees with surfce data that we know darn well we can’t rely on?

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 11:17 am

I persist.
Why the similarity between surface and satellite data when we know how badly the surface sites have been compromised and how the adjustments are all the wrong way?
We can’t assume surface data is correct, so what about satellite data?

Mike Bryant
April 10, 2008 11:36 am

Why can’t GISS send out a letter to all weather stations demanding compliance within 30 days?
1) GISS doesn’t administer them, NOAA does
2) Many of these are private volunteer observers, you can’t just send out a “mandate”
3) It won’t change the past records, what is entangled and flummoxed will stay that way.
4) The new cliamte reference network (CRN) handles the siting issues for records of the future.

George M
April 10, 2008 1:14 pm

Another imponderable has surfaced in these comments, the “correction” of the satellite measurements. I find it highly implausible that measurements taken by two different methods which agreed with each other remarkably well were suddenly found to both be in error by just the amount which differed from the terrestrial data under discussion, such as it is. Does no one else find this fishy?

Earle Williams
April 10, 2008 1:48 pm

I posted some info on the adjustments to North Loup and neighboring sites over at Climate Audit.

Mike Bryant
April 10, 2008 3:18 pm

I know you begin projects with the end in mind. I realize that you have already begun this difficult task, and I believe I can already see some of the intermediate steps, but what will the successful conclusion of this tremendous effort look like?
Mike Bryant
REPLY: It will be whatever the data says it is.

April 10, 2008 3:24 pm

What do you conclude?
All analyses is dependant on good data collection whether from ground or satellite.

April 10, 2008 3:52 pm

On decadal timescales the northern and southern hemispheres have essentially separate climates. This is important because it gives us 2 separate test beds to see a global effect on climate.
Over the 30 years of the satellite record, apart from the 1998 El Nino spike, SH temperatures have been flat – no warming trend.
Whatever warming that is occuring is almost all in the Northern hemisphere. To then average that NH warming over the entire globe and claim a global effect is disengenous to say the least.

April 10, 2008 4:01 pm

“Why would we trust satellite data if it agrees with surfce data that we know darn well we can’t rely on?”
Actually, the satellite and surface data are in conflict. In greenhouse theory it is quite clear that the lower atmosphere (the satellites) should warm faster than the surface. But it isn’t happening.
If the warming of the surface has been exaggerated, the difference between satellites and surface lines up better with with greenhouse theory. The only problem is that the trends are well below those needed for the catastrophic scenarios.
AGW is being driven on the scientific side by an alliance of exaggerated surface warming measurements with over-sensitive climate models.

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 4:13 pm

George M:
Let’s put it this way. I would like to know what the “erroneous” measures were and if the difference just happens to equal what one would expect from the post-1980 compromise of the surface stations.
I could see it if the errors were related and the surface station records were “tight”. But the station violations cannot be meaningless. We have seen the jumps demonstrated a number of times, Yet the correction of the error brings it into agreement with a clearly incorrect measure that is adjusted to be even worse than the actual raw data. That take me into “no way” territory.
My “model” hypothesises that the world climate increased from 1980 to right around the 1940-1950 levels and not significantly more. And that the difference between that and the subsequent measurements is a result of the site violations turned up by the Rev.
I will also point out that Joe D’Aleo’s remarkable PDO/AMO correspondence would be further improved by my proposed “model”. (Enough, say, for a fourth exclamation point.)
Gentlemen, it all has to add up.
It is not adding up.
Therefore it is incumbent on us to determine why.
To recap:
1.) Surface temperature measurements (1980->) are inaccurate (CRN est. 2.0°C) as a result of site violations not related to UHI.
2.) Most site violations occurred or worsened post-1980.
3.) This would be expected to be corrected for by a negative SHAP adjustment.
4.) Far from being negative, NOAA SHAP is a positive (sic) adjustment. No, you did not read that incorrectly. I said “positive”. Really.
5.) UHI is lowballed by both NOAA. The overall adjustment is c. -0.1°F.
6.) The satellite readings, which were lower than the surface readings were discovered to be in error.
7.) This is said to be a legitimate correction to adjust for orbital drift. However, there were some other issues at the time that were adjusted as well, but “within the margin of error”, according to Dr. Christy (IRRC), whom I happen to trust. Please correct me if I am wrong about these adjustments. And just how much and it what direction was this adjustment “within the MoE”
8.) The adjustment brought them almost exactly in line with the adjusted surface records, shown above to be in error to at least some degree.
Conclusions, Gentlemen?
I think a vital chunk of this whole argument and the bulk of the significance of the Rev’s surface station work hangs on the answer to this conundrum. And it does not add up. It needs to add up. I have my suspicions as to the answer. I think the Rev’s observations are highly significant. But whatever that answer may be, IT NEEDS TO ADD UP.
As a historical analyst, this is my contribution. I cannot do the math. So I appeal to you numberz boyz. Please attend!

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 4:20 pm

Actually, the satellite and surface data are in conflict. In greenhouse theory it is quite clear that the lower atmosphere (the satellites) should warm faster than the surface. But it isn’t happening.
Yes, I recall that. The delta-T from lower trop. to surface varies between 1.2 and 1.4 (depending on latitude) , according to what I recall Dr. Christy said. I assume this would work both up and down.
So the next question is whether those satellite readings from RSS and UAH are lower trop. measures or adjusted to reflect surface measures. It does not tell us on the graphs.
If so, can we assume that the surface temperature measurements seem to match the lower trop. measures that this means that the delta-T (surface) is exaggerated by a factor of 1.2 to 1.4?

April 10, 2008 4:30 pm

re Evan Jones
There is a letter published in Nature by Frank Wentz from RSS on the ” effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower troposheric temperature trends”. I don’t have a subscription so I can’t read the full letter. They claim an adjustment of about +.12 K per decade. I do not know if UAH adjusts for orbital decay.

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 4:34 pm

What do you conclude?
All analyses is dependant on good data collection whether from ground or satellite.

I can guess. I can hypothesize.
What i suspect is that there is a disconnect somewhere between:
1.) The legitimacy of comparison between lower trop. data and surface temps. To what degree i cannot say.
2.) That mystery adjustment “within the margin of error” that was made at the same time as, but in addition to the orbital drift adjustment. Was it a positive or negative adjustment? A trend adjustment or an offset? And just how much IS that MoE in the first place?
I do not have the training to put out the mathematical fire. but I smell smoke, and I am sending up an SOS to those who can actually deal with the question.
It needs to add up.

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 5:03 pm

They claim an adjustment of about +.12 K per decade. I do not know if UAH adjusts for orbital decay.
Okay. That would be a 3.6°K adjustment over 30 years. The adjusted surface metadata indicates a net temperature increase of c. 0.5°C (linear trend of 0.3° C).
In other words, the satellite adjustment DWARFS the increased surface measurements.
Or, in oher words, an adjustment in addition to the orbital that was ‘withing the MoE” might very well be HIGHLY significant. That MoE might be equal or greater than the entire increase in temperature, much less the false delta created by heat-sink compromise of the surface stations.
But I can only slice crudely. I need someone who has the data on that “other” adjustment and who can handle the math to nail the determination.
The way I see it, the significance of the whole surface stations hangs on it.
And I don’t trust “Tamino” Hall to hash this one. They will just ask where I got my degree in climatology, assign Hansen (2001, “Lights = 0”) reading and suggest that I just toodle along. (And when I don’t, move on to questioning my honesty and integrity. The usual.)

George M
April 10, 2008 5:45 pm

Further, even the orbital drift correction seems specious. Were these “experts” previously unaware of the necessity of that adjustment? After all, they are rocket scientists doing rocket science, as it were. Seems like at that late time in space work, those kinds of considerations should have been routine, not “discovered” a year or so after launch, not so? Is any of our tax money being spent in worthwhile ways?

Earle Williams
April 10, 2008 6:54 pm

You’d better nail down that decimal point, son ;). An adjustment of 0.12 K per decade would amount to 0.36 K for thirty years. That would put the adjustment right in line with the observed surface increase.

Alan D. McIntire
April 10, 2008 6:58 pm

I’m reminded of the story of Galileo’s attempt to measure the speed of light. He had discovered that a pendulum swinging over a small angle had a fairly constant period. Using the analogy with sound, Galileo decided to attempt to measure the speed of light. He was on one hilltop, a confederate was on a hilltop a mile away or so. Galilo pulled a cloth away from a lantern, his assistant would see the light, and pull the cloth away from his own lantern, and Galileo would measure the time it took between first exposing his own lantern, and seeing the second lantern. The experiment was repeated at a greater distance, say 2 or 3 miles. The difference in average times would be the time it took light to travel twice those extra 1 or 2 miles. Needless to say, measurement error was far greater than the difference in light travel time. Measurement errors aren’t as bad for temperatures as they are for lightspeed, but they’re still a major factor- A. McIntire

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 7:48 pm

You’d better nail down that decimal point, son ;). An adjustment of 0.12 K per decade would amount to 0.36 K for thirty years.
Right. Got it. Yes, that would make more sense.
That would put the adjustment right in line with the observed surface increase.
Yes, it would, wouldn’t it?
Earlier on (different thread), I speculated that the increase from ’80 to date was real but probably exaggerated by c. a factor of two.
Now, as I understand it, the orbital drift was causing what amounted to something analogous to a TOBS error. That’s a real issue, and I can understand the need for correction.
But there was something else. something about a correction made at the same time. Something that Dr. Christy did not exactly approve of, but said it did not violate MoE, so he more or less dismissed it.
What was that other correction? Was it warming or cooling? How big was it? What was the specific reason for it?
We must wonder about the amount of the orbital adjustment as well. But what was this other “mystery adjustment”? And how big is that MoE, anyway?
Measurement errors aren’t as bad for temperatures as they are for lightspeed, but they’re still a major factor
Especially as we are looking at tenths of a degree C over a period of decades.
Also, getting back to an earlier point fropm braddles: If the delta-T for troposherie from 1979 – 1998 is 1.2 to 1.4 times that for the surface one would expect the tropospheric rate of increase to outpace surface measurements by around a third. (Plus that “mystery” adjustment, whatever it is.)
After that, the temperature is roughly flat, so there would be not much change.
Same deal goes for the surface stations. So if the delta-T of the surface stations were exaggerated (because of site violation) by roughly that amount the surface temps would match pretty well the increase of tropospheric heat.
So there would be an apparent match.
But what if those figures are not SUPPOSED to match? What if the tropospheric rate of temperature change is supposed to carry their temps higher than surface? A seeming match, therefore, might point out a discrepancy, in and of itself.
Therefore, saying that surface temp anomoly “matched” tropospheric temps after two decades of increase is a false match. A mismatch.
A clear indication that surface temps had been exaggerated by means of site violations?

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 7:49 pm

This has to add up. And by “add up” I do NOT mean that site violation effect = 0!

George M
April 10, 2008 8:34 pm

Someone, (Pielke Sr. I *think*) argues that the air temperature doesn’t matter a whit anyway, as the thermal mass is insignificent compared to the oceans. Which aren’t warming and therefore violate the models big time. Total heat energy is the factor which matters, and we don’t seem to be accumulating any more than average, and haven’t been for some time. So, the oceans won’t cooperate, the troposphere won’t cooperate, and lately, the lower atmosphere doesn’t either. Must be the aerosols.

April 10, 2008 9:56 pm

Evan- to make this reconcile, you need to grab the LT temperature data from MSU UAH that only covers the US and then compare it with the NASA GISS record for the US, since that is where Anthony’s database is focused right now. I have not seen the UAH data presented in this manner for the US (lat and long limited data at a particular altitude band).
The corrections to the MSU UAH data were for orbital drift, and led to a correction (if I remember correctly) from +0.12 C/dec to +0.16 C/dec. However, Christy and Spencer then published a more careful comparison of UAH and RSS constructions with radiosonde data and concluded that the corrected UAH version is more consistent with radiosonde data. In another paper Christy and friends looked at LT trends versus surface in the tropics and concluded that the LT trends were much lower than what was expected from GHG theory and the surface temp record. I interpret that as an indication that the surface temp trend in the tropics is overestimating the real trend. I would not be surprised if the same result obtains over the US. Perhaps a quick email to Dr. Christy or Dr. Spencer for a suggestion on where to get this data is in order?

Evan Jones
April 10, 2008 10:32 pm

Someone, (Pielke Sr. I *think*) argues that the air temperature doesn’t matter a whit anyway, as the thermal mass is insignificent compared to the oceans
I also find it hard to believe that the atmospheric tail can, in the long run, truly wag the oceanic dog. I was always a bit more of a sea-witch than a sun-worshipper. Though I do give merry old sol his due as base, primary driver. And in the end, orbital eccentricity (and continental drift) rule within their limited parameters.
paminator: Very interesting. Yes, it would be nice to do a limited US comparison, if the satellite data can be snagged.
If it can’t, though, the world will serve for now. And a comparison should probably be done anyway. A cursory look-see has made it apparent that the foreign stations are in even worse shape than the US net, including in Western Europe. The guy who “certified” the godawful China system was in legal hot water for malfeasance last time i checked. Australia may be better (but it seems their adjustment procedures may have rendered their historical metadata somewhere between SNAFU and FUBAR).
So I expect that the world will reflect pretty much what the US reflects, only more so.
Meanwhile, i think I’ll go back and check out those comparisons on this site a while back.

April 11, 2008 12:35 am

Evan; reading you works up a sweat! I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Australian temp records as my post above indicates. In respect of the discrepancy between surface and troposphere temps, it seems as though the cart may be before the horse. IPCC models depend on tropospheric amplification to produce a higher troposphere temp; this amplification is allegedly due to release of latent heat as air rises and condenses in clouds. But Roy Spencer’s work turns this causality on its head; that is, surface temp is a response to cloud cover, not the other way round. In such a ‘model’ the troposphere would be cooler than the surface, and the orbital-decay ‘adjustments’, ie guesses, are superflous.

Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 11, 2008 12:42 am

Haven’t had time to read this, but it appears to say that clouds are INDEED important!

Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 11, 2008 12:45 am

Funny how the “accurate” models neglect them.

April 11, 2008 6:07 am

So, if they don’t do site visits to check for biases, do they ever recalibrate the instruments? — John M Reynolds
REPLY: Since the number of WSFO’s was drastically reduced in the early 1990’s, the COOP manager staff has also been reduced, remaining staff has seen service areas double or triple.
As a result, site visits have dropped in frequency. I am not aware that GISS did anything to do a QC check of sites they use.
Mercury max-min thermometers would often be replaced, especially when column separation occurred. MMTS units may be replaced, but there is no field calibration for the sensor, only for the display. That is done using a plug with a precision resistor put on the end of the cable in place of the sensor.

April 11, 2008 7:48 am

What seems to be lacking in the whole temperature discrepancy discussion is a definitive “white paper” laying out the arguments on both sides. Evan Jones’ posts in this thread go a long way toward that end, but are scattered. The debate goes round and round with newbies coming in and re-addressing the what a lot of the old-timers assume everybody knows.
Here’s a proposal: how about a collective effort to layout all the information in a form that is comprehensible to the layman yet addresses all of the issues and is all in one place (sort of a FAQ but with more coherence and organization)? I have the interest myself, but not the time. It’s a big job, yet the effort might be a real contribution to SurfaceStations. A collaborative effort would (hopefully) distill the information to the best presentation (a la the Wiki concept). It will take a good editor in the end, of course. Any thoughts?

Texas Aggie
April 11, 2008 7:53 am

Pierre, why were they doing this research at Penn State? I thought the “science was settled”.

Evan Jones
April 11, 2008 10:53 am

The idea is that the subject of GW meeds to be presented in a manner understandable by the layman.
As a matter of fact, I already have a rather large file, tiered in Word Outline, which corresponds with my “postcard” comments. Its several sections covers the basic science (points, data of all sides), paleoclimate, measurement and equipment issues, and the history of the debate.
Most of the points I post here I pull off of that.
My objective has been to form it into an interactive, continually updated white paper. A comprehensive-yet-simple, constantly evolving body of work on the subject.
Naturally, in order to maintain an open process, old versions would be archived. But new, complete releases would be fairly frequest as appropriate.
Word Outline and its “9 lvevels” (which require zip training to use and can be manipulated and “collapsed” to limit the numbers of “postcards” in any presentation) is an ideal took for the document. So the document would exist online and ideally be downloadable in Word Outline format. (I have also created a set of styles to “normalize” the Heading 1-0 formats, so it doesn’t look like an attack from the planet of Barnum and Bailey).
The idea is to set up a tree of “postcards” which can be “drilled down” as far as one wishes, but the presentation can be limited as appropriate to specific audience and discussion.
I’ve already touched on the “postcard” (“filecard”, whatever) subject with a couple of others, but it’s all very pre-preliminary.
The basic idea is for not merely a white paper, but a “living” white paper. A single document on a location that would allow for the full array of comments and, to a degree, input from the outside.

April 11, 2008 11:31 am

Evan Jones,
I don’t believe the “corrected” RSS and UAH measurements were in agreement with the absolute surface measurement. The surface measurements as I recall were between .24C/decade and .27C/decade. UAH was adjusted upwards from .07 to .12 but that is still far short of the surface based. The agreement was in the rate of change in the trend, not in the absolute value.
Also, even though the satellites were corrected for drift and decay, their values should have been 30% greater than the surface if it was to indicate a greenhouse signal.
I may be mistaken, but this is my recollection.

Paul Blase
April 11, 2008 11:42 am

“Why the similarity between surface and satellite data when we know how badly the surface sites have been compromised and how the adjustments are all the wrong way?”
Just as a note, satellites don’t take raw temperature data – their measurements must be calibrated to known “ground-truth”. If your ground truth is wrong, your calibration is off, and your measurements are off.

Evan Jones
April 11, 2008 9:16 pm

But why would the trend be the same for both?
The surface violations continued and increased after 1980. This should exaggerate the trend.
So why would satellite trends match?
Are sat. trends for Lower trop supposed to exceed surface trends? That would explain it. Or are sat. trend proxies somehow mistranslated in a way that they match surface trends? That would also explain it.
The Tammano Hall take is that the trends are roughly equal, therefore site violation means absolutely nothing. I don’t buy that:
–We have seen the records jump as the stations are moved from lesser to greater violation.
–NOAA SHAP adjustments are UP, so it is impossible that the NOAA/CRN station violations are being taken into account.
So, as I see it, we are left with two reasonable conclusions:
A.) Surface trends and Sat trends are NOT SUPPOSED to be the same. therefore their apparent match is actually an indication of an exaggeration of surface trends.
B.) Surface and Sat trends ARE supposed to match, and, since the surface trends are being incorrectly measured, therefore somehow the satellite trends are being incorrectly measured.
c.) Site violations don’t mean squat.
So, which is it? Or what am I missing?

Evan Jones
April 11, 2008 9:22 pm

Just as a note, satellites don’t take raw temperature data – their measurements must be calibrated to known “ground-truth”. If your ground truth is wrong, your calibration is off, and your measurements are off.</cite.
Dr. Christy said not. Or at least he said that the adustments were not matched to ground, but arrived at independently. But I am not exactly sure what he means by that, and I am not sure how the base calculation from microwave to temp is made. Or how radiosonde translates, either, but the baloons are said to match the sats.
It seems that there must be some sort of elusive conneectivity going on here, but this is denied and I can’t pin it down in any case.
But it doesn’t add up, somehow. And it needs to add up!

Jeff Alberts
April 12, 2008 9:04 am

I think if one can find surface records which have recent anomalies KNOWN to be caused by station moves/local events, and if the sat records agree, then we know something is seriously wrong.

Evan Jones
April 12, 2008 11:10 am

Unfortunately it does not seem likely that satellite measurements can be narrowed down that much.
Besides, I believe Dr. Christy in that one is not directly adjusted to the other. I wonder if there might be something amiss with the proxy conversion, however.

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