Road Trip Update: What I'm doing Wednesday and Thursday

Having driven just over 800 miles around North Carolina, getting USHCN and GISS stations, like the one in Fayetteville NC yesterday, I’m pretty tired. But I’m at the middle of the trip, a trip made possible by the donations of many readers and supporters like you. Thank you, most sincerely for funding this trip. I’m getting lots of stations, but I’ve kept the centerpiece private until now.

Tomorrow, by an invitation sent almost two months ago, I am meeting with Dr. Thomas Karl and many of the principal scientists at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, NC. I will also be giving a presentation that will include many of the things presented here on this blog, and some that haven’t been.

Here is the meeting agenda prepared by NCDC: watts-visit-ncdcbb PDF file.

I’ll be relaying a couple of communications and have some questions. Feel free to pose some here. The visit has been labeled as an “exchange of ideas and information”, which I’m all for as long as a hockey game doesn’t break out.

More station surveys in western NC and into Tennessee for the weekend. I hope to survey 20-25 on this trip.

Sign up here if you’d like to survey some in your state: www.surfacestations.org

Or if you can’t do surveys but would like to help there’s always the donation button at right to fund the next trip.

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66 thoughts on “Road Trip Update: What I'm doing Wednesday and Thursday

  1. Be sure to check out that Asheville station, Rev. It’s supposed to be the jewel in the CRN crown.
    REPLY: I have a personal tour Thursday

  2. I’ve heard that March 2008 was supposedly the warmest on record (over land) globally. Yet the U.S. Climate Summary clearly shows that March is below average which makes three or four months in a row. I’ve also read that Sydney AU has just experienced its coolest summer in 50 years. Is it really possible for the US and Australia to be significantly cooler and the rest of the world so much hotter that the average is the warmest on record? I see this as one real unusual event, though I am not a scientist (bet you can tell) just one who avidly believes that global worming is a crock.
    I remain hopeful that I will see the day when the cooling trend is significant enough and lasts long enough for Al Gore to be told to shut up.

  3. Ok, I estimate 5 Cracker Barrels between that sign and your destination.
    REPLY: I’ve been using Bojangles as mile markers, seems to be more of those than cracker barrels. And I’ve yet to visit either.
    Eating is restaurants here is tough, they allow smoking everywhere. I bailed on dinner tonight midway because person next to me lit up. Not likely to change here, as NC is a Tobacco driven economy. Great roads though, blows the California road system off the map in quality and coverage.

  4. Bob Tisdale said: ‘Many of us would like the same simple explanations and graphics for the adjustments to global temperature.”
    I’m constantly amazed at the apparent fact no one seems to question these “adjustments.” Anytime you allow ANYONE to fudge a number regardless how sincere they are, they are still fudged numbers and not woth a tinkers damn as far as I’m concerned.
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  5. Bojangles was listed in my original self censored post, along with Cracker Barrel, which may have a non-smoking section, Chick Fil A, and Waffle House.
    WARNING: I STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST EATING AT A WAFFLE HOUSE.
    If you head up into the Smokies on your way to Tennessee, you can may be able to buy boiled peanuts, whatever the hell those are, or a confederate flag, on the NC side. When you come down in Tennessee you’ll find yourself in Fisherman’s Wharf South (Gatlinburg), then on past Dollywood and the the NASCAR museum, and a dozen huge dinner theaters for families on the road to Knoxville–really a weird area.
    REPLY: There’s a Waffle House right next to my hotel, based on appearance alone (rust and window grime is never inviting) I’ve crossed it off the list. Been to Gatlinburg a long time ago, I’ve setup a “anti crap vortex field generator” on my vehicle for just such an occasion where I’ll have to push through the zone there.
    I may use the bathroom at Bojangles, just to say I’ve been there. Cracker Barrel may be worth a shot as cultural experience. Chick Fil-A is actually quite good.

  6. Anthony
    I had a feeling this is where your trip was heading. Just returned from there myself, as this is where my son and grandkids live, beautiful part of the country for sure. I always check the temps in Marshall NC, just north of Asheville, since this is where they live. Strong downward trend historically last time I checked. Don’t mention this to your host they may feel obligated to adjust it since it’s in their backyard:) Good luck looking forward to your reports on meeting.
    JERRY
    REPLY: Thanks Jerry, Marshall’s USHCN station is my first stop after Asheville.

  7. jeez: Ah, those Cracker Barrels. The gift sections are the most banal things I’ve ever seen. Well, close (there is the NY Times editorial section). But they have all those cool antiques hanging from the ceilings! I’d buy those antiques, but not those godawful “gifts”!
    they allow smoking everywhere.
    In North Carolina smoking is required. (Even the airports had public ashtrays last time I was down there.) As you say, it’s half the economy down there.
    I’ve heard that March 2008 was supposedly the warmest on record (over land) globally.
    Those are surface measurements. I don’t think the satellites have as big a bounce.

  8. Anthony said: “There’s a Waffle House right next to my hotel, based on appearance alone (rust and window grime is never inviting) I’ve crossed it off the list.”
    Sounds to me like they’re housing a good ole USHCN station in there somewhere!
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  9. I see you are meeting with Peterson. I can’t wait to read his new paper claiming “there was no consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed for a new ice age”. In fact, as I understand it, his paper will claim that “a review of the literature suggests that greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking”.
    Maybe that is true, maybe not, but I can’t wait to test his search terms on Google Scholar, with some of my own. Of course, my own search terms will be derived from what I found in the New York Times archive, which clearly shows a much higher degree of anxiety of a new ice age during the 1960s and 1970s than global warming.
    Why the NYT? Well, I suspect more people read the NYT than the read scientific journals of the era. So public opinion then was driven by the media (such as NYT) and not by the scientific literature, much as it is today. At the end of the day, Peterson may be right about the scientific media, but wrong about the public media.

  10. Mr. Watts,
    Well done, good work. Plaudits.
    So the NCDC guys at least appear to have some concern for science, good for them. Can you imagine the sh*t-storm if the NCDC announced they were revising the national temperature record, downwards!! Even enlarged error bars would be fatal.
    Hint: They may also be looking for a way out of this quandry.
    Just a thought: perhaps they will have some insight into “Where’s Waldo” as Steve Mcintyre has labelled the issue of the rise in the Rest Of The World’s land surface temperatures?

  11. Anthony, when driving through the Carolinas Iv;e noticed Fireworks Factories ‘together with Peach Stands1 Did you come across any of that?
    REPLY: Oh yeah, almost as many fireworks stands as Bojangles, especilly near military bases like Bragg and Lejuene.

  12. I live in Asheville. I just signed up at surfacestation.org. I was going to go take pictures of the Marshall site, but now I guess I don’t have to. If you are going to be in Asheville for any amount of time I recommend Jack of the Wood if you want a beer

  13. I wish you best on your visit, Anthony. A kind of validation for your hard work?
    Chicken and Dumplings at Cracker Barrel. Pretty good eats in my opinion. But, heck, I’ll eat most anything except those pickled pig’s feet they sell soaking in the red liquid.
    Only ask about latte in the larger towns.

  14. The restroom at the Bojangles in South Boston is the most disgusting indoor plumbing I have ever seen. Hell, it’s worse than most Forest Service two-holers.
    I’ve been to some WH’s that are not all that bad.
    Never ate af a Chick Fil-A, never found one with truck parking.
    Cracker Barrels are not bad, and most have no-smoking sections.
    Have a good trip, and break a leg.

  15. Jack Koenig: As a neophyte R&D data aquisition technician in the medical prosthesis industry, I was constantly amazed that I was never allowed to commit raw numbers to storage. Rather I was always instructed to process raw data through someone’s magic formula prior to storage. Being of a more conservative bent, I usually privately set up a file of the raw data as well as the requested finagled numbers. On more than one occasion I saved someone’s butt when it was discovered their massaged numbers lied. Not once was I ever praised…
    Now I’m a bit older and wiser!
    D. Dodd>>>

  16. Wow, an actual sit-down meeting with the one who signed off on the CRN siting standards.
    It would be nice to know, first, if they have any records, pictures, or detailed metadata that is NOT archived somewhere. They had to get field reports on their installations and changeovers. Detail the problems people have had finding the proper sites.
    Second, get their input on the use of reporting period (GISS, HadCRU and NCDC all use different ones).
    I know, too many questions, not enough time.
    We’ve all seen your presentation. The quality map alone is a telling part of the display, along with the recent addition of the FLIR. Knock their socks off, Anthony…

  17. Questions.
    1. Can we get the code for SHAP, TOBS, and FILNET
    2. Can we get the code for the homogenization based on Menne’s appraoch.
    3. Why is the station history file not up to date ( see atmoz work)
    4. Can we get CRN data in an easier way, right now we have to scrape the web
    site. St. Mac wrote a script, but its R. So an FTP site of CRN data.
    5. How will CRN be phased in?
    6. sugar or plain?
    7. Oh, can the explain the mystery variables Lights and brightness index?
    NOT hansens nightlights, but the other two feilds.
    8. Ask about using nightlights as opposed to the vegatative index for urban determinition
    REPLY: Roger Wilco, some questions already in que.

  18. You’re just about an hour & twenty mins from me, Anthony. Too bad I have to head out to the west coast tomorrow, else I’d come up there just to shake your hand.
    I hope you are enjoying our beautiful, cool spring. Perfect time of the year to see the Carolinas (and TN, too)

  19. Hey Anthony,
    Try the boiled peanuts they are good even if salty. The chick fil a is a good restaurant but is always closed on Sundays. If you like fried chicken you might try
    Church’s Fried Chicken.
    That is some beautiful country you are going through and just as an info there is a group meeting in Sevierville in May. The Lightning Strike and Electrical Shock Survivors International. Quite a group of people. They meet there every year for a 3 day conference.
    Have fun and enjoy.
    Bill

  20. One last word, Anthony.
    I am sure these people you are meeting are all of good will. But keep an eye out for the hockey game ambuscade. There are lots of reputations, careers and money riding on global warming.

  21. When I invited speakers to a conference at a government facility, I organized the transportation, per diem and accommodations – you might ask these folks why they are being cheap about footing your expenses. Of course, that’s along with the professional questions!

  22. Having read several of his papers, I always felt Dr Karl was one of the climate scientists genuinely trying to get at the truth behind the fog of temperature data issues. I am confident he will give you a warm welcome.

  23. Waffle House waitress to northerner: “Want grits with that?”
    Northerner: “Well OK, I’ll try one or two”
    Cracker Barrel is for wussies.
    Waffle House rules.

  24. I’d be curious as to why there appear to be different adjustments on a seasonal basis (check AZ Childs for monthly data plot).
    I’d also note that ND Mott was moved within the last three weeks or so with no update at the NOAA MMS database as of 23APR2008. Extra effort (and a pleasant overnight stay in town) was required to locate this one.
    REPLY: Thanks Eric for the extra effort. I can tell you the lag is related to NWS reporting and data entry at NCDC. I’ll ask about the usual turnaround time.

  25. Another great piece by Philip Stott:
    http://web.mac.com/sinfonia1/Global_Warming_Politics/A_Hot_Topic_Blog/Entries/2008/4/22_Time_To_Be_Angry.html
    An excerpt:
    “Ipsos-Mori polling data, published last week by the Financial Times, shows that, over the 12 months to January 2008, the proportion of those in Britain declaring “the environment” to be their biggest concern fell from almost 20 per cent to just 8 per cent. In the US battle for the Presidency, a recent major poll put interest in ‘global warming’ as a key issue at zero!”

  26. Is anyone doing the stations analysis in other parts of the world?
    I am in england
    I am sure others would do something similar
    Any suggestions about what you want?
    Pictures and grading according to your system?
    Denis
    I assume we have the same set of problems with the weather station boxes as you do.

  27. sorry just been reading backlog of your comments to kevinuk last summer 🙂
    will check it out now we have several stations near me in norwich

  28. In addition to the seasonal adjustments, it appears that disproportionate weight is given to February temperature data in calculating an annual “mean”. What scientific basis is there for this, given that they are apparently capable of doing ~5 other adjustments?

  29. I would like to know if the comparisons between Waffle House and Cracker Barrell are raw data or have they been smoothed and adjusted? I would think there would be a +3.95 bias for Waffle House from real Southerners with a corresponding -1.75 bias from everyone else who has never eaten grits. There is also an added -5.9 bias againt Waffle House for those who have never used an outhouse. By the way, does your itinerary take you anywhere close to Big Al’s GHG producing monstrosity?

  30. I think AGW skeptics will have done a great service to the survival of the human species by our constant work to demonstrate that human generated CO2 is not involved in a major way in climate change. I do believe that future generations will thank us for it. That is not to say that we probably agree with most “environmentalists” that our earth needs to be looked after and should not be forever be subjected to unmitigated development, overpopulation and over use of land etc (see R Pielke etc). This will become evident if the world does actually freeze over in the next 20-50 years.

  31. You’re in my part of the world! I live in Kings Mountain and I’ll be in Asheville this afternoon. Wish we could meet up, I’d like to meet you.
    REPLY: Well if you have mbile email, drop me a line to info [at] surfacestations.org

  32. Best of luck. Maybe I’m crazy but I think something good could come out of this.
    If you are going to pass near Atlanta I would be only too happy to buy you dinner.

  33. oh and code for doing average temp for the us, since we cant make giss
    compile, that way we can test for the effect of site violations
    REPLY: Gee why not ask for something BIG? 😉

  34. “I’m constantly amazed at the apparent fact no one seems to question these “adjustments.” Anytime you allow ANYONE to fudge a number regardless how sincere they are, they are still fudged numbers and not woth a tinkers damn as far as I’m concerned.”
    Scientists are personally invested in their data for any number of reasons, e.g., say the public health lab providing data for a number of interdepartmental purposes. A technician, or their manager, adjusts data for ‘good reasons’, to ‘make it more accurate’, e.g., in the case where redundant tests or multiple methods are used. In every case, at some level, a fraud is being perpetrated; perhaps harmless, but with the intent to deceive someone, even if never ‘seen’ in fact.

  35. This historical warming/cooling thing has taken curious twists and turns. Many years ago, before publishing became so polarized, the warmers and coolers got about equal press. Then, sat some point, and I think it started with the cooling media blitz, it became one sided. One of those happenings you look back for, but do not notice while it is happening. In any event, the appearance is that at one of the AAAS or other meetings, the warmers and coolers went off in the corner and flipped a coin, and all got on the same campaign bandwagon. For funding, of course. The warmers won the coin toss.
    John Goetz, I hope you share with us the results of your search. I would love to know if it supports my shaky memory of the events of the time. And, I believe you are correct in believing that the media, even back then, drove public perception more than the scientific journals. And why wouldn’t it? What percentage of the citizenry are scientists? Scientific literacy drops every year in this country, and the results are obvious, aren’t they?

  36. If the data are ever to be made useable, the station histories have to be cleaned up. Bite the bullet and go back to the reporting sheets, if they still exist, and re-digitize (locations and temps) starting from the present and working backwards. Also go interview the observers for recollections about micro-siting issues. Try to find out how much bias has crept in during the last couple of decades.

  37. A bit off topic but I found it interesting that today we have an “old cycle” sunspot ( 992 ) at a pretty hight latitude. At least as high of latitude as the recent cycle 24 spot. It is almost like cycle 23 is starting over again!

  38. For Steve Mosher
    When I worked in the surveying and geodetic business, FILNET was an off the shelf product for doing least squares adjustments to large networks. Maybe the same product? I don’t remember the vendor name.

  39. Sounds like a great trip so far, Anthony. Hope it just gets better for you.
    If you go through Kansas City on your way home, stop in at Arthur Bryant’s for some of The Best BBQ on Earth.

  40. A place to see in Asheville, if you like astounding architecture at all, is St. Lawrence Basilica, right downtown. They give tours of the Church on Sundays. Or you can probably walk around it after a noon mass any week day. You must, if at all possible, see the belfry stairs, because you will question how they can possibly stay up.
    St. Lawrence has a 135 foot by 80 foot elliptical dome of tile masonry, without ANY steel reinforcement. The main floors are on similar vaults (also unreinforced) and the tile vaulted stairs to the choir in the bell towers have no internal supporting columns, and also NO steel reinforcement or wood beams anywhere at all. Really neat.
    It was built by Rafael Guastavino, the vault builder who did St. John the Divine main dome in NYC, and Bridgemarket under the Queensborough bridge (and about a 1000 other tile vaulted structures around the country). He aslo worked on Biltmore House there in Asheville.
    He is buried in a crypt the main church — almost unheard of since the seventeenth century .
    http://www.massintransit.com/nc/stlawrence1-nc/stl3.html
    A quicktime 3d panorama is here:
    http://www.massintransit.com/nc/stlawrence1-nc/tour.html
    It deserves to be better known.

  41. Anthony, be careful. This could be one of those sting operations, where they say you’ve won some fabulous prizes but you have to pick up the winnings in person at some fancy hotel, only to find that when you get there, you get arrested for being a dead-beat dad or you violated parole. But in this case, they could probably say you are feeding the “Deniers” their talking points, which keeps the public from realizing that if we don’t fix the AGW problem now, we are all doomed. This, of coarse, is a direct threat to national security, and you’ll be arrested under provisions of the patriot act, swept away to some secret prison for AGW deniers, and never be heard from again. 🙂
    Just kidding. Congratulations on the recognition for the fine work you’ve been doing. I do wonder if the guys over at RC are going to say anything about this?
    REPLY: The day was refreshingly candid and straightforward, I was warmly received and had open access. I’ll post more later.

  42. BTW, I can’t imagine a better state to drive 800 miles through in mid-April than North Carolina. For 2 weeks while the azaleas and dogwoods are blooming, there’s no prettier place in the union.
    REPLY: It has been a beautiful drive.

  43. Offtopic, but interesting, regarding the warming of Mars
    Glaciers reveal Martian climate has been recently active

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – The prevailing thinking is that Mars is a planet whose active climate has been confined to the distant past. About 3.5 billion years ago, the Red Planet had extensive flowing water and then fell quiet – deadly quiet. It didn’t seem the climate had changed much since.
    Now, in a research article that graces the May cover of Geology, scientists at Brown University think Mars’s climate has been much more dynamic than previously believed. After examining stunning high-resolution images taken last year by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers have documented for the first time that ice packs at least 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) thick and perhaps 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) thick existed along Mars’s mid-latitude belt as recently as 100 million years ago. In addition, the team believes other images tell them that glaciers flowed in localized areas in the last 10 to 100 million years – akin to the day before yesterday in Mars’s geological timeline.

    I wonder what could have changed Mars’ climate so markedly?

  44. Since Karl has said he has photgraphs of all the stations, perhaps you should ask him if you could look at them or get copies.
    REPLY: I’ve asked that question, and what pictures exist are with NOAA/NWS since they have the responsibility and control of the stations, not NCDC, and I trust the answer.

  45. I’m at work and don’t have time to google the references, but I read recently that temp data from third-world countries has been purged because of bias. I’d like to know what criteria is used to determine how much bias is too much and if that means data from poorly located sites such as those you’ve documented will receive the same treatment.

  46. Perhaps you could do an infrared picture essay of Big Al’s home and call it “How Not to Tell Others How to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint”

  47. You have done yoeman’s work with your surfacestations audit effort.
    But, here’s a question. If each station has a person or organization responsible for it, why hasn’t the the NCDC simply distributed an e-mail to all of those people and requested the same basic information you are getting through the audits (measurements, photos etc)?
    If each station has a keeper/volunteer to chaperon its maintenance, why wouldn’t the organization that relies on the data, and likely paid for the equipment, have the authority to conduct an internal audit of all stations?
    And why would that organization allow such poor installations to exist? Proper installation of new equipment should be mandatory and verified by documentation.
    Just a thought.
    REPLY: I’ll have a post that addresses this.

  48. I found the reference, it’s from “Our Climate Numbers Are a Big Old Mess”:
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9340
    “In 2003, some tropical balloon data, largely from poor countries, were removed because their records seemed to vary too much from year to year. This change also resulted in an increased warming trend.”

  49. everyone else who has never eaten grits.
    Greasy farina.
    The day was refreshingly candid and straightforward, I was warmly received and had open access. I’ll post more later.
    Oh, boy, I can’t wait. (I hope you rubbed their face in “Yilmaz”!)

  50. Anthony,
    I echo Bob Tisdale’s appeal for a simple explanation of NCDC’s adjustments of station temperature data and their significance. A while ago, I became curious about the temporal and spatial variations in surface temperature and chose to examine the average monthly data for the last century (1987 – 2005) from several stations. I was perplexed by the significant differences between the monthly and annual temperature trends for a specific station. The differences in temperature trens between nearby (< 100 miles) stations was equally perplexing. I lost interest in my project when I realized that NCDC’s adjustment may have confounded the data.
    Recently, I revisited the data from one station that I had previously selected (Fort Morgan, CO – 053038). This time, I elected to examine TMAX and TMIN compared to TAVG. I was surprised to the stability of the step-wise trends in both monthly and annual data for the difference between TAVG and TMEDIAN (delT). It showed the following: 1) 1897-1912: annual delT ~ +1deg F, 2) 1913-1965: annual delT ~ -0.4 deg F, and 3) 1965-2005: annual delT ~ 0.0.
    REPLY: I’ll send it up the food chain.
    The effect of the 1912 step-wise change varied month-to-month but was significant for all twelve months. The effect of the 1965 step-wise change primarily affected winter months, i.e., DJF. Lesser adjustment in 1987 and 1996 were apparent.
    It’s not apparent to me whether TAVG, TMAX, TMIN or all of the above were adjusted. As far as I am concerned, the data for the Fort Morgan station is useless.

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  52. “REPLY: Well if you have mbile email, drop me a line to info [at] surfacestations.org”
    Sorry I missed you. I haven’t yet lept into the 21st century with mobile email yet. Was a lovely evening for an autocross under the lights at the Western NC Ag Center though. Spectacular drive up there too. Just gorgeous this time of year.
    Congrats on all the accomplishments and have a safe trip back.
    Matt

  53. If you like pancakes and maple syrup, you should definitely take Cracker Barrel for a spin. Especially since those are probably banned substances in California.

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