Stevenson Screen placement in relation to heated buildings- click for larger image
Today I received an email that contained some startling revelations about the Weather Stations that were put in place on the DEW Line, a network of cold war era radar monitoring stations in Canada and Alaska, that have now been abandoned. It makes for interesting reading. The sender Robert J. Chouinard was stationed at one of these and responsible for the weather observations. I don’t doubt the accuracy of his report.
You see, in the early to mid 60’s, during the height of the cold war, I was stationed in the Canadian Arctic as a radar and communications technician on the Distant Early Warning Radar Line (DEW Line). Besides our main objective of spotting Russian bombers coming over the pole to drop atomic bombs on North American cities, we were tasked with making weather observations and synoptically reporting to a data collection center somewhere down south. This was well before satellites and maybe even before mainframe computers were employed for this task. The synoptic reports were compiled by elves and analyzed by someone who was supposed to know what they were doing. Their objective was to forecast the immediate weather which they didn’t do very well. The whole process was considered a joke by everyone who was involved in the process but we had to play along with the charade.
For numerous reasons many reports were fabricated. No one imagined their fabrications would comprise a data set that would, in future years, be used to detect minor global warming trends and trigger a panic in the world.
Some of the reasons why the reports were fabricated:
1. Their purpose was only to help with, what was considered, the futile efforts at weather forecasting, not studies on global warming. (The significance of the difference between -55F and -45F was not appreciated. Both temperatures would freeze your balls off. So why split hairs?)
2. Often, this activity interfered with our primary objective. This was because of manning problems which would take a lot of explaining and which I will not go into.
3. Some of the other reasons for fabricating reports:
(a.) physical discomfort of leaving a warm environment and venturing out into the extreme weather conditions to read mercury thermometers located about 200 ft. from the living modules.
(b.) fear of frost bite, getting disoriented by limited visibility, or being mauled by marauding polar bears. (Did you know that more Eskimos get killed from polar bears in Greenland than die of heart attack? I have always been stoic about dying, but being mauled by a polar bear was my greatest nightmare.)
(c.) plain old laziness.
When you feed this tainted old data into computers for analysis, well GIGO. I realize that the referenced study covered a later period but I doubt that the human element changed much. What more can I say?
Indeed, the human element has always been the weakest point of any of our temperature measurement systems, otherwise NCDC would not need FILNET to “fill in” missing data from stations by interpolating other data from nearby stations.
Missing data happens even when polar bears aren’t prowling between you and the thermometer. For example, look at this B91 form provided by the Marysville California observer (PDF format). Note all the missing days. Thanks to NCDC’s FILNET program, those missing days get made up into a complete data set much like the data on the DEW line did. With a “best guess” programmed into a data sorting and analysis program.
Fabricating or guessing data is usually met with serious repercussions in other fields, yet the current state of climate science seems to accept FILNET created data or data from remote outposts like these without question. My question is, if the human network is this unreliable, how do you know that the data from nearby stations your are interpolating from isn’t a product of “just plain laziness”?
I wonder how well the Russians did with their temperature data gathering in similar remote outposts?
UPDATE: Name of DEW line observer added with permission, and new photo added at 7:30AM 7/18/08
UPDATE2: Some clarifications from the original source have been added below.
Dear Mr. Watts:
Here is some follow-up information which you can do with as you wish. Maybe you could post it as a comment.
Robert J. Chouinard
All DEW line radar and communication technicians (radicians) used to receive a two week crash course in weather reporting, which included identifying and naming various types of clouds. It is this familiarity with clouds that alerted me to the strange cloud formations resulting from weather modification programs such as the laying down of chemtrails. For some time I have been reading of other peoples observations which confirmed my suspicions until finally I read an article on the net based on an anonymous individual blowing the whistle on the extent, purpose, and science of this illegal and secretive experiment.
I reported this article to Fred Singer who forwarded it on to Tim Bell who graciously replied to me what he knew about this program. He finished by remarking about how difficult it is to figure out what is happening naturally with the weather when it is being manipulated. I remarked about resulting erroneous data and offered my experience on the DEW line as another example of erroneous data. Fred Singer passed my comments on to Anthony Watts who took an interest in reposting it. I didn’t expect this old post which originally evoked a ho hum response to be as well received as it has been on this blog.
However, judging from the responses to this post, I fear that I have left some distorted impressions. First, most of us radicians started out being quite fastidious but priorities have a way of getting in the way. Liquor was never the problem. We were on shift when we did our weather reports and drinking during working hours was never allowed. Remember our first objective was a very serious one – to detect enemy aircraft during the cold war era. I arrived at Fox-1 one year after the photo of the polar bear was taken, in the summer of 1962, at the start of the Cuban missile crisis. None of us were in a mood to fool around. Being stuck on the DEW line after a nuclear exchange did not appeal to any of us.
I alluded to manning problems so maybe I should offer some details. Our employer, Federal Electric of Paramus, N.J., was the sub contractor to the USAF. They were not a nice company to work for and consequently when I arrived there was an ongoing attempt to organize a union, which went nowhere during my subsequent 4 ½ years of employment. Because of the tension resulting from the Cuban missile crisis and company related morale problems there was a mass walkout which meant that the rest of us were pressed to work double shifts for which we were promised to be paid overtime. (We never were paid). Weather reporting was a low priority for which we didn’t have the manpower so reports got fabricated. Once bad habits are formed it’s hard to break them.
I cannot speak for other people at other sites or in better times but the low priority of the task, I suspect, prevailed and inspired compromised reporting.
About polar bears:
I said “Did you know that more Eskimos get killed from polar bears in Greenland than die of heart attack?” Someone doubted this so I tried to find my source, to no avail. I have a son who is a doctor in Denmark who is contemplating working in Greenland for a few years. He grew up hearing stories of his maternal great-grandfather during the Klondike gold rush and my DEW line stories so he got the idea of carrying on the family “tradition”. I relayed this information about polar bears to him along with an Internet reference which, unfortunately, is no longer active. So, take this information with a grain of salt, if you like.
Polar bears were always a threat on the DEW line, especially at certain times of the year. I thought I was about to be devoured by one at Fox-1 on a very cold, dark night in 1962. I was concentrating on reading the thermometer from the Stevenson Screen when the station chief’s pet husky came up behind me and jumped up on my back. I had a minor heart attack on the spot. I’m happy to say that that was my only “polar bear” experience.