Road Trip Today

I’m on a road trip today, to the wilderness area of NE California to do a follow up on something I started last year. I’ll be offline for at leat 18 hours since I’ll have no net access. I’m chasing the cause of a temperature  anomaly and this time I’m bringing two of my USB temperature data loggers with me. Hopefully in about 60 days, I’ll have my answer.

So in the meantime. Our staff of moderators will keep the blog running smoothly. Thanks To Charles, John Goetz, Evan Jones, Dave Stealey, and Dee Norris for holding down the Fort. – Anthony

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Mike Bryant
September 14, 2008 7:40 am

Anthony you are amazing, now you have taken this investigation into a new phase.

September 14, 2008 12:17 pm

I have whats probably a pretty stupid question but here goes:
If you have a weather station that has been badly placed and giving readings over the course of a ten year span, wouldnt the readings all reflect a consistant error? .. ie Here in Boise the KBOI sensor has been at the Airport for as long as I can remember. It is set between two runways and I am unsure if its on tarmack or not. Here the weather folks will quote it, and then usually give another example of local temp because the one at the airport is usually about 4 to 5 degrees above all the others, but its consistently 4 or 5 degrees above the others and has been for a very long time. If we were to experience a gradual raise of temp wouldnt that same badly placed sensor show the same climb of temp in the same way a well placed one would but with its same old 4 to 5 degree + error?
I feel like im talking in a circle:) I hope you understand my question because it is very difficult to word. Now here in Idaho we have a population explosion happening. What used to be a moderately populated farming community is now jammed with poorly planned housing, including on river floodplains.. dont get me started.. our traffic has increased, our inversions have gotten more and more frequent and are no longer just winter wood smoke.. warm air held over our little valley causes for very poor air quality, due to burning, car emmissions ect.. I should think that if record charts showed a rise in temp over the long term here it would be more due to the increase of inversion type events not the placement of the airport sensor which has always been there.(although they do seem to use that one to calculate our adverages)

David S
September 14, 2008 12:30 pm

“I’ll be offline for at least 18 hours”
Argh!!! I’m not sure I can deal with this. “Watts Up With That” is one of my favorite sites, maybe my favorite.

September 14, 2008 2:29 pm

Anthony may knock me in my electronic head for saying this but…
Those “badly sited” weatherstations at airports need to stay where they are. Yea, a lot of them are wrong because they are close to or on large patches of blacktop or concrete, but they need to stay there.
Because they reflect the barometric pressure, temperature and wind direction and speed AT THE AIRPORT. Without these critical pieces of information, pilots cannot configure their planes properly for a safe takeoff or landing. Turbine power settings and sometimes reciprocating engines too demand a pilot or flight engineer adjust for the situation at the airport to get proper power from them.
I could care less (as an airplane pilot) what it is doing in a field just a half-mile away with a properly sited weatherstation, even though it is more accurate for the area. That being said, most airport weather stations should not be used by NASA et al as accurate temp, wind, and pressure sites because they don’t represent true local weather conditions. Only those sited in grassy or dirt fields (if that’s what the local area is) like most were in the 20’s 30’s and 40’s will still be “in specs” so to speak.
The airport weather station has been a convenient way to monitor temps throughout the nation and world simply because almost every airport of any size has one. No one cared when the runway got paved close to the weather station, because the recorded temp was what the plane’s wings had to deal with on takeoff and landing.
Obviously this is a case where “one size” does not fit all.

bob gregg
September 14, 2008 3:23 pm

Palm Springs temperatures are recorded at a City Fire Station situated right next to the airport and only a few hundred yards from the runways and parking lots. Along with a evening east wind blowing off the asphalt and toward the sensors you will note (if one pulls up the monthly summaries) that the average minimums run around 5 degrees above normal and maximums have been running at normal or even below and of course with a net above average temps. Years ago the temps for Palm Springs were recorded at fire stations around the town but here the airport directly affects the temperatures. San Diego NWS really doesn’t seem to care.

September 14, 2008 4:59 pm

Yup, probably. “We continue to do it this way because that’s the way we’ve always done it. I donno why – or care”.
With the weather station survey, I’m beginning to wonder how many of these sites were originally put there for a single purpose, to serve the facility they’re located on. The airports are an obvious example but also sewage treatment sites or hydroelectric power stations to name just a few. Then the results were gathered for the nation so data actually useful only for a small area was now thrown into the data set with sites really sampling regional trends. It is truly comparing apples and oranges.
The problem is that now with AGW, UHI and all the other alphabet soup, what’s the real weather for the region? An obvious solution would be to build a site some distance away from the airport (or other facility) and run a comparison for some period of years. Then we’d have an idea of how much the historical site varied from the new one.
The AGW folks are hot to have solutions to “global warming” now before the “tipping point” tips. (Pun unintended, but a good one) The problem is, as I see it, with the present land data set, we’d be trying to change a car tire while going down the freeway – backwards, with all the windows painted black.

September 14, 2008 6:39 pm

If you have a weather station that has been badly placed and giving readings over the course of a ten year span, wouldnt the readings all reflect a consistant error? .
No, not a stupid question at all. In fact, an intelligent and reasonable one. There are two answers.
1.) First, the site can remain in the same place, but “the mountain comes to Mohammed” in the form of roads, buildings, parking lots, etc., over the years. So a site in compliance (or not badly out of compliance) can get that way in short order without ever having been moved. This has happened to a lot of the stations.
2.) Let us assume the site is near a heat sink (concrete, building, whatever), and there is no change of conditions. In this case, there is an exaggeration of trend.
First, there’s the warming offset of the heat sink. But we’re assuming that was there all along, so no change in the delta, there.
But if there’s a heat sink present, a slight temperature increase becomes exaggerated (the sink stores joules and releases them at night).
Now, a cooling trend would also be exaggerated, as the reverse-effect “undoes” itself. But we do seem to have experienced a mild warming over the last century, and that trend seems to have been exaggerated.
McKitrick & Michaels (Dec. 2007) indicate that the overall mild global warming trend of the 20th century is exaggerated by about two owing to this and other factors.

September 14, 2008 6:42 pm

What MJB says is true. Airport stations should remain in place. But their data should be excluded from the national and global calculations.

September 14, 2008 6:45 pm

An obvious solution would be to build a site some distance away from the airport (or other facility) and run a comparison for some period of years.
Trillions for mitigation. Not one cent for calibration!

September 14, 2008 6:57 pm

I was just wondering who produced the graphic of the fire next to the monitoring site in your article. Good job!!!

September 14, 2008 9:17 pm

evan –
OK, I’ll bite. How could you calibrate an airport weather station? (using that as only an example) I may be showing my stupidity, but the bands on the chart are only approximations. If you have such and such a situation, you can expect 2 degrees of cooling from ambient temp. OK, so it is about 2 degrees, but what is it really. It might be cooled 2.5 degrees in this situation but only 1.5 in this similar situation at a different site.
I’m not asking to be funny, but to find if there is a way of bringing these stations into caliberation. (the specific instruments can be caliberated with proper test equipment, I know). The station location is a question mark to me. If there are ways to eliminate subjective changes I can’t see them…

September 14, 2008 9:36 pm

Solving it at large is what the NOAA purports to be doing.
My eye is getting very jaundiced concerning the HCN, and the USHCN-2 40% upward adjustments (yes, I said UPward) over USHCN-1 is a distinct non-starter. But they have set up a series of 100 new US stations in a separate network (CRN).
Those stations are (supposedly) very well sited (CRN-1 or 2 ratings). So no SHAP or UHI. Data will be collected by wire. So no FILNET, and no “human element”.
I am acquainted with an AGW advocate in another forum entirely who a,) claims to be a temperature collector, and b.) has joked about inflating the numbers. (I do not know if either claim is true.) So I am glad to dispense with the human element.)
No homogenization, either. No TOBS, all data to be collected hourly.
All data to be served RAW.
It’s set to go into operation “Real Soon Now”. And it is set to run in tandem with the current USHCN for purposes of comparison.
If that is all on the level, I will be very pleased, and we will get the answers (at least in part) that we have been after all this time. The CRN could be the critical first step in getting the surface record in order.
Unfortunately, the past record may be beyond salvation. I’ve even heard they’ve “lost” the historical raw data prior to 1990 (I hope that is not true).

September 14, 2008 10:01 pm

First, thanks for the update. Being somewhat of a regular here, you’ve reminded me of the “new” network stories. (TNX Anthony). I guess I was thinking about these new stations when I talked about placing new equipment near existing but sited properly (which would mean out of UHI areas as well). I’ve reached the age where I tell myself the same joke over and over and find the punch line funny.
Lost data prior to 1990??? come on, there’ve got to be paper records in the bottom drawer of every small town radio station file cabinet!
That’s a pretty grim statement, because any “adjustment” is now out the window for all history.
I was starting to put together an idea of how all this happened naturally, without a Gov’t coverup, but you’ve just put a huge hole in my theory…
Talk about raining on another guy’s parade….

September 15, 2008 1:00 pm

Well, let’s hope they start conspiring to get it right.

Ed Scott
September 15, 2008 1:25 pm

Proof that a knowledge of thermodynamics is not required to be a meteorologist. The lack of standards for the environmental location of weather stations, renders their data to be irrelevant.

September 15, 2008 6:54 pm

My point wasn’t so much the bad locations of some weather stations, but the purpose of putting them where they are in the first place. From one point of view, the airport sites were put there for the flying public, only later to be used as the “official reporting station” for a larger area.
Following this logic, the ICC, then FAA then NASA then NOAA simply adpoted these locations as reporting sites without much thought about their original purpose and therefore the biases that would result. Without reviewing the locations, they began assembling data, and discovered (horror of horrors) that the earth was getting warmer according to all reports. Ergo, AGW is alive and well.
After going down this road for as many years as it has, is it unreasonable to think that backtracking now is unthinkable? Like FEMA in Katrina, to be called STUPID is about the worst thing that can happen to a government paid employee.
So my thesis is – here we are – through no coverup or collusion.
Do we need to fix it? Sure. Anthony proved that with his site survey. At this point I don’t think the numbers of out of compliance sites are going to change much as a percentage.
The way we got here is filled with good intentions. We need to dig our way out. There are rabid idiots out there who are the drum beaters for a bunch of folks who have been fed a line of … um … junk. They are the ones who will elect the next president and congress. We need to fix the data soon.
Hope this helps.

Ed Scott
September 16, 2008 1:20 pm

My intent was not to slam meteorologists, but to decry the fact that meteorologists are not consulted about obtaining accurate environmental data.
The location of weather data sites at airports are situated with thought to environmental influences on that data. The data obtained is specific to that site and not to downtown Urban City or Rural Farm or to the Globe.
I apologize for not attaching a sarcasm caveat to my comment, but I in no way was referring to meteorologists as stupid or by any other demeaning appellation. I apologize to any meteorologist who interpreted my comment as a slam on their education.
Science should not be a political subject. However, politicized, propagandized science based on an unproven premise can only be fought politically and with the education of the public.
Emotion and ignorance are the targets of the crypto-Marxist political AGW efforts of Algore (intentional) and the UN. Their proof of their thesis is by computer models and anecdotes. To this I say: Computer models are not reality, Nature is reality (apologies to Leif).
I have neglected vegetarian Dr. Pachauri, a man from India and a country with 400,000,000 bovines, who suggests that we can eliminate BGW (Bovinogenic Global Warming) by removing meat from our diets. We are under attack, not only by the “fossil” fuel fascists (AGW), but also by the “food” fascists (BGW).
In the coming election, our only “hope” for “change” are the persuasive powers of denier, VP Palin, on believer (McCain-Lieberman S.139) President McCain.
Anthony, etal. are doing the leg-work on the weather stations. We now need 31,000 thousand American scientists to begin the scientific education of the public.

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