How not to measure temperature, part 79 – could you, would you, with a boat?


Santa Rosa USHCN – click for a much larger image

Or maybe with the lack of grass, “goat” might be more appropriate.

Every once in awhile (like once a week) I happen upon a NOAA USHCN weather station that leaves me wondering – what were they thinking?

From this NOAA USHCN COOP weather station #298107, which was located here on 6-14-2007 , we get climate data. Unfortunately there appears to be a lack of attention to details. For example, ignoring the obvious other things, look at the green garden hose at the base of the MMTS mounting pole. That garden hose was apparently used to bury the cable in underground to the residence. Only one problem. If the end of the hose is not sealed, water will wick right down the cable during rain and eventually fill the buried hose. Eventually the water will seep into the cable it was supposed to protect, causing some reduced resistance, perhaps a short later. With thermistor systems like this, the sensor often has resistance into the kilohms…and moisture induced resistance changes are easily masked and often go unnoticed in data.

But all that and Dr. Seuss aside, here is what the data looks like before and after NASA GISS adjusts it. These are the USHCN “raw” and “homogenized” data plots from the GISTEMP website. The before and after is quite something to behold.


Click for original source graph from GISS

And here is the data after it has been “homogenized” using the GISTEMP algorithm, I changed the color hues to help differentiate them visually:


Click for original source graph from GISS

Note that other than my applying labels and doing a hue shift, these are the exact graphs presented on the NASA GISTEMP website.

They also present the data used to plot these graphs on each of the above linked pages. You can download it yourself by clicking on the “Download monthly data as text” links at the bottom of the pages linked by the graphs above. I can’t provide direct links here due to the links being dynamically generated and as temporary files at GISTEMP.

I downloaded and plotted both of these datasets myself, plus did polynomial fit trend lines. Note that missing data from 1920 has not been plotted on this graph, but simply skipped.

The visual result of the before and after adjustments by NASA GISS speaks for itself:


Click for larger image

What was down, is now up. Note the hinge point in the near present. The GISTEMP data stops at 2006, it will be interesting to see what this new location does for the data in 2007 and 2008.

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Thanks for the snow 🙂

F Rasmin

Snow? So I have just wasted a pile of dollars at the opticians! I am from Brisbane Australia and have never seen snow. Could one be warned next time?

Mike McMillan

1. GISS never ceases to amaze.
2. It’s tough typing around the snowflakes.


And it looks like they have the requisite barbecue less than … what? fifteen, twenty feet away?


I think this is a better comparison of raw and homogenized data than the animations of before, and quite damning.

gary gulrud

The snow and the Seuss verse are both timely around here.

Phillip Bratby

Amazing. Looks like about 1992 is the tipping point.


Where is the proof that temperatures were 1 to 1 1/2 degrees cooler in the 1910’s to 30’s at this site? I think the adjustment falls into the category labeled
“arbitrary” or “pulled it out of my …”

George E. Smith

Snow pretty; also back yard is a mess. This is probably my all time favorite Anthony, it reminds me to get out fishing now that th striper season is under way.
Is that the Weber eqipment I see up against the house there?
Somebody should write an Opera about this subjec; maybe Carl Maria von Weber already did !


looks like an incinerator barrel too!


At any rate it will probably be possible to determine the launching and beaching dates of that metal boat from the GHCN data. A first for climate science!


You could not make this up!

Ed MacAulay

I suspect that they only fire up the trash burning barrel on days when the smoke blows into the house to ensure that it doesn’t heat the sensors.


Not only a grill against the house but also a burning barrel?? in the middle of the yard
It looks the temperature adjustments are not too different from what we saw in the Siberia data. Not just a constant offset to take into account altitude etc. but it is changing over time such as to introduce an artificial heating trend.

Tom in Florida

Your plotted graph is a perfect example of how global cooling causes global warming.
If you cool the past records the present records will appear to be warmer.

Jeff Wiita

There is a resty 55 gallon barrel in the picture. Was that barrel used to burn garbage?

What a scam, this keeps getting better. I had another post rejected by Lord Schmidt at Real Climate. I don’t see how he can look at this data and believe in it with a straight face unless someone paid him to…. Oh, wait that’s exactly what they do.
I need to find the archived versions of GISS data if they exist.

Steven Hill

After seeing how the data gathered I am going to come up with my own data for global temp. Who needs equipment, I’ll just make it up with a radom data generator. If it’s too cold, I’ll adjust a number here and there to get the number where I think it needs to be. Anyone want to send me some Grant money for my project? LOL

J Sumrall

Looks like a trash burning barrel to the right towards the barbeque grill. Dig the snow (but its piling up on top of my computer).


Not only is the pre-requisite BBQ up against the house, but it appears to me that there’s a much more special addition here…
Is that a “burn-barrel” located approx. 1/2 way between the BBQ and the sensor?
We used them in Maine when I was a kid. Burned all the cardboard/paper/anthingthatwouldburn stuff in it.
I used to get the sides of the barrel cherry red.
Anyone know the heat radiation properties of a steel barrel?


In my field of work, this would be considered fraud. The result would probably be fines, possibly jail time, and definitely an opportunity to explore alternate career paths.
How do these people get away with this?

J. Peden

With all the site problems and fudging of the data conspiring to make things look warmer more recently and cooler in the past, I’m almost ready to bet that we’ve actually been in an overall cooling trend for about at least 80 years.


Anthony, can we ask NOAA to explain the reason for the “adjustment” near 1992? I’d love the hear what they have to say. And if they don’t respond, that’s a response, too.

L.G. Jones

Better than the weber grill, check out the brown barrel. Does everybody know what that probably is?


Another example of “Homer Simpson” quality control at NOAA.
And to top it off we have GIS turning cooling into warming. Now that is change we can “believe in”.


Thanks for the picture of downtown Rio Linda.

Wondering Aloud

What possible reason can they have for adjusting this temperature series upward at the end when anyone can see the data is already going to have a warming bias? Any honest person at NASA GISS seeing this has to know their algorithm is dead wrong. To continue to use it and not remove it from the data set now departs from bias and becomes fraud doesn’t it? Since this is tax funded research, I think that term is legally accurate, I am not trying to be over dramatic.
By the way despite likely increasing warming bias this site shows a cooling over the last century. This makes the fudging vital to the scenario.

Jeff L

Love the snow on the website!
14″ of the real deal at my location this AM in SW Denver & it isn’t quite over yet

Jeff Alberts

With all the site problems and fudging of the data conspiring to make things look warmer more recently and cooler in the past, I’m almost ready to bet that we’ve actually been in an overall cooling trend for about at least 80 years.

In some places certainly. I have no trouble believing it’s gotten warmer in others. But by no means has there been any “global” warming.


I still don’t grasp the purpose of homogenization and how this process it can reverse a longterm trend of 100 years. How can this process change the temperature around 1910 by 1.5 degrees compared to the measured value?


Rare 50 year Arctic Blast Sets Sights On Southern California.
“We are in a pre-1950 type pattern, “said Martin. “We know we are due for a winter storm sometime this year. The type we may be dealing with will be ranked up there with the known years before 1950, which set record low daytime temperatures into the forecast region. With this, may come low elevation snow.”

Jim Arndt

Is that a burn can by the BBQ? When I lived in Siskyou county we used these to burn off trash and rubbish. I think they could put the boat a little closer.


Have to say I’m looking forward to a potential coffee table book version of ‘How Not to Measure Temperature’ 🙂
Thanks for keeping the debate open and real and interesting. And fun.

Bern Bray

“With thermistor systems like this, the sensor often has resistance into the kilohms…and moisture induced resistance changes are easily masked and often go unnoticed in data.”
I must say I’m floored. I’ve been trying to research the MMTS sensor online without much luck. However, It never occurred to me that only the thermistor is in the unit and any voltage division/measurement is done in the base unit. I couldn’t even imagine doing it that way. This leaves the unit susceptible to all kinds of calibration problems due to line length, wire size, connection resistance, temperature extremes, etc. I thought that it needed to be close to the base unit due to a limit in the range of transmission technology (current loop, RS232, etc.)
From the little I’ve been able to glean off the web, a resistance of ~67 ohms is enough to change the reading 1/10 of a degree. There is a check plug that can be inserted in the unit, but I’ve not found anything that states that the observer has this plug, or how often they are required to check it.
I know Retired Engineer was interested in this, if so I’d appreciate any leads to info.

Bill P

Oh, the places you’ll go!
WRT: “the GISTEMP algorithm”
Is there only one?
Would you / could you give a refresher on their justification for “adjustment”?

Brooklyn Red Leg

This clearly illustrates why the GISS ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ people are about as sharp as a bag of hammers. They can honestly sit there and say with a straight face that there has in fact been man-made warming…….because alot of their sensors are near man-made warming spots like barbecues, garbage burning barrels, asphalt…etc, etc etc. More and more the Plasma/Electric Universe model makes sense to me.

Paul Shanahan

Steven Hill (05:12:24) :
After seeing how the data gathered I am going to come up with my own data for global temp. Who needs equipment, I’ll just make it up with a radom data generator. If it’s too cold, I’ll adjust a number here and there to get the number where I think it needs to be. Anyone want to send me some Grant money for my project? LOL
Just put it in a nice presentation folder and I’m sure the UN will be happy to fund such research to further the understanding of raising temperatures… 😀


If they are government, then you should be able to file a freedom of information act request to obtain their algorithm and other documents that describe the reasoning behind their algorithm.

Steve Keohane

John (05:23:13) I agree, in any legitimate business this would be fraud. There is no rational reason for this type of fudging.


I’m originally from Santa Rosa area, and I can tell you that the town has undergone rapid urbanization over the past 5 decades. If there is a case for the heat island effect, this is it.

Tim Clark

MMTS on a hot tin roof…….or near it….er….or near two…er…with a school bus close behind……..and a tin covered commercial building. The real question is what’s on the adjacent property behind the camera. I’ll bet the neighbors barby and trash can.


Sorry for the off topic, but here’s an interesting news story just posted in the Age newspaper. It’s titled ‘Firms ‘could be sued on climate change’
This global warming business is going to make skeptics out of every one of us. To me this is basically trying to put forward the idea that our climate models have reached such a high degree of sophistication, that we can now confidently and accurately forecast the weather (and the complex causal chain of events arising out of it) in any given time and place, on some theoretical mirror planet of an equivalent environmental and chemical complexity to our own, and then with that, be able to form a strong and legitimate case for sueing somebody (cars, coal, cows, your neighbour, you?)
Crazy talk.

George E. Smith

Well global warming or not, my skin creeps in goosebumps, when I see the word “thermistor” included on a page that also has words like “Temperature” on it.
I can tell if something is too hot or too cold simply by touching it with my bare hands; but if I had an interest in knowing what “temperature” it was; the last thing I would be reaching for would be a “thermistor”.
Now the engine temperature idiot light in my bankrupt Detroit automobile (Ford) , could very well have a thermistor of some sort stuck in the engine; where it is too far to reach with my bare hands; but here in Goreville, we are talking thousandths of a deg C of Global warming and climate change rates; so I would rather have something that actually has some Physics credentials as an actual “thermometer”.
You guys are pulling my leg right ? They don’t really have a thermistor in there do they ? Maybe they would in a Mattel’s Barbie Doll Official Weather Measuring Station; but would they really bet the future welfare of planet earth and its people on a dimestore charm bracelet gizmo, like a thermistor !?
I think I need a drink, and it’s still about an hour till lunchtime.
Well thank god; and you too Anthony for the snow; I don’t need any steam coming out of my ears this morning !

Retired Engineer

Bern Bray (08:26:15) :
If MMTS just uses a thermistor at the end of an arbitrary length of wire, then the entire system is useless. With only two wires, and assuming as cheap as possible, it has to be a 4-20 ma current loop. (assuming the folks who designed it had some brains) So, resistance change from leakage wouldn’t hurt all that much, but it could induce error if the water has serious contamination, from the barbeque or burning barrel for example.
We need to find a schematic or a dead MMTS for examination. Erors could result from a lot more than just site problems.
Is the silver cylinder a few feet to the right of the MMTS a rain guage?

Dave the Denier

You are a great guy!
It is always interesting to learn more about you, personally.
Thanks for posting a picture of your backyard!
(Lines one and two are true — just pulling your leg on line #3 🙂


The reason that the temps are hinged downward is to compensate for the boat beside the sensor. Back in 1920, the boat was very shiny and new, reflected much sun.
Now…boat old and faded, doesn’t reflect as much sun.
You scientists should be able to figure this really simple stuff out 😉

Re Bern Bray (08:26:15) :
Your curiosity regarding the MMTS measurement system is shared by me, cuz I am a caretaker/observer at a NWS co-op station that has one. Our station is not part of the USHCN, for which I am grateful. I don’t want any data we produce to be crucial to saving the planet.
I’ll tell you all I know about it. The gilled enclosure for the measuring element (whatever it is) is located about 60 feet from our building. The pictures we’ve seen here of sensors really close to structures might not mean that the proximity was due to cable length restrictions.
The indoor black box recording digital thermometer is a “Nimbus PL-2” The tag on the bottom reads “Sensor Instruments Co., Inc”
Each day we query the Nimbus for the min/max temps of the previous day. “Day” is defined as the 24-hour period ending at a time specified in the the instrument setup. If the internal clock crashes, these readings can be meaningless. If the machine is read too early, the temps you get are for two days previous.
Min/Max temps for each day are stored in memory, so if we cannot read those each day, they can be dug out later, IT SAYS HERE. In reality, this process if funky enough that none of the users here are really confident that we have obtained good data from memory – it often just doesn’t pass the sanity test when compared with known readings before and after.
The instruction sheet for the Nimbus says it can operate in the absence of AC power for two weeks on a fresh 9-volt alkaline backup battery. A 9-volt alkaline has about 600 mAh (milliamp-hours) useable capacity. So my math says the system must draw about 0.5 mA while in battery mode. So the cable to the sensor must indeed be a high impedance loop.
If you learn anything in your quest for the technology of MMTS, I’d appreciate hearing about it. Good luck.

Whoa, real math says 2 mA, not 0.5 mA. Backwards division.


Anthony, if I had to make a guess, I’d say that in 20-30 years the current data will be, over time, “adjusted” again to see a difference between raw and homogonozed. But the most recent readings will always be, basically, the same. This way, the trend up will always be present no matter what.

Ben Peterson

Mr. Watts,
Not really a comment; ICECAP has picked up this item, but they are calling it Santa Rosa, CA, vice Santa Rosa, NM. Perhaps not important, but thought you might be interested.