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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December 8, 2008 11:51 pm

Thanks for the snow 🙂

F Rasmin
December 9, 2008 12:48 am

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
December 9, 2008 12:54 am

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

December 9, 2008 1:23 am

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

December 9, 2008 1:31 am

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

gary gulrud
December 9, 2008 1:47 am

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

December 9, 2008 2:30 am

Amazing. Looks like about 1992 is the tipping point.

December 9, 2008 2:50 am

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
December 9, 2008 2:59 am

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 !

December 9, 2008 3:41 am

looks like an incinerator barrel too!

December 9, 2008 3:41 am

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!

December 9, 2008 3:56 am

You could not make this up!

Ed MacAulay
December 9, 2008 4:17 am

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.

December 9, 2008 4:26 am

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
December 9, 2008 4:29 am

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
December 9, 2008 4:36 am

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

December 9, 2008 5:06 am

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
December 9, 2008 5:12 am

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
December 9, 2008 5:14 am

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).

December 9, 2008 5:20 am

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?

December 9, 2008 5:23 am

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
December 9, 2008 5:23 am

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.

December 9, 2008 5:25 am

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
December 9, 2008 5:37 am

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

December 9, 2008 6:24 am

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”.

December 9, 2008 6:37 am

Thanks for the picture of downtown Rio Linda.

Wondering Aloud
December 9, 2008 6:48 am

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
December 9, 2008 7:06 am

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
December 9, 2008 7:09 am

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.

December 9, 2008 7:12 am

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?

December 9, 2008 7:43 am

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
December 9, 2008 8:11 am

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.

December 9, 2008 8:16 am

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
December 9, 2008 8:26 am

“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
December 9, 2008 8:26 am

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
December 9, 2008 8:26 am

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
December 9, 2008 8:36 am

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… 😀

December 9, 2008 8:43 am

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
December 9, 2008 8:46 am

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

December 9, 2008 9:30 am

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
December 9, 2008 10:19 am

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.

December 9, 2008 10:44 am

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
December 9, 2008 11:02 am

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
December 9, 2008 11:12 am

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
December 9, 2008 11:24 am

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 🙂

December 9, 2008 11:33 am

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 😉

Dan Hawkins
December 9, 2008 12:24 pm

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.

Dan Hawkins
December 9, 2008 12:29 pm

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

December 9, 2008 1:38 pm

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
December 9, 2008 2:19 pm

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.

Bern Bray
December 9, 2008 2:25 pm

Retired Engineer
I hope you are right about the current loop, but as I have a couple of patents involving constant current sources, I know that they too can be fickle, and should be calibrated on a consistent basis.
The most I’ve found online is a check box schematic (unofficial) that shows that a 1M resistor should read ~-50, a 10K resistor should read above 100, and the resistors from the check plug should read 77.1 plus or minus .3 degrees. I thought I had a line on the thermistor used, but I must be mistaken, it is < 10k at 21C.
I agree that it would be nice to see a schematic and parts list, including the wire gauge used in the installation. I think Anthony has an MMTS, but he’s using it and I think he would object if we took it apart 😉 Google my name if you want to discuss offline.

December 9, 2008 2:40 pm

Looked at the GISS adjustments for Santa Rosa as well as for 4 other stations. It appears from the adjustments that I have looked at 2006 is a special year since they were all zero. Some have negative and some positive changes in the past so no overall bias towards heating or cooling unlike the Santa Rosa data which has the big heating trend changes.
See for plot

David S
December 9, 2008 3:45 pm

I must be due for a new computer monitor this one is getting a little snow in the picture.

George E. Smith
December 9, 2008 4:26 pm

Well I wouldn’t panic about the remoteness or lack thereof as far as wire resistance. If the gizmo does have something as cruded as a thermistor; only someone who is as dumb as a box of rocks would ever run just two wires to it.
If it is some sort of resistive sensor, or some other types it is going to have a four wire connection; a so-called Kelvin connection.
You run two wires out there to run some current through the sensor, and you run another pair of wires, all the way up into the barn owl box to the sensor (thermistor or whatever) itself to sense the Voltage right at the sensor.
The current bearing wires are called the “force” pair, and the Voltage sensing wires are called the “sense pair, and they carry essentially zero current.
The sense pair has to be controlled as to material and relative location of the two wires; A binary pair of wires with minimum insulation between them is required, to keep the two wires at the same temperature to eliminate thermal EMFs betwwen the wires due to any temperature difference. You can have a temperature gradient along the wires, but not between the pair. Then you want the loop area enclosed by the pair to be as close to zero as possible ehnce the thin insulation, so that the loop just not pick up induiuced EMFs from varying magnetic fields or AC current carrying wires.
You can eliminate all kinds of pestilence such as plug contact resistances and other effects if you run a four wire system; but if there’s only twoi wires in that garden hose, then you are in a heap of trouble no matter if they are #2 AWG solid silver wires.
The art of Kelvin sensing of small Voltage signals is highly developed. We do it all the time in the semiconductor business for device testing; we even have Kelvin probes that can make two side by side electrically isolated contacts on a single silicon contact pad that may be no bigger than a few microns square.
Even so I wouldn’t waste such sophistication on a thermistor.
It turns out you can use four wire sensing in your hi fi setup, to eliminate the need for half inch diameter speaker cables from Monster Cable. A couple of zip cords, can do the job, if you run two pairs out to your speaker, and pour the juice down one pair, and connect the other pair to your amplifier’s output sense terminals. What, your KillerWatt ghetto blaster doesn’t have output sense terminals ?

George E. Smith
December 9, 2008 4:44 pm

I forgot to add, the two pairs of wires should be twisted pairs. That can alleviate the induced EMF problem since each twist will pick up basically the same EMF as the adjacent one but with opposite polarity. So that relieves the insulation problem a bit. The force pair should also be twisted to that it doesn’t radiate any glitches to the sense pair; for the same reason.

Graeme Rodaughan
December 9, 2008 5:02 pm

I hope Will Small is reading this blog – this piece of hard data goes directly to my first challenge for him.
I.e. First show that “AGW Climate Science” is – in fact – science.

Graeme Rodaughan
December 9, 2008 5:06 pm

Hi Will,
That would be specifically Points 1a – through to 1c,
1a. Are the Temperature data measurements credible, using calibrated instruments set to defined and commonly accepted industrial standards of operation.
1b. Are the Temperature Data storage methods credible, using techniques in accordance with defined and commonly accepted industrial standards for Data and Configuration Managment.
1c. Are the Temperature Data evaluation and interpretation methods and software, documented, transparent and freely available for the inspection of third parties.
from the post

Pamela Gray
December 9, 2008 6:20 pm

The silver pipe with the cap on it is a well cap. Must be a newer well. The old ones were capped at ground level. And older than that, it was simply a hand-dug hole in the ground cribbed open if necessary. Most hand-dug wells that I have seen were 25 to 30 feet down and wide enough to fit at least two diggers into the hole.

December 9, 2008 6:57 pm

Santa Rosa CA is 38.45N 122.73W

December 9, 2008 9:48 pm

Ok so I have to ask…. Why is this station placed in this guy’s back yard? I mean seriously. Fast internet connection? Doesn’t really seem like it based on the suroundings aside from the ‘Dish network’ dish, but that’s not an i-net capable device.
Pamela, what are you talking about with respect to the well? I see a silver/gray item directly to the right of the sensor pole, but it’s standing on two legs as if it were a moon-lander. That’s not a well…. Sorry if my eyesight is doing me wrong here…
Finally, since we’re questioning the “science” here…. Did anyone look inside of the hose to see if it the end had been ‘stopped up’ with silicone or something similar? I mean… While it may be a little “redneck” it would keep the moisture out.

December 9, 2008 10:12 pm shows : 34.95 -104.68 7473100 for Santa Rosa
Is this an older location?
I just can’t buy that scientific equipment is placed in the shanty-town backyard with a garden hose. Surely even Al wouldn’t do that?
(note: big-bub: your coordinates don’t show me shanty-town either.)
Anthony: can you give us the coordinates of this location?

December 9, 2008 10:21 pm

Apparently they silver rocket-ship looking item to the right of the MMTS is a non-recording rain gauges. Apologies for my ignorance.
for some nice equipment shots, and admission of MMTS “cabling problem”.

December 10, 2008 2:52 am

From Pamela Gray (18:20:18) :
Most hand-dug wells that I have seen were 25 to 30 feet down and wide enough to fit at least two diggers into the hole.
My dad and I ‘dug’ a well with one of those post hole diggers that you turn by hand. Add pipe sections as needed for depth. Gets a bit cumbersome lifting the dirt loads after the first 10 feet of extension… (Got 50 gpm from it!)
The boat and the wood pile will both get Very Hot in the summer sun (to the point where they will be hurtful to sit upon. I know this because I’ve sat upon such thing near Santa Rosa … During the winter, the same stuff will act to store solar heat to some extent and release it at night… Far more so than grass does.

December 10, 2008 3:46 am

Yes, please do explain more the difference between raw data and homogenized data. What is their explanation for this process and the resulting differences?

Tim F
December 10, 2008 7:17 am

I’d like to refer this website to associates at another where I participate. I want to be sure I have it right:
The new station is put on line in 2007, but local records go back for decades. In order to claim continuity, the old records are modified using the temps from the new station and an algorithm. Is that about it?
REPLY: No, in simple terms the GISS homogenity adjustment uses other station data within a radius of 1200 km of the station as a way of weighting all stations. So stations nearby like Lubbock, Amarillo, Phoenix, Albuquerque that have UHI issues then affect the data at rural stations. – Anthony

Bern Bray
December 10, 2008 7:57 am

George E. Smith
Yep, there are many ways to do it, a few good and many bad. Unfortunately, there is very little information to go on. The one thing that I have been able to find is an unofficial check box that shows a 3 pin connector, and a test lpug that shows a resistor across two pins. I must say that it is not likely any kind of 4 wire measurement unless they are tying the low sense probe to ground, or connecting the source and sense leads in the back of the cable connector shell, and that doesn’t make a lot of sense either.

Bern Bray
December 10, 2008 7:58 am

Oops! The link didn’t show. Google “MMTS check box” and you’ll find a NOAA page on it.

Bill P
December 10, 2008 9:05 am

Answering my own question (from data on GISS homepage):

The GHCN/USHCN/SCAR data are modified in two steps to obtain station data from which our tables, graphs, and maps are constructed. In step 1, if there are multiple records at a given location, these are combined into one record; in step 2, the urban and peri-urban (i.e., other than rural) stations are adjusted so that their long-term trend matches that of the mean of neighboring rural stations. Urban stations without nearby rural stations are dropped.

Is there a link to the stations which are ultimately used?

Bill P
December 10, 2008 9:23 am

Re: Stations used. Nevermind – and sorry for the annoying questions.
Station list:

December 10, 2008 11:16 am

BBQ and a burn barrel (for burning trash?), if my eyes do not deceive me. Could it be that garbage is being burned 10 feet away?

Retired Engineer
December 10, 2008 11:16 am

Thermistors and wires.
In an earlier thread, Anthony mentioned a two wire cable. That eliminates any sort of ‘kelvin’ connection. (full disclosure – I used to work for Teradyne, high end automated test equipment outfit) Anthony also mentioned cable length problems in siting. I have nothing else to go on. 4-20 ma current loop is an industry standard, so I assumed that would be used as the MMTS is too old for any kind of digital on top of power type of measurement. It would make sense. Which may be why it isn’t a good assumption.
A thermistor works fine for a fish tank heater, cheap and reasonably stable. But totally worthless for scientific endeavors. The test notes other have uncovered cause me to believe that this system is really just a thermistor (those test resistor values would not work in a current loop environment).
So, after nearly 40 years in the mesaurement business, I have to conclude that the MMTS probably doesn’t suffer too much from ‘adjustment’. It’s not that good to begin with.

Bern Bray
December 10, 2008 11:33 am

George E. Smith and Retired Engineer:
I hope you are still monitoring this.
If you look at the check box web page, you will see “Display(back)”. If you click on the “back” link you will see a 3 pin connector with only 2 pins loaded. I think that shoots the 4 wire theory. In fact, if you look at the “Cable” photo, it appears to be a sheilded twisted pair, but they are not even grounding the shield.
That leaves the current loop idea. Now, the check box schematic indicates that a 10K ohm resistor should read > 100 degrees. Since that is best case, let’s use that. Unless ohms law has completely left my feeble brain, I(R)=V, so for a 20ma current loop: .02(10000)=200V source needed. For a 4ma current loop .004(10000)=40V source needed. The 4ma loop is more reasonable, but still well above ttl or cmos levels. Looking at the display box, I don’t think that the transformer needed would fit, nor some kind of stepping power supply. My guess is that you only have the 5~12 volt range to power the electronics, and it looks like that is being supplied by an external power pack. At 12 volts, your best case current loop would be 1.2 ma, and what would good would that do?
My guess is that they are simply counting on the thermistor resistance to to swamp out any cable/connector resistance.
I put 15 years into test and measurement, but now I’m a database administrator, and have had the requisite frontal lobotomy. I would most humbly appreciate someone pointing where I am wrong. I love learning new things, or at least relearning something that I lost.

December 10, 2008 11:56 am

I work in the environmental department at a chemical plant. If I did anything like this, my plant would be fined a six or seven digit amount, the plant manager would be hauled off in handcuffs, and he would rat me out so that he would have a punching bag in prison (his words, not mine).
And as for Bill P’s quote, it makes perfect sense. However, it is confusing as it essentially says “we change the data in the urban stations to match the rural stations”. Why have the urban stations at all?
This is bordering on outright fraud.

Arthur Edelstein
December 10, 2008 12:04 pm

While the adjustments may have an effect on US temperature curves, the overall GISTEMP global temperature anomaly is not heavily affected by adjustments. See the results of running GISTEMP with and without periurban adjustments here.

December 10, 2008 12:23 pm

Perhaps we should turn this into a geocache type hunt.
Start a site like with the GPS location of stations so we can post a pic of the site. May even get a lil competitive to post the first of the site or post the most.
Then we can really start picking these sites apart.

Bern Bray
December 10, 2008 2:07 pm

Retired Engineer:
Yes, I found that Anthony was allowing us to vent like a couple of old farts. From an earlier thread:
REPLY: The spec is for silver coated copper cable, spec says max length 1/4 mile, given negligible resistance of shorter cable lengths compared to resistance of thermistor (10kohms or higher), doubtful there’s a bias. They do have a remote calibration check plug to ferret that out after install and when MMTS is checked later.
I also found a “lessons learned” on a NOAA site about a nicked cable.
That’s ok. It was fun to spark an old synapse or two.
Anthony, it’s ok to shut up the geezers when they start telling the same stories over and over.

December 10, 2008 4:07 pm

How about checking on the NASA site what “homogenized” means before jumping to any conclusions: (the basic purpose is to eliminate any anomalies that a site may pick up from local non-weather influences like the well know urban heat island effect — or someone putting an object that interferes with measurement on the site) … you might also want to check every other major temperature data set such as HadCRUT3 as well. I’m sure you will find individual weather stations in every data set that are trending down. You’ll also find a lot that are trending up but ignore those. Data that disagrees with you is confusing and obviously wrong.
A conspiracy covering so many scientists and organizations would have to be so bizarrely complex that I doubt even Hollywood could cook up something on that scale. Just think about it: NASA allegedly is pulling off a massive scam using data that is in plain view, that anyone can analyze. And many people do. Yet thousands of scientists around the world are either in on the con or fooled by it; only a handful, mostly not working in climate science or retired from the field, have the capacity and integrity to see what is obvious to a redneck whose education runs to pointing a digital camera and posting on a blog.
But anyway don’t let me stop you. Science did nothing useful for the world, so you might as well keep working on shutting it down.
If any of you should uncover where Elvis is living or a space alien community in deep rural Nebraska, do let us all know.

Rick BS, MS but no Mrs.
December 10, 2008 5:31 pm

The sensor cable could be Direct Burial Rated in which case it is impervious to moisture intrusion; often a gel is used to increase the environmental properties. But if the data cable was Direct Burial Rated it wouldn’t need a garden hose for protection! The shallow burial depth means the cable temperature itself will vary with the day.

Rick BS, MS but no Mrs.
December 10, 2008 5:44 pm

Bern Bray
…it appears to be a sheilded twisted pair, but they are not even grounding the shield…
Opinions vary but I only drain the shield at one end of the cable run to increase noise immunity and be certain to not induce a ground loop current! Given the garden hose it is likely neither end of the shield is grounded!

Pamela Gray
December 10, 2008 8:57 pm

You’re right. I can’t see that close without my cheaters and I didn’t bother to click on the larger image. I didn’t see the legs but I do now. However, if it didn’t have legs it is the same height and shape as a new well cap. A bit on the shiny side but I suppose the pipe and cap comes in different metal materials. Mine is rusted earth brown colored. Other than that, it could be this little gadget’s cosmic twin.

John McDonald
December 10, 2008 10:25 pm

Wow Anthony!
How is this not criminal fraud? Are there any laws that scientists getting federal money have to abide by? I don’t want to limit free speech and free results in the science community. But this science is so bad, so political, so over the top biased it leaves me speechless. The GISS work has contributed in a significant way to skeptical scientists losing their jobs, etc. Do those who have lost their jobs, denied promotions have any standing to sue? Does RICO apply?
I’d like a lawyer to comment on this type of thing. S. Korea used the legal system during all their DNA fraud cases. I also note, the AGW types seem very eager to use the legal system to achieve their goals.
I think it is dangerous to inject criminal or civil legal issues into science. However, normally universities and science organizations zealously protect their reputation by firing anyone with bad science, or making up degrees on their resumes. I see the peer review process broken and the grey haired guardians of good science sitting on editorial boards, Ph.D. review committees, etc. shockingly AWOL.

Boaz Bezborodko
December 11, 2008 7:44 am

There is one point that I don’t see mentioned here.
That boat is sitting right next to the station and doesn’t look like it gets moved much. On a sunny day it will absorb and store a lot of solar heat, far more than a patch of grass. It will then release it over time in the late afternoon and evenings.
The difference to the surrounding temperature can be quite dramatic especially on calm days.

December 11, 2008 7:50 am

Rick BS, MS but no Mrs. (17:31:50) :

The sensor cable could be Direct Burial Rated in which case it is impervious to moisture intrusion; often a gel is used to increase the environmental properties. But if the data cable was Direct Burial Rated it wouldn’t need a garden hose for protection! The shallow burial depth means the cable temperature itself will vary with the day.

It could be the specs allow direct burial, but the homeowner might have decided to use an old hose so if the cable needs to be replaced he wouldn’t have to redig the trench.

Bill P
December 11, 2008 11:15 am

This could explain the boats:
Santa Rosa, City of Natural Lakes

Bill P
December 11, 2008 11:45 am

Google Earth shows this station to be located mid-way (3-4 city blocks each direction) between a bend of the Pecos River and El Rito Creek, which forms the border of an extensive wetland reserve just to the east. On the attached map, it’s at about 4th Street and Smith Road.
If this were located here in 2007 it could account for some of the uptrend. Reminiscent of Tucumcari discussion, the quesion of humidity affecting temps. I still wonder if hygrometer readings could be taken concurrent with temps in a running record of both.

Bill P
December 11, 2008 3:29 pm

Oops. Above link doesn’t zero in on Santa Rosa as I hoped. To see the river and wetland terrain around this desert USHCN site, just zoom in on Santa Rosa (eastern) New Mexico. The station, as mentioned above, is at approximately 4th St. and 5th Road, which are labeled in satellite view.
John Christy’s research on the irrigation-caused warming of the San Joaquin Valley in California was covered and referred to here several times, although Anthony’s 2007 post had only 3 commenters.
I’m citing the study, too, though I don’t have the time to do additional research on it. The assumption is that desert soils don’t absorb much heat during the day unless they are wet, whereupon they soak up heat like a sponge and relinquish it at night. I’ll try to find out more about the theory.

December 12, 2008 12:17 pm

“Theory”? I thought this was all settled science…

Bill P
December 13, 2008 2:41 pm

I should be clearer. John Christy’s theory hypothesizes that irrigation, not AGW, is the cause for a “significant rise” in June – November minimum temperatures in the agriculturalized San Joaquin Valley. He completed his study in 2006. If you know of more recent work done to confirm his, perhaps you could post a link. Even so, I don’t know of anyone who is calling this “settled science”.
Christy’s own language in his conclusion is careful:

We have demonstrated a technique to create regionally consistent time series of temperature data based on the assumptions that we are able to identify all significant discontinuities in station records and that the stations are situated in a climatologically homogeneous region. We composited the temperature records of 18 stations in the San Joaquin Valley of central California and 23 stations in the adjacent Sierra Nevada into, respectively, two regional time series for each season. Our analysis of trends begins in 1910 though records are available in earlier years from fewer stations. Our results indicate that the central San Joaquin Valley has experienced a significant rise of minimum temperatures (3°C in JJA and SON), a rise that is not detectable in the adjacent Sierra Nevada. Our working hypothesis is that the rapid valley warming is caused by the massive growth in irrigated agriculture. Such human engineering of the environment has changed a high-albedo desert into a darker, moister, vegetated plain, thus altering the surface energy balance in a way we suggest has created the results found in this study. Additionally, if these results are confirmed, the lack of long-term warming in the generally undeveloped Sierra Nevada (annual mean trend, 1910–2003, −0.02° ± 0.1°C decade–1) coupled with significant, nighttime-only warming in the valley, suggests a regional inconsistency compared with twentieth-century simulations of climate forced by human influences other than land use changes.

The entire study is here, as it appeared in the online Journal of the AMS:
Christy’s hypothesis attributes the warming to the albedo effect caused by changing land used. I’m merely wondering if the same effect is possible here.

December 14, 2008 3:36 am

A different theory on the hose… Maybe it’s Weed Whacker protection?
I have trouble thinking they would thread a cable through 30 feet of garden hose, but a 2 foot weed whacker preventer… I could see that being attractive.

Rick BS, MS but no Mrs.
December 14, 2008 10:13 am


Ric Werme (07:50:29) :

Rick BS, MS but no Mrs. (17:31:50) :
The sensor cable could be Direct Burial Rated in which case it is impervious to moisture intrusion; often a gel is used to increase the environmental properties. But if the data cable was Direct Burial Rated it wouldn’t need a garden hose for protection! The shallow burial depth means the cable temperature itself will vary with the day.

It could be the specs allow direct burial, but the homeowner might have decided to use an old hose so if the cable needs to be replaced he wouldn’t have to redig the trench.

Pulling a cable through a partially collapsed rigid conduit is practically impossible from my field experience. A garden hose would be analagous to a completely collapsed conduit rendering pulling a new cable impossible. All cables also have a maximum pull force to protect the cable integrity which is violated in such a pull if the cable ever came through the garden hose….but the owner may have other thoughts.

Jim H.
December 19, 2008 12:03 pm

Some information regarding the MMTS (Nimbus) NWS COOP equipment…
1. Yes, the temperature sensor is an armored thermistor with resistance at 77 F of
20 K ohms. The resistance at 122 F is around 7.12 k ohms, which would ‘swamp out’ the resistance of the cable wires (outdoor qualified 4 conductor copper wire telephone cable), as long as there is no corrosion or similar contamination. Most Coop station visiting people carry a plug, which can be inserted in place of the thermistor, to check whether there is a problem with the cable/MMTS (Nimbus) unit. Most of them are very interested in the system working within specification.
2. The cable, according to the unofficial installation manual can be up to around 500 feet, without effecting the reading, providing there is no leakage due to water, or breaks.
3. One of the main problems with siteing is that the installer has to bury the cable, usually without any cable ditching equipment. This is a time consuming, labor intensive job, which can be wiped out with just one lightning hit near the cable afterwards 😮 …

February 13, 2009 2:07 am

Yes Anthony, you really are onto something here …
Pick out *one* single picture of an *alleged* weather station, and purport to show data from it corrected and uncorrected. A great little *anecdote*. I’m sure the scientific method could do with much more *anecdotes*, even if they are hoaxes.
Don’t report it directly to GISS for investigation either, just release it directly to the entire world on internet so the skeptics can lap up all the unsubstantiated nuances and spread it around the world via other websites.
However there is one thing that bothers me. What all of my clever scientist/engineering colleagues on this blog apparently neglected to notice is that your clever graphs had displaced y-axis measurements relative to each other.
So in fact, the second graph which *appears* to show unjustified warming in the latter parts of the adjusted segment of the station data, has in fact been obviously corrected so that the *earlier part* has been adjusted downwards. Look at the absolute numbers along the axis, not Anthony’s clever axis shift.
And I bet you guys call yourselves experts in your fields! Ha! How about you correspond directly with GISS on this?
Reply: Yes, the GISS algorithm often cools (adjusts downwards) the past creating an artificially induced warming trend that does not exist in the raw data. At this point more the 70% of the network has been surveyed and once 75% is reached, formal analysis will begin. Did you have a point? ~ charles the moderator, answering for Anthony.

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