Where Thermometers Go To Die – How not to measure temperature, part 80

In my 30 years in meteorology, I never questioned how NOAA climate monitoring stations were setup. It wasn’t until I stumbled on the Marysville California fire station and its thermometer that that I began to notice just how badly sited these stations are. When I started looking further, I never expected to find USHCN climate monitoring stations placed at sewage treatment plants, next to burn barrels, or in parking lots of University Atmospheric Science Departments, or next to air conditioning heat exchangers. These were all huge surprises.

I didn’t think I’d be surprised anymore. I thought I’d seen the weirdest of the weird, and that I would not be surprised again with bad station placement examples.

Then I saw this station, submitted from Fort Scott, Kansas:


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No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is an official NOAA USHCN climate monitoring station at a funeral home in downtown Fort Scott, KS

From a wider perspective, you can see all the things around it. Not only do we have a fountain (extra humidity), a nearby brick wall for heat retention at night, a large concrete driveway that curves around the station, a tree for shade in the late afternoon, a big brick building with a south facing brick wall, but we also have cobblestone streets and convenient nearby parking. The station is near the center of the city.


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This location has everything needed, except a BBQ.  See the photo gallery here.

It seems that that station was moved into this location from the previous one about a block away on April 4th, 2002:


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Upon first examination. it appears that it “may” have been cooler at the previous location, once you get past the spike of the 1998 El Nino it seems the elevated step function remains. Though since the location was also downtown, about a block away, perhaps the UHI of the downtown has overwhelmed the station change.


From what I can tell of the towns history, most of the growth in buildings occurred during the first half of the 20th century. Many of the downtown buildings seem to date from that time. Certainly it appears cooler around 1900.

No worries though, GISS has “fixed” the temperature to reflect a cooler past:


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Of course, this GISS adjustment artificially increases the temperature trend of the last century. It appears to use the present as the hinge point.

Yes it probably was cooler in Fort Scott’s past, when it looked like this, when it was founded:


“A beautifully undulating prairie”. “An almost precipitous decent of fifty feet”. “A flat spur of high prairie”. “A small clear-water creek”.

In 1852, Assistant Surgeon Joseph Barnes used all of these phrases to describe the landscape surrounding Fort Scott.

reference here

Here is a recent view of downtown




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pablo an ex pat

It’s official, it’s been nailed to borrow a useful phrase, ahem, as well, as causing it to get warmer CO2 can cause it to get colder, much colder.
Here’s a plan for a Green Tea Party : Have cake, eat it, repeat.
Or haw about a different conclusion ?
It doesn’t matter much to the Earth how much CO2 there is in the atmosphere. The Earth warms and cools to the beat of a different drum or more likely set of drums.


Wow. That is amazing. How do you find these?


here is a must read article over at newsbusters concerning James Hansen:

Ed Scott

Looney Tunes, part 4.
John Holdren: A recommendation.
John Holdren: Obama’s science advisor.
John Holdren is the ultimate example of the pseudointellectual impurities that have recently flooded universities and academies throughout the Western world.
“…Holdren and Ehrlich may have narcissistically talked about “prestigious symposia” but it’s hard to change the fact that events where people compete who is going to propose a more absurd die-off scenario are just gatherings of pompous loons.”
In the particular Ehrlich-Holdren paper, they discussed five “theorems”, as they boldly call this retarded stuff. For example, the first “theorem” says that “population growth causes a disproportionate negative impact on the environment”. The last one argues that “theoretical solutions to the problem are often not operational and sometimes they are not solutions”.
These are great theorems! They’re so accurate, well-defined, rigorously proven, and universally valid! I am pretty sure that in insane asylums, the physicians would use different words than “theorems” to describe these manifestations of their anxiety disorders.
Nowadays, they equate “CO2 emissions” with a “great die-off”. Details have changed but the dishonest, unscientific, extremely ideological, and political essence of their movement hasn’t. These people evolve just like the RNA viruses of flu. You may think that you have already gained immunity against this intellectual trap but instead, the viruses have mutated just a little bit and they’re back. They will probably always be with us.
It’s very bad that people whose approach to the world is the exact opposite of science – because they prefer irrational phobias, “prestige” of symposia, and visible jobs paid by gullible manipulated folks over rational, humble, careful, and ever more refined, accurate, and justified scientific arguments and findings – are being linked to science, and it is bad that President-elect Obama is helping to distort the definition of science and its proper role in the society in this way.

Steve M.

“Wow. That is amazing. How do you find these?”
After looking at surfacestations.org, you’ll find that finding stuff like this is quite easy


Why is it weird that it’s outside a funereal home? These are volunteer stations, so I think you’d be likely to find them outside all kinds of different places. Of course, the headline — “Where do thermometers go to die…” — is hilarious, and all the wrong things at the site are appropriate to point out. But when you’ve got over a thousand of these things being run by volunteers (not to count the several thousand non-USHCN sites), I think they’ll likely be found in all sorts of weird places.
Happy New Year, Anthony, and congrats on the success of WUWT over the past year.


Pardon me, but I’m not seeing how they’re getting “moderately wooded” out of the current site. If one tree makes a city lot moderately wooded would two trees make it heavily forrested?

Ed Scott

Looney Tunes, part 5
Litter Offsets?

Those carbon offsets seem to be quite popular these days. So why not expand the concept to other forms of pollution?


Thank you. The website was very helpful.

Where human morbidity and mortality issues are at stake, such as in the manufacture of pharmaceutical drugs, operation of hospital laboratories, blood product collection methodology, automobile manufacturing, bridge construction, etc., there are normally very rigid rules regarding “quality control.” The backbone of “quality control” includes calibration standards, correlation studies, uniform methodology, standardized instrumentation, reproducibility, and documentation. “Quality control” is normally expensive, time consuming, and requires constant monitoring.
In this regard, we have the concepts of global warming and climate change, about which we are constantly bombarded with warnings of rising oceans, famine, species extinction, disease outbreaks, etc. — primarily based upon future predictions from computer models centered upon historical temperature records — all of which (if true) have significant implications on future human morbidity and mortality. Yet the “science of climate change” involving computer models utilizing past records of surface temperatures, as well as current recordings of surface temperatures, appears to be completely devoid of “quality control” regarding the primary data records. (Buried in “quality control” is urban heat island effect, which would be eliminated with appropriate standard methodology requirements.) Not only are you amply demonstrating that “quality control” in surface temperature recording is completely absent with your project, there is a second issue of “manipulating” data obtained from methods devoid of “quality control” overview. How can one “manipulate” (adjust) historical data that one cannot verify as being accurate and reproducible? Such “manipulations” cannot correct for previous lack of “quality control” and may actually introduce more uncertainty. This is not science — it’s “data fakery.” How can any reputable science journal publish studies where the primary data sets are “highly suspect” for being unreliable? Please continue your work in exposing this fraudulent science, if it can be called a science.

James the Less

“This location has everything needed, except a BBQ.”
Actually, there is a BBQ…they do cremations.


Here we go…
I still favour the boneless chicken cannon. (My design!)
Apologies for being a tad OT.

Mike C

That’s a stiff one

Pierre Gosselin

The crematorium is probably not far away too!

Craig D. Lattig

True, the BBQ pit seems to have been misplaced…however, all may not be lost! Have someone check and see if they have a crematory…it would probably require a state air permit. cdl

Another of the hundreds of examples of bad measurement. The GISS corrections are universally rubbish. I know they tried to bulk correct based on light levels but it clearly didn’t work. With the low number of stations present in the early record the GISS data from the early part of the century cannot be trusted.
With so much money dumped into AGW why isn’t someone demanding a longer stick for the thermometers say 50 ft. GISS guys should at least be screaming for a better system.
The only thing keeping them in line now are the satellites and even those have experienced ‘adjustments’. Whether they are reasonable adjustments to the satellites or not, I don’t know.
Keep it up, Anthony, I know you will anyway but the more that is exposed the better it gets.

Tom B.

Anthony, your blog is fascinating, and one of the ones I find useful for someone like me (a computer geek whose statistical background consists of a few college courses many decades ago). Am trying to understand the adjustments that are being made to the data for UHI that are in the final temperature estimates that folks like Hansen publish. Can you point me at something that might discuss how those adjustments are made? I recall a posting (not sure if it was you or Jeff Id) that showed the UHI adjustment made at a specific station which actually pushed the number UP instead of moderating them, so was hoping to actually understand what their algorithm for UHI adjustment was…
Thanks in advance, Tom Bauch

Steve Keohane

Since Mr. Hansen loves to adjust numbers, I thought it would be fun to take the station data bias, UHI, from the US stations that have been examined on surfacestations.org, about 2.8 deg C, minimum, and apply that to GISS Global Temps plot. Since the US has 1221 of the approx 5300 world-wide stations, that is 23%. Assume there are no other stations in the world with a UHI bias, use 1985 as a hinge point which seems to be one of Hansen’s favorites, and move the end of the smoothed line and data points down 23% of 2.8=0.6 deg C, and voila we have a more real picture of glbal temperature.
Happy Chillier 2009 everyone!

Tim L

I bit you get a little pit in your gut every time you find how bad temps are found, after the years you used these same ones to tell your audience what the weather is,was.
I CAN NOT believe how much fraud is being found, we need to start a fund to collect money to pay expenses for a good lawyer to go after the reduction of past temps like this one. WHY OH WHY DO THEY NOT LOWER CURRENT TEMPS???????
Thank you

Rod Smith

Basil (07:06:48): You make several interesting and valid points. Still, it is apparent that overall management, supervision, technical oversight and assistance, training, and monitoring are obviously absent from the majority of USCHN sites.
When you add that in many cases NOAA is not even sure of the exact location of these sites, it becomes obvious that these civic minded ‘volunteers’ are left to their own devices regardless of their technical expertise, or lack of such.
Nevertheless, their product is clearly not an accurate measure of the local climate.
Note: The above statement assumes the absurd — that ‘climate’ can accurately be described/measured/predicted using a single parameter, temperature.

D Caldwell

Wow! We lived just outside town on a large farm when I was a young boy in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I am waxing very nostalgic at seeing an entry on Ft. Scott – but I will spare you all my stroll down memory lane.
FWIW, I do wish to weigh in on the UHI factor. Since Ft. Scott was an important commercial and railroad center in the post Civil War western expansion, I believe most of the downtown and the brick streets were already there at the turn of the century (19th to 20th that is). There was some modest growth in the 20th century, but not enough to drive significant UHI effects IMHO.
Whatever artifacts may exist in that temp record would be more likely from equipment and siting issues.

old construction worker

It would be nice if our US neighbors would send photographs of their weather stations.

RE: (jim (06:56:07) 🙂
I’m beginning to wonder if Hansen wants Michael Griffin’s job? See (for instance):


Tsk, tsk, Anthony. Those are not cobblestones, they’re bricks. You need to get out more often.


Hansen’s plan to keep the carbon-tax money in the public’s hands and out of the “commodities market” actually makes very good sense — if CO2 were actually a bad thing. I have to credit him on that one (however, I do not believe CO2 restriction is necessary or beneficial).
Thing is, politics is all about public policy being used to transfer money from ordinary citizens to the wealthy — so the wealthy can contribute (give it) to the politicians. Hence, I think Hansen’s plan will not be implemented.


Typical GISS adjustment: one size fits all. Doesn’t matter whether the relocation is one block or one mile, whether its being relocated from an orchard to a sewage treatment plant or from Joe Sixpack’s patio barbecue to the Town dump. It doesn’t need to be scientific as long as it shows a temperature increase. This same scenario has been repeated hundreds of times in the past decade as the climatic history is readjusted to conform to contemporary thinking (by AGW’s).
At least the funeral Home has provided a more stable location (4 years)!

You missed a trick there Anthony ‘The 2009 calendar of incorrectly sited US weather stations’ would have sold in its thousands.

Forget warming. I think the real problem is snow pollution. Up here in Canada the air is so thick with it that sometimes we can’t see across the road; trees and ground are covered by it, and variants of snow pollution have caused a form of scum that covers local water bodies for months at a time.
It’s a pollution trifecta! Where is the outrage?

Tom in seasonaly pleasant Florida

Since the station move to it’s present location, I will assume those readings are dead on.
(Sorry, couldn’t resist)

I think the large sunlit wall on the other side of the parking lot also presents a radiative problem. It may subtend an even greater solid angle than the low wall beside the temperature sensor. The wall has obviously been there a long time–note the bricked in doorway towards the street.
I’m also wondering where the shadow of the flag falls.
What do the innards of the sensor/housing look like? Anyone have a reference?

@ Pablo,
I’m almost sorry that you shared that link to The Telegraph in which some scientists claim that we must stop global warming in order to stop future global cooling and glaciation. Huh ?!?
Fortunately my son the scientist is sitting here and was able to explain that climate leads the C02 and not vice-versa and why.
But. Most people don’t have access to a person sitting across the living room to explain just why enviro-whackos are well . . . . whacko.
I keep thinking I’m going to wake up.
Interesting times.

Steven Hill

If Yellowstone goes, none of this is going to matter….it’s shaking again.

Jon Pemberton

Where can you get the unadjusted numbers for the monthly averages that GISS does? Not for individual stations but for the global average.

You cannot assume there are no distortions elsewhere – not that you would. In the UK, the Met Service was originally a branch of the Ministry of Aviation, the main customer being the armed forces and especially the RAF. As a result, many of the sites were located at airfields … and still are, often right next to wide expanses of concrete (which were grass back in the days when they were established).

OK, Steven,
Now you’ve got me ‘quaking’ in my shoes.
If Yellowstone blows in our lifetimes – well . . . I guess we’ve lived long enough to see just about everything. Hope and change and global warming and cooling all at the same time.

Steven Hill

Never meant that it was, you have to admit that all those quakes are interesting and will lead to something.

Has anyone who is “responsible and accountable” for the quality of the surface stations network actually ever acknowledged that these findings are a cause for concern, let alone embarrassment, and begun to do something about it?
I guess I probably know the answer but I am just curious – has there been any reaction from officialdom to the surface stations project findings?
Happy New Year to Anthony and everyone connected with this outstanding site.


That Telegraph story is quite fascinating. Either those “scientists” haven’t a clue how the greenhouse effect works or they are quite simply making things up. Those deposits on Svalbard are from the Late Proterozoic which had several extreme glaciations with continental ice in equatorial areas, though the oceans probably never froze completely. And, yes, CO2 levels were very much higher then than now, but on the other hand the Sun was about 5% weaker then, so it’s not really such a big problem from an AGW standpoint. My opinion is that they’re just trying to get publicity and/or funding by putting an AGW slant on their research. I’ve got geologist friends who are complaining that it is now almost impossible to get funding for research that doesn’t at least pretend to have something to do with climate change.

Bill Barrett

Interesting weather patterns from the other side of the pond….
Location.. Ashford,Kent. United Kingdom.
Unusually cold spell of weather made me realise the Met Office’s figures for the average temperatures in the month of January are not the average from 1950 to 2008, but rather a new average from 1990 onwards.
E.g Weatherman/(and women!) on TV keep saying averages daytime temperatures in January should be about 7 degrees C.
For the last week the temperature has averaged between 3 and 4 degrees C.
If one looks at the weather records for the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s the average in January in Southern UK, is 4 to 5 degrees C.
The Met office has simply started assuming that post 1990 the UK average winter temperature is 2 degrees warmer than it was pre-1990!!
No way in hell is the average 7 degrees C. Be quite difficult to get more than a couple of nights of frost per winter if that was the case, as December would average at 9 degrees C!!!!
Lake outside my house has been frozen for 7 days by the way.! -4degrees tonight.

Mike McMillan

Novoburgo (10:37:48) :
Typical GISS adjustment: one size fits all. . . . It doesn’t need to be scientific as long as it shows a temperature increase. This same scenario has been repeated hundreds of times in the past decade as the climatic history is readjusted to conform to contemporary thinking (by AGW’s). . . .
To demonstrate the ham-handedness of the one-size-fits-all GISS homogenization, I did a blink of SurfaceStation.org’s home page poster child for good siting, Orland, CA. Same location for a century, no problems, but it needed GISS adjustment.
I’ve been doing raw/GISS comparison blink charts for a few states (IA,IL,WI) and the hansenization does seem to break roughly even for up and down adjustments. Somewhere, somebody did an average anomaly adjustment chart that shows an overall lowering of past temps. Anybody have a link for that?

Aussie John

It appears that the UHI effects in the past were worse than current as the ‘adjustments’ are larger in 1880 than 1980.
Maybe their were more horses around the thermometer in the 1800’s, raising the methane level.
Can someone explain how NOAA’s adjustments are justified to make them larger in the past than the present, particularly with the damning evidence that Anthony presents here for UHI?


Even good looking sites have issues once you start looking around.
Like the sprinkler systems nextdoor.

pablo an ex pat

Dear Cathy
Please inform your son not to introduce facts that may disagree with or present any alternative explanation to “The Theory”.
It is bad to do that as the high pitched laughter generated as real facts are compared with manufactured ones may disturb the slumbers of the many members of the MSM who make a good living uncritically disseminating scary news stories.
Also there are a lot of mortgages and retirement plans dependent on keeping the research funding bandwagon rolling. Both we and rest of the world may become impoverished as the US ecomomy is tanked but think of the poor researchers who lead us into this ?
Surely we need them to be happy, after all they make wonderful graphs don’t they, and that alone has value doesn’t it ? It’s wonderful that they can make the data fit any curve they want to support a predetermined conclusion. It’s called New Science.
When I studied Old Science it was obviously taught wrongly. We were taught, now don’t laugh now, to start any study with an open mind. No preconceived ideas in those days.
When we had collected what we laughingly call real data we would examine it and use it to reach our own conclusions and not the conclusions that were expected of us.
I look back and smile now at how dumb we were, if we’d have adjusted the data the fit the facts that others wanted to see it would have been a lot better. We could have done it too via a well known technique previously called by a rude name but in these PC days it’s now called Adjusting.
My gosh we were dumb, no wonder there was no money in Science then eh ?
So please be more considerate. Stick to “The Theory” from here on out. It’s been nailed you know, and adjustmentwise you can’t say better than that.


Aussie John (13:05:40) :
One argument was that the stations were originally “in town” and moved to airport locations which were in more rural areas. Of course those nice grassy fields are now acres of concrete and full of jet engines…


Bill Barrett (12:50:57) :
Interesting weather patterns from the other side of the pond….
Location.. Ashford,Kent. United Kingdom.
Unusually cold spell of weather made me realise the Met Office’s figures for the average temperatures in the month of January are not the average from 1950 to 2008, but rather a new average from 1990 onwards.
I don’t know if the Met office follows the same protocols as the US, but the weather
stations here in the US use averages based on the last 30 years. That could be part of the difference. Kind of a rolling average.


TonyB (10:39:31) :
You missed a trick there Anthony ‘The 2009 calendar of incorrectly sited US weather stations’ would have sold in its thousands.
Add me to the list!
I’d love to have calender of the worst of the worst! Let me know if it’s a possibility.

If you want to know what thet were drinking when they set up this site,
check out the name of the County.


Has anyone thought to collect the ‘unadjusted’ figures worldwide?
Before they’re ‘disappeared’ that is.

Hansens idea of a carbon tax instead of cap’n’trade is almost good. But instead of redistributing the new federal income to all citizens the tax should be taken at state level and offset income taxes.


Good Ol’ Bourbon county. The picture of downtown Fort Scott is misleading. There usually aren’t that many people there. The picture is probably from the Fort Scott Good Ol’ Days in early June. Lots of good barbeque there to contribute to global warming. http://www.fortscottgoodoldays.com/index.html