Surfacestations UK project getting started

As many readers know, I’ve been working with a team of dedicated volunteers on the US project since June 2007. We now have over 50% of the 1221 station network surveyed and new surveys are being added, though slowed somewhat due to winter months.

The project scope was so large that it hasn’t been practical to consider other countries until the USHCN network has been completed. Another issue is that stations in the HadCRUT list for the UK aren’t quite as easy to locate, nor to get access to. One thing that NOAA does better than any other meteorological agency is to provide public access to all records. That level of access is not as common (or missing altogether, requiring FOI actions) in other countries.

I’m happy to report that there is now an effort underway in the UK to survey that network of stations. Pete Rawlinson writes to tell me of this first survey. Kudos to him and his team. I’ll be working with them to help locate stations and to bring you reports. In the meantime, you can learn more about the effort at this link.

The first station does appear at first glance to be well sited, until you see the Google Earth view and realize how close it is to the access road, and how much land area is urbanized north and south of the runway. This concerns me more than the Goliath jet. A good portion of GHCN stations are at airports like this one. Airports, as we know, have grown in size, sprawl, and flights served significantly in the last century to accomodate air travel growth. So when we have a significant portion of the GHCN record coming from airports, what are we actually measuring?  – Anthony

Wales’s Record station – or is it? A David and Goliath tale

UK Surveys Project

Hawarden Weather Station

Today we introduce Hawarden weather station, a pristine-looking station that provides hourly observations to the UK’s Met Office. It’s claim to fame is its holding of the maximum temperature ever recorded in the principality of Wales. 35c (95F) was recorded on 2nd August 1990.

Stevenson ScreenDavid and GoliathAirbus Beluga

Hawarden Weather Station

Hawarden (more) is a small town situated on the Wales/England border close to the city of Chester. The nearby Deeside industrial conurbation provides most of the power generation for the Merseyside area that contains the large city of Liverpool.

Hawarden Airport has intermittent services, mainly serving the aerospace factories nearby. Airbus manufacture wings of their airliners in the next-door town of Broughton before assembly in Germany. This necessitates the use of bulky cargo planes such as the Beluga (more), generally used to transport large but light items. Speaking of the Beluga…

The Beluga

This is quite an amazing shot and we were lucky to get such an opportunity. It is unfortunate that temperature records are put in doubt when the sensor is placed in the vicinity of a huge heat source. Usually small town airfields like this are used for small passengers planes and leisure flying but to see a behemoth trundling along like this with a Stevenson screen in the foreground is an amazing contrast.

I think it’s only fair that on this occasion the last word is reserved to the Goliath.

Car Park

Click for interactive view

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Richard Hegarty
January 9, 2009 12:47 am

Anyone interested in weather stations next door to the UK in Ireland information can be found here. Most of the stations have buildings next to them but these would be origional.
Includes some history on the stations, like this interesting fact on one of the most important weather observations in history. “It was from Blacksod that the observation, which finally determined the date of the D-Day landings in June 1944, emanated.” If i recall my history correctly there was bad weather and the whole invasion rested on this one report.
By the way here is what the temperature was like in Ireland in December.
“It was the coldest December for between seven and 12 years generally and the coldest since 1981 at Casement Aerodrome. Ground frost was severe in places at the beginning and end of the month, with the lowest December ground temperatures at many stations for between five and 27 years in the period 27th to 29th.”
January is looking like being even colder so far.

January 9, 2009 12:47 am

I am prepared to survey some stations in the Netherlands and possibly northern Belgium if you wish to go continental. I do notice quite a lot of MMTS units attached to motorway bridges and it would not surprise me if some of these were used by GISS.
If you want to do this, drop me an e-mail on the address entered on this post.

January 9, 2009 2:32 am

Mike, GISS only uses one Dutch station, De Bilt.
Siting itself is pristine, although it is almost completely surrounded by city – De Bilt, Zeist, Uithof, Utrecht. All of which have grown considerably since the early 20th centrury. GISS mentions 33.000 people for De Bilt, but June 2008 census shows 42.000. But that is ignoring Utrecht (300.000 people), which is less than 2 miles away.
Equipment moved around a bit at the site itself and was less than ideal in the early part of the record. Photos and metadata can be found here (in Dutch):
If you’re using Google Maps, search for KNMI De Bilt – it’s the field south of the big buildings, west of the “people’s gardens” (volktuintjes).

Alan the Brit
January 9, 2009 3:01 am

The only problem we may have in the UK is that anybody caught/reported for photographing anything anywhere could be arrested, held overnight, & DNA sampled, under the Anti-Terrorism laws, as happened to an innocent bystander who photographed a railway station out of enthusiasm! Most of our stations appear to be at airports & military/government establishments. You may not have heard about a bunch of UK military aircraft enthusiasts who went to Greece(?) a while back now, who were imprisoned for taking photos at a military airbase& accused of espionage, it was quite a to do over here at the time!
I hope it really goes well! Fingers crossed.

January 9, 2009 3:07 am

From my local paper…
Temperatures fall to lowest for 40 years
Thursday, January 08, 2009, 09:15

January 9, 2009 3:08 am

From my local paper…
Temperatures fall to lowest for 40 years
Thursday, January 08, 2009, 09:15

Leon Brozyna
January 9, 2009 3:20 am

Siting’s not too bad for a weather station and would probably serve quite well for most people’s needs. At least it’s not located on an asphalt paved parking lot or next to an A/C unit.
But if it’s climate data you want, you can zoom out on that Google map and see that there’s an area a bit over a mile to the west near to some forested land which would probably minimize any biases.
In the meantime, best wishes for the UK project. Should be interesting to see how it develops.

Paul Maynard
January 9, 2009 3:35 am

Don’t forget the Armagh observatory in Belfast – Northen Ireland that has the longest “continuous” record in the UK going back to the 18th century or maybe before.
The last time I looked at the history, it did not show much in the way of late 20th Century warming but then I have not looked at whatever “adjustments” were made to the records.

Pierre Gosselin
January 9, 2009 4:31 am

I’ve looked at a couple stations here in Germany, which appeared quite well-sited. Yet I saw one at Dortmund airport surrounded by concrete and asphalt.
I’m not sure which stations are used by the German Weather Service (DWD) and GISS and which are commercially operated.
I tried to get a list from the DWD once, but gave up after running through the bureacracy. Maybe someone can point me in the right direction.

January 9, 2009 5:30 am

That aircraft had landed on runway 23.
It then turns and taxis back along the runway.
There may be some jetwash as it turns to port at the runway end.

January 9, 2009 6:09 am

Your link in your post is malformed and sends you to a 404 error page. — John M Reynolds

January 9, 2009 6:19 am

That’s quite the “clean” factory on the horizon in the first picture. I thought all of Europe was running on solar, wind and unicorn flatulence power after they adopted the Kyoto Protocols Ponzi Scheme and agreed to reduce their CO2 emissions to zero? Perhaps that’s just Al Gore’s Tennessee mansion’s chimney, as viewed from the other side of the pond. 😉
It’s great that you’ve taken on yet another massive headache project on behalf of the sane half of the planet, Anthony. You and your team will go down in history as having helped all of humanity by exposing the fraud and malfeasance of the “science” of AGW. The debt the world owes you and your dedicated team can never be repaid. (Although, when the next Ice Age starts, you could start selling reverse carbon off-sets.)

January 9, 2009 7:07 am

Paul Maynard, re Armagh:
The Central England Temperature record says the following: “The longest continuous record of measured surface air temperatures in the world exists for a region representative of the English Midlands – known as the Central England Temperature record. Daily records extend back to 1772 and monthly records to 1659. Annual temperature fluctuations in this region are representative of those in most of the UK. The data are quality controlled and updated monthly.”
However, treat with caution as it says “Since global warming is anticipated to lead to changes in the frequencies of extreme events – such as hot summer days and cold winter days – these indicators are potentially useful as well.”

Ellie in Belfast
January 9, 2009 7:09 am

Great – will get in touch to see if I can help.

January 9, 2009 7:10 am

You see this all the time in airports: An otherwise well sited ASOS–with a ‘specially constructed paved path leading right up to it.
From the aerial shot it looks as if it’s a gravel path, what with those track marks running down it, but the ground level sure looks like standard blacktop. (And the Google hybrid does mark it as a road.)
Those ASOS systems seem to be only secondarily concerned with temperatures. They also measure visibility, icing conditions, wind and what have you. They are interested in local conditions for planes in the AP, which is its own microenvironment, and not necessarily indicative of what’s going on on the outside.

January 9, 2009 7:17 am

Wait. Is that even an ASOS? Is that box a Stevenson Screen . . .?
Being in an airport, I just automatically assumed it was ASOS.

Michael J. Bentley
January 9, 2009 7:22 am

Alan the Brit,
(sarc on) For Pete’s sake man, don’t give the US of A Gov’munt any balmy ideas! Gore/Hanson will be on the scent to restrict access to stations here like an AGW activist on a Chinook Wind. (sarc off)
Actually, I think the Foggybottom crowd is already talking about bringing the US out of its economic funk by painting everything green or some such hyperbull.

Jeff Alberts
January 9, 2009 7:36 am

(Although, when the next Ice Age starts, you could start selling reverse carbon off-sets.)

Hehe, I hereby declare these to be Carbon On-sets.

January 9, 2009 9:22 am

Here in France, ALL stations with long records and used in the GHCN database (hence in Noaa & Giss temp) are at airport in big cities.
The only rural station in the GHCN database is Mont-Aigoual, a pristine mountainous station used as a reference station by Meteo France. It is a manned station and a tourist destination well known to French amateur meteorologists. The problem is in the GHCN databse, temperatures have been stopped in late 80s. And there is no data prior to 1950.
It’s with such sloppy data climatologists know the warming has been “unprecedented”.

David Jones
January 9, 2009 9:52 am

jmrSudbury (06:09:30) :
Your link in your post is malformed and sends you to a 404 error page. — John M Reynolds
Worked OK for me.

January 9, 2009 10:03 am

The track running nearby will almost certainly be concrete.
The old peri-track 40′ away is still used by light business type jets.
The airfield had 3 runways the current one 05/23, 01/19 and 14/32. I suspect 14/32 used to be the main runway as there is a small emergency runway parallel and it would also roughly align with what used to be the main runway at RAF Sealand ~5Mls away.
Given when it was decommissioned as an RAF base, I was surprised to see what appear to be 3 hardened aircraft shelters due North of the weather station although at ~150′ wide by ~300′ they are rather large.
The freighter in the photos is visiting the factory in the background.
Wish I’d known it was there when I was over that way a couple of months back, I’d have taken a closer look.

Richard deSousa
January 9, 2009 10:05 am

Worked for me too.

January 9, 2009 10:09 am

Forgot to mention. While I was there I saw one of those aircraft and was surprised by it’s size.
Not by how big, but how small. I was about 800′ from it.

January 9, 2009 10:14 am

It should be noted that the area where the photo’s were taken is the land to the left of the station. You may notice on that satellite two roads which appear to end in T-Junctions? Well that photo is a few years old! That land to the Left is now built upon. We should have got pictures! It is now “Hawarden Inustrial Park”. The land directly by the fence was in a “turfed up” state on the visit, as if another expansion phase was about to take place. There is now a large building to the North of the upper “dirt track road”, which no longer ends after 20 yards, but in tarmaced up to the fence.
Also! You see the Black Tarmac in the picture just outside the station on the far side? On the satellite this is shown a dirt track, but is not anymore! That road is the only way from the main entrance to the Control Tower off to the Left. Large HGV trucks pass by there and low loaders. We saw 3 in 20 minutes. Should have got pictures. Each one has to have an escort. We are still learning what to look for!
Obviously the Commerical interest which have popped up around the airfield to support such a large Airbus plant is substantial. There are 100’s of sub contracting premises, in what used to be quite a rural airfield before Airbus.

Brian in Alaska
January 9, 2009 12:01 pm

A bit OT, but here’s a book review you that might be of interest to Anthony’s fans:

Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.

Not that that’s news to anyone here, but the review has some very interesting excerpts.

January 9, 2009 12:03 pm

Paul (03:08:28) :
“From my local paper…
Temperatures fall to lowest for 40 years
Thursday, January 08, 2009, 09:15”
The wife and I had the pleasure of touring Torbay/Torquay with some British friends several years ago. I was very surprised with the palm trees lining the beach. At 50N, I didn’t expect to see palms. Hope the recent cold doesn’t hurt them.

January 9, 2009 1:39 pm

Did you see this…
The sudden rise in temperature corresponds to the suddent drop of rural stations…

Retired Engineer
January 9, 2009 2:19 pm

Demesure (09:22:21)
“It’s with such sloppy data climatologists know the warming has been “unprecedented”. ”
Obviously. When you have no data, everything is without precident. That way, you can claim it has never happened in ‘recorded’ history.

Bobby Lane
January 9, 2009 2:29 pm

OT but a must read:
The Big Chill
From the Accuweather page via Druge Report comes this announcement:
“This is about as bad as it gets folks. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it since 1994. Sure its been very cold at times over the past 14 years, but the total area impacted by this cold wave will be huge. By next Thursday and Friday, extremely cold air will chill the entire area from the Great Plains to the Eastern Seaboard, and the cold is also going to reach the Deep South. Only the far West will be unscathed.
From the central Plains to the Northeast temperatures are going below zero; there is no question about it. Meanwhile, the Upper Midwest and northern New England could experience readings lower than 30 below zero!
One might have to go back to Jan. 1994 to find anything worse. In that bitter outbreak, temperatures went below zero from the central Plains to the East Coast. In New York there is a chance it will go below zero next Thursday or Friday night. The last time New York City experienced a below-zero temperature was Jan. 1994.
Did I mention there could be a snowstorm to boot? Yes, that very well could happen. Low pressure riding the leading edge of the bitter blast could put down a significant amount of snow starting in the Midwest Tuesday then reaching the East on Wednesday.”

Bobby Lane
January 9, 2009 2:53 pm

I don’t know if this would be overstepping the mission or bounds of Watts, but I was wondering….
Because of many factors, some of us come up with stories before postings for this blog are developed for them. A great many of the OT (off-topic) comments on postings are just that. I just did one myself from Accuweather. Much of the time, again due to various reasons, the stories are never developed into postings for this blog – yet they might still be of interest to readers.
Even so, while these might be of interest to other readers, you’d have to comb through comments on each posting and you could miss a great deal if the particular posting it is under is not of much interest to you. Plus, the extra comments – the OT ones – unnecessarily lengthen the comments of at least some posts. So I thought that maybe the Watts blog could develop a section called something like “Stories of Interest” or maybe, in honor, just “Off Topic.” What it would entail is a form similar to the comments section, except that you would only be allowed a brief description. This way it does not develop into some sort of other blog connected to Watts. You would post your Name and E-mail with only the Name published of course and the link to the story. Guidelines would be that the stories have to fit into the mission and theme of the Watts blog. That way people don’t post just anything since we all have varied interests. It keeps the focus.
I like to think it would be fairly easy to moderate too. Spam and other stuff not relative to this blog could be deleted and the user blocked if necessary just as with Comments. You often say this blog is great because of the many eyes and ears of the Watts community, so why not open up a section of the blog that lets us contribute in a greater way than Comments will allow. Plus, as I said, it would allow Comments itself to remain more focused on the postings at hand.
Just an idea.

Peter Hearnden
January 9, 2009 2:57 pm

I’ve lived in Devon for more than forty years. It was colder (as in lowest minima) in winters 1997, 1987, 1985, 1984, 1981 and 1979 than this year. So, where this ‘coldest for forty years’ comes from I don’t know.
‘Coldest for at least ten years’ would put it better.

January 9, 2009 3:02 pm

Where about are you? My local paper is the Herald Express too and I often write to it about AGW

jack mosevich
January 9, 2009 3:21 pm

Anthony (and others): I have examined thermometers in retail stores and find discrepancies in their readings. This is not surprising as they are of dubious quality. This brings to mind 2 questions beyond siting:
1. Are thermometers used at surface stations ever checked for accuracy?
2. Are they ever calibrated if they are in error?
And who is responsible?( I know. this is a 3rd question)
It seems tome that this could be as serious a problem as siting.

January 9, 2009 6:50 pm

jack m:
I worked in a calibration/metrology lab, so I can answer question #2: Once a glass/mercury thermometer is properly calibrated, it really doesn’t need re-calibration [unlike digital thermometers, which drift and are usually much less accurate than mercury thermometers].
If you find a good mercury thermometer [lots of places sell them], a quick-and-dirty way to check accuracy [for a thermometer with a wide enough range] is to make an ice bath with 1/2 distilled water, and 1/2 distilled ice, crushed.
Mix the ice/water bath thoroughly for 30 seconds, put the thermometer in and carefully stir it in the bath for a minute.
After one minute, while holding the very top and keeping the bulb and the lower part of the thermometer in the water as much as possible [never touching the sides], you should read exactly 0 degrees C [or 32 degrees F if it’s in Fahrenheit].
If the thermometer has the range, verify linearity by bringing a pot of distilled water to a boil, and repeating the reading. It should read 100 degrees C or 212 F, depending on type. Tests must be done at sea level.
The better scientific mercury thermometers are shipped factory calibrated, but you can do a search for a very inexpensive one by using the keywords “thermometer, mercury” and do your own calibration.
It’s fun keeping a daily log of temps using an accurate thermometer and comparing the result with your local GISS and NOAA record.
You can also buy a temperature datalogger from Anthony for under $60, which does automatic temp recording and downloads it into your computer: click
[Finally, don’t forget to vote! click here. Thanks.]

January 10, 2009 3:13 am

Where about are you? My local paper is the Herald Express too and I often write to it about AGW
Tony mail me on

Alan the Brit
January 10, 2009 4:29 am

Michael J Bentley:-)
Green used to mean naive & gullible or inexperienced in the old days, now it means messianic! Also the sailing expression “a bit green around the gills” used to refer to someone not used to sea travel, & was about to throw up! Was it not Cleopatra who said to Anthony in Shakespeare’s Anthony & Cleopatra, “ah, my salad days, when I was green in judgement”! Says it all really.
Generally, I work in the west country, Devon/Cornwall/Somerset/Dorset. If there is a list of stations available I would be happy to notify someone about any site visits I may be making so that I can be given a list of any nearby surface stations that could be photographed.

January 10, 2009 7:26 am

re. De Bilt,
spot the step change:
how do you get the unadjusted data?

January 10, 2009 7:36 am

OK, I’ve worked it out…
Raw data
Data after Hansomatic adjustments
Note the creation of a non-existent trend in 1880-1950.
So that’s the Netherlands artificially warmed then…

January 10, 2009 7:45 am

OK, the metadata for de bilt are:
pre-16/05/1950 – thermograph in large pagoda cabin 2.2m over a mown field
17/05/1950-28/06/1961 – thermograph in stevenson screen 2.2m above mown field (note downward step change in data)
29/06/1961-25/06/1993 – resistance measurement in stevenson screen 1.5m above mown field
26/03/1993-present day – electric sensor in dish cabin 1.5m above mown field (note step up).
So, how did the Hansomatic do?
-1950 step not adjusted
-1961 change is not visible in data
-1993 step not adjusted
-artificial trend introduced
I’ll try to do an adjustment graph a la Steve McI…

January 10, 2009 8:07 am

OK, done it…
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Netherlands is globally warmed by the Hansomatic AlGoreithm thusly:

January 10, 2009 10:22 am

Let’s try again:
Raw and Adjusted :
Adjustments (adj-raw) :
an attempt at embedding:

Neil Crafter
January 10, 2009 1:34 pm

That graph on station dropout is very illuminating, hopefully Anthony can do a post on it if he gets a spare minute. I think its very worthy of bringing to further attention, as Icecap obviously have. In this day an age you would have thought we would have been adding more stations to the worldwide network rather than dropping them off. Especially the mostly rural stations that have been dropped. Its a scandal!

Paul Maynard
January 11, 2009 5:16 am

Re Phillip Bratby’s comment.
I need to do some research but I think you will find that the CET is not continuous that is read from the same stations that have remained in the same places without change. It has been spliced from different “continuous” records over time.
Whilst it is improbable that the Armagh record is also from exactly the same station, I think it has remained in the same place.
No doubt other readers can comment.

Tim C
February 4, 2009 8:23 am

Anyone know what has happened to the web site?
Domain is registered, has plenty of time to go but has been 404 or security for some time now.

Hugo S
February 9, 2009 2:42 am

good question still as above on 9th feb.

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