Snow job in Antarctica – digging out the data source

UPDATE: the question has arisen about “occupied” aka “manned” weather stations in Antarctica (Stevenson Screens etc) versus the Automated Weather Stations. This picture on a postage stamp from Australia, celebrating the Australian Antarctic Territory in 1997, may help settle the issue. Note the Stevenson Screen near the “living pod” on the right.

http://www.cira.colostate.edu/cira/RAMM/hillger/AustralianAntarctic.L102.jpg

Here is the larger photo of the first day of issue card, the Stevenson Screen is also just visible above the snowbank in the lower right. Rather close to human habitation I’d say. Looks like its in the middle of an AHI (Antarctic Heat Island).

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Here’s another picture of a Stevenson Screen close to a building in Antarctica, from the British Antarctic Survey:

[10004058]

Location: Fossil Bluff, Alexander Island

Season: 1994/1995

Photographer: Pete Bucktrout


It seems that folks  are all “wild about Harry” over at Climate Audit, with the revelations occurring there, and no good kerfluffle would be complete without some pictures of the weather stations in question. It seems a weather station used in the Steig Antarctic study , aka “Harry”, got buried under snow and also got confused with another station, Gill, in the dataset. As Steve McIntyre writes:

Gill is located on the Ross Ice Shelf at 79.92S 178.59W 25M and is completely unrelated to Harry. The 2005 inspection report observes:

2 February 2005 – Site visited. Site was difficult to locate by air; was finally found by scanning the horizon with binoculars. Station moved 3.8 nautical miles from the previous GPS position. The lower delta temperature sensor was buried .63 meters in the snow. The boom sensor was raised to 3.84 m above the surface from 1.57 m above the surface. Station was found in good working condition.

I didn’t see any discussion in Steig et al on allowing for the effect of burying sensors in the snow on data homogeneity.

The difference between “old” Harry and “new” Harry can now be explained. “Old” Harry was actually “Gill”, but, at least, even if mis-identified, it was only one series. “New” Harry is a splice of Harry into Gill – when Harry met Gill, the two became one, as it were.

Considered by itself, Gill has a slightly negative trend from 1987 to 2002. The big trend in “New Harry” arises entirely from the impact of splicing the two data sets together. It’s a mess.

So not only is there a splice error, but the data itself may have been biased by snow burial.

Why is the snow burying important? Well, as anyone skilled in cold weather survival can tell you, snow makes an excellent insulator and an excellent reflector. Snow’s trapped air insulative properties is why building a snow cave to survive in is a good idea. So is it any wonder then that a snowdrift buried temperature sensor, or a temperature sensor being lowered to near the surface by rising snow, would not read the temperature of the free near surface atmosphere accurately?

As I’ve always said, getting accurate weather station data is all about siting and how the sensors are affected by microclimate issues. Pictures help tell the story.

Here’s “Harry” prior to being dug out in 2006 and after:

Harry AWS, 2006 – Upon Arrival – Click to enlarge.

Harry AWS, 2006 – After digging out – Click to enlarge.

You can see “Harry’s Facebook Page” here at the University of Wisconsin

It seems digging out weather stations is a regular pastime in Antarctica, so data issues with snow burial of AWS sensors may be more than just about “Harry”. It seems Theresa (Harry’s nearby sister) and Halley VI also have been dug out and the process documented. With this being such a regular occurrence, and easily found within a few minutes of Googling by me, you’d think somebody with Steig et al or the Nature peer reviewers would have looked into this and the effect on the data that Steve McIntyre has so eloquently pointed out.

Here’s more on the snow burial issue from Antarctic bloggers:

The map showing Automated Weather Stations in

Antarctica:

Click map for a larger image

The Gill AWS in question.

http://amrc.ssec.wisc.edu/images/gill.gif

From Polartrec

Theresa was placed at this location partly to

study the air flow in the region. Looking out the window of the plane we can

definitely see the air flowing!!! Jim estimates the wind at about 25 miles per

hour.

Wind Blown snow near Theresa AWS

Wind blown snow at Theresa

With the temperature around 0F the wind chill

was about 20 below, it is obvious this is going to be quite a chore.

George digging out Theresa

Starting to dig out Theresa

The weather station has not been working, so

George needs to figure out what is wrong with it and then fix it. The station is

almost buried in the snow so we will also need to remove all of the electronics,

add a tower section and then raise and bolt all of the electronics and sensors

back in place.

eorge unhooking the electronics box at Theresa AWS

George unhooking the cables.

After refueling the plane, with the fuel in

the 55 gallon drums, Jim and Louie helped dig down to the electronics boxes that

were completely buried plus they built us a wind break that made huge difference

in helping us not be so cold. After about 4 hours we are almost through. As I am

hanging onto the top of the raised tower in the wind, one bunny boot wedged onto

the tower bracing, the other boot wrapped around the tower, one elbow gripping

the tower, my chin trying to hold the wind sensor in place and both bare numb

hands trying to thread a nut onto the spinning wind sensor I really appreciate

the difficulty of what is normally Jonathan’s job. After checking to make sure

Theresa is transmitting weather data we board the plane and head to Briana our

second station.

Theresa after we are finished.

Notice the difference between this

picture and the first one of Theresa.

From Antarctic Diary

More movement

It’s been another flat-out week. The vehicle team have dug

up and moved the Drewery building, which was getting do buried snow was

almost up the windows. Team Met have been on the move too – all the

remaining instruments are now bolted securely to the Laws roof, so we headed

up the the Halley VI building site to relocate the weather station.

Jules starts digging out the weather station

Only 15km away, the Halley VI site looks a lot like Halley V. It’s flat,

white and snowy. Very snowy. The weather station had about 1.5m built up

around it!

Jules and Simon recovering the solar panel

In the hole!

The weather station was a survey reference point for the build project so we

had to find a suitable replacement. Could this be Antarctica’s first

pole-dancing venue?

Penguin Party memories…

After an hour or so sweating it our with shovels, the weather station popped

out and was loaded onto the sledge. Like the reference point, the station’s

new location had to be precise as vehicles are banned from the upwind

section of the site to keep that area ultra-clean for future snow-chemistry

experiments.

Weather station on the move

Driving on a compass bearing and GPS track, we found the new site just under

a kilometre away.

The final setup

UPDATE: here’s another buried station story from Bob’s Adventures in cold climes. Apparently this station is used as a reference for some sort of borehole project.

I dig weather stations

My main task for today was to get a start on raising my weather station. I’d installed it 2 years ago, and with the high accumulation at Summit, it’s getting buried. The electronics are all in a box under the snow, and the only things visible at the surface were the anemometer for measuring wind speed and direction, the thermistor for measuring air temperature, and the solar panel to keep the batteries charged.

The buried weather station. The flat green bit is the solar panel, which was about 1.5 meters off the surface when I installed the station. Can you guess why I would mount it facing down?

In the morning I downloaded all the data from the station, and checked to see that it was all in order. Then it was time for digging. I’d carefully made a diagram when I inastalled the station, so I knew exactly where to dig. A couple of hours later I’d found my box!

At the bottom of the pit with the datalogger electronics.

I brought everything up to the surface, and then was about to fill in the pit, when I realized at least one more scientist at Summit might want to make measurements in it; the pit’s already dug! So tomorrow I’ll help Lora with some conductivity measurements, then fill in the pit, re-bury the box just beneath the surface, and it’ll be ready to go for another 2 years!

And there’s more….

The Australians seem to have AWS problems as well. From the Australian Antarctic Division:

On Monday two groups headed out, with Largy and Denis going up to the skiway to check on the condition of the equipment stored there for the winter and beginning preparations for the coming summer flying season.

Bill, Brian and Ian went up to the Lanyon Junction Automatic Weather Station (AWS) to check its condition and retrieve some of the sensors in preparation for the annual servicing of the various remote units.

Automatic weather station buried 1.5m in snow

A hard life for an AWS – Buried 1.5 metres
Photo: Ian P.
Anemometer

This used to be an anemometer
Photo: Ian P.

And the University of Maine, participating in USITASE, has the same troubles, they write:

We reached our first major destination at the end of today’s travel, the site of the Nico weather station. There are several automatic weather stations spread out over the surface of Antarctica. These stations measure things like temperature, wind speed and wind direction and then relay this data back to scientists via satellite. Anything left on the surface of the snow will eventually be drifted in and buried by blowing snow. This particular weather station (NICO) has not been seen in several years. They tried to locate it via airplane a few years ago and were unsuccessful. Our task was to find the weather station, record its position with GPS, and mark the location with flags so that in the near future, the weather station can be raised and serviced.

We arrived at the coordinates of the station around 10 pm. Our initial scans of the horizon were not productive, so Matthew and John took the lead tractor (with our crevasse-detecting radar) out to survey a grid near our stopping point. The radar should detect a large metal object like a weather station, but the survey was also unsuccessful. After a fine pasta and tomato sauce dinner, John went outside for an evening constitutional. He saw a shiny object out in the distance – further inspection with a pair of binoculars determined that it was the top of the NICO weather station! Several of us marched out to the station, which was actually about a half mile distant, marked the location with bright orange flags and recorded the position via GPS for future reference. Only the top foot or two of the station was still visible. John was in exactly the right place at the right time to see a reflection from this object while we were near the kitchen module, and so allowed us to complete our first task successfully.

Tomorrow, we drive on.

http://www2.umaine.edu/USITASE/moslogs/images03/buried.jpg

http://www2.umaine.edu/USITASE/moslogs/images/AWSsite.jpg


This regular burial and digging out of stations brings the whole network of AWS stations to be used as sensitive climate measurement stations into question.

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I’ve had difficulties getting to CA’s page today, does that mean the site’s getting as much attention as it can handle?
I’ve been learning that the Arctic and the Antarctic are two very, very different environments. Antarctic snow just keeps piling on, up up up, burying everything pretty fast. A “polar opposite” to the Arctic, where the sea ice forms, melts, forms, melts – and I wonder if it gets melted from underneath too, as it gets heavier and starts to sink deeper into the warmer ocean (only the highest ocean is freezing, after all, since freezing water rises).

REPLY:
CA was overwhelmed, but some adjustments to the server were recently made, and it should be OK now. – Anthony

just Cait

Excellent work going on down there – too bad there are some willing to corrupt the data.
OT but should be of interest. Al Gore spoke to school children and told them He also told them not to listen to the ‘old people’ because they didn’t understand what is going on. Indoctrination anyone?

MattN

OUTSTANDING work. Congrats all around to you, SteveM and everyone else who toiled away. I just KNEW the scientists hadn’t been “doing the calcualtions in there head” or “on back of envelopes”. In reality, they had been ignoring obviously corrupted data, just like a real scientist is supposed to do.
Again, marvelous work gentlemen….

Glenn

From your “Gill” link through the “Archived Gill AWS Data” link shows
“Ten-minute interval data for Gill AWS” data for all months of years 2003 through 2006, yet on the same page listing of “Three-hourly interval data for Gill AWS” is completely missing all data from 2003 to and including 2006.
On the surface so to speak, it seems odd that ten minute intervals of data would be recorded, but not three hour intervals.

Simon Evans

So was snow burial more of an issue in the 1950s or ias it more of an issue now? Let’s accept that getting data from the Antarctic is a tough call. Why the concern about this now, following Steig’s paper which found a warming trend, when there was no concern expressed about it before, when the general meme was that the Antarctic was cooling? Why do you energetically challenge findings that suggest supposed warming whilst uncritically accepting any evidence of supposed cooling?

Ron de Haan

Thanks for this wonderful article.
You are right, a picture tells more than a thousand words.
The speed of accumulation of snow is incredible.
We already saw the pictures from the polar stations that had to dug out despite the use of telescopic adjustable foundations.
At http://www.iceagenow.com/Growing_Antarctic_Ice_Sheet.htm
you can find a picture of a crane and power transmission towers buried in the Antarctic snow.
This article effectively destroys all claims of rising Antarctic temperatures.

Simon Evans

Ron de Haan (16:25:53) :
This article effectively destroys all claims of rising Antarctic temperatures.
And does it also destroy all claims of falling Antarctic temperatures?

REPLY:
Interesting question. The key would be to demonstrate how these issues could result in a cooling bias. A station buried under snow will of course be warmer than the surface air not only for the insulation from that surface air it provides, but also from any heat from the electronics package slowly radiated through the snow to the temperature sensors. Without wind to carry away such waste heat from the electronics, IMHO the only place for that waste heat to go is outward and upwards and eventually to be detected by the sensors.
Show how snow burial of an AWS could result in a cooling bias. Maybe I’ve missed something. – Anthony

MattN

Simon: “Why do you energetically challenge findings that suggest supposed warming whilst uncritically accepting any evidence of supposed cooling?”
Because cooling is almost never artificial.

George E. Smith

What a place; I need to go there.
Before the stampeding herd arrives, and since we are talking Antarctica; I notice that the thread on Antarctica warming per Eric Steig et al seems to have sublimed.
I have a bone to pick with someone whose name sadly I forgot and since I can’t find the thread, I can’t call him out by name.
But somewhere in that thread, I had made the statement that in parts of Antarctic such as South pole, or Vostok Station, the atmosphere was likely to be essentially devoid of water (very low vapor pressure) and possibly of CO2 as well, since at Vostok the temp can get as low as about -90C.
So whoever it was, that commented on that; he was unequivocal in his opinion that “that was total nonsense”, and by inference I was a total idiot; and he advised me to look at the CO2 phase diagram; which he kindly pointed to, such as :-http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/CO2/CO2_phase_diagram.gif
So I did that and then meekly submitted that he was correct, and that was nonsense; but I did not admit to being a total idiot; which I am not.
But I did launch massive research project into the matter; which finally ended a few minutes ago in discussions with my immediate boss; and since he is a PhD physicist,a nd an HP Fellow; who am I to argue with him.
So here is the situation; The CO2 phase diagram which Mr_X referred me to shows that CO2 sublimes at -78.5Deg C and one atmosphere pressure, and the soli/solid+gas phase boundary goes from about -135 deg C and 0.001 atmospheres to-56.6 deg C at 5.11 atmospheres which is the triple point.
Whence Mr_X declared that CO2 at 385 ppmv could not possibly precipitate out and form CO2 snow, even though I talked with a chap who claimed he walked on CO2 snow at the south pole, while making solar insolation readings.
Well here is what Mr_X failed to realize. That one atmosphere pressure at
-78.5 C sublimation point is the TOTAL ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE; it is NOT the partial vapor pressure of CO2.
Considered at the atomic level at the solid/gas interface, all that the dry ice surface molecules know, is that they keep getting clobbered from above by some energetic projectiles, of unknown species exchanging energy and momentum between the species.
So what determines the escape rate of CO2 molecules from the surface is the kinetic energy exchange going on with the gas molecules, and it matters not what species that is; only the net exchange rate of energy/momentum matters.
So the equilibrium diagram definitely is a total pressure condition.
The ice under an ice skate blade, cares not whether the applied pressure comes from air or steel.
Therefore we can say with a fair likelihood of being correct, that the sublimation point of CO2 is at -78.5 deg C at 1.0 atmospheres of total pressure from all sources; which by dalton’s law would be the sum of all the partial pressures of all the atmospheric components, including the 385 ppm of CO2 gas.
So at -90 deg C, where Vostok can reach at times, the equilibrium pressure is about 0.3-0.4 atmospheres TOTAL PRESSURE.
Therefore at around -90 C at Vostok, and one atmosphere total air pressure, solid CO2 is quite stable, so precipitation of CO2 snow is quite possible, and in fact it is possible any time the air temperature drops below -78.5 deg C.
Therefore I hereby declare, I am not an idiot, and my assertion was not total nonsense.
So when Mr_X arrives here, I would appreciate an apology.
George
And thanks for the phase diagram Mr_X; there’s no such thing as too much information.
Reply: That would have been Phil. And this was the post.. Moderators have much better search tools available. For better or worse ~ charles the moderator.

jeez

Simon Evans,
Not exactly, but it does call into question the use of statistical techniques to infill and extrapolate data from suspect reference points.

Gary A.

It looks to me like solar panels are lower than the temp sensors. This would seem to indicate that the stations would quite broadcasting before the temperature sensors go below the snow (looks like 6″ to 12″ above the solar panel). Of course the height of the sensors above the snow will decrease from 6′ or so as the snow “buries” the station.

G Alston

Simon Evans — Why the concern about this now, following Steig’s paper which found a warming trend, when there was no concern expressed about it before, when the general meme was that the Antarctic was cooling?
It’ll take “The data for years says one thing and Steig says another, so why is that?” for a thousand, Alex.
Maybe it’s just me, but I have the distinct impression that if Gavin were to cough, your head would compress.
Reply: Stick to civil discourse ~ charles the moderator.

Glenn

Can’t quite reconcile “Last Two Days of Observations” link to “Text Data” with seemingly multiple data with no rhyme or reason, out of order and conflicting, for example:
ID Date Time Temp
8911 2009035 134740 -30.1
8911 2009035 134740 -14.1
It seems also that maybe half of the entry dates should have been one day off, instead of them all being “2009035” apparently the 35th day of 2009.

Simon Evans

jeez (16:41:09) :
Simon Evans,
Not exactly, but it does call into question the use of statistical techniques to infill and extrapolate data from suspect reference points.

But I’m not sure that it does, jeez – after all, the exercise has been referenced against IR satellite readings which maybe (I don’t know for sure, and I expect this work to be followed up and either confirmed or else challenged) give us a better assessment of Antarctic temperatures than we had before. Let’s all agree that the station data is poor and the MSU data is poor (for reasons of altitude, etc.).
I’m sure you can see my point. The impression is that the obvious limitations in Antarctic data are only challenged if it suits the agenda. If I had posted here before the Steig paper saying that the Antarctic station data was unreliable and that, therefore, the ‘cooling’ was meaningless I fully expect that I would have been howled down. It’s fair enough if people are expressly pursuing one side of the argument, so to speak, but any suggestion of scientific disinterest is hard to swallow.
REPLY: Simon see my question above – anthony

Simon Evans

G Alston (16:47:18) :
Simon Evans — Why the concern about this now, following Steig’s paper which found a warming trend, when there was no concern expressed about it before, when the general meme was that the Antarctic was cooling?
It’ll take “The data for years says one thing and Steig says another, so why is that?” for a thousand, Alex.
Maybe it’s just me, but I have the distinct impression that if Gavin were to cough, your head would compress.

Cut out the ad homs and stick to the discussion – you do your argument no credit by choosing to resort to personal sneers.
Reply: Moderators agree with Simon. Missed that one. I’m leaving in for continuity, Anthony may think otherwise. ~ charles the moderator

George E. Smith

We should also not forget the example of the so-called “lost squadron” f P-38s and B-17s that got abandoned on Greenland in 1942, and were discovered around 2002 or so under 262 feet of snow/ice which presumably dposited ove 60 years. Although some of the planes were crushed somewhat; ne of the P-38s was recovered and is flying again. But the point is, there is no evidence that the planes sank into the ice. The ice was far too cold to melt under the pressure of the planes; so all that 262 feet was 60 years of precipitation on Greenland; and I don’t see why Greenland and Antarctica would be totally diffrent, other than the altitudes and greater size of Antarctica.

Horace

Now if Anthony will do a “site bias” examination of the manned Antarctic stations.
I can’t imagine that at 50 below temps the heating of the buildings, runways, etc. at the manned sites don’t influence the readings. Are the temp sensors on top of the buildings to avoid cover by the snow?
Just a thought . . .
H

Simon Evans

Anthony,
Simon see my question above – anthony
Ok, thanks. Of course I don’t know, and can only speculate. If maintenace of stations has improved over the record period, then one would expect a cooling bias, with earlier periods being more subject to biased warming from snow cover than later…? Of course, the opposite could be the case if maintenance has degenerated (and indeed, perhaps there have been periods of better or worse maintenance during the record period). I simply don’t know, but I certainly don’t see why the snow issue necessarily implies a warming bias over time.
What I would like to know is whether the issue with ‘Harry’, or any other of these issues, are specific to the Steig paper. If they are, then fair criticism. If, however, they are raw issues with all the records for the Antarctic, thern that is another matter. It might be that Steig et al are being challenged for trying to make the best of a bad job.

Robert Wood

Great post Anthony.
I hereby give to humanity, patent free, an idea for automatic Antartic weather stations that will not get buried by snow.
The base of the station is a central disc and a concentric ring, both will be aerodynamicly profiled, so as to not trap snow, as will the sensor and electronic package and solar cell on top of the tower.
Each, central disc and concentric ring, will be capable of supporting the weight of the weather station on loose snow, so they will need to be fairly large. The weather station tower is supported on both of these, the central disc and the concentric ring, with pneumatic rams. The pneumatic reservoir could also be used as an energy storage device for the electronics.
Initially, the concentric ring may support the station and the disc would be elevated above the surface. When snow build-up covered the concentric ring and threatend the disc, the disc would be pushed down to contact the snow and then the concentric ring elevated. The process is then reversed when the central disc starts becoming buried.
If the area has a regular known snow build-up rate, then a simple timer could control operation, say once every 3 months. Otherwise, snow level detectors could be implemented in the tower, pointing down.
Further instrumentation for control purposes may include tilt meter and GPS.
BTW Does anyone have information on the actual effect of the repeated snow burials on the temperature records?

Richard M

IMO, the eduation system is responsible for creating a couple of generations of folks who are not critical thinkers/problem solvers. They have been taught to read a textbook, memorize the content and choose the right answer from a list when tested. It’s easy to see how this becomes read a peer reviewed paper, memorize the content, choose the conclusion as the right answer … It’s quite easy to herd this kind of thinking by having just a couple of research papers influence everything else that follows.
In a recent article “kitchen experiments” were discussed . I’m not at all surprised that this went right over many heads. It’s not in a book. Not too surprising that in response to these real life examples we got references to more papers.
In many ways we can’t blame these folks for the way they think. That is how they were taught. Unfortunately, this allows a small number of people to influence an entire branch of science.
Ever wonder why a large percentage of skeptics are older? We were taught how to think things through. To get the answer we had to work it out from scratch. That hasn’t been a key part of our educational system. In fact, I suspect you’ll find most of the younger people who are skeptics were actually forced to think things through at some point. However, that number is exceedingly small.
No wonder Al Gore is telling kids to quit listening to older people.
Something to think about …

Jeff Alberts

George E. Smith (16:58:42) :
We should also not forget the example of the so-called “lost squadron” f P-38s and B-17s that got abandoned on Greenland in 1942,

I watched the Holy, er History Channel (or Discovery, don’t remember which, might have even been Mil Channel) on that. Very interesting.

George M

The CA thread contains several of my comments, and a request which may get a better response here. I am looking for better specifics on station mechanical and electrical design and construction than I seem to be able to find on the U of Wisc site or the references contained there. And, some new inquiries: What kind of battery works reliably at those temperatures? And, how does the solar panel work in the total darkness of Antarctic winter? Maybe the anemometer also drives a generator which charges the battery? While the sun goes away for a few weeks, the wind seems to never really stop. The fact that any data is gathered under these conditions is amazing.

Pamela Gray

They need a barbecue to keep the snow away. Works everywhere else. Right?

dearieme

Can I just explain that when, in the past, I have speculated that too many of the Global Warmmongers started off as just woefully inept fifth-rate physicists, and only slowly became dishonest, I didn’t mean to imply that they stopped being woefully inept too.

Glenn

Gary A. (16:45:09) :
“It looks to me like solar panels are lower than the temp sensors. This would seem to indicate that the stations would quite broadcasting before the temperature sensors go below the snow (looks like 6″ to 12″ above the solar panel). Of course the height of the sensors above the snow will decrease from 6′ or so as the snow “buries” the station.”
Maybe not. There must be battery packs for the electrical system, I think that there are a lot of cloudy days down there. They may hold enough charge to operate for weeks, maybe months. I doubt these batteries are much of a source of heat, though, with regards to whether buried sensors would be getting heat from them. Heat reflecting off snow when the sensor is above snow level would likely be a bigger issue, and more the closer the sensor is to the snow level.

Ron de Haan

Simon Evans (16:16:21) :
So was snow burial more of an issue in the 1950s or ias it more of an issue now? Let’s accept that getting data from the Antarctic is a tough call. Why the concern about this now, following Steig’s paper which found a warming trend, when there was no concern expressed about it before, when the general meme was that the Antarctic was cooling? Why do you energetically challenge findings that suggest supposed warming whilst uncritically accepting any evidence of supposed cooling?
Simon, there is no concern but every reason to challenge the Steig paper:
1. All data, except the Steig paper indicated cooling.
2. The Steig paper has a toxic background.
These people were also responsible for the famous hockey stick temp.
Quote Anthony: “Co-authors of the paper are David Schneider of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a former student of Steig’s; Scott Rutherford of Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.; Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University; Josefino Comiso of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and Drew Shindell of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. The work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.
Anytime Michael Mann gets involved in a paper and something is “deduced” it makes me wary of the veracity of the methodology. Why? Mann can’t even correct simple faults like latitude-longitude errors in data used in previous papers he’s written”.
3. The Steig report was produced for Publicity objectives promoting the AGW doctrine which is a hoax. (as was the hockey stick temp)
4. This site is all about data, correct measurement and debunking false claims.
5. see: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/page/2/
What more arguments do you want.

MattN

The next question I have is, will Stieg correct this error?
Will Nature make a retraction?

DaveE

Perhaps we should just wait until Steig, Mann et al release their data & methods.
I’m not holding my breath.
DaveE.

Ron de Haan

Horace (17:00:45) :
‘Now if Anthony will do a “site bias” examination of the manned Antarctic stations.
I can’t imagine that at 50 below temps the heating of the buildings, runways, etc. at the manned sites don’t influence the readings. Are the temp sensors on top of the buildings to avoid cover by the snow?
Just a thought . . .
H
Horace,
Take a look at the pictures, read the article and you have the answer to your question.

Harold Ambler

I had already been having a very good day before reading this post and the comments so far. I am now having a great day.
Huge congratulations, and thanks, to Anthony and Steve McIntyre.
Glorious!

The Amundsen-Scot station chart from GISS might be of interest to WUWT readers. There appears to be a discernable human influence on temperature.
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=700890090008&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1
This shows a zig-zag pattern from 1957 to about 1977 with a temperature range of about 1 degree. From 1977(?) onwards the amplitude of temperature range dramatically increases up to about 3 degrees C.
Could this reflect human influence from 1977 onwards as station size increased?
Perhaps. According to Wiki the original South Pole station was abandoned in 1975 and moved and replaced with the dome. Additional building was undertaken in the late 1990s. The current station includes three power generators running on JP-8 jet fuel and a green house.
I couldn’t find where the actual weather station is located but I hope its not next to the green house or under a BBQ.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmundsenScott_South_Pole_Station)

Simon Evans, you wrote, “And does it also destroy all claims of falling Antarctic temperatures?”
The SST anomalies for the Southern Ocean have been falling since the mid-1990s.
http://i44.tinypic.com/2uen29u.jpg
If Antarctic temperatures are following those of the ocean that surrounds it, Antarctic land surface temperatures are dropping.

MattN

“If maintenace of stations has improved over the record period, then one would expect a cooling bias”
I disagree. What you would see is the warming bias decrease.
There is almost no such thing as “cooling bias”. I’ve never heard of a rural cool island….

Anthony & moderators & various article contributors and learned commenters, thank you for such an interesting blog.
Since in the north country of the USA the response to deep snowfall is to raise your satellite dish up a bit, why don’t they use taller towers for the stations in Antarctica? Or, do measurements need to be taken at a specific number of feet above the snow pack, which would mean they are only accurate when conditions comply?
Mr. George E. Smith, you are a gem. If you do end up going to visit Harry, Theresa, et al, email me and I will spin and knit a pair of cashmere (or qiviut if I can get some) mitten liners for you to wear.

Leon Brozyna

When Harry Met Gill? Now that’s quite a match, considering the geographic spread between the two.
So I just had to go check out CA to see what all the fuss was about. Why am I not surprised, Steve McIntyre doing follow-up work on the Steig et al study, which was also covered on WUWT a couple weeks ago. Antarctica warming? An evolution of viewpoint. And while Steve gets the ball rolling on transparently checking out the problem with Harry, the RC group gets all in a hissy fit. Now I wonder why credibility keeps shifting?

Earle Williams

Simon,
You asked:
So was snow burial more of an issue in the 1950s or ias it more of an issue now?
I’m puzzling over whether you are a) being argumentative for its own sake or b) if you really envision some process whereby the 1950s era procedures for measuring temperature were subject to the same burial effects as the modern AWS temperature stations are.
In trying to capture the spirit of your argument, I’m envisioning some poor 1950s era chap who plows through the snow on a twice-daily basis to read the thermometer. And I’m trying to see how a thermomter that is read twice daily (one hopes) would get buried in snow over the course of a couple years. I’m just not seeing it happening.
Perhaps there is some documentation from then of folks digging out the monitoring station, while at the same time having taken daily readings. I dunno, seems rather preposterous. Maybe, just maybe, this is associated with unmanned stations that are visited once every couple of years? How long has that been going on, I wonder. One might find that it coincides with the AWS deployment.

Horace

Ron de Haan (17:34:17) :
‘Horace,
Take a look at the pictures, read the article and you have the answer to your question.’
Ron –
The pix are all of AWS’s?
H

Good job guys. The pictures are great. It’s easy to see how bad conditions are and how tough it is to try and get it right.

Horace

. . . and Steig et al said they relied only a tiny bit on the AWS’s?

CodeTech

Re: P38 rescued from glacier in Greenland:
http://p38assn.org/glacier-girl.htm
And there is NO such thing as a cooling bias. All bias is going to be toward warm, which should be self-evident if you consider how temperature sensors work. Those solar panels create a bias too.

Eric Chieflion

Just finished reading a Scifi book a week or so ago that made the Antarctic a terrible place to visit from its description of the hardships. It’s been interesting reading stuff on these blogs in the interval since that show the author didn’t really do a good job of research – the Antarctic is even worse than described.
Glenn (16:11:19) – It’s obvious the poor AWS has a broken clock when it comes to hours and can’t make the three hourly reports.
Simon (16:16:21) – While I freely admit that many of us skeptical folks read this blog to get an alternate view of what appears to be blindly reported in the media, the real point here is that if one performs a scientific experiment the results of which are expected, it is of little interest other than it fills in a few more decimal points for reference books like the CRC Handbook of Physics. It’s when the results are contradictory that things get interesting. If your experiment has contradictory results, you had better be prepared for, as Harry Truman put it, Heat in the Kitchen. Of course we have two groups of people with widely disparate expectations which inexorably leads to hate and discontent.
Along other lines, I have been contemplating in recent weeks that icon of physics, Albert Einstein, and his General Theory of Relativity which has been tested innumerable times ranging from the 1919 eclipse photos to the implementation of the GPS system (it had to use relativity to correct for being in earth’s gravity well) so obviously the science of relativity is settled, but then it falls apart in the quantum realm, and it fails with the rotation of galaxies (hence dark matter). The end result has been any number of alternate theories.
This has led to the second thing I have been contemplating lately: where does science end and sophism begin? The US Supreme Court Justice who said in relation to a case, “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it.” is of no help; both the skeptics and the believers “know.” Again, hate and discontent. If our tax dollars and life style were not at stake here, it would be an amusing fight to watch.

Robert Bateman

Having dug in snow to retrieve pipelines, I know firsthand how much warmer it is to stand in a trench in 4 feet of snow than it is to stand on the frigid surface.
Nice. Now we know how good the data has been. How then do the stations in Western Antarctica rate as opposed to the previously colder East?
When they remodeled the data recently, it seems someone forgot to add the minus sign to the modification.
The warming models are getting buried in investigation.
Very good work.

Richard Hill

I wondered why the Steig paper is being so heavily promoted and defended. Svensmark has used Antarctic cooling as part of his cosmic ray/climate work.
For the CO2 people it is important that Svensmark’s work is discounted, esp in next IPCC report.
So proving that the Antractic is warming would be a good start.

I tried wading through some of the discussion about this last night or so, both at CA and RealClimate. Other than getting really confused about which data stream goes with which AWS, and RC getting bent out of shape after SM found and reported (on CA) some suspicious data without Emailing GISS about it at the time (these are children who cannot share the same playground!), it’s left me writing incomprehensible sentences.
Let’s try that again. From
http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=644#comment-111376

Are you saying that Harry is not used in the full reconstruction?
[Response: That is correct. – gavin]

Less clear is:

In the full reconstructions, we used the complete weather station data (1957-2006) from all 42 of the READER database locations listed in Table S2.
However Table S2 has 46 series (including Harry). So is Harry in the full reconstruction or not?
[Response: Table S2 says it has “List of the 42 occupied weather stations … and four automatic weather stations (AWS)” (i.e. 46 entries). Only the 42 occupied stations are used to provide the data back to 1957. The AVHRR data, or the AWS data are used only for calculating the co-variance matrices used in the different reconstructions. Thus the reconstruction can either use the covariance with AVHRR to fill the whole interior back to 1957 (the standard reconstruction), or the covariance with the AWS data to fill the AWS locations back to 1957. – gavin]

I haven’t figured out if “occupied” means “manned”, if there are 42 manned stations, if every weather station ever placed around manned stations counts as 1 of the 42 and hence we wouldn’t have 42 continuous traces.
While this article about “subsurface stations” is interesting, we may be barking up the wrong tower.
I don’t have time to wade through all dialog and sniping, I’m behind on a “State of the Climate” presentation I’m writing, but if someone else has time, feel free to post a cogent summary.

Robert Bateman

Maybe they were expecting these Antarctic stations to be windswept and not get buried?

Pamela Gray

Richard, you beat me to it. I was just going to say that buried temperature sensors HAS to be the fault of school teachers. HAS to be!

KuhnKat

Simon Evans,
you reference the fact that Satellite IR data was used in the paper. Have you bothered to research the “unique” adjustments applied to the data for cloud adjustment??
Have you bothered to check the IR data coverage and dependability BEFORE the “unique” adjustment?
You really should before you continue commenting.

John W.

Simon Evans (16:50:03) :
I’m sure you can see my point. The impression is that the obvious limitations in Antarctic data are only challenged if it suits the agenda. If I had posted here before the Steig paper saying that the Antarctic station data was unreliable and that, therefore, the ‘cooling’ was meaningless I fully expect that I would have been howled down. It’s fair enough if people are expressly pursuing one side of the argument, so to speak, but any suggestion of scientific disinterest is hard to swallow.

I’ll take a stab at a fair answer to your comment.
We all, including you, understand how burial in snow would insulate the instrumentation and lead to false-high readings. If you had asserted the cooling data was meaningless with no explanation, yes, we would have howled you down. On the other hand, if you had shown pictures of the instrumentation and provided an explanation of how the setup was biasing the data toward false-low, you’d probably have been congratulated.

KuhnKat

Ric Werme,
ask Gavin whether the AWS station data were used to help compute the infill in the “manned” station data. I don’t know, but, SOMETHING has to give the warming and what was available previously could not with standard practices.
Maybe it was the “cloud adjustment” of the IR data??