How not to measure temperature, part 82, Friday the 13th: the Temperature Shelter

The surfacestations project has now surveyed over 70% of the USHCN. I keep telling myself that there probably aren’t many surprises left. We’ve seen climate monitoring stations in parking lots, next to parked cars, next to burn barrels, near air conditioners, at airports, at sewage treatment plants, at industrial facilities, in people’s front yards, back yards, side yards, near BBQ grills, on top of telephone poles, on main street, next to houses, attached to houses, next to buildings, and yes even on the rooftops. One was painted blue, one brown, some hardly at all. Some were even found out of compliance in the Alaskan white north. We’ve seen them in the desert, on the DEW line and down under.

In all of those, it was either a Stevenson Screen or an MMTS type shelter, or the occasional Davis Vantage Pro weather station when the observer put in their own equipment. It was all within expectations, equipment-wise.

A couple of days ago, I had an IM conversation with Evan Jones, who has been surveying stations in New York state. A lot of them are hard to pin down. The one on Cortland NY particularly so, since it’s NCDC provided lat lon put in a residential area, but it is actually on top of  a building downtown, which just happened to be the local newspaper office: the Cortland Standard. It looks like a place where weird things might happen.

The Cortland Standard Newspaper Office

The Cortland Standard Newspaper Office

The building has been there awhile, so has the weather station. NCDC gives this as the location:

Location Description: ROOF OF BLDG AT MAIN STREET & TOMPKINS ST WITHIN & 150 FEET S OF PO

Evan had called the newspaper editor and confirmed that indeed, it was on the rooftop.The NCDC equipment list was puzzling, because, well, why would they need a “Data Collection Platform – Other”? if they already had the standard MMTS and rain gauge?

2000-04-01 2006-09-11 PRCP SRG PRIMARY STANDARD RAIN GAGE PRECIPITATION COOP SOD
RIVR ADR ANALOG DIGITAL RECORDER
TEL DCPO DATA COLLECTION PLATFORM-OTHER
TEMP MMTS PRIMARY MMTS ELECTRONIC SENSOR TEMPERATURE COOP SOD

I had a hunch about this station, so I asked him: “Is there any possible way you could get a photo of it?”. Being a “can do” sort of guy, Evan hopped a Greyhound bus there from NYC today.

I figured, well, he’ll just get a picture of the MMTS on the rooftop of the newspaper office, nothing we have not seen before.

Then, this evening, I saw this in my email:

CORTLAND, NY, East.jpg

Cortland, NY temperature sensor, looking east

and this:

Cortland, NY USHCN temperature sensor, looking east

Cortland, NY USHCN temperature "shelter", looking south

and this:

Cortland,. NY USHCN Temperature shelter

Cortland,. NY USHCN Temperature "shelter" and rain gauge

Interior view of Cortland NY USHCN temperature shelter

Interior view of Cortland NY USHCN temperature "shelter"

Umm, its, ah its, uh…another “high quality” member of the US Historical Climatological Network on the roof of the Cortland Standard newspaper office.

Ok here are a few issues:

  • On the roof, near chimneys
  • Some sort of Amityville Horror shutters turned sorta Stevenson Screen
  • Half painted
  • Half open, half enclosed
  • The MMTS shield is missing some plates, about half
  • It is not a standard MMTS screen, it is something else
  • Dirty darkened plates on the interior sensor housing

And I’m sure there is more. Here is the aerial view:


Click here for a live interactive view.

The tar roof makes for a nice albedo.

Oddly, NASA GISS modifies the temperatures circa the year 1900:

cortland-ny-animation1

What we don’t know is what the plot above would look like if this station was properly sited and sheltered. I wonder how many high temperature records for Cortland are actually real or “roofed”? How many warmest overnight low temperature “highest minimum” records were set there because of this siting? We’ll never know.

In defense of the newspaper editor, Mr. Howe, who was kind enough to grant access for photography and reportedly was “puzzled” by the keen interest shown by Evan Jones in this station, he says that he “inherited it when he came to work there 37 years ago”.

37 Years? And in all this time nobody from NOAA/NWS spots this monstrosity of science and does something about it? Oh the shame. The NWS lack of responsibility makes a mockery out of the hard work these dedicated volunteers put in towards maintaining records.

My heart goes out to the volunteers who manned this station, they had no idea. As for the COOP manager of the National Weather Service Office in Binghamton, NY, who is responsible for this station. I’d like to shake your hand, then give you a well deserved smack upside the head and ask: “what were you thinking’?

The only positive thing I can say about this station is that the station stopped reporting to NCDC in December of 2000. The last B91 form from NCDC’s database is here (PDF). Maybe the decision was made to close the station, but the NCDC database didn’t catch up with that until a 9/11 of 2006.

[ 2006-09-11 ] 9999-12-31 2006-09-11 NWS CSSA 9 INACTIVATE A STATION
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87 thoughts on “How not to measure temperature, part 82, Friday the 13th: the Temperature Shelter

  1. “Amityville Horror” ::snort:: Thanks for the laugh, Anthony.

    By the way, the first two pictures of the Cortland, NY temperature sensor are both captioned as “looking east”. I suspect the first picture is looking north.

  2. Bizarre,

    Society spends $Billions on super colliders to find the Higgs Boson, but can’t spend $Millions to establish a functional temperature measuring system that will underpin policy decisions worth $Trillions.

    Go Figure?

  3. It seems to me that many weather stations around the globe are reasonably adequate for measuring ‘weather’: is it hot today or cold, is it rainy or dry, is it windy or calm, what is the current air pressure, etc.

    The real problem is when these ‘weather’ readings are used to measure ‘climate’, and particularly changes in the climate. For this purpose they appear to be woefully inadequate, for all the reasons cited in WUWT and the surfacestations project.

    If it wasn’t so serious it would be hilarious. Come to think of it, it IS hilarious!

  4. A big thank you to Evan Jones for your effort and success in adding another fascinating piece to the puzzle.

    Anthony, thank you for persevering with the blog. I know that it is a lot of work, some of it unpleasant, but you are doing an amazing and wonderful thing here at WUWT.

    I wish I’d known more about weather stations when I was working my farm in NNNW Montana (39-day growing season, testing vegetables for seed companies) — I had a thermometer and kept a log for years, but I now see how much more I could have done. If I ever move back to the mountains I’m setting up a station in the lower pasture. How do you keep moose from scratching against the things and wrecking them?

  5. Directions are correct. The peaked roof access is in the SE corner of the building. The station is a hop, skip, and half a jump to the west. The roof angles out to the southwest leaving just a few feet of roof south of the station.

    There was no safety wall or anything else at the roof’s edge–just a sheer 50′ drop. And a nice slick coating of ice over the black tar. It gave me the willies doing the shots facing north, let me tell you!

  6. Potential problems with estimating temperature are one reason for looking more to integrators of climate. I study lakes–there we can look at long term trends in temperature and the number of days of ice cover. Botanists in Europe are studying the invasion of plants from the south (e.g. Spain) into northerncountries, while ornithologists are studying advances in bird migration timing and egg laying. Glacier melting is another good integrator. Presumably, the kinds of changes that I listed above are not dependent on the placement of weather stations.

    The award for the best study by a Ph.D. student at a conference that I recently attended in the Netherlands, went to an excellent study that combined a green house experiment and field data to show that plant species that have recently invaded the Netherlands from the south are more resistant to generalist (insect) herbivores than closely related species (congeners) that are natives. This paper was already published in Nature, which is the most prestigious scientific journal (along with Science). The study included a very elegant experimental design with very convincing results. The importance of generalist predators is that species that are expanding their ranges often leave their specialist predators and pathogens behind.

  7. It was an interesting project finding the place. I located the post office and traced 150 ft. south using Google erth map ruler. That told me what building it was on, and the names of the streets it was on. So I called the P.O and they told me it was the Cortland Standard. But telephone information gave me a non-working number. So I called City hall and they came up with one for me.

    Kevin Howe, the publisher, was extremely nice and accommodating and his staff was polite and helpful (but only the boss could let me onto the roof). He climbed up the stairs with me and stood around in the freezing cold in a sweater while I shot the site. Then, when I came dashing back into the building asking if I could photograph the indoor data collection equipment, he climbed back up the stairs again and showed me where it was.

    Before the final climb to the roof, there was an old area over the offices that reminded me for all the world of the aerie from Men of Iron. I commented that I’d have loved hanging out in that place when I was a kid–and he said his own kids used to.

    I want to thank Mr. Howe for being so kind helpful and commend him for his civic mindedness (a common thread among all the volunteers who maintain these records).

  8. Are not ‘normal’ Stevenson Screens made with a double thickness air gap roof? The one on this is hard to see, but it looks like a single bit of plywood with roofing on it (assumed roofing, or the plywood would not hold up…).

    IFF that’s true, there will be significant radiant heat from it at noon in the summer…

    Sidebar: Nightly News reporting 8 inches of snow on Mt. Hamilton and spousal unit reports more snow on Mtn. lower than she’s seen before (lived here more decades than she will let me say in public ;-)

    For a good time, take a look at:

    http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/techdocs/MH_weather/

    How weather ought to be reported for a ‘station’… with lots of ‘toys’ ;-)

    We are definitely back to getting cold air and a low pressure zone is off shore north of Pamela’s feeding us storms… Why Did I Ever complain about the lack of rain… ;-)

  9. A big thank you to Evan Jones for your effort and success in adding another fascinating piece to the puzzle.

    Not at all. Agent 00 et al. is on the job.

    But credit is due Anthony on this one. It was he who sniffed out the inconsistencies in the data record and it was his unerring instinct that caused him to decide that an onsite inspection (as opposed to a virtual survey) was the way to go.

  10. That question was a joke, of course.
    Have the people running that station ever heard of the word “maintenance”?

    And have the people using the data ever heard of calibrating instruments, and checking their accuracy? This is a ISO QM requirement for even small companies. It’s obvious the NOAA has no clue about assuring the integrity of its instruments. It’s running an operation that’s at least 5 levels below what I would term as “shoddy”.

  11. Hi Anthony and everybody,
    To see a station on a building roof is always a surprise for me… and I’m surprised more and more often these days.

    I know we are numerous here in France to read WUWT.
    You make a great job, keep continue.
    Thanks.

    REPLY: thank you for the kind words. -Anthony

  12. DJ and Mary Hinge.

    Comment please.

    In boxing a man is nocked down for the ten count, to give him the benefit of the doubt. Mud slinging is what happens before and after the match. Here is a chance for ya’ll to prove your point.

  13. *sigh*

    From such stations are computer models made. A real-world concrete example of the first part of the expression, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”.

    And they propose to forecast the climate 100 years out? Try getting the forecast right one day out!

    On Wednesday (2/11) the forecast for Thursday’s storm was for snow starting around noon with 3-6 inches snow plus an additional 1-3 inches Thursday night, for a storm total of 4-9 inches.

    The reality?

    The snow started around 5 am and, while heavy at times, the final result of over twelve hours of heavy wet snow was — 1 inch! Plus, to really make my mood extra dark, one commuter aircraft impacting a house 4.5 miles NNW of my location at a cost of 50 lives. Early indications are – icing.

    Forget that $140 million funding for those never cursed enough computer models. Pour those funds into a major upgrade of all the weather and climate monitoring stations. And this time, get their siting done right.

  14. Leon Brozyna wrote:
    And they propose to forecast the climate 100 years out? Try getting the forecast right one day out!

    It would be useful if they even had some good notion of what it was today, or yesterday, or last week.

  15. What’s going on with the blinker? Is there any info on the GISS adjustment? I have to say that the adjustment doesn’t make much sense. There could be legit reasons, but I don’t see what. It can’t be adjusting UHI because surely, you would see that kind of adjustment throughout the data.

    Good work Evan and Anthony.

  16. @Sylvia (23:25:57) :

    “[…} If I ever move back to the mountains I’m setting up a station in the lower pasture. How do you keep moose from scratching against the things and wrecking them?”

    I use ‘Moose-B-Gone’. Comes in a 16oz can. I spray some in my garden every year and I’ve never seen a moose. It seems pretty effective here in Ohio. My aunt in Florida swears by it, too.

    Anthony: It makes sense to me that there were probably a lot (a lot!) of weather stations on top of or next to newspapr buildings. Every town of any size had at least a weekly newspaper until the 60’s or 70’s. Those slightly larger towns that had dailies probably wanted quick access to temperatures to print in their papers.

    The problem with finding out if my speculation is true is in the description above; “Located 150′ from the Post Office.” I’ve noticed in the other “How not to” posts that location descriptions are often more suitable for Easter Egg hunts than for locating weather stations.

    Love the big shadow on the station.

  17. Oddly, NASA GISS modifies the temperatures circa the year 1900:

    They still had a lot of horses around 1900. The GISS adjustment probably accounts for the “UHI” effect.

  18. Don B (04:06:46) :

    “Roger Pielke, Sr.’s belief is that the ocean temperature is the best measure of global temperature. In this recent comment he notes that after Willis’s adjustment to the earlier measurements by the 3,000 Argo buoys, there is still no increase in temperature/sea level since the buoys went in the water.

    http://climatesci.org/2009/02/13/article-by-josh-willis-is-it-me-or-did-the-oceans-cool-a-lesson-on-global-warming-from-my-favorite-denier/

    Don, thanks for the link.
    It would be nice to have the graph data for 2007, 2008 and 2009 as well.

  19. Anthony, I lve in Portugal and your blog is one of my daily reads. Thank you for your effort. I think you are doing a great job. Keep up the good work. I know it is hard, but we need some lights to guide us in the dark.

    REPLY: Thank you for the kind words. – Anthony

  20. I agree in terms of proper setup the site is inadequate. However, could we not assume (aside from the nearby chimney issue) that this device at least gives adequate trends over time, since all the listed shortcomings do not change the possible error between dates of measurments? For example, if temperature on July 30 is compared over 20 years, some conclusions can be drawn? thanks.

  21. Anthony,
    Great Blog. One of the many issues that concerns me about the global warming hysteria is the accuracy of the measurements. Given the magnitude of the change claimed, 1/10th of a degree ought to be the minimum degree of accuracy for each reading, and technically, that should require thermometers calibrated in 100ths of a degree. Weather stations in my very limited experience have thermometers calibrated in degrees, which technically means each reading is +/- one degree, by convention. This would put the change “observed” within the margin of error. It is definitely not scientifically acceptable to increase the accuracy of data (number of significant figures) by generating means with more decimal places than the original data.

  22. A question?
    Here’ in Portland, Oregon eco roofs are a big thing with government agencies. They spend large sums on them and proudly tout the green and sustainable advantages they are leading.

    Would a weather station on an eco roof be the same as having it in a field or empty lot?

  23. Evan, what are those ducts running across the rooftop, that the platform straddles? Wouldn’t be heating ducts?

    Syvia, we had a solar heating reseach project in a S. TX oil field (separating the brine from the oil). The land was also used for cattle grazing. The dumb sh*ts ate the high tech insulation off the piping. The solution was a barbed wire fence.

    • Tom in Texas,

      I don’t think they are ducts, but sheet metal flashing caps on structural wall boundaries, which tend to poke up through the roof in constructions of that era. See the aerial photo.

  24. Yesterday my 88 year old, completely computer savy, Mother saw the picture with the temperature sensor on the roof surrounded by the numerous A/C units.

    She’s not an engineer. She’s not a “technically trained” person. She asked, “Is that where they get those ‘bank thermometer’ type readings from? They are ALWAYS wrong in the summer..”

    When I explained that that’s where some of the “official” NOAA (National Weather Service) numbers come from, her off the cuff comment was: “Well then, the summer readings must be worthless.”

    Now if a bright, able to read.. 1930’s High School graduate can figure that out..
    WHY CAN’T ALL THE DEGREED, CERTIFIED, WELL PAID folks using these numbers as “Gospel” figure it out?

    Mark H.

  25. H.R. (04:12:57) :

    I use ‘Moose-B-Gone’. Comes in a 16oz can. I spray some in my garden every year and I’ve never seen a moose. It seems pretty effective here in Ohio. My aunt in Florida swears by it, too.

    And here in Washington State I always use “Camel-Off” and “No-Anaconda”, otherwise we’d be right infested with the things.

  26. Danimals (07:53:10) :

    I agree in terms of proper setup the site is inadequate. However, could we not assume (aside from the nearby chimney issue) that this device at least gives adequate trends over time, since all the listed shortcomings do not change the possible error between dates of measurments? For example, if temperature on July 30 is compared over 20 years, some conclusions can be drawn? thanks.

    Enormous changes have likely occured in the immediate environment of the station over more than a century. The area is now entirely paved or built up. I doubt it was so before 1900. How would you know the trend reflected climate rather than changes in structures and land use around the station?

  27. John H. asks:

    “Would a weather station on an eco roof be the same as having it in a field or empty lot?”

    The building itself is most likely heated. So that waste heat has to go somewhere, usually up. It’s not just the roof and solar insolation, it is also proximity to a heat source, the building itself. – Anthony

  28. Anthony,

    You keep asking: “What were they thinking”? One possible answer is: “The AGW alarmists, knowing they needed something to sell their hogwash, used their superior intellect to teleconnect back in time to offer advice to the people who set up the temperature monitoring equipment.”

    Maybe other readers of your blog would like to provide an answer to THE question.

    BTW, since we want the documentation of sites to continue and since site access will likely require permission, is there any way for me (and others, if they’re so inclined) to thank the people who have to date not only given permission, but actively cooperated?

  29. your Batman suit to get that?

    Yes, and I would have been more comfortable with a set of spiked track shoes on that darn roof. (And a batarang.)

  30. AKD (10:15:12) : “Enormous changes have likely occured in the immediate environment of the station over more than a century. The area is now entirely paved or built up. I doubt it was so before 1900. How would you know the trend reflected climate rather than changes in structures and land use around the station?”

    I agree. However, I think the heart of the blog was the actual rooftoop immediate enviornment and not the neighborhood. I think several prior blogs go into your arguement, with which I agree with. My only question was, for the puposes of year to year or decade to decade trends, would the factors listed in this article really change any conclusions regarding climate trend/change? Only exception I can see is the chimney in the winter.

  31. I’ve noticed in the other “How not to” posts that location descriptions are often more suitable for Easter Egg hunts than for locating weather stations.

    Ugh! Tell me about it! (Given coordinates are usually worse. Though sometimes they are on the money. I think a lot of those coordinates are not measured directly but they key in the address and take whatever coordinates get spit out. To wit, Lawrenceville, NY (I’ll be hunting that one Real Soon Now).

    I agree in terms of proper setup the site is inadequate. However, could we not assume (aside from the nearby chimney issue) that this device at least gives adequate trends over time, since all the listed shortcomings do not change the possible error between dates of measurments? For example, if temperature on July 30 is compared over 20 years, some conclusions can be drawn? thanks.

    An interesting point and one that crops up from time to time. There are two issues:

    1.) Even if the siting has not changed, the urban environment around the station has. On the surfacestations.org gallery, you’ll notice construction going on in the ground-level shot facing south. If a large building goes up there, that will probably have a measurable effect on the readings going forward.

    2.) A heat sink tends to increase real trends. If it’s warming, the trend will be exaggerated. If it cools, the cooling will be exaggerated 9as the effect “undoes” itself. Since there was a real warming trend from the mid ’70s to 1998, it’s likely that was exaggerated, esp the 1998 el Nino. Probably the 1999-2000 la Nina cooling, as well (see the graph).

    I should also mention that with buildings either putting in heating and increasing output or even restricting heat output (for green reasons–growing green and folding green, both) can affect the trend. And these effects are likely far in excess of the longterm trend they are trying to measure. Therefore the data is rally not a very useful, considering he MoE.

  32. Evan, what are those ducts running across the rooftop, that the platform straddles? Wouldn’t be heating ducts?

    Gosh, I’m not sure. Maybe: it’s an old building. But I was more concerned about not falling off, and also poor Mr. Howe was standing there freezing in his sweater, so I opted for the better part of valor and made it as quick as I could.

    My thanks again to Mr. Howe. He was a very kind gentleman and went to considerable trouble to let me get what I needed (including the data recording instruments inside the office).

  33. Danimials,

    I would say that the station maybe could be counted on for consistent readings if the condition of was unchanged over the years. But the list above makes me think that the condition has deteriorated over the years (half painted, dirty, shutters half open (when were they half closed?)…), and maybe even gone through cycles of repair and decay. It appears that is wasn’t kept to any type of specification and the data cannot be considered reliable.

    The other thing that strikes me is the graph. Can anyone explain the reason for the GISS lowering of temperatures around 1900? I am new to this and would genuinely be curious about the reasoning.

  34. Reed Coray (10:32:06). Yours is an excellent idea. Anthony, would you like your readers to help with thank you notes? The Cortland Standard has a website with contact information. It looks like a charming local paper.

    Love the ideas about my moose problem, but electric fence and barbed wire won’t stand up to the darlings. I’ll ponder this. We have trouble just with the horses moving telephone poles enough that arcing occurs between the lines, let alone the larger visitors who like to attend to their grooming with a good scratch. I have a nice bit of creek and tall grass and pretty woods for napping, so get a lot of traffic… Do we have any readers in the north who know of stations on game trails? What do they do?

    I’m pretty sure the local USFS station collects weather data, but they’re heavily wooded and next to a lake… I have a lower pasture that isn’t hayed, only used for light grazing and might work. I’ll ask around the next time I’m up there, unfortunately not any time soon.

  35. Now if a bright, able to read.. 1930’s High School graduate can figure that out..
    WHY CAN’T ALL THE DEGREED, CERTIFIED, WELL PAID folks using these numbers as “Gospel” figure it out?

    It seems obvious to me that they don’t want to do anything about it.

  36. Anthony, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I though that equipment consisted of either a Stevenson Screen or an MMTS, not both. Should the MMTS be inside an enclosure at all apart from its plates?

    REPLY: No it should not. – Anthony

  37. You do know that with a superman costume, you would have been able to leap such tall buildings. And the safety equipment that comes with a batman suit is not needed with a superman suit. Do they have an exchange policy? I would ask for at least a credit if I were you.

  38. would the factors listed in this article really change any conclusions regarding climate trend/change?

    An asphalt roof would. Asphalt decays over time and is prone to algae growth (it’s organic), which would change its albedo and hence the air temperature above it.

    Asphalt roofs require periodic relaying of the asphalt, which would ‘reset’ the albedo properties. In addition the technology of asphalt roof tiles has changed over time, which could well have affected the albedo properties of the asphalt surface after each relaying.

    The effect of the albedo changes are probably several times larger than any ‘global’ temperature trend over the 20th century. And any apparent trend could be due to changes in the frequency of relaying, the technology used or changes in algal growth as noted below.

    Note to the person who earlier referred to changing plant ranges, the algae that colonizes asphalt roofs has dramatically expanded its range over the 20th century. And is an example of how plant ranges are affected by human activity and not ‘climate change’.

  39. only slightly OT but pertinent to Pamala Gray’s blueberry comments of last week:
    Pam check out : info@winterportwinery.com

    Award winning excellence and I do believe they ship out of state. Definitely a great help for making it through the long winter.

  40. Danimals (07:53:10) :

    “I agree in terms of proper setup the site is inadequate. However, could we not assume (aside from the nearby chimney issue) that this device at least gives adequate trends over time, since all the listed shortcomings do not change the possible error between dates of measurments? For example, if temperature on July 30 is compared over 20 years, some conclusions can be drawn? thanks.”

    It appears that the responses to your questions did not consider that the shortcomings as you refer are far from predictable or unchanging, they are quite unpredictable. Bias as can result from building heat for instance, is affected by changing conditions. Turning the heater down because of higher fuel costs, for example, would be just one example of many. Aging and condition of the building and chimney flue, fuel used are some others.
    Wind conditions alone would affect the amount of innacuracy of any instrument with respect to the location of the chimney alone. My conclusion is garbage in, garbage out, and that scientific experiments that attempt to reconcile changing variables are in danger of providing trends that suit the bias of the researcher.

  41. So let me get this right! The site has not been reporting for almost 7 years now. Which means that any assumptions is being done through, well just that, assumptions. The station is inactive and not reporting any data, is it just that the NWS left the equipment there? Is the paper still recording daily weather information? If so, is that information being sent to anyone? Like the NWS? The State Climatologist at Cornell University? NCDC? If not, did the paper want to keep the antiquated equipment for “old times” sake? If the answer to the questions is… NO, NO, NO, NO! Maybe someone should shake your hand and then smack you upside the head and ask you why would you print a story of inaccuracies. Plus, why not publish the standards for siting equipment back in the 1880’s when the station was put in? Also, why not publish the fact that rooftop sitings up to a certain period of time were allowable and also, the type of roof it was set up on at the beginning, or would that be a tough order for you to handle?? Are you sure you guys don’t work for the National Enquirer?

    Good reading though…

    JP

  42. REPLY to John Peters: I really don’t understand your anger. Perhaps your inability to grasp this as being a factual report may be helped if you look up the data in the NCDC MMS database here:

    http://mi3.ncdc.noaa.gov/mi3qry/login.cfm use the “guest login” button and the search on Cortland. Look at the different tabs. Note the dates.

    You can also see that the NCDC keeps all B91 observer report forms here: http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/IPS/coop/coop.html

    Select New York state, then Cortland, then choose the most recent one. Which is December 2000. If you can find a more recent one, please let me know and I’ll immediately issue a retraction.

    Yes, the NWS just “leaves” equipment there. Often they simply abandon it in place. I visited with the observer in Waurika, OK, a widow. Her husband the former curator had died 2 years before. She had told me that she hold told the local NWS this and that she could not continue the observations. They said they would come pick it up. The equipment was still there. You can see it here:

    http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=5431

    In Kenton OK, the owner of the general store sold the business and left, but took the temperature sensor enclosure with him to use in his new vineyard as shield there, but left the NIMBUS LCD display. The current store operator told me that she had called the local NWS office and asked if they wanted it back, and offered to mail it. They said no.

    In the case of Cortland, it appears they’ve done the same thing. There is no indication whatsoever that the station is reporting now. Evan can elaborate more I’m sure. As for the shelter issue, it’s nonstandard even by 1890 standards. Here is a photo of three eras of Stevenson Screens side by side: https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/3stevensonscreens.jpg

    The oldest, of the 1890 era, is in the middle, missing many slats, while the modern day screen is on the right, with metal legs. The one on the left is circa the 1940’s and 50’s. The “screen” in Cortland is obviously some sort of homemade contraption. As for the MMTS stacked plate shield, here is what the standard unit looks like: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/aly/COOP/Equipment/MMTS.htm

    Note that the Cortland unit looks very little like the standard NOAA issued unit. Why? We have no idea. What we do know is that the entire station is out of the most basic of compliances for siting and equipment.

    So please take all this in, then come back and tell me again how I’ve reported an inaccuracy, or that I’m on par with the “National Enquirer”. – Anthony Watts

  43. The station is active and functioning; I saw the data readouts in the Standard office. It is no longer part of the USHCN, but that is pointed out in the article. And the graph showing this is included above.

    The paper is continuing to record data information. I saw (and photographed) the functioning data equipment. I do not know if the data is being sent to anyone, but it is reasonable to assume that the paper makes use of the data for reporting purposes (else why maintain the station?).

    I see no inaccuracies in the story. I do see unwarranted assumptions and unreasonable comparisons in jp’s post, however.

  44. Sylvia, Reed: I, for one, would certainly not take it amiss if the readers here wish to send thanks to the Standard. In fact, I would personally appreciate it. So put up the link, by all means.

  45. Re Pierre Gosselin (06:59:57) :

    Head for the hills!
    Appears seas levels are rising again!

    I don’t take the measurements. I rely on the reports. BUT the reports are different depending upon the source.

    So, in relation to sea-level rises – what is “the real” situation? The more I read about the discrepancies between varioius data sets, the less I can accept the idea that sea level rises are in any way exceptional (as compared to, say, the past century).

    The more I read, the more convinced I am that it is ALL alarmist twaddle.

  46. john peters (15:02:20) :

    “So let me get this right! The site has not been reporting for almost 7 years now. Which means that any assumptions is being done through, well just that, assumptions.”

    Yea, let’s assume that in 2000 the Stevenson Screen was not on the roof next to a heat exhaust pipe. that the MMTS wasn’t missing pieces and wasn’t installed inside a wierd looking wooden box resembling a Stevenson screen.
    Let’s assume that GISS “homogenized” records only for only the years around 1900 because the Stevenson Screen was on the roof around the heat exhaust at that time.

  47. In fact, Mr. Howe told me it was exactly where it was when he took over the building 37 years ago. This is confirmed by one look at the weathering of the wood of the structure.

  48. With regard to daily temperatures, in New Zealand, many people set great store by the daily maxima displayed in the weather forecast after the evening news. “See – Dunedin was hotter than Auckland!”.

    A standard item at local Tourism Board meetings in Dunedin was a motion to get our weather station relocated. It was believed that its coastal location – exposed to nor-easterly sea breezes depressed the temperatures. Locals wanted it moved up to a particularly warm, still and sunny micro-climate. A couple of sites were seen as ideal. The reason for this was to raise the nightly temperature report and make the city more attractive to potential visitors. It might well have worked, too, because our topography gives rise to many varied micro-climates, as witnessed by amateur stations around the city.

    It hasn’t been moved as yet, but does this sort of issue ever arise in other countries, and has a station ever been re-sited for such a reason?

  49. Danimals (07:53:10) :

    “I agree in terms of proper setup the site is inadequate. However, could we not assume (aside from the nearby chimney issue) that this device at least gives adequate trends over time, since all the listed shortcomings do not change the possible error between dates of measurments? For example, if temperature on July 30 is compared over 20 years, some conclusions can be drawn? thanks.”

    That would only work if the trend in UHI and other human influences was identical to the underlying temperature trend one is attempting to measure. What do you think the chances are that the two trends would be identical?

    These are land only series represented here. Neither the NCDC nor the CRUTEM3 series adjust for UHI effects in the temps themselves. (CRUTEM3 adjusts it’s error bars instead.) But GISS does make adjustments to the temp data itself (how accurate the adjustments are is another question).

    See the difference in slope between the two especially in the last twenty years or so?

  50. Evan (16:29:08).

    I’m not as Internet literate as most of your readers. I tried to find a URL for the Cortland Standard, but failed. I did, however, find an E-mail address for the paper. I had several Cortland Standard E-mail addresses to choose from

    (see URL: “http://www.cortlandstandard.net/contactus.html”. )

    I sent an E-mail note of appreciation to:

    “opinion@cortlandstandard.net”

    If I get a response from the paper, I’ll ask them for a URL to which other readers of this blog can respond.

    Reed Coray

  51. “Would a weather station on an eco roof be the same as having it in a field or empty lot?”

    Let’s apply a little logic to that question. Is an eco roof a perfect insulator? If you light a match in a building with an “eco roof”, does the resulting heat ever escape? If no, then those roofs are some kind of engineering marvel, if yes, then the answer is no. Even if it escapes out of the sides, it will still rise if there is no wind.

    Besides, it is poking up through the layer of coldest air on those nights when radiational cooling is most important. The really cold air in on the surrounding streets.

    I am not surprised by the lack of much of a trend, since economic activity around Cortland NY probably peaked right about the era of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” Capra’s mythical Pottersville was in the vicinity.

  52. Bill D,

    “I study lakes–there we can look at long term trends in temperature and the number of days of ice cover. ”

    There are sometimes news articles around where I live, on Lake Champlain, that point to the fact that the lake freezes over much less since 1970 than it did prior to 1970. It is one of the pieces of evidence cited in an article called “Signs of Global Warming in New England” or something like that. Nowhere do they mention that between 1968 and 1970, ice breaking ferries were put into yr round 24 hour operation north and south of the observation point. As you are probably aware, if you leave a little piece of open water for the wind to work on before the ice sets up thick it will break up entirely when a front comes through, or get blown into a bay and become “shelf ice”. If the entire lake is covered with more than a skim layer though, the wind is no longer a factor, and the lake ice just continues to thicken.

    I wonder if your research makes an attempt to identify the operation of ferries on lakes as a factor. It is not the kind of thing that averages out.

  53. Purakanui (18:11:39) :
    Back around 1980 I stopped in Needles, CA and had a nice talk with the owner of a mom/pop store about the local [and usually HOT] weather. He told me that the local weather station had recently been re-located…and the the new location was giving reading of about 3 degrees warmer than had the old location. Local busnessmen felt it was hurting the town, by scaring away new comers, so they were doing a petition to get the station moved back to the old location…don’t know if it was really true or how it turned out but it was a nice local story…..cdl

  54. Stimulus Act to the Rescue

    I bet with $800B give or take we could:
    1) put a lot of unemployed to work building the state-of-the-art fully automated (web accessible) instruments (temperature, absolute humidity, insolation, cloud cover, CO2), choosing appropriate non-corruptible siting (parks, forests) and installing a trully reliable national surface climate observatory –at least on in each Cong. Dist.
    2) design, fabricate and launch appropriate satellite and space probes to monitor, the sun (particles, EM waves, magnetic fields), the earths (albedo, detailed atmospheric and surface temperatures), similar data on a couple of other planets
    3) a high performance computing / data network
    4) web-based data correlation and analysis tools
    4) secure access to all the above data to everyone everywhere

    Then let’s collect some data through a couple of solar cycles do some analysis

    And then we can arrest and try for scientific fraud, inciting fear, and possibly financial scams AlGore, Hansen, Holdren, etc., and the latest Sci-scammer attempting to profit from the AGW hype

    Westy

  55. Wow! I shot right past dumbfounded and ran smack into flabbergasted. I’m not sure if there is an english word for anything past that.

    I suppose that there are so many problems here that the fact that the shutters appear to be plastic doesn’t even register as a blip on the scope!

  56. In view of the soon-to-be-reimposed Fairness Doctrine, I must point out that the endorsement of “Moose-B-Gone” is not approved by the ruling elite. You should be using “Moose-B-Mildly-Discouraged”, a product which contains already bio-degraded ingredients, with no propellant, thus ensuring it never leaves the can. It doesn’t repel the moose, but at least you can feel superior in every way to anyone using “Moose-B-Gone”, and you can protect our fragile environment. (/sarc off)

  57. @Henry Phipps (15:47:52) :

    “[…] “Moose-B-Mildly-Discouraged”, a product which contains already bio-degraded ingredients, with no propellant, thus ensuring it never leaves the can. It doesn’t repel the moose, […]”

    I suppose you could just throw the can at the moose, eh?

    In lieu of that, I’ve also found that chaining a grizzly bear out in my garden helps keep moose away. Very effective. See, first you go out and catch yourself a grizzly. Then you go down to the hardware store and get some stout chain… well, I don’t have to spell it out for all you sharp’uns out there.

  58. More than once I have compared this site to the National Enquirer, but in
    the best possible way.

    When Dr. Barry Marshall first proved that bacteria caused ulcers, it was a
    well known scientific fact, one with judicial notice, that ulcers were caused
    by stress. Dr. Marshall posted his research on ulcers to many, many
    peer reviewed journals. IIRC, 57 journals refused to publish and generally
    ignored his work.

    The National Enquirer took a look, and published Dr. Marshall’s work. It
    was ridiculed. But reality has an odd way of rearing its head. Recently
    Dr. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Yes, that is correct,
    research published in the National Enquirer resulted in a Nobel Prize.

    What we are doing here at WUWT shows remarkable parallels to Dr. Marshall.
    Feel free to submit it to NE. I think that would be the single BEST place to
    be published. I am sure the NE would like a second Noble Prize citation.

  59. Evan, I will send a snail mail card to Mr. Howe in a style that should appeal to someone who runs such a nice paper as the Cortland Standard. If you get a chance, go to cortlandstandard dot net and click on Contact Us and then click on and read both parts 1 & 2 of the wedding announcement form. Oh, how I miss living in a charming small town like Cortland.

    Frank P., we really enjoyed reading about Dr. Marshall and NE. Thank you for the perspective.

    As for trying to figure out a way to keep a moose from wreaking havoc with the weather station I would love to install on my farm, I have been greatly entertained by the splendid products and methods recommended here.

    Did you know that grizzlies stink? Both physically and in attitude. It would cost a mint in fermented cherries to keep a griz in one place (the only thing I have that’s heavy enough to put at the other end of his chain is a 2-ton 50’s Mack dump truck, and I rather doubt he’d enjoy jogging along when I need to haul stuff). Canny old moose would see the truck (and bear) going down the road and come over to rub against the weather station…

    Realistically, an 8-foot woven wire heavy-gauge fence with 6″d poles set at four feet and sunk down at least a few feet would probably work. It’s what I used for both gardens and the hen yard (had a black bear scramble up and dive over the top once, though, trying to get to the fermented cherries a neighbor had dumped in the hen yard).

    A 48″ square enclosure should accommodate a Stevenson screen adequately, right?, probably with just a small reach-through access door. A bit of cross-bracing could be easily climbed for getting inside the enclosure for fussier adjustments (rescuing the cat that got curious…). We get more wind than snow, and I don’t hay that field so that’s not an issue. One thing I would definitely want to measure is wind, but it would be okay to have the gauge up above the wire, wouldn’t it? Is it possible to set up a gauge that can handle being perched on by a golden eagle?

    We may well end up moving back up there in a few years if the economy continues to tank. Enjoying the temperate climate of Silicon Valley in the meantime. Wonderful squalls lately, interspersed with bits of blue sky and drizzle. There was a huge rainbow fading in and out of intense color for over half an hour this morning. The yellow band matched the ripe lemons in our yard.

  60. Thanks, Sylvia! Will do.

    Cortland was a nice town, more so, than, say, Binghamton, which I passed through en route. Even the c. 3 hour wait for the bus was tolerable. Everyone was friendly, and they said hi to people passing by in cars or along the street. It seemed as if everyone knew everyone else. Clean, open, nice old buildings.

    Yeah, I live in NYC. The City. But what with internet to break the isolation, I sometimes wonder if the advantages still outweigh the disadvantages. I used to spend summers in a rural environment (a beach), and sometimes miss the open spaces. The summer sky doesn’t make it, though. I crave a brilliant northern winter sky, dominated by Orion, not drowned out by the lights.

  61. Paul Shanahan (03:44:25) : What’s going on with the blinker? Is there any info on the GISS adjustment? I have to say that the adjustment doesn’t make much sense. There could be legit reasons, but I don’t see what. It can’t be adjusting UHI because surely, you would see that kind of adjustment throughout the data.

    GISS does not do UHI adjustment. It does “Reference Station Method” adjustment. This assumes that, for example, Lodi knows more about temperatures in San Francisco that San Francisco does. It is a fundamentally broken process that is apply at least 3 to 4 times in a row (at different scalings and to different things – i.e. raw vs infilled vs zonalized…). GISS also toss out lots of data (for reasons that are not at all clear and do not seem rational to me) that then creates more opportunities for RSM to do creative in filling… This is my opinion from having read their computer code in GIStemp. GIStemp pasturized processed data food product has little to do with actual temperatures… IMHO…

    Danimals (07:53:10) : I agree in terms of proper setup the site is inadequate. However, could we not assume (aside from the nearby chimney issue) that this device at least gives adequate trends over time, since all the listed shortcomings do not change the possible error between dates of measurments?

    One example: You have a nice silver roof. After 20 years, you get it recoated, but decide dark green gravel is prettier. After another 20 years, you get a black tar coat on it due to some leaks. In another 20 years, you get it all redone in silver again to save energy… Think that might cause changes in the recorded temperature “trends”?

    Another? You insulate during an energy crisis and cut heat loss through the roof by 80%… Another? When re-roofing, you also re-roof the piece of plywood over the “shelter”. Think silver vs green vs ??? and variations of thickness might change radiative heating of the sensor? And does anyone know how often ‘roof maintenance’ was done to the shelter?

  62. Reed Coray (10:32:06) : Anthony, You keep asking: “What were they thinking”? One possible answer is:

    Well, the question has as a premise the unproven assertion of ‘thinking’… IMHO it is better punctuated as: “What? Were they thinking?” ;-)

  63. Mark_0454 (11:26:03) : The other thing that strikes me is the graph. Can anyone explain the reason for the GISS lowering of temperatures around 1900? I am new to this and would genuinely be curious about the reasoning.

    There is no ‘reasoning’. The GIStemp code adjusts temperatures based on what ‘nearby’ stations are doing. They can be 1000 km away and still be ‘nearby’. They can be in completely different climate zones and still be a ‘reference station’. And what’s even more fun, the last 10 years or so is used to compute an ‘offset’ that is then used to adjust all past data… So your 1900 data here can be changed because the thermometer was upgraded at a site 600 miles away in July 2000. Yes, it is that bad.

  64. john peters (15:02:20) : So let me get this right! The site has not been reporting for almost 7 years now.

    It is still important to know what the equipment is today since that tells us how bad the data are from when it was reporting…

    Plus, why not publish the standards for siting equipment back in the 1880’s when the station was put in? Also, why not publish the fact that rooftop sitings up to a certain period of time were allowable

    One would hope that when problems were discovered such that the standard was changed to forbid a practice, that the extant equipment would be brought in line with that new standard rather then left reporting broken data; this report shows otherwise (and thus brings the whole temperature record into question and with it the averages and with that the thesis of AGW…) I’m also fairly certain that the electric thermometer equipment was not installed in 1880…

  65. Sylvia (11:34:54) and others:

    Some weather stations out in the wilds you can check on. Most have photos. Some do not. What used to be the US Soil Service is now NRCS – National Resources Conservation Service. In Washington State and other places they monitor weather, especially snow including its water equivalent. Snow and melting glacier ice contribute to the irrigation water. Thus, the interest.

    Go to: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Washington/washington.html

    Then chose a station. The first one – Alpine Meadows (908) — is the north most of the two ENE of Seattle on the map. Lat./Long. is given. . Google Earth image is crap for this spot so don’t expect to see anything, but you can see its approximate location.

  66. Can someone explain why NASA GISS summaries say the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1997? I thought McIntyre had found an error in their data?

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