More on NOAA's FUBAR Honolulu "record highs" ASOS debacle, PLUS finding a long lost GISS station

In my previous post I pointed out how when Warren Meyer asked a simple question; “is this chart representative?” of himself, he needed only one phone call to disprove that a chart in the newly released Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States from the National Climatic Data Center (see NCDC GCCI Government Report). The chart purported to show a threat increase to the national electrical grid due to severe weather was really not a weather trend at all, but a trend of increased reporting thanks to increased diligence by the owner of the data in getting electrical utilities to cooperate and send in their data.

In another recent post on the FUBAR climate records from the failed ASOS weather station temperature sensor at Honolulu International Airport, I showed a nearby comparison station, the Honolulu Observatory, that is a GISS station that apparently no longer reports. I wrote –

But the nearby Honolulu Observatory temperature record doesn’t seem to have much of a trend, though it no longer measures temperature for climate records, a pity:

Honolulu Observatory GISS station plotHonolulu Observatory GISS surface temperature record plot – click for larger image

Yes it sure seemed like the Honolulu Observatory stopped reporting in 1981. It also looks like the station was moved about 1949, or something happened around the station environment.

UPDATE: I got this via email on the morning of 6/19

The Geomag operations of the Honolulu observatory were moved in 1947.

Jeffrey J Love

USGS Advisor for Geomagnetic Research

Steve McIntyre, who has pointed out on many occasions to NASA GISS how they can find some of their long long stations that are actually still running popped in today to ask a simple question about reporting. It was not unlike the question about reporting Warren Meyers asked:

Does anyone know why the Honolulu Observatory data ends in the 1980s? Did they stop measuring or did GHCN stop collecting the information from them?

It was a simple question, with a surprising answer.

A couple of days ago I had looked at nearby stations to the Honolulu Airport to use for a data comparison to see just how much bias the failed ASOS sensor had generated. My first choice was the Honolulu Observatory, but like Steve I quickly found it had stopped reporting, at least according to GISS.

But with Steve’s question today, and remembering that he and Climate Audit readers have found missing GISS stations that are not updated in the GISTEMP database, but are actually still live and reporting, I thought I’d check again. I reasoned that observatories don’t generally close or relocate, so why would they stop doing a science service like measuring climate?

When Warren needed to get an answer to his question, all he needed to do was to make a phone call (presumably after a Google search). In my case I did a Google Search and sent a single email to get Steve’s question answered.

My first stop was to NCDC’s MMS database of station information. I looked up “Honolulu Observatory”. Sure enough, there it was, and listed as “current” too.

Honolou Observatory station data - click for larger image

Honolulu Observatory station metadata - click for larger image

Eureka, it is still in operation! It is an MMTS temperature sensor and it looks like they have a backup thermometer in a Stevenson Screen aka “Cotton Region Shelter”.

“That was easy”, I thought to myself. followed by, “OK, let me get a look at the data”. So I zipped over to the NCDC COOP data section where I could look at the B91 reports from the station observer which are raw data archived as PDF’s.

It was there I hit a brick wall.It looked like it had been long closed. After all that’s what GISS reported.


The closing dates on the two “”Honolulu Observatory” entries didn’t match, but I’ve seen plenty of fouled up dates and locations on station data in the MMS database so it didn’t raise an eyebrow with me. More on that later.

But oddly, I had the NCDC MMS database telling me it was open. So I pressed on. My next task was to locate the “Honolulu Observatory” and find out if it was still in operation. Some Googling turned up this:


I located the USGS web page for the observatory, and from there found the name of the curator, Dr. Jeffrey Love. Since this is a geomagnetic observatory, I figured our resident solar physicist, Dr. Leif Svalgaard might have some connections, and asked him for an introduction. He was happy to assist, and within the hour I had an email contact from Dr. Love. He asked what I was looking for, and I explained the NOAA COOP station setup. He immediately replied saying:

“We don’t operate that station anymore, NOAA does. We used to be part of NOAA, but became part of USGS in the late 1970’s”

I was initially worried until I read:

“It is now operated by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.”

Oh. Well, I still figured the station had moved, and was nowhere near it’s original location, which is why GISS couldn’t get any data from it. Then I noticed this on the USGS observatory web page:

“The observatory is operated for the USGS, under terms of a memorandum of agreement, by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center of NOAA.”


Hmmm. A little more checking and I discovered that these two organizations do indeed share a common address. Better yet, the weather station apparently had not been moved. Both the USGS observatory and the PTWC were within a hundred yards of the station coordinates I got from NCDC ‘s MMS and plotted on Google Earth:


The "Honolulu Observatory" aerial view- click for a larger image

My first thought was that the location looked a bit cooler than the acres of asphalt surrounding the ASOS at Honolulu International Airport:

Honolulu's ASOS temperature sensor - surrounded by asphalt - click for larger image

Honolulu's ASOS temperature sensor - surrounded by asphalt - click for larger image

But I still had to find the data. My next stop was an email to the media contact for PTWC, Delores Clark, to inquire if she knew where to find it. A few hours later I had my answer:

Mr. Watts:

The data are available online at:

If you need further assistance, please let me know.


Delores Clark

I was dumbstruck. Because, just a couple of days ago I had in fact looked at that very archive, trying to find the data I was seeking. Not finding “Honolulu Observatory” in the NWS COOP report,  I didn’t look much further:


But at the time, I had no way of knowing that PTWC was the new name for “Honolulu Observatory”. Up until today after my roundabout search I never would have given that four letter acronym another thought.

The name changed when the jurisdiction changed, but apparently nobody notified NCDC, and the change never found it’s way into the GHCN database.

For all practical purposes, the station was dead to the climate world, known only to the local NWS office in Honolulu. Plus, their main interest is in rainfall, not temperature, since they place the data on their hydrology page:


A simple lack of interagency reporting caused a whole cascade down the line, and a climate station that was once “lost” has now been “found”. It wasn’t quite as simple as Warren Meyer’s phone call, but if a citizen outside of the governmental loop can figure this out in a couple of hours, why can’t agencies like NCDC and GISS? Especially when knowing this sort of thing is is their job? Are there no flags that go up anywhere when data suddenly disappears?

So from this point it was easy for me to find the data I was looking for and run the comparison between the “Honolulu Observatory” and the Honolulu International Airport ASOS station. First a geographic comparison from Google Earth:

Aerial view of the PTWC and PHNL stations - 3.9 miles apart - click for larger image

Aerial view of the PTWC and PHNL stations - 3.9 miles apart - click for larger image

Downloading each daily report from PTWC and PHNL individually, I manually collated the data from both stations and put them into an ASCII file for import into my Dplot graphing program. I’ve saved a combination file of the two datasets here as a PDF for inspection. PHNL-PTWC-June09-data If anybody needs the individual station reports, the source URL’s are in the PDF file, they’ll still be on the NWS server for a few days before they get rotated out.

Unfortunately, there were two days of PTWC data missing, though all days of the PHNL ASOS data were intact. Also, I had all of the false record event reports from the PHNL ASOS previously archived.

So I plotted the two high/low datasets side by side to get an idea of just how much bias there was between the two stations. Fortunately, the stations were only 3.9 miles apart, and about the same distance inland from the beach, though the airport station ocean exposure suffers a bit from the extra runway that was apparently added as ocean fill at some point. Geographically the stations seem reasonably compatible in their placement on the south coast of Oahu.

The data from the two stations, when plotted side by side, was telling. I marked missing data, the record high events, and when the ASOS was repaired.

Graph of data - click for larger image

Graph of PHNL and PTWC station data for June 2009 - click for larger image

Note when the highs (Tmax) converged for the first time this month to within one degree of each other, right after the equipment was repaired. The greatest separation is in the nighttime lows, which would be expected due to the runway asphalt influence at PHNL Lows tend to be affected more by heat retaining surfaces at night.

Note also that during the string of record highs from the 10th to the 15th, the two stations diverged mostly by six degrees F, The NWS originally admitted in their TV Interview to two degrees error, and that may be true from the HNL airport location since it is indeed a sea of asphalt.

“ASOS…placed for aviation purposes…not necessarily for  climate purposes.”

Six degrees difference in the Tmax for at least 5 days. Many other days of record were 4 or 5 degrees difference. One day was 9 degrees difference.

But, which station is more representative of Oahu’s climate? The airport, or the observatory in the grove of native ground cover? I don’t think all of Oahu is paved yet.

So the big question to NOAA/NWS Honolulu is:

Do you still think these records are valid and worth keeping in the climatic database and record events database?

The big question for GISS is:

Would you like your lost station back so you can update the data?


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I am totally amazed by Anthony’s ability to pick up the scent and run to ground important details like this, at the same time as putting in all the work needed to manage this fantastic website and the Surface Stations project, and running a business. You must have a good wife to support you too. You deserve a Nobel just for hard and dedicated work.


Anthony, you’re enjoying this. I can tell.


I am totally amazed by Anthony’s ability to pick up the scent and run to ground important details like this,
Elementary my dear Wattsup.

Anthony does what every journalist should have been doing for the past 20 years or so – i.e investigating news stories. No wonder the media is dying – it deserves to.
Anyhow, you have my deepest respect for the work you’re doing with this blog.


Has anybody seen that IQ2 debate where Gavin Schmidt is puffing up his little chest, and boasting about how him and his fellow modelers are like the detectives on the CSI TV shows?
Who’s Horatio now Gavin?


It’s ridiculous that a there’s no federal agency that doesn’t already know this, and yet I’m not at all surprised. (I’m writing as somebody working in a central government agency in Australia.) It’s one thing to allow that corporate knowledge may have decayed to the point of oversight, but quite another that an apparently authoritative service lacks the due diligence to ensure the integrity of its data. I say Mr Watts needs acknowledgement for data integrity restoration, and the agencies responsible need to take a good, long, hard look at themselves.

spangled drongo

Anthony, would there be a long term weather station in Hawaii, on the coast and free of UHI influence such as a light house like Diamond Head where you could get long term reliable data?
I’ve checked a few old light houses in Australia to find that whenever the data go back to the 19th century it is usually warmer back then.

Mike McMillan


Your propaganda is killing Polar Bears…… how can you sleep at night?
Well done, Anthony!

Nick Yates

OT: Another Met office joke.
Anthony, you may have seen this new climate impacts report by the Met Office in the UK predicting a ‘mediterranian’ climate for the UK.
What caught my eye was this claim by James Murphy
At Otter Farm in Devon, Mark Diacono has already started to grow peaches and apricots and even has a small olive grove.
He told Sky News Online: “It’s not often you get to look into the future and we’re absolutely committed to certain levels of climate change, so you’ve got to adapt to survive.

As it turns out Otter Farm is the UKs only ‘climate change farm’ and they have a good web site. It seems that the olives were planted in 2006 and are all but dead following 2 harsh winters and a cool summer, in fact all the ‘mediterranian’ species they’ve planted are either dead or nearly dead. There are some pictures of these poor plants in the snow on the Otter Farm blog here.
I think Mr Murphey should have done a bit more checking before making this misleading claim.

The Honolulu Obs Oahu record plot is fascinating! Whether the station was moved in1949 is presumably not so interesting, as that the highest value was recorded in 1945. That was the year when the War in the Pacific ended in August, after four years naval war from the Aleutian to Coral Sea . Hawaii was extreme close to the scene. The naval war from Hawaii to Japan was something big that happened in the marine environment. The naval war in the Atlantic and Pacific could have significantly contributed to the global cooling which started in the early 1940s, as discussed in Chapter 4_11 at :

Dave Wendt

The previous post noted that when the faulty instrument at the airport was replaced there was an immediate 3 degree shift in the recorded temp. The site at the airport would probably rate a CRN 5 of +/- 3 degrees, which when combined with the instrumental error would match up nicely with the 6 degree differential between the airport and the observatory.


What? GISS lost a (seems to me) decent station and nobody noticed or cared?
I’m reminded of Lily Tomlin’s character, Ernestine, the telephone operator. Her character’s tag line was, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Phone Company.”

Owen Hughes

Unbelievable. Your and my tax dollars not at work. These people should be shown the data, and then the door. Anthony, you rock. Keep it up, it is making a difference.

Michael D Smith

Who was that guy?

Typical Finn

Amazing work!


(added the “B” to my name)
Another 6 miles or so to the northwest, still on the coast, is the old Barbers Pt. station, now Kalaeloa Airport (PHJR). NOAA weather station data:
looks like it runs closer to PTWC than PHNL.


You mentioned both MMS and a Stevenson screen. Is data available from both?
Would be an interesting comparison.
REPLY: Generally only one is used, the MMTS, with the Stevenson Screen used as backup in case the electronic sesnor fails. – Anthony

Peter Plail

OT As a consequence of yesterday’s announcement by the UK Met Office, British insurers are already saying that unless the UK Government spends billions of pounds over the next decade on flood defences, then the insurers will have to drastically increase their rates for occupiers of properties shown as at risk in the new Met Office climate model.
When questioned on UK Channel 4 News, an insurance company spokesman refused to rule out pricing homeowners out of the market if the government failed to act.
This seems clear proof of the assertions made often on WUWT about the vested interests of “Big Insurance” in calamitous climate change.


Anthony, you are an amazing detective with the technological know-how and tools to follow the scent. I am grateful for your tenacity and ability to inspire others with the same desire for scientific truth. You not only deserve The Best Science Blog award, but a citizens’ Nobel prize for developing how investigative reporting can be done on the Web. Now if we, your readers, can only find a way to match income with value. I am late with my “subscription”, but it will be on the way very soon.


The joys of bureaucracy!

Stephen Skinner

Is there a way of organising all these posts such as into a list. In a month or so this particular post will have to be searched for as with all other posts. There is an astonishing amount of information, ideas and data flowing through this site. Is it possible to have a page listing all entries? Even as an unsorted list it would still be useful.
Brilliant post/article/blog…


Very well done! And I echo Gilbert’s suggestion .

Keith W

Send that analysis to the EPA and your congressional delegation on the accuracy of the data on which future catastrophe is claimed.

Tom in Florida

Anthony “Bulldog” Watts, nice job!


Well done as usual.
I’m a little confused as to why one would be so quick to establish records with a site that had so much temperature “wiggle room” and was “placed for aviation purposes”. Are we so desperate to prove continued global warming? It was encouraging to see that they at least, for whatever reason, brought a calibration thermometer to check the high temp thermometer. Why they didn’t immediately compare with surrounding temperatures to see if what the one thermometer was reading was reasonable is worth questioning. Not to mention why you would ever use an airport thermometer to establish the temp for a city. With all of the problems related to land based measurements how can the data be used for anything other than trend (and even question the trend because of heat island effects)?
I suppose you could “calibrate” all of the sites by using a pair of thermometers that have been shown to track together and place one at the bad site and one at a site meeting temp measuring criteria. You could then see how they track for a few months. A bit costly and work intensive, but I would be interested in seeing what this sort of experiment would show for a site or two over a year. Just moving the site without doing this sort of work would make the historical error unknowable.

Stephen Skinner

Sorry. Forgot ‘?’ after 1st sentence.
In previous posts relating to the weather station at the airport a number of commentators inferred that the jet age and therefore jet engines would have influenced the temperature readings. It is the tarmac alone. If the temperature sensors could pick up the heat from a jet engine they would have been blown over and any hot air from a jet engine dissipates rapidly. There just isn;t enough heat coming out of these engines. I have stood close to runways and felt the jet blast and the overriding sensations are the smell of parafin and the blast. If you go to Youtube and put in ‘jet blast st maarten’ you can see people standing at the end of the runway at St Maarten getting blasted by jet engines for the hell of it. I would guess that heat is not their main concern.
However, fixed jet engines have been used to dispell fog at airports. But bonfires have been used also.
If we were faced with a cooling planet and we had to find ways of keeping it warm, running all the jet engines in the world is not going to do it.

Leon Brozyna

Investigative journalism at its finest.
And it’s a sad note for the journalism community that the term “investigative” is used to describe the term “journalism”. This is the era of news by press release where journalists mindlessly parrot what’s fed to them by press release.


None of these simple clerical & equipment failures would matter much in a world that was not caught up in a Pacific Tsunami of Mass Hysteria…

Ian Middleton

This is an amazing piece of work you have done here, and thanks to all those who assisted.
It makes you wonder how biased the whole temperature record can be.
I have this mental image of you poking a hornets nest with a stick. I think you know what I mean.
As we say in Aussie, ” good on yer mate ” , keep that stick a pokin.

John Anderson

Absolutely amazing work. Please keep it up. This is why the Internet was created.

Terrific!! Anthony at his finest.

To MR Watts,
I am a steadfast watthead since I first discovered this sight. Being the professional pain in the ass that I am, it has been a perfect resource to provide accurate data time and again for my efforts to drive every algorite I meet into a frenzy.
I will say on several occasions I have actually popped their AGW bubble, hitting them with FACT after FACT, and even making a convert or two along the way.
So I thank you again for the fine work.
well…time for to head down to the coffee shop and pick a fight with an Algorite, with new ammunition to boot.

Ethan Brand

Excellent work. Based on your contacts in this investigation so far, who might be the best person to provide comments to at NOAA? I think they should be flooded with emails and phone calls asking them (politely off course) to do their jobs…..I would also copy my own congressional reps.
REPLY: start with the people at the NWS office in Honolulu
Here is the contact email links (right off their web page, I’m not outing anymore) for the Meteorologist in Charge and staff at NWS Honolulu. I say we give them an earful.
James Weyman Meteorologist in Charge Richard Knabb Director of Operations Robert Ballard Science & Operations Officer Ray Tanabe Warning Coordination Meteorologist Kevin Kodama Hydrologist Bill Boone Electronic System Analyst Pam Fujiwara Administrative Assistant
Or if you’d like to write:
National Weather Service Forecast Office
2525 Correa Road, Suite 250
Honolulu, HI 96822-2219
Tel: (808) 973-5286


2 questions were asked:
(1) “but if a citizen outside of the governmental loop can figure this out in a couple of hours, why can’t agencies like NCDC and GISS? Especially when knowing this sort of thing is is their job?
(2) Are there no flags that go up anywhere when data suddenly disappears?”
they answers are simple.
(1) Because. They. Do. Not. Care. Not one little bit.
(2) Yes, the “job well done! Another annoying datapoint gone!” flag.


I am impressed. All we hear from the dying print newspaper industry is that their demise will kill investigative journalism. Ha! That was abandoned years ago with the only investigative remnants remaining focused on non-liberal political entities as the industry moved wholesale to advocacy journalism from a unified perspective.
Your investigation is impressive and interesting; more motivation to keep reading this excellent science blog.


It is not hard to understand why a dedicated volunteer like Anthony can outdo bureaucrats and civil servants. For Anthony, this is fun. For civil servants, they are just doing a job. Passion wins every time. No one can imagine government employees playing on a winning NFL team.


Speaking of the UK Met Office, the HadSST2 update is at least two weeks behind it’s usual schedule and their other products continue to lag into the second half of the month before being updated.
I guess their all busy playing Tetris and Breakout on that nice new shiny computer.

Don S.

Anthony is, of course, absolutely amazingly tenacious. However, let’s be careful about recommending a Nobel prize. After all, Arafat, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore all got Nobel prizes. If that hasn’t debased the currency, one can’t imagine what will.

Ron de Haan

Good work Anthony.
This kind of “Basic Research” turns the entire AGW docrine into a house of cards.
The recent Government Climate Report is taking hit after hit and some of the critisism even has reached the Washington Post and the New York Times.
In the mean time there are warnings that the world and her Governments are not prepared for a period of severe cold by 2012 due to the current solar minimum.
As the MSM continues to bobard the public with biased and unfoundet climate disasters, only to be prevented by quick action and a devastating climate treaty, the General Public has lost any interest in the subject.
This could be the biggest threat to us all.
If the public is indifferent to the subject, politicians are provided with a cart blanche to enforce their policies.
Let’s hope common sense prevails and we can prevent the shut down of our economies and the loss of our freedom.

Outstanding detective work, sir. Reads like Dame Agatha herself.

George DeBusk

Stephen Skinner,
I have seen infrared photos (from above) of airports where jets are idling before takeoff (sorry, but I cannot remember where). They show the ground warmed for some distance behind the plane just as a result of an idling jet motor. If the ground is warmed by an idling jet engine, what would an engine at takeoff power do to the air around a runway? It would not have to run the temperature up high enough to bake a seagull. Even a single degree or half a degree would be enough to make temperature measurements invalid for climatic purposes. The volume of jet traffic at HNL has shown a steady increase, even in the last 15 years since I have been visiting Hawaii. Go to the library and check out a copy of that immortal Elvis film “Blue Hawaii” and watch the airport scene at the beginning. Look at HNL today on Google Earth. The traffic has grown amazingly. Hickam AFB shares runways with HNL, and jet traffic there skyrocketed with the Vietnam War. I would guess there is a record somewhere of the amount of jet fuel imported to Oahu. Compare the amount imported to the differential between the Observatory and HNL and you might test my hypothesis that jet exhaust can contribute to warm bias.

J. D. Lindskog

Kudos Anthony, well done.
I would also extend a note of appreciation to the government employees and others who WERE co-operative and forthcoming. This is a classic exhample of ‘admistrative drag’, to use an aviators’ term, that exists in large diverse organizations (read Goverment). I don’t see any enemies here, just human beings being human.

Bob Kutz

In spite of all of the misdeeds by our lovely beauracratic government employees, and the hog trough of money being used to pull well intentioned people astray, I have not lost faith. We will not surrender our freedoms in the name of some elusive climate security. These hijackers too will be beaten.
I am heartened because of the intrepid efforts of people such as you Anthony. People like Leif, McIntyre & McKitrick, Lindzen and all of the other scientists out there who are apparently immune to the political winds and groupthink that have invaded the mindset of our ‘scientific’ institutions.
You really do a yeomen’s work on this.
Thank you.

Milwaukee Bob

Fabulous work again, Doc Watts. I’m “green” with envy.
“Get your facts first, and then you can distort ‘em as you please”. Mark Twain
And the real shame here, wattsupers, is that nary a one of us is a MSM journalist/editor. Doc, et al have created, in summary over the past few months here, through investigation/contribution/analysis and summarization a “scoop” worthy of a Pulitzer. This last report is an exclamation point on a lot of that work.
A cub reporter with half a brain (and no agendaitis) could simply campout on WUWT “to get the facts” and daily write articles worthy of any front page. Unfortunately, editors ……… well, no need to preach to the choir.
Contrary to popular belief, print media isn’t dying (dead) because of the Internet, or because WE only want sound bite news that a 5 year old can understand. This site (and others) prove that’s not the case. Or even agendaitis. That’s just the overt symptom of – total laziness of corporate owners, editors and journalists to do this kind of intense work. AND they are PAID to do their jobs, Doc isn’t!
Keep it up, ya all. And send the good stuff to your local news media. Maybe some will get through…

M. Jeff

The larger image of your Graph of PHNL and PTWC station data for June 2009 does not show the R labels and the repair label.


Well done chap!
Whats next on the agenda? Oh, your already working on it I bet!

Stephen Skinner (05:20:44) :
There just isn;t enough heat coming out of these engines.
Jet Engine Exhaust Gas Temperatures (EGT) can range from 400 F to well over 1000 F. Just like the exhaust from an air conditioner, the jet engines can affect the temperature record.
Joe S.

Gary Pearse

Send this report to the Honolulu tv station!! They would love this bit of news.
Lucy Skywalker:
“You deserve a Nobel just for hard and dedicated work.”
I think the Nobel has to be replaced too- its sensors are broken and unreliable.

Pamela Gray

Ya know, I’m beginning to think that the ol’ finger in the mouth then stuck in the wind is a better temperature guage than what we got for instruments.