McIntyre on USHCN2's "warmer" trend treatment of Orland

Orland CA and the New Adjustments

by Steve McIntyre on June 29th, 2009

In my last post, I observed that NOAA’s Talking Points applied their new “adjustments” to supposedly prove that NOAA’s negligent administration of the USHCN network did not “matter”.

In order to illustrate the effect of the new methods in this post, I’ll compare the new adjustments (post-TOBS) to the old adjustments (post-TOBS) on a “good” station – Orland CA, a prototype “good” station, discussed at the outset of surfacestations.org, discussed at WUWT here and CA here in early 2007.

The station history for Orland (at CDIAC) says that it has been in its present location for (at least) most of the 20th century and has had minimal changes during that time, other than perhaps time-of-observation (TOBS). The TOBS adjustment is carried forward into USHCN-v2. As I understand it, NOAA’s New Adjustment Method replaces station-history based adjustments for instrumentation changes and station location (the latter formerly done in FILNET).

As a benchmark, here is the difference between FILNET (adjusted) and TOBS for Orland in the “old” USHCN. Adjustments in the 20th century are negligible – in keeping with station history information that indicates no changes in location.

Figure 1. “Old” USHCN Adjustments for Station Location and Instrument Changes

Now here is the net adjustment in the “New” USHCN.

Two points jump out. Look first at the monthly adjustments at the right hand side. In the “old” method, there weren’t any adjustments to recent data – where metadata did not indicate any relevant change. In the “new” method, there are all sorts of jittery little adjustments. They seem to average out, but why introduce these jitters in the first place? It’s starting to look like a pointless Hansen-esque (ROW-style) adjustment that simply distorts the underlying data.

On a larger scale, the new adjustment noticeably increases the 20th century trend at Orland.

These graphics strongly indicate to me that the effect of the algorithm – regardless of whatever good intentions may underlie it – is that data from lower quality stations is being blended into the presently archived Orland data. I presume that something similar is happening to other “good” stations (though I’ve only examined one example so far.) (Note that Orland is a CRN3 station. However, its excellent continuity makes it a pretty attractive station for benchmarking and visually it doesn’t look a “bad” CRN3 station).

Based on this example, it looks like NOAA’s Talking Points comparison is between the overall average and 70 “adjusted” stations – AFTER the good stations have been adjusted. :)

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36 thoughts on “McIntyre on USHCN2's "warmer" trend treatment of Orland

  1. OT: The author of the EPA paper was just on Glen Beck. He is discussing AGW at this moment.

  2. So it seems we may know why there wasn’t a signature on the rebuttal to the non-existent blog, written by the unknown meteorologist about an issue which doesn’t exist in the first place.

  3. What makes this NOAA alchemy (as opposed to “science”) is that we have to PRESUME the reason for these changes. If it were actual science, all data, methods, code, etc., would be available and we would KNOW the reason for these changes.

  4. Richard M (14:18:45) :
    “OT: The author of the EPA paper was just on Glen Beck. He is discussing AGW at this moment.”
    I saw that also. I felt sorry for Alan. He was obviously uncomfortable and not a very good guest for the kind of rapid fire snarky show Glenn puts on.

  5. Steve wrote:
    “These graphics strongly indicate to me that the effect of the algorithm – regardless of whatever good intentions may underlie it – is that data from lower quality stations is being blended into the presently archived Orland data.”
    As I opined about Steig et al when RyanO made his “tiles” this sort of adjustment is much like spin art at the county fair.
    http://www.funservicesinc.com/catalog/images/SpinArt.jpg
    Smear stations with red and green components together and you have yellow.

  6. Oh Anthony, moderators, Steve @ CA, Jeffs, RyanO, anon @ EPA, everyone… I just feel so proud of the development going on here, patiently reclaiming the foundations of Science in decent data, inch by inch, no, millimeter by millimeter…. and reclaiming the much-mourned lost art of real Peer Review…
    I haven’t got the years of dedicated professional Science behind me to have the sheer grit and perseverance and attention to scientific detail that so many are showing here – but I know it’s important for humankind to bring through this deep, deep reform and reclaiming of Science through this unfolding Open Source Science, citizens’ science.
    Ha! break over! back to the grindstone…

  7. Having a bit of a heat wave here in the U.K.: we had 32oC somewhere today, the first time we’ve had >30 in 3 years. It looks like the heat wave will last until the end of the week, tailing off by sunday, when 18C and rain is forecast…

  8. evanmjones (14:33:02) : says:
    What makes this NOAA alchemy (as opposed to “science”) is that we have to PRESUME the reason for these changes. If it were actual science, all data, methods, code, etc., would be available and we would KNOW the reason for these changes.
    Excellent Comment – Worth Repeating. – Over and over until someone listens.

  9. By way of ongoing tribute, I just thought it opportune to draw your attention to a recent little blog on the Telegraph written by Daniel Hannon on ‘Cap and Trade’, (the MEP of YouTube speech fame), and in particular the comment posted by John Archer on Jun 30th, 2009 at 2:02 am, which I suggest encapsulates the debt of gratitude felt by ever-increasing numbers of scientifically literate people for Steve and colleagues tireless audit work, and their disgust at the behaviour of their most cherished scientific bodies regarding AGW. The blog is at
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100001304/what-is-the-point-of-cap-and-trade/

  10. wattsupwiththat (14:43:42) :
    “Smear stations with red and green components together and you have yellow.”
    The truth of my correction of the above statement is a very revealing clue to what is happening. If red and green are combined the color that results is …
    brown.
    Hmm, this also works when thought of politically too. Interesting. 8^)
    REPLY: I was thinking in computer graphics/television RGB. In the case of pigment paints, yes some form of brown. – Anthony

  11. wattsupwiththat (14:43:42) :
    Yes, I was speaking “chromatically”, Anthony. Now that I see you were basing it on RGB, I understand your comment perfectly. Perhaps though, what Steve McIntyre et al is exposing here calls for a chromatic perspective and a clothespin on our noses?

  12. OT: Monckton agrees to debate Hansen
    http://www.examiner.com/x-13886-New-Haven-County-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2009m6d27-Lord-Monckton-has-agreed-to-debate-James-Hansen?#comments
    Now that’s all very interesting, except no one I know of thinks Hansen would do it. The debate is offered by Kirtland Griffin of The Examiner as a substitute for the debate proposed by Blankenship. Hansen couldn’t make that one due to a prior commitment to get arrested.
    One of the commenters suggested WUWT as a forum with enough publicity to petition people to perhaps pressure Hansen into accepting such a debate. Anthony, what are your thoughts?
    Exchange follows:
    Kirt Griffin says:
    I like the idea of a petition but it would have no legal force. I am applying pressure however by asking news media and bloggers to carry the story. If this gets enough publicity he may either be pressured to accept or look afraid to debate. My little blog, although growing, is not enough to make it happen but it’s a start. Any suggestions for places to carry this story?
    Ray says:
    Kirt, the idea of the global petition is exactly that, to show that they are the ones not wanting to debate the science, as science is never settled.
    You could try WUWT, they have a good audience but certainly you could also try the Associated French Press since they are usually independent, as well as the Canadian Free Press.

  13. Whenever I say the following during a debate about the temperature trend with alarmists there is a sudden end to debate and a dead silence from them. What is the problem??? 😉
    1. During the early years of temperature monitoring cities and surrounding areas were covered with dense industrial smog which blocked significant sunlight, and we were still coming out of the Little Ice Age. This was the worst scenario to start measuring temperatures and use as a baseline to compare our current temperatures with.
    2. In latter years most of the smog cleared up and urban areas grew. surfacestations org has surveyed many weather stations and found 9/10 skewed by the urban heat island effect.

  14. Michael D. Smith-I hope that happens before the Senate pulls the trigger on cap and tax-and every Senator has to watch it.-As Lord Monckton was declared Anthema and
    banned from the glorious presence of her Carboness Pelosi…

  15. @ Douglas DC (18:05:58) :
    @ Michael D. Smith
    Never going to happen. I don’t think there is anyway, whatsoever, Hansen will ever debate Monckton. He just won’t do it as you all know (and Hansen knows) very well, Hansen will get his clock cleaned by Monckton hands down. As such, this is quite telling of the entire story here. If AGW was such a sound hypothesis, or even simply plausible at all, it would not be so difficult to put together a debate such as this. The fact is, the AGW proponents ALWAYS refuse or back out, ALWAYS. I cannot recall the skeptical side ever backing out of a debate, but the AGW proponents ALWAYS do. This little inconvenient truth should be glaring and obvious to everyone.
    Hansen vs. Monckton – I wish, but it won’t happen….

  16. Anthony the recent topics have shown the custodians of the
    raw temperature data have “PHOTOSHOPPED” historical data to fit the “CONSENSUS” answer.

  17. Brilliant! Those original temps went down quite a bit, huh? No wonder there is an alarming warming trend.

  18. Seriously, this blows my mind. The adjustments increase the warming trend at this single station from a statistically irrelevant one to over 2C a century!!! Wow. Just wow.

  19. Anthony: You might want to run a quick check on Chester, CA. 3 days in a row of records when nobody else has them. 94-96 degrees. Looked funny to me.

  20. re. Squidly (18:43:46)
    you said AGW proponents ALWAYS back out of debates.
    Sorry, about a year ago there was a debate on National TV in Australia.
    I think most viewers would agree the AGW proponents led by Prof David Karoly ended up in front.

  21. When they change the data, and this is what they are starting to do, they will fail. I have been visiting this site for a year or two and each day wuwt show s me they are fixing the game . The al gores have ruled the day for several years . If they feel they need to “adjust” the data they use to prove warming the end is near for them. If the epa can do what they did and nobody gets fired how can we trust any data comming out of this government. The lies and cover ups will tear this apart because even the morons in congress will not stand for that , some of them still have to go home and deal with their districts, cold wet and snowy districts. Thank god Gore didn’t win in 2000 because he would be taking credit for the planet cooling and we could never stop this c@@#$. Now they are going to have to explain how th earth cooled before this cap and trade nonsence was implemented I wish them luck doing that. The truth always wins in the end, so let them lie all they want just keep exposing it daily, some day Gore will pay for this

  22. Richard Hill (20:40:19) :
    Oh, that debate. Saw the video. The audience didn’t buy it, and the moderator didn’t allow any questions other than kissing up to the AGW proponents.
    It was terribly insulting to the public in general.

  23. Let us be absolutely clear on one point. There is absolutely no way the observers of 1895-1903 were misreading the true temperature by -1.5 degrees C. That the current stewards of the data are so willing to reach back a century and second guess observations invalidates the entire series.

  24. “Alex Llewelyn (15:44:18) :
    Having a bit of a heat wave here in the U.K.: we had 32oC somewhere today, the first time we’ve had >30 in 3 years. It looks like the heat wave will last until the end of the week, tailing off by sunday, when 18C and rain is forecast…”
    To be more accurate it’s only a heatwave in London. Rest of the country has been much lower.
    cheers David

  25. I really do not understand “TOBS”. If you use MAX/MIN thermometers what is there to adjust for?
    Any “adjustment” to define the day’s “maximum” temperature after taking a reading at say 5:00pm in the afternoon is just a guess, surely?
    The same applies to guessing the night time (early dawn) minimum daily temperature.

  26. Richard,
    Lets say 18 hours of the day its 30 C and 8 hours of the day its 20 C. You couldnt say the average temp was 25C because 2/3 of the time was spent at 30C, not half of the time. This is why time observation is important as it is important to track data that is centered. One of the major flaws of Mann’s hockey stick software is that it tracks the peaks rather than the centers (more accurately, it looks at large changes in temperature, positive or negative, flips the negatives to positives, and treats all changes as positive warmings). Mann’s hockey stick more accurately shows the degree of volatility in temperature measurements, not actual warming.

  27. The algorithm being used for these adjustments is quite sound. Any anomaly that deflects from global warming is eliminated – especially those rather high temperatures in the 19th century. Job done.
    Like RichardsIII, I am also confused by TOBS adjustments. The early thermometers gave a mechanical max-min, the later ones give an electronic max-min. Where is the difference?
    As long as the readings are consistently 24 hours apart, and not taken at midday or midnight, does it really mater what time of day the readings are taken? Surely any minor differences in readings would cancel out over time, rather than leading to a 2oc difference.

  28. “Any “adjustment” to define the day’s “maximum” temperature after taking a reading at say 5:00pm in the afternoon is just a guess, surely?”
    Exactly. Time of observation adjustments are made up data. Basically you take a min/max reading which says “the min and max for the 24 hour period before 6pm was x/y” and somehow “adjust” it to magically divine what the min/max would have been if measured at midnight. That’s not data – as you say, it’s a guess.

  29. I have a question:
    When Global Warming proponents say the “World is getting warmer!”, what temperature are they referring to? Are they using these temperature trends? Atmospheric trends? Sea Surface Temperatures?
    (Or, what I suspect, the one which shows that temperature is rising at any given time?)
    And another question:
    At what point does a ‘weather temperature trend’ become a ‘climate temperature trend’? 5 years? 10 years? 30 years? 100 years?

  30. “Richard111 (06:07:47) :
    My local weather seems to be monitored automatically. The station is on the mast at the pier head just behind the floodlights. What will happen when the lights are switched on I don’t know. Must make a note next time and check the data page.
    See link below for picture:
    http://www.milfordweather.org.uk/

    And what about the hot car engine directly beneath – un freaking believable!!
    Is that a temp sensor right behind the flood lights?
    If so that is very damning?
    cheers David

  31. Some commenters here are forgetting that:
    a) US practice is to take (MAX+MIN)/2 as the “average” temperature.
    b) The temperature at the time of reading MAX/MIN instruments is not material to that average.

  32. ohioholic (18:56:23) :
    Brilliant! Those original temps went down quite a bit, huh? No wonder there is an alarming warming trend.

    1) What graph plots the actual UNADJUSTED temperatures (temperature differences from so-called 0.0 reference point) at this site?
    2) Do we have any (5, 10, 20, 70, or 270) sites that can reasonably be claimed to NOT have gained a UHI effect over the years? Regardless of anything else, of any other changes in local siting, thermometers, or change in postmasters doddering outside to record the weatehr at 6:00 AM or 9:00 PM?

  33. Mike Lorrey (02:33:37) :
    “”Lets say 18 hours of the day its 30 C and 8 hours of the day its 20 C. You couldnt say the average temp was 25C because 2/3 of the time was spent at 30C, not half of the time.””
    Yes. I would make the average temperature for the day of 27.5 C “knowing” that I have 24 hourly readings throughout the day. This is obviously impractical on a lot of stations.
    “”John S. (10:26:20) :
    Some commenters here are forgetting that:
    a) US practice is to take (MAX+MIN)/2 as the “average” temperature.
    b) The temperature at the time of reading MAX/MIN instruments is not material to that average.””
    That would give 25.0 C for the days reading. Quite a difference.
    If you consider the UHI effect around the stations as portrayed by Anthony’s survey I feel it is quite possible that the “MAX” temperature may only apply over a brief time, whilst the rest of the time the temperature is closer to the “MIN”.
    Consider 1 hour at 30C and 23 hours at 20C would give an “average” of 20.4C with 24 hourly readings. Rather less than the “practice” reading of 25C that would result.
    The practice of (MAX+MIN)/2 as the “average” temperature is simply not a true data reading for the whole day.

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