How not to measure temperature, part 89 – “surface temperature”

Hillsboro_OH_USHCN

The Hillsboro, Ohio USHCN climate station of record, measuring rainfall and the “surface” temperature. Note the MMTS temperature sensor laying flat on the ground.

To be fair, apparently the station is in the process of being moved. The new addition to the home (seen below) required it to be moved around to the side.

Hillsboro_OH_USHCN_old

Surfacestations.org volunteer Ed Fix writes in the station survey:

Private residence, second longest continuously used Coop. site in Ohio.  It has been at the present position since 1959, and in use in the area since 1893.

The previous owners of the house Marie and Thomas Knott, now deceased, collected the data from 1959 until Marie’s death in 2007.  Current resident is continuing the observation duties.

MMTS temp, manual rain gauge.  Rain gauge has been in use since at least 1959. The instrumentation is in the process of being moved.  The previous location is on the south end of a deck (removed 3 weeks ago), approximately 14′ from the metal-sided south wall of the house, 40′ west of the new location.  It was approx 42′ from an air conditioner at the SW corner of the house.  The station is to be set back up in the very near future.

The proposed new location is SE of the SE corner of the house, approx 21′.  This is 32′ from the corner of the house next door, with an air conditioner condenser.

While one would think that maintaining a continuity of records for such a station would be of prime importance, it lays idle as the photography shows.

The first point here is that backyards are dynamic places, prone to land use changes and biases that result from the changing/evolving lifestyle of the owner of the home, which makes them less than desirable for gathering scientific data.  The second point is that the gap in the record could easily be avoided if the local NWS COOP manager had worked to help the homeowner get the equipment operational again.

The USHCN is far from a homogeneous measurement system.

Addendum:

I should add that the many problems we have seen in the USHCN are not the fault of the volunteer observers. These people give their valuable time and dedicate their lives to doing a mostly thankless job. They do it mostly for their own satisfaction and interest in providing something useful that can be part of the permanent record of our country.

We should never forget that. They are to be congratulated for their service.

The responsibility for the errors in siting is with NOAA, as they are in charge of doing these installations and ensuring a modicum of quality control based on their own 100 foot rule.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/standard.htm

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63 thoughts on “How not to measure temperature, part 89 – “surface temperature”

  1. Not really fair, IMHO.

    REPLY: Maintenance and continuity of records issues are fair game, and that is what this shows. The station has been idle for three weeks. During that time a new temperature or rainfall record may have gone undetected. Either NOAA is in the climate measurement business or they are not, there’s no room for shoddy data gathering when records for individual stations are often cited for new records. – Anthony

  2. This should be the most accurate sensor yet! It’s in-contact with the surface! Now if we could only pour some heat-sink grease over the whole thing, it’ll be just like a laboratory thermocouple in contact with the surface in question.

  3. I thank the new owner for wanting to continue the record. But a little more planning was needed for this situation.

  4. Remember, it doesn’t matter. The secret, super-duper, pooper scooper algorithm can take whatever faulty data (or even non-data) sites such as these may provide and magically produce accurate datasets.

  5. Guess I’m sort of a NERD. But there is NO WAY I’d allow this sensor to be in that position. I’d have corrected it IMMEDIATELY.

    Speaking of “surface tempertures”, here’s the data from my “unofficial” home site. Local official “NOAA” temperature right now, 78 F.

    My front yard, little shading, but in the sun shadow of the house, 74.5F.

    Back yard, enclosed by 10 large oak trees, completely shaded, despite the 2PM sun (back yard faces SOUTH EAST), 71.5 F.

    Button, button..who’s got the button. WHICH is the REAL “tropospheric temperature” right now.

    The more I get into this the more I realize the importance of ATMOSPHERIC ENERGY rather than temperature.

  6. Not to nitpick, but the sensor is LYING on the ground, not LAYING on the ground. If it were laying on the ground, these people would have fresh eggs.

  7. stan (12:18:43) :

    Remember, it doesn’t matter. The secret, super-duper, pooper scooper algorithm can take whatever faulty data (or even non-data) sites such as these may provide and magically produce accurate datasets.

    The algorithm is probably the same one the banks used to turn sub-prime mortgages into high quality securities.

  8. Pete (12:22:43) : “Not to nitpick, but the sensor is LYING on the ground, not LAYING on the ground. If it were laying on the ground, these people would have fresh eggs.”

    Perhaps this station has laid an egg so to speak.

  9. Need to put a sharpened end on the post and use if for a meat temp probe for roasting the holiday hog. Personally I don’t have a problem seeing this. It reminds me the data is off and we should take this as a warning not to use data for perfect scientific models. In accuracy, we are talking 2 degrees in 100 years. That is from data that is not precise. We can’t make precision forecasts from imprecise input.

  10. That sensor was probably not lying whilst it was standing, but I’d lay odds that it’s been lying as long as it’s lain where it was laid.

  11. Pete (12:22:43) :
    Not to nitpick, but the sensor is LYING on the ground, not LAYING on the ground. If it were laying on the ground, these people would have fresh eggs.

    If you look carefully at the bottom photo, you will see that the sensor Was laying on the ground. Not eggs, but baby MMTS’s. At the edge of the grass, I count eleven of the little darlin’s.

    Always happy to elevate the level of discourse ;-)

  12. Oliver Ramsay (14:35:43) :

    That sensor was probably not lying whilst it was standing, but I’d lay odds that it’s been lying as long as it’s lain where it was laid.

    I have four words for you, Oliver: hi-lar-i-ous

  13. “Looks like that has a “slipped disc”…”

    I believe it has an upper FRACTURED disc also!!

    Questions in order of importance:

    Has an Attorney been called??

    Is there a prescription for OxyContin??

    Has a disability claim been filed??

  14. lehenbauer (14:52:54) : Nice find. I notice the proximity to a garden-probably the temperature variations there are highly influenced by how well the plants are doing!

    I also wonder whether the fence or the garden were always there, or not….

  15. Ric Werme (12:36:06) :

    Kudos to the photographer – the apparent connection between the roof gutter and the rain gauge is brilliant! Was it intentional?

    Definitely! Runaway global warming is roasting the sensor so they had to pipe rain water to cool it…

  16. lehenbauer (14:52:54) : “Sorry, the aforementioned station is in Boerne, not Luling.”

    How did you make contact? I’ve been emailing Roxanne Schwarz every couple of weeks with no response.

  17. To be fair, the sensor has not been lying whilst it has been lying. As a sensitive sensor, I am sure it will be moved to correct the impression that it has misled anyone.

    With apologies to Forrest Gump, “sensors is as sensors does”.

  18. No biggie. Just whip out FILNET and fill in the missing temp data so we can know what the temp data should be. Heck, why stop there? Just keep beefing up the algorithm till all those expensive stations can be closed and a super-FILNET on steroids can take the temp data from a single station and fill in temp data for the entire country! Ain’t computers wonderful?!

  19. This is my survey, and I also say “unfair”.

    Poor siting is one thing, it’s fair game, and it’s the job of the coop manager to negotiate the best site he can get, given the constraints of the location. But it’s unfair to judge a site by the fact that it’s in transition.

    Let’s do a thought experiment. If I had visited this house one week after the station was set back up, would it have made the “how not to measure temperature” list? Even if I mentioned there was a month gap as it was being moved? I doubt it.

    It’s not just back yards that are dynamic places. The whole world is dynamic. Buildings get built and torn down, stuff gets moved, construction schedules may or may not match, accidents happen, continents drift. Nothing is ever perfect. There’s a reason it’s hard to find any monitoring station that has been continuously operating in the same location for a decades at a time.

    Marie handled the reporting duty by herself from the time her husband died in 1988 until her own death in 2007. The lady that lives there now called Marie her “adopted mother”, and was extremely nice and cooperative. She had to leave while I was there, but had no problem with me staying later and finishing up. She is very proud to be continuing the weather reporting duty from this station, and rightly so. She doesn’t deserve to be slammed for not taking measurements during the move. Many of these people volunteer their own time and their own property to do this reporting (it can’t be easy mowing around this thing without disturbing it). They deserve our thanks, and they certainly deserve the benefit of the doubt when things aren’t perfect.

    Maybe I should have waited and come back after the site was set back up, but it was my first survey. I wanted to at least get a survey of where the monitor used to be, and where it will probably be after it’s set up again (that’s still not set in concrete–I don’t believe the Coop manager has seen the “new site” yet.) I’ll be more careful next time. In any event, I do intend to do a re-survey after it’s set up, whenever I get back to Hillsboro.

  20. Ric Werme (12:36:06) :

    “Kudos to the photographer – the apparent connection between the roof gutter and the rain gauge is brilliant! Was it intentional?”

    Thanks. I’ll take any congratulations I can get, but in this case, I don’t deserve it. The gutter actually is connected to the rain gauge. I’m sure they have the proper correction factor.

    Oh, wait. No, it’s not. Never mind.

  21. Ed Fix (17:16:03) :

    This is my survey, and I also say “unfair”.

    Don’t get Anthony wrong Ed. I see the criticism being of NWS & the COOP manager not providing help to minimise disruption, no more than that as I think Anthony also mentioned earlier.

    DaveE.

  22. Ed Fix
    “Many of these people volunteer their own time and their own property to do this reporting (it can’t be easy mowing around this thing without disturbing it). They deserve our thanks, and they certainly deserve the benefit of the doubt when things aren’t perfect.”

    You’ve touched on something that has been worrying me a bit. I have now visited about 6 station sites. All the local people I have talked to have been cordial, open, and even supportive of what we are doing. I would like to use WUWT site as a reference for them, but I’m afraid they might feel they are being ridiculed.

    A bit of cognitive dissonance for me, because I enjjoy reading these examples. I’m sure that the top NOAA and EPA controllers would love to encourage an adversarial relationship between us and their volunteers.

    Like you, I have been impressed by the willingness of these volunteers to accept responsibility for what most of us would probably consider a world-class nuisance.

  23. The station equipment displacement is bad enough, but it is very likely (judging solely from the histories of many other stations) that the meta-data will record little or anything about the disruption and movement of the instrumentation, making it impossible to evaluate the temperature record quality. Perhaps the site is so bad that this doesn’t make any difference here, but this sort of thing is a habit with the USHCN and thus the data from good sites also is jeopardized.

  24. We need to all chip in and send them an Official WUWT grill. Looks like the regulation grill is missing from the photo.

    I used to go to summer camp right outside of Hillsboro. It’s in the hills of southern Ohio. I used to do some rock climbing there when I was older. Great place and a nice town.

    And… reporting on the temperature of my grill for my first annual WUWT cookout (drumroll)… 265C! Unprecedented!

    Happy 4th to all!

  25. The real travesty here is the stairway on the new addition. It goes straight to a pile of what looks like mulch. Flagstones people!! Only slightly more of a nuisance, but nice when you want to avoid sloshing through wet muck on your way out the back door. Helps keep the floors cleaner, too. ;)

    Mr. Ed (sorry, I could not resist and I am sure you just rolled your eyes like every Ed I know when I break out that gem) I am sure that your revisit will have this station looking much better, and I encourage you to do the revisit if you have reason to be in Hillsboro.

  26. Let’s face it. This system wasn’t set up to measure “climate change.” I guess the thought is that if it lays on the ground, it will absorb the heat from the ground.

  27. Then, as the system grows, it becomes self aware, becomes frustrated with humanity, takes over the weather, and drives mankind back into caves as the planet heats uncontrollably! Deniers are really just time traveling robotic agents sent to destroy the savior…Al Gore.

  28. We don’t blame the curators. We appreciate them.

    I’ve talked with dozens and met a few face to face. They are good people, conscientious volunteers. About the only thanks they get is to have their lawns trenched up and holes drilled in their houses.

    (And not a few of them are skeptics, by the way, but their belief either way is not relevant to their unselfish service.)

    The blame for poor siting does not fall on the curators.

    Three cheers for the volunteers!

  29. Ed Fix,

    You made a good call. I do not think that the people who collect the data are being ridiculed. The places many of these stations are sited certainly is and the siting of the one you photographed must also be called into question. Hilarity aside (which is also not aimed at the people collecting the data but at the current state of the equipment) a number of the comments are aimed at how the non-existent data will be entered into the record. They are aimed at the ones who manipulate questionable siting figures to help produce “proof” of AGW. You know, the ones who march to the beat of the Al-Gore-Rhythmistas. :D

  30. Ed Fix (17:16:03) :
    This is my survey, and I also say “unfair”.

    juan (17:52:15) :
    I have now visited about 6 station sites. All the local people I have talked to have been cordial, open, and even supportive of what we are doing. I would like to use WUWT site as a reference for them, but I’m afraid they might feel they are being ridiculed.

    evanmjones (20:52:00) :
    The blame for poor siting does not fall on the curators.

    Afraid I have to agree with “unfair”. Poor siting indeed does not fall on the curators, but a measure of ridicule/censure does when they see their site picked for the “How not to measure temperature” series after years of faithful tedium recording and submitting data.

    I just finished an Iowa site, and the curator couldn’t have been nicer. He took over the station from his son. The present location isn’t ideal, being near the house with a stand of trees surrounding three sides. The house sits atop a hill, however, and the trees are an essential windbreak. Farther away from the house would be fatal to the sensor, for the hill is a lightning magnet and the house has a full complement of lightning rods. Trees beyond the sensor show lightning scars, and a strike destroyed the inside readout once.

    The site moved around in town several times, and finally out to the farm where it is now. Had he not taken it, we might have lost a long (1890’s) record to Filnet.

    If we’re going to continue the “How not to” thread, perhaps we might leave out the station identification in the story. Anyone wanting to know could easily find out (the photo link title), but we might otherwise spare some curators some undeserved hard feelings.

  31. Yep… Fisheries “management”(conservationalists) do the same… They take catch records and call it carefully collected and collated data. The assumption being all fisherman and operations are the same…. and of course all fisherman are scrupulous with the truth (yeah right)…… both assumptions are wrong… But the “scientists” (environmental activists) manipulate the shoddy data to show anything they desire… Inevitably to the detriment of the fishing industry.

    So as an ex fisherman, it comes as no surprise to see the Eco Fascists engaging the same sort of tactics in the gathering of data for climate “studies” (Propaganda)

    It’s been a highly successful tactic for them for a long time, making up science out of Bureaucratic record keeping.

  32. Hate to sound like a naif, but couldn’t these things be excluded from urban and suburban neighborhoods and located in places where human activity doesn’t change the parameters. Places like National Parks and National Forests, (let the Rangers- more on the way- do the readings) or Private Golf Courses (let the pro take the readings) or even in extensive back yards.

    Like Edyfix, I appreciate the efforts of the citizens who monitor these things, but think that the subject is a little more important than to be left to folks who have day jobs, take vacations, and so on. Can we re-analyze the data set from only the stations that are not compromised by the (very) local environment? For example, living on an acre+, more than half of the property is home only to the wild things still living in the Sonoran Desert. Put one of those thingys by my back fence and it won’t know anything other than what the temperature is doing, ’cause no human being other than the monitor will ever see it.

    Can Anthony’s survey identify “pristine sites” and reduce the data set to only those sites which are not cmpromised by local development(s)? New sites dedicated to The Question” would probably be a good idea, but at the expense of starting from scratch. With all the compu-power out there, is there not a way to separate wheat from chaff without reinventing grain?

  33. Question – are readings taken at the same local time every day at each station? If so, one need only look at the world time zones (which are subject to political boundaries, and such things as daylight savings time ) to understand at least one of the problems with this. Here’s a time zone overlay for Google Earth – http://www.barnabu.co.uk/files/kmz/timezone_clock.kmz .

  34. Mike McMillan (00:36:37) :

    “just finished an Iowa site, and the curator couldn’t have been nicer. ”

    Which just goes to illustrate what I’ve always known–that rural Iowans are the nicest people on earth (this from a former Iowa farm boy).

    L (01:40:03) :

    “…couldn’t these things be excluded from urban and suburban neighborhoods and located in places where human activity doesn’t change the parameters…”

    As far as “urban” settings, this one is about as good as it gets. It’s at the far south end of a small (pop ~6500) town, well away from the heat from the business district.

    I was once at a conference where, after a researcher presented his work, an audience member made a rather thoughtless off-the-cuff comment about the quality of the underlying data.

    The researcher’s answer was priceless, “Yes, it would be nice to have an infinite amount of noiseless data. The real world is seldom so accomodating.”

    The Coop manager does know what kind of data he needs, but in the end, you always have to work with what you can get, not with what you wish you had. And he’s monitoring weather, not climate.

    As I understand it, the deck where the sensor was mounted was deteriorating and had to be removed for safety. I’m sure the Coop manager didn’t have a hole built into his schedule just in case a station had to be moved that week. They also have a big job, involving more than just monitoring these volunteers.

    I just hope the owner of the house doesn’t see this post, because if she does, I’ll never be able to get a re-survey when the monitor is operational again.

  35. another “bubkes” deletet on “realclimate” by gavin and censored friends:

    I think, they do not like reality:

    why are “bubkes” so funny?

    what do you “experts” say to the lower atmosphäre t trend:
    1978/2004:

    RATPAC (radiosonde) 0.02±0.07ºC per decade
    HadAT2 (radiosonde) 0.03±0.08ºC per decade
    UAH (satellite) 0.04±0.08ºC per decade
    RSS (satellite) 0.13±0.08ºC per decade
    UMd (satellite) 0.20±0.07ºC per decade
    NCEP50 (reanalysis) -0.04±0.10ºC per decade
    ERA40 (reanalysis) 0.07±0.10ºC per decade.

    yea, realy bubkes, but real data for people who likes messuring urban heat islands.

    what has realclimate.org to do with REAL CLIMATE if you permanant ignore or delete this “bubkes”???

  36. Ed Fix (17:16:03) :

    Many of these people volunteer their own time and their own property to do this reporting (it can’t be easy mowing around this thing without disturbing it). They deserve our thanks, and they certainly deserve the benefit of the doubt when things aren’t perfect.

    I am having the impression that these people don’t get paid to do their job, correct me if I am wrong. I would spend less money in useless computer models and allocate some money to give them some cash for their trouble.
    Do they, at least, recieve some kind of gratification, like a GISS barbecue or something? Honest question.

    What about the stations located at airports? I guess the person in charge gets paid by the airport authorities. Can that pose some sort of bias?

    J.Hansford (01:36:54) :

    So as an ex fisherman, it comes as no surprise to see the Eco Fascists engaging the same sort of tactics in the gathering of data for climate “studies” (Propaganda)

    I don’t think ‘eco fascists’ is a right term. From what I know, these people come from a left background. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the left drifted to more ‘ecological’ positions. I would call them ‘eco communists’ As in ‘we have to do what I demand to save the Earth’, cap and trade included.

  37. The new location is 21 feet from the house? Doesn’t that violate the siting requirements? As for the air conditioner outside unit next door: It doesn’t run all the time, so some of the measurements should be OK. Just have to guess which ones. I’m sure there is an algorithm for that.

  38. maby its not very clever, to show this stations in the web?

    there are too many j. hasen fans and “world rescuer” all around.

    they may go out with their hair dryer…to “help the dramatic warming”…

  39. Yes. Thanks to Anthony. Thanks to Ed Fix. Thanks to the moderators. And Thanks to the Curators! Without their efforts, *all* the data would be “Mann made”. I’m sure they’d prefer that their efforts were applied to better-sited stations, but we’ve gotta play the hand we’re dealt.

    Whose job is it to keep the “metadata” up to “metadate”? Curator? Coop manager? Can we “get on their case” – maybe even help them? This might be something we *can* do something about. (before everybody forgets what happened)

    Best,
    Frank

  40. “Either NOAA is in the climate measurement business or they are not, there’s no room for shoddy data gathering when records for individual stations are often cited for new records. – Anthony”

    Hear, hear! This is hard to disagree with.

    I used to be in SAC when LeMay was Commanding. He once famously said, “I don’t have time to distinguish between the unfortunate and the incompetent.”

    Too bad we don’t have someone like General LeMay to run NOAA.

  41. urederra (05:58:07) :
    I don’t think ‘eco fascists’ is a right term. From what I know, these people come from a left background. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the left drifted to more ‘ecological’ positions. I would call them ‘eco communists’ As in ‘we have to do what I demand to save the Earth’, cap and trade included.

    Fascist is correct. Communists want to own your stuff. Fascists don’t. They just want to tell you what you can do with it, as though they did own it.

    They’re two faces of socialism, and I can’t fathom why they hate each other.

  42. urederra (05:58:07) : “I don’t think ‘eco fascists’ is a right term. From what I know, these people come from a left background. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the left drifted to more ‘ecological’ positions. I would call them ‘eco communists’ As in ‘we have to do what I demand to save the Earth’, cap and trade included.”

    I don’t disagree that they tend to be Left, but at least in the American sense, Fascism is hardly “Right”. Most on the Right would never tolerate the level of government power in either a Communist or Fascist system.

    But don’t confuse Fascism with Nazism (although Nazis were very nature conscious) because it Fascism is not a priori anti-Semitic.

    Mussolini Nationalized industries as part of his “Corporatist” economic ideology-Hugo Chavez is general thought to be a Communist, but he to has state run industries. The current government in the US is center left-and they are poised to nationalize the auto industry. Really if anything Fascism is left. It in no way resembles the American Right, which generally prefers as little government control of society as possible.

    Maybe the Right in Europe is totally different. If so, I feel sorry for them. A choice between socialists who want to control your lives and fanatical nationalists who want to control your lives…isn’t much of a choice.

  43. I really need to learn how to convey myself better.

    Mike McMillan (10:17:16) : “I can’t fathom why they hate each other.” They compete for the same base.

  44. The fact that we have to get permission from a resident to take pictures of a sensor whose data is being used in a very expensive cap and trade scheme speaks volumes about the cap and trade bill being discussed in the Senate. This whole thing is built on a straw house next to the sea shore on a sand bar. The private citizen has nothing to fear regarding shame. They were once used for the right purpose but have since become the unwitting participants in the greatest snake oil pitch of two centuries.

  45. One more comment that I also sent to politiFact.com regarding the cost estimates of the cap and trade bill. All estimates are based on the continued warming trend based on CO2 science (cough cough). But what happens to the cost when if finally dawns on people that the world is not getting warmer? Or that CO2 is not to blame? What kinds of costs will we incur then from trash bonds, failed eco-businesses, and our (by then) back of the pack position in jobs that disappeared overseas as well as domestic oil production? The cost of the cap and trade scheme should also include the cost if it turns out to be a sham. Therefore all current estimates, even conservative ones, are way off the real cost.

  46. Pamela Gray:

    Even if the global temperatures went down by -2C the ‘science’ is settled…

    We are talking about a new religion now, imagine trying to make all the people agree that there’s no god…

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