Pielke Sr. responds to NCDC's "Talking Points" about surfacestations.org

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Roger A. Pielke Sr. Comments On The NCDC Talking Point Response To The Report “Is The U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?” By Anthony Watts

The National Climate Data Center (NCDC) has responded to the excellent report

Watts, A. 2009: Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable? 28 pages, March 2009 The Heartland Institute [hard copies available from The Heartland Institute 19 South LaSalle Street #903 Chicago Illinois 60603]

which I weblogged on at “Is The U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?” By Anthony Watts.

The NCDC “Talking Points” released on June 9, 2009  are available at

Talking Points related to: Is the U.S. Temperature Record Reliable?

Unfortunately, the author of the NCDC Talking Points cavalierly and poorly responded to Anthony Watts report. They did not even have the courtesy to cite the report! {UPDATE 7/3/09: They have now cited Anthony’s report, but retained the original date of the Talking Points of June 9 2009).

Below, I comment on their response.

NCDC Talking Point #1

Q. Do many U.S. stations have poor siting by being placed inappropriately close to trees, buildings, parking lots, etc.?

A. Yes. The National Weather Service has station siting criteria, but they were not always followed. That is one reason why NOAA created the Climate Reference Network, with excellent siting and redundant sensors. It is a network designed specifically for assessing climate change. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/uscrn/. Additionally, an effort is underway to modernize the Historical Climatology Network, though funds are currently available only to modernize and maintain stations in the Southwest. Managers of both of these networks work diligently to put their stations in locations not only with excellent current siting, but also where the site characteristics are unlikely to change very much over the coming decades.

Climate Science Response

Their answer confirms what Anthony Watts and colleagues have carefully documented.  An obvious question is why did not NCDC elevate this as a priority sooner? Moreover, if the current sites can be “adjusted” to be regionally representative, why does NOAA even need the new Climate Reference Network? The answer to that is that they have recognized for years that there is a problem with the siting of the surface stations, but deliberately attempted to bury this issue until Anthony Watts and colleagues confronted NCDC with the issue.

NCDC Talking Point #2

Q. How has the poor siting biased local temperatures trends?

A. At the present time (June 2009), to the best of our knowledge, there has only been one published peer-reviewed study that specifically quantified the potential bias in trends caused by poor station siting: Peterson, Thomas C., 2006: Examination of Potential Biases in Air Temperature Caused by Poor Station Locations. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 87, 1073-1080. Written by a NOAA National Climatic Data Center scientist, it examined only a small subset of stations – all that had their siting checked at that time – and found no bias in long-term trends. The linear trend in adjusted temperature series over the period examined was nearly identical between the stations with good siting and the stations with poor siting, with the stations having poor siting showing slightly less warming. The following questions address implications from that paper.

Climate Science Response

This is blatantly untrue and the author of these talking points know that. Tom Peterson, for example, was even a reviewer of the Pielke 2007a and 2007b papers, and was aware of the Pielke et al 2002 paper.

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, L. Schell, W. Parton, N. Doesken, K. Redmond, J. Moeny, T. McKee, and T.G.F. Kittel, 2002: Problems in evaluating regional and local trends in temperature: An example from eastern Colorado, USA. Int. J. Climatol., 22, 421-434.

Pielke Sr., R.A. J. Nielsen-Gammon, C. Davey, J. Angel, O. Bliss, N. Doesken, M. Cai., S.  Fall, D. Niyogi, K. Gallo, R. Hale, K.G. Hubbard, X. Lin, H. Li, and S. Raman, 2007a: Documentation of uncertainties and biases associated with surface temperature measurement sites for climate change assessment. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 88:6, 913-928.

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007b: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

In the second paper, we wrote

“Peterson’s approach and conclusions, therefore, provide a false sense of confidence with these data for temperature change studies by seeming to indicate that the errors can be corrected.”

The decision of the NCDC Talking Points to ignore these papers illustrates the state that NCDC is in with respect to Climate Science. NCDC, as led by Tom Karl, is not interested in an inclusive assessment of climate science issues (in this case the multi-decadal surface temperature trends), but are only interested in promoting their particular agenda and in protecting their particular data set.

NCDC Talking Point #3

Q. Does a station with poor siting read warmer than a station with good siting?

Not necessarily. A station too close to a parking lot would be expected to read warmer than a station situated over grass far from any human influence other natural obstructions. But a station too close to a large tree to the west, so that the station was shaded in the afternoon, would be expected to make the afternoon maximum temperature read a bit cooler than a station in full sunlight. Many local factors influence the observed temperature: whether a station is in a valley with cold air drainage, whether the station is a liquid-in-glass thermometer in a standard wooden shelter or an electronic thermometer in the new smaller and more open plastic shelters, whether the station reads and resets its maximum and minimum thermometers in the coolest time of the day in early morning or in the warmest time of the day in the afternoon, etc. But for detecting climate change, the concern is not the absolute temperature – whether a station is reading warmer or cooler than a nearby station over grass – but how that temperature changes over time.

Climate Science Response

The answer correctly reports on the variety of issues that affect surface temperatures. However, where we disagree is that the multi-decadal surface temperature trends and anomalies also depend on the details of the observing sites and how these details change over time.

This can be illustrated from our 2007 BAMS paper, where the set of relatively closely spaced stations shown in Figure 10 (reproduced belw) have significantly different long term trends, as summarized in Table 5 (reproduced below) from that paper. Despite being relatively close together, the variations in both the local enviroment and the station exposure result in distinctly different trends [Using the categories in the Watts, 2009 report, the stations had the following Trinidad (3); Cheyenne Wells (1); Las Animas (5); Eads (4) and Lamar (4)].

Even sites that are locally in a category 1 class, such as Cheyenne Wells, however, also have issues with the landscape in their local surroundings, as we documented for locations in northeastern Colorado in Figures 5, 7, 9, 10 and 12 of

Hanamean, J.R. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., C.L. Castro, D.S. Ojima, B.C. Reed, and Z. Gao, 2003: Vegetation impacts on maximum and minimum temperatures in northeast Colorado. Meteorological Applications, 10, 203-215.

Depending on wind direction, the air that reaches the observing site can have a different temperature. Changes in the wind directions over time can result in temperature trends that are due to this effect alone.

This local landscape variation as a function of azimith can be seen in the photographs for the Cheyenne Wells site in

Davey, C.A., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2005: Microclimate exposures of surface-based weather stations – implications for the assessment of long-term temperature trends. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., Vol. 86, No. 4, 497–504,

where depending on the wind direction and time of year, the air that the temperature sensor monitors may transit a dirt road, crops, or other land surface varations, each with a different surface heat budget., before reaching the temperature observing site.

The NCDC Talking Points ignore informing us why all of these local landscape effects on multi-decadal surface temperature trends would be random and average out.

NCDC Talking Point #4

Q. So a station moving from a location with good siting to a location with poor siting could cause a bias in the temperature record. Can that bias be adjusted out of the record?

A. A great dealof work has gone into efforts to account for a wide variety of biases in the climate record, both in NOAA and at sister agencies around the world. Since the 1980s, scientists at NOAA’s NationalClimatic Data Center are at the forefront of this effort developing techniques to detect and quantify biases in station time series. When a bias associated with any change is detected, it is removed so that the time series is homogeneous with respect to its current instrumentation and siting. The latest peer-reviewed paper which provides an overview the sources of bias and their removal (Menne et al., 2009 in press), including urbanization and nonstandard siting. At the time that paper was written, station site evaluations were too incomplete to conduct a thorough investigation (that analysis is forthcoming). However, they could evaluate urban bias and found that once the data were fully adjusted the 30% most urban stations had about the same trend as the remaining more rural stations.

Climate Science Response

The failure of NCDC to correct for all of the recognized biases has been documented in

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229;

a paper NCDC has chosen to ignore [another surface temperature analysis group has been open to scientific debate, however; see].

NCDC has also ignored

Lin, X., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, K.C. Crawford, M. A. Shafer, and T. Matsui, 2007: An examination of 1997-2007 surface layer temperature trends at two heights in Oklahoma. Geophys. Res. Letts., 34, L24705, doi:10.1029/2007GL031652,

where we document a bias in the use of a single level surface temperature (the minimum temperature, in particular) to monitor multi-decadal surface temperature trends.

The NCDC talking points also mention the Menne et al (2009) paper, which, unfortunately, perpetuates the NCDC failure to adequately consider all of the biases and uncertainties in the surface temperature record. The Menne et al paper was weblogged in

Comments On The New Paper “The United States Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Data – Version 2 By Menne Et Al 2009

Finally, we have several other papers in the review process, and look forward to communicating them to you when accepted for publication.

NCDC Talking Point #5

Q. What can we say about poor siting’s impact on national temperature trends?

A. We are limited in what we can say due to limited information about station siting. Surfacestations.org has examined about 70% of the 1221 stations in NOAA’s Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). According to their web site of early June 2009, they classified 70 USHCN version 2 stations as good or best (class 1 or 2). The criteria used to make that classification is based on NOAA’s Climate Reference Network Site Handbook so the criteria are clear. But, as many different individuals participated in the site evaluations, with varying levels of expertise, the degree of standardization and reproducibility of this process is unknown.

However, at the present time this is the only large scale site evaluation information available so we conducted a preliminary analysis.

Two national time series were made using the same gridding and area averaging technique. One analysis was for the full data set. The other used only the 70 stations that surfacestations.org classified as good or best. We would expect some differences simply due to the different area covered: the 70 stations only covered 43% of the country with no stations in, for example, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee or North Carolina. Yetthe two time series, shown below as both annual data and smooth data, are remarkably similar. Clearly there is no indication for this analysis that poor current siting is imparting a bias in the U.S. temperature trends.

Climate Science Response

This is a cavalier response.  In order to show that there is little effect on surface temperature anomalies due to station siting, they need to assess the anomalies over time in the same region for each category of station siting. A national average which includes includes large regional variations (e.g. see Figure 20a in Pielke et al 2007a ) tells us little about the quality of the data.

They also do not provide the details of how (or even if) they “homogenized” their data using other surface temperature information. As we wrote in Pielke et al 2007b
“….attempting to correct the errors with existing adjustment methods artificially forces toward regional representativeness and cannot be expected to recover all of the trend information that would have been obtained locally from a well-sited station.”
NCDC Talking Point #6

Q. Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?

A. None at all. Even if NOAA did not have weather observing stations across the length and breadth of the United States the impacts of the warming are unmistakable. For example, lake and river ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall. Plants are blooming earlier

in the spring. Mountain glaciers are melting. And a multitude of species of birds, fish, mammals and plants are extending their ranges northward and, in mountainous areas, upward as well.

Menne, Matthew J., Claude N. Williams, Jr. and Russell S. Vose, 2009: The United States Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Data – Version 2. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, in press.

Peterson, Thomas C., 2006: Examination of Potential Biases in Air Temperature Caused by Poor Station Locations. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 87, 1073-1080. It is available from http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/87/8/pdf/i1520-0477-87-8-1073.pdf.

Climate Science Response

Their claim that temperatures have been “rising rapidly” over the past 50 years is based on the surface temperature record in which there are reported warm biases; e.g. see

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

NCDC also is misinformed with respect to the other climate metrics. For example, they write

Plants are blooming earlier in the spring.”

However, a new paper in press (see)

White, M.A., K.M. de Beurs, K. Didan, D.W. Inouye, A.D. Richardson, O.P. Jensen, J. O’Keefe, G. Zhang, R.R. Nemani, W.J.D. van Leeuwen, J.F. Brown, A. de Wit, M. Schaepman, X. Lin, M. Dettinger, A. Bailey, J. Kimball, M.D. Schwartz, D.D. Baldocchi, J.T. Lee, W.K. Lauenroth. Intercomparison, interpretation, and assessment of spring phenology in North America estimated from remote sensing for 1982 to 2006. Global Change Biology (in press),

writes

“Trend estimates from the SOS [Start of Spring] methods as well as measured and modeled plant phenologystrongly suggest either no or very geographically limited trends towards earlier spring arrival, although we caution that, for an event such as SOS with high interannual variability, a 25-year SOS record is short for detecting robust trends.”

IN CONCLUSION

NCDC would be a much more valuable resource in the climate community if they worked to be inclusive in presenting all peer reviewed perspectives in climate science. Currently, they are only reporting on information that supports their agenda and not communicating real world observational data that conflicts with that agenda. The fault for this failure in leadership is with Tom Karl who is Director of NCDC.

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timetochooseagain

I was wondering when you’d pick it up Anthony! I put this in tips and notes days ago! 🙂
REPLY: Timing is everything. I chose today for a reason. – Anthony

Steven Hill

We are in serious trouble…..or, is it all planned out? The start of spring thing is just plain stupid.
Thanks Anthony, it’s easy to see that you’re the correct one.

Mike McMillan

(11:02:07) :REPLY: Timing is everything. I chose today for a reason. – Anthony
Birthday?
Meanwhile, I’d reeeely like to find out whether they compared homo’d or raw CRN 1&2 stations with the rest of the country. Are we looking at that ourselves?
REPLY: Why not ask Thomas Petersen? I’ve sent him two emails and have gotten no reply. Volume always helps, here is the email address:
Thomas.C.Peterson@noaa.gov
This is a public email address, so I’m not “outing” him. – Anthony

Jack Green

This has been covered before but look at Peterson’s paper and look at the graphic that shows a world view of the sights. South America is void as well as only 7 to 10 covering Antarctica. It’s eye opening when you see the lack of coverage of surface stations.
This is a major Rift in the AGW’s story along with the “corrections” NCDC makes to the data for poor location and urban heat effects.

ohioholic

“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

ohioholic

Attribution of the above quote to Ghandi, of course.

Completely OT: An advertisement for the Scientology Church?

John F. Hultquist

Quote: “Q. Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United
States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?
A. None at all. — ”
It is their question so I attribute the “rising rapidly” phrase to NCDC. Such phrasing ought not to be used even when they “cherry pick” the time frame – which they have, and when, in fact, it maybe rose slowly but maybe not, and now it simply is not rising. And the “None at all.” response. As phrased this is outright false! Of course there are questions about it – it is what all the kerfullel is about, is it not?
Nice of them to correct the attribution issue regarding the author and title of the report they were responding to. Foolish of them not to have done so in the first place.
Thanks to Pielke Sr. for the extra work making an issue of this and keeping it in their face. Likewise, for Anthony’s work.
Some of this stuff would be amusing if it were not so seriously misused.

hunter

Wow.
We have been so had.

John F. Hultquist

Robert van der Veeke (12:17:41) :
Completely OT: An advertisement for the Scientology Church?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just click on it. I do a Ctrl/click. It comes up in a hidden window and then I go and X it out.

REPLY: Timing is everything. I chose today for a reason. – Anthony
The anticipation is killing me… When will the reason be revealed?
REPLY: oh it’s nothing earth shattering, just my knowledge of blog traffic cycles tells me when certain things are better placed online than others, and I wanted this one to get maximum exposure. – Anthony

Jack Hughes

Did they really say “Mountain glaciers are melting” ?
This tells you a lot about the organisation’s scientific credentials.

Kudos to you, Anthony. You were Pielke’s student, weren’t you? Must be very gratifying that your major prof speaks up for you. Says to me he’s proud of you and what you’ve done, as we all are.
Special occasion? CSU is inviting you back to receive an honorary Ph. D.? Well deserved!
REPLY: No Dr. Pielke is a professional acquaintance. There’s no special occasion on placing this other than I know it will get more views on Sunday than Friday/Saturday of this week. – That’s all – Anthony

Darell C. Phillips

Although it’s “weather and not climate”, that start-of-spring acronym (SOS) worked REALLY well this year. Canada is saying they have no Spring/Summer this year and Australia & NZ had no Autumn. The migratory birds cannot breed http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/big-chill-in-churchill-47992231.html
and the crops are stressed. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5525933/Crops-under-stress-as-temperatures-fall.html
Here is a response to Thomas Karl quoted as saying: “Such major (weather) oscillations are part of a bumpy road toward global warming.”
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/extreme-weather-through-the-ages-48416987.html
So the migratory birds and farmers this year are messaging “Dit dit dit, dah dah dah, dit dit dit.” Global Warming? Bah bah bah.

Jack Hughes

There is danger in both pushing NCDC into a corner and in letting them paint themselves into a corner.
We need to reach across the aisle – to give them a face-saving escape route.
They are at least acknowledging (through clenched teeth) the work done in the surface stations project.
We need to be generous to them – maybe even ask their advice on how to improve the surface stations project.
The way forward for everyone, rather than a pointless fist-fight, is to work together to answer questions like these:
1) How to best use historical data.
2) How to best collect data going forwards.
The answers to Q1 might involve more research into the exact history of f the sites including when things were moved, when nearby roads and buildings were built, when thermometers were replaced, who did the readings, when did other people do the readings. I can picture a tall person and a short person getting different readings from a mercury thermometer – just imagine if Bert used to do all the readings, then Bert does the weekday readings and Sally at weekends then Bert dies and Sally does all the readings for 10 years. This could create a ‘trend’ that just did not exist.
Q2 might involve some parallel collection of data in the old ways – eg re-installing a mercury thermometer and taking the readings in the morning as well as using the modern equipment and schedules. We cannot travel back in time and get the 1960s readings with today’s technology and methods – but we can do the reverse which is to get today’s readings with yesterday’s methods.
If we are looking to detect very small trends then we really do need to isolate as many other factors as we can and measurement error is one of the simplest things to eliminate.
I would then go on to build well-sited stations and run these AS WELL AS running the old stations.
There has GOT TO be a budget for this fundamental research. The whole AGW concept rests on the notion that there is/was a temperature trend. It’s got to be worth spending a few million dollars on checking this out properly. With some pukka statisticians and meteorologists.

henrychance

Just a little group of small ideas. Pielke wrote about the influence of irrigation and it’s effect on rainfall. In this colorado example, there have been water rights litigation with nearby kansas and that could effect the number of acres under irrigation. Irrigation fields, especially the sprinkler variety (circles) can do a tremendous cooling. A hot angry warming enthusiast that lives in the concrete jungle of a city would have no idea.
This by the way wouldn’t show up on a picture of the house and the yard in which the pictures show the thermometer. It does show up in the satelite pictures. Again a variable is Colorado lost and was forced to let more water continue down the Arkansas river to kansas.

Darell C. Phillips

Jack Hughes (13:55:26) :
The ice-makers in our refrigerators have nothing on Mother Nature.
http://www.iceagenow.com/Open_letter_to_Congressman_Dave_Reichert.htm

Darell C. Phillips

Jack Hughes (14:19:32) :
There has GOT TO be a budget for this fundamental research. The whole AGW concept rests on the notion that there is/was a temperature trend. It’s got to be worth spending a few million dollars on checking this out properly.
Which is exactly why it will not be done. The emperor will not give you the funds to buy him a mirror to show that he is “clothing challenged.” They fixed the Hubble’s mirror of course, but they knew it was pointed outward.

bill

climate is about temperature “anomaly” not absolute temperature.
So you have the photos, you have rated the stations for accuracy. I assune you have proof that the anomaly is also in error?
A station of grade 1 100 metres above another grade 1 will be about .65°C cooler
Does this make the higher station invalid although it may be local to the other?
A Grade 1 station in a frost hollow will similarly be in error to a local Grade 1 station not in such a hollow. Does this make its temperature readings invalid?
What about siting with respect to water (sea / lake) etc. etc.
A station in the centre of London measures the local environment temperature in exactly as accurate a way (UHI will not have change significantly). It is the local temperature and therefore as valid as the one up a hill/in a frost hollow/by water. The all measure the local environmet temperature.
If you think centre of habitation readings should be ignored then isn’t this cherry picking? Isn’t a town is just as much a part of the environment as the country?
Adjustments can be applied to correct for changes in that environment (a new car park asphalted around it etc) . Most places will not slowly drift upwards/downwards – it should be an abrupt change over a couple of years.
If you consider this not to be the case then do you have proof that the site will wreck the anomaly?
If this can be proved then adjustments need to be entered for other environmental aspects – height/water/frost hollow etc.

bill:

A station of grade 1 100 metres above another grade 1 will be about .65°C cooler.

Really?

AnonyMoose

Is NCDC required to include a reply in their material, when they write about a specific publication? Do NCDC publication or transparency standards require identification of authorship or agency approval?

Steven Kopits

Interesting that the NCDC chose a 50 year time frame for temp change. That puts the start point at 1959. Go back another 20 years to 1940, and of course, the US lower 48 would show the 40’s as hotter than the recent decade.
Why politicize the institution? Why not just let the numbers speak for themselves and others draw the interpretations? If the temp anomalies continue to unravel, then the credibility of the NCDC/NOAA will be damaged for decades to come.

imapopulist

I would like to see a comparison of raw, unaltered data from the 70 best sites compared with raw, unaltered data for the entire data set. If these two lines match as closely as Peterson claims in his presentation, then I will be willing to accept his position (knowing that it still could be circumstantial but nevertheless it is what it is).
I am extremely skeptical, however, of any data base that has been altered, manipulated, adjusted, massaged, what ever label you wish to put on it. Particularly when the data comes from an organization that has an agenda which many of us believe is to promote a cause, not to present objective and factual data.
They need to understand that the general population is not exactly in a mood to accept government scientists and administrators at their word. If these fine folks are truly NOT manipulating they data, then they should be bending over backwards, doing back stands, doing whatever it takes to respond to the “data credibility questions” of the AGW skeptics.
It would be so easy for them to win over a number of us simply by opening up and putting our minds at ease that the data that they are presenting is accurate and unbiased.
To date they haven’t and therefor I shall continue to remain a skeptic.

bill

Cotton region sheltetrs compared to MMTS
http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/91613.pdf
A coop recorder’s view
http://njwo.net/cotton.htm

Konrad

bill (15:10:56) :
“Climate is about temperature “anomaly” not absolute temperature. So you have the photos, you have rated the stations for accuracy. I assume you have proof that the anomaly is also in error?”
Bill,
I believe it is fair to say that Anthony has effectively demonstrated that the stations being used are so compromised they cannot measure an anomaly as small as is being claimed. If UHI around a station were constant you would be able to measure an anomaly as you claim, but UHI cannot be constant for the majority of urban, airport or even most stations listed as rural. The US population has been increasing over the measurement period and with it the number of roads, buildings and other human structures that do not transpire like natural vegetation.
The raw USHCN data was posted on a previous thread, and shows no anomaly. It is only after adjustments that warming is shown. The plots shown for the various adjustments raise serious questions. Why is the correction for data infilling not random around 0.0 degrees? Why is the site change adjustment fully positive, when it is known that man made structures have encroached on station sites over time? Why does the site adjustment plot not evidence the MMTS short cable issue? Why does the equipment change adjustment not show an adjustment for the introduction of latex paint on Stevenson screens? Why are UHI adjustments so small, and apparently not used in USHCN 2? And what’s with TOB adjustments that do not reference actual recorded station TO data?

Jim

Jack Hughes (14:19:32) :
If NCDC want to be taken seriously and “be generous to them”, then maybe they shouldn’t write tripe such as this (non) paper. Had they taken pains to write something worthy of serious consideration, it might be different, but they didn’t. This is obviously nothing more that a hack job by them.

EW

bill (15:10:56) said:
A station in the centre of London measures the local environment temperature in exactly as accurate a way (UHI will not have change significantly). It is the local temperature and therefore as valid as the one up a hill/in a frost hollow/by water. The all measure the local environmet temperature.
If you think centre of habitation readings should be ignored then isn’t this cherry picking? Isn’t a town is just as much a part of the environment as the country?

Can’t say about a station in the centre of London, but I can say something about a station in the centre of Prague (Czech Rep.). It is one of the long European records, starting from the end of 18th century and sited in the former Jesuite college Klementinum. During the existence of the station, Prague changed from a town with 80 000 inhabitants to present city of more than million people. The record is therefore not a part of GHCN, but it is continued because of its valuable length.
It has been analyzed for UHI effects and homogenized using the neighboring rural stations. This study has shown, that it is not possible to simply apply some UHI-adjusting coefficient derived from the neighboring population growth – the UHI effect of the city growth increased until 60’s, but since then the following urban spread and further population growth did not add anything more. Moreover, the record has witnessed industrialization of the city in 19th century as well as its deindustrialization at the end of the 20th century.
Such changes are difficult to adjust for by any automatically applied algorithm and therefore rural stations with minimum changes of their surroundings are preferable. Regardless of their siting at the mountaintop or in the deep valley.

ohioholic

bill (15:10:56) :
Basically, you have just admitted that urban citing of stations played a role in the upward trend. Read your post again with this new knowledge, and you may indeed find yourself thinking a bit differently.
As far as proof of wrecking the anomaly, consider a station placed on asphalt. On a sunny day, the asphalt will add X degrees to the reading as compared to a rural station. Now flip the roles, and you will see that on a cloudy day in the city, there would be less of a discrepancy. Ignoring this sometimes on sometimes off discrepancy does affect the anomaly.
The rest of the argument seemed a little off. Why not just include all of these things, and windchill, too and adjust for nothing?

Darell C. Phillips

bill (15:10:56) :
You are ignoring that the siting rules were put into place to eliminate the urban (or if I may say “anthropogenic”) effects on the readings as well as hills and other topographical features. The system was set up to be intentionally “cherry-biased.” A station in your “frost hollow” would not have been allowed in the first place.
For example,
• General location sensitive to measuring long term climate variability and trends. The site location is representative of the climate of the region, and is not heavily influenced by unique local topographic and mesoscale/microscale features/factors.
and here:
Avoid high-risk sites: Extreme/above average frequency of tornado incidents; Enclosed locations that may “trap” air and create unusually high incidents of fog, cold air advection, etc.; Vicinity of orographically induced winds, such as Santa Ana and Chinook; Complex meteorological zones, such as adjacent to an ocean or other large bodies of water; and Persistent periods of extreme snow depths…
What Anthony et al have shown with the surface stations project is that cherries used to be forbidden but are now welcomed, as they serve as “enablers” that show that human (biased) judgment must intervene to coax out the “true” data. Over time it seems, most of the “no cherries” signs have gone away and are now mostly cherry groves. And warm (UHI) cherries at that. Perhaps Anthony needs a new CRN rating key, based on the number of cherries that a station has? Indeed, the CRN descriptor can stay, but now it might stand for “Cherry Reference Network” and the “Cherry Ratings Number.” The more cherries in a row, the more human (anthropogenic) attention is needed to modify the result.
What we need is to return these sites to “cherry free zones.”
http://cache.jalopnik.com/cars/assets/resources/2007/05/No_Cherries.jpg

Jim

bill (15:10:56) : Do you have the details of how the adjustments were made and would links to online versions exist?. I’m not a climatologist and don’t have ready access to journals, so it is a serious question. Any time the warmists apply adjustments, one has to be wary since some have applied questionable statistical techniques in even more questionable ways. Frankly, if they don’t even know the current state of the stations, which they themselves admitted, any statistical technique they employ should be analyzed closely. I would think any such attempt would have a small probability of correct corrections given all the variable involved.

Darell C. Phillips

A significant consideration when examining specific instrument sites is whether the area surrounding the candidate instrument site has a high degree of probability of continuing in its present condition, without major changes for very long periods of time (50 to 100 years). The need for unchanging physical surroundings, particularly encroachment by man-made structures, is a key factor in determining the probable long-term stability of a potential site.
and
The most desirable local surrounding landscape is a relatively large and flat open area with low local vegetation in order that the sky view is unobstructed in all directions except at the lower angles of altitude above the horizon. The area occupied by an individual instrument site is typically about 18 meters × 18 meters (~60 feet × ~60 feet).
While this would be the ideal, if all of the stations were like the above all 1200+ stations would have started out CRN-1. Instead, stations were set up and categorized 1-5. The problem comes when the standard is not maintained. Thus, a CRN-1 reports as a CRN-1 but has slipped into another category. Either maintain it as a CRN-1 or reclassify it and make official note of that for any future readings. Without consistency, why even bother?

Pamela Gray

A better measure of spring is in bats. Bats mate in the fall. The female holds the sperm till spring and then times it with food availability. All you have to do monitor when baby bats are born. That tells you either an early spring, normal spring, or late spring. This year spring is late and the bat population is seriously down here in NE Oregon. I have maybe 1/4th of the bat population I usually have.

bill

Konrad (16:22:39) :
I believe it is fair to say that Anthony has effectively demonstrated that the stations being used are so compromised they cannot measure an anomaly as small as is being claimed.

Can you give me a link to this proof please?
ohioholic (16:55:30) :
On a sunny day, the asphalt will add X degrees to the reading as compared to a rural station. Now flip the roles, and you will see that on a cloudy day in the city, there would be less of a discrepancy. Ignoring this sometimes on sometimes off discrepancy does affect the anomaly.

Is this not the air temperature at that station? And therefore a valid reading.? If the temperature increases by 1 deg C through GW then both stations will presumably increase by 1 deg C.
The rest of the argument seemed a little off. Why not just include all of these things, and windchill, too and adjust for nothing
I hope this windchill suggestion is a joke and not ignorance!
Darell C. Phillips (17:00:15) there is a bit of a height difference!
Album: HIGHLAND HOME 31.95°N, 86.32°W; 181 m
Album: SCOTTSBORO 34.69°N, 86.05°W; 187 m
VALLEY HEAD 34.57°N, 85.62°W; 324 m
Album: FAIRHOPE 30.55°N, 87.89°W; 7 m
Album: EUREKA SPRINGS 36.42°N, 93.79°W; 433 m
Album: ROHWER 33.8°N, 91.27°W; 46 m
Album: GROTON 41.35°N, 72.05°W; 12 m
Album: STORRS 41.8°N, 72.25°W; 198 m
So in the few areas I looked at the station height is between 7m and 433m
As far as I am aware, no one has measured the effect of
a buildings proximity
an asphalted path
Shading by trees
an airport runway/taxiway
Have a read of the documents I referenced –
There is a mmts offset compared to CRS
The offset does not change with age of MMTS
A CRS readind is affected by sunlight reflecting off snow (an MMTS is not.
To claim the records are all useless one should have the facts to prove it?

John F. Hultquist

A lot of the comments regarding stations and measurements miss the mark for this post. They have received considerable comment before. Search for and read them.
This post is about the offensive nature of the professional – using the term loosely – scientist(s) leading the cause of CAGW within the US Government, specifically, in this case, the NCDC. Note: key word in this paragraph is “offensive.”

Steve

Hi Anthony,
When the IPCC claimed that the GCM models (with GHG forcing included) could replicate the observed changes in global average temperatures do you know if they were referring to a truly global measurement or were they just using the US temp record?
If so, it could be slightly embarrassing for the models if the the US temp record has a positive bias and yet they have previously used their hind-casts as credentials for the validity of their projections to 2100 🙂
Cheers
Steve

Phil

@ bill (16:17:15) :

Cotton region sheltetrs compared to MMTS
http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/91613.pdf
A coop recorder’s view
http://njwo.net/cotton.htm

From your first reference, page 2:

One aspect of the MMTS transition that was always a concern but was not well documented was siting differences. Since the MMTS initially required trenching and a buried cable, ideal or preferred instrument exposures were sometimes abandoned in favor of sites closer to buildings that required shorter cables and little or no trenching. Concerns over lightning also contributed to shorter cabling configurations. Davey and Pielke (2005) documented several of these situations in Eastern Colorado and suggested that instrument location could be the most critical factor affecting in tracking long-term temperature changes. (emphasis added)

This is exactly what Anthony has documented at surfacestations.org. It even references Davey and Pielke (2005), which is also referenced in the text of the post above. Therefore, it would seem your reference has completely supported both Dr. Pielke and Anthony.

ohioholic

bill,
The windchill was a bit of snark.
The urban station would be affected by the warming of the asphalt on sunny days. It would not be affected as badly on cloudy days. This would obviously skew the urban record. As an example, the air temperature was recorded as 84F in my area of Ohio, but a temperature on the blacktop of a parking lot was reading at 100F. Assume that the temperature record reflects this day as 100F due to a poor location for the sensor. Now the next day is 65F and cloudy. The temp sensor reads 65F. The record is skewed because of cloudy days where the (close to) real temperature is included, or the air conditioner (different picture, same problem) is turned off, and so on. If you are suggesting there is an adjustment that takes this into account, I would like to see it.

Jim

bill (17:55:20) : You seem to be missing the point. The point is that if a station starts out as CRN1 and over the years moves up the scale to a CRN5 and the warmists don’t even know what the changes have been WRT new cement or asphalt installations, buildings being built around them, air conditioner vents pointed toward them, etc. ; how can you claim that a station that has undergone those types of changes will measure the same trend as a station with the same lifetime but with a CRN1 rating over its lifespan? The only way to try to make sense of the data is to sprinkle the Teams statistical fairy dust over it and that frequently doesn’t work out.

idlex

Bill wrote: A station in the centre of London measures the local environment temperature in exactly as accurate a way (UHI will not have change significantly). It is the local temperature and therefore as valid as the one up a hill/in a frost hollow/by water. The all measure the local environmet temperature. If you think centre of habitation readings should be ignored then isn’t this cherry picking? Isn’t a town is just as much a part of the environment as the country?
I’m with you on this, Bill. I have a mini-weather station which records temperature, air pressure, humidity, rainfall. Since there’s no garden to my apartment, I have to keep it in my ‘centre of habitation’, which happens to be my bathtub. And which makes it difficult but not impossible for me to take a bath.
And I get quite regular readings of 100% humidity when the local weather service reports humidity at 30%. And I had a whole 4.3 cm of rainfall one day, when the local weather service recorded no rainfall at all. And peak air temperature have risen as high as 30 degC when the local liar weather service was saying it was only 10 degC.
Isn’t my bathtub as much a part of the environment as anywhere else? Isn’t it as valid as anywhere else? Why does my local weather service not accept my data? Why have they stopped returning my calls? I think it’s out-and-out discrimination myself, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

… a multitude of species of birds, fish, mammals and plants are extending their ranges northward and, in mountainous areas, upward as well.
That statement is counter-factual and unsupported by any verified scientific research. The NCDC has no idea in creation what the current, former, or future “ranges” of “birds, fish, mammals and plants” are, were, or will be.
Absolute junk science!!!!!!!!!!!
That kind of baseless claim in an allegedly scientific report by an allegedly scientific institution is proof that they are blowing smoke, political smoke, propagandistic smoke.
The NCDC “Talking Points” are a travesty, a rip off, and a complete and utter failure on the part of a taxpayer-funded agency. Their report is at best a cover-up of their ongoing incompetency and incapacity to monitor and manage the weather station network. At worst, it is a pack of despicable lies.
The NCDC should be de-funded immediately. Fire the employees and close the doors. Watt’s Surfacestations Project has demonstrated that private citizens with no government funding can supply a superior product than can the worthless boondoggle that is the NCDC.

Bill Briggs

The sites seem to be poorly situated. All this talk of “adjusting”, “correcting”, or “compensating” the data tells us just one thing. The data are not data at all, they are educated guesses. And educated guesses reflect not only the education of the guessers, but also their theories, their prejudices, and their politics.
The global climate business is a house of cards.
Bill Briggs
Charlevoix, Mich.

This was just posted on another site and is quite pertinent to todays discussion.
http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/GW_Part2_GlobalTempMeasure.htm
what a terrible world we live in….

Konrad

bill (17:55:20) :
”Can you give me a link to this proof please?”
Bill,
Please read Anthony’s report “Is the US surface temperature record reliable?”
The link is at the top of the thread. Only 11% of stations surveyed rated CRN1 – 2. Therefore the remaining stations have expected errors greater than the temperature anomaly said to be observable.
These surface stations can be used for weather reporting or limited weather prediction. But these stations cannot reasonably be claimed to be useful in climate analysis unless a warming anomaly were well outside the known station recording errors. I feel that the hard work of Anthony and his volunteers has also shown that problems for individual stations are so varied that applying generalized adjustments to the temperature record is without merit. Given that the reported warming anomaly for USHCN is almost totally dependant on generalized adjustments, questions need to be asked.

I am a Pennsylvania breeding bird atlas Regional Coordinator (the Poconos). We are in the 6th and last year of our survey. If you know about birds, almost all of our data is in. Pennsylvania is a fairly big state, with a good mix of northern and southern bird species. You can Select a Species and scroll to whatever bird you wish in the , look at the data, then click previous atlas data from 1984-89 to compare it to previous data. Did the breeding area move north, if temperatures were rising. I compared quite a few species and did not find any significant trends. We have twice as much data as the first, so that can be confusing, because there are many more sightings. I did think there were a few species that moved a very small amount northward, like 20 miles. There were also a few that seemed to move southward. There was no dramatic or overall shift whatsoever. I wrote an email and sent it to my regional coordinator list, with comparisons, but not one wrote back or seemed to want to talk about it, of course! I am sure that 90% are likely on the “man is bad” and is “killing the world” kool-aide. They probably feel they care too deeply about nature to feel otherwise because that would be against the environmental movement consensus. (note:I stopped going to Audubon dinners after they started making me bring my own dish and silverware which i was supposed to take home and wash to save paper!)
[REPLY – I recommend bringing paper plates. ~ Evan]

DoctorJJ

This is from the link provided above by nofreewind. This graph is showing the average temperatures observed vs the number of reporting stations. Pretty obvious trend here.
http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/GW_Part2_GlobalTempMeasure_files/image007.jpg

Evan Jones

Dr. Pielke is quite correct, and he has barely scratched the surface.

Well, y’all are first in a series. http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-9111-SF-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2009m7d5-Does-global-warming-diminish-with-accurate-temperature-measurements-Part-1
Regular readers of WUWT won’t see much new there, but this weblog is the gift that keeps on giving.

bill

Konrad (19:24:56) :
Please read Anthony’s report “Is the US surface temperature record reliable?”

From that report:
These nearby heat sources, such as concrete and asphalt, have been demonstrated to heat nearby air and bias thermometer readings upwards by as
much as 7º C (12º F).5
5. H. Yilmaz, S. Toy, M.A. Irmak, S. Yilmaz, and Y. Bulut, “Determination of Temperature Differences between asphalt, concrete, soil and
grass surfaces in the City of Erzurum, Turkey,” Atmosfera 21, #2 (2008), pp. 135-146.
The very pretty thermographs prove that the sensor is not affectedby the local walls – sensor colour is cool- (although I am certain Mr. Watts did not normalise the radiative properties of the sensor and surface – wrecking the accuracy of this reading – e.g. a glossy surface can reflect the surrounding temperature and not the surface temp of the unit). The £50,000 FLIR camera I am used to using has correction factors for the emmitance of object was the emmittance of the wall and MMTS case measured?
The referenced article is talking about surfaces UNDER the sensor not vertical walls or paths nearby so proves nothing. It should be remembered that convection rises above the hot surface so would need wind to actually affect the reading. Re-radiation MUST NOT affect the reading since 6000deg C radiation is already hitting the MMTS from the sun.
I can seen no references to the scientific measuring of the effects of paths and walls. Perhaps you can point out the page?