KNMI has been measuring the wrong temperature for years
WUWT reader Mike writes with this little bombshell on one of the world’s leading meteorological agencies. It seems they can’t get their thermometer siting correct which resulted in a bias to the record. Hmmm. Where have we heard this before? The newspaper “AD” in the Netherlands has picked up the issue with two separate stories.Mike writes:
I left this on the “tips” thread on WUWT, but since it is also relevant to surface stations, I felt you should hear of it directly. It probably deserves a whole story on WUWT.
As you probably already know, KNMI De Bilt is the only station in the Netherlands used for GISTEMP. The nearest long-term station is in a suburb of Brussels, hence is undoubtably UHI-polluted. De Bilt is the only long record stn in NL & within 150km in any direction would be a useful correction.
Two stories caught my eye in the Dutch papers today about a 0.5-degree error in the De Bilt record which was miraculously corrected this summer with a station move of 200 m without anyone being told of it. Here are the links to and my translations of the articles.
Mike’s translations of the newspaper stories are below, I’ve added relevant graphics. – Anthony
The instrument stood too close to a line of trees, due to which on average half a degree (Celsius) too high was measured.
After discovery of the fault the thermometer was moved to an open spot on the measurement field before last summer, the KNMI has confirmed. Due to the change the average measured temperature fell half a degree. This measurement should be reliable.
The mistake resulted in that the KNMI has announced more “official” summery and tropical days than there were in reality. According to the Institute, the defect has not or hardly influenced the scientific discussion on climate change, because researchers use the data from a large number of weather stations. SUZANNE DOCHTER
Above: GISS Temperature plot for De Bilt KNMI – notice the step function. Click for source data.
Here’s a picture and metadata for De Bilt, direct from KNMI. While I can’t be certain, this photo appears to be after the move:
Checking some nearby stations in GISS, click for source data:
The GISS plot for Maastricht Airport:
One whole data point? Why does GISS keep a station in the database with only one data point?
UPDATE: Well if GISS can’t find the data for Maastricht Airport, everybody else can, and damn quick:
See Weather Underground for current conditions.
And this website, tutiempo.net , has the complete climatic data set back to 1949.
Call out to GISS: Hey Gavin, as an American Taxpayer that funds your work, I request you take a moment from moderating realclimate.org and put some work into updating this record.
Here’s the next closest station, Essen, according to GISS a city of 7.5 million – doesn’t look much like the KNMI record:
2nd story —
WAGENINGEN – weather Institute KNMI has been deaf to years of criticism from competitor Meteo Consult of its temperature measurements in De Bilt
Weather specialists from the Wageningen-based Meteo Consult have been expressing their distrust for years, because the KNMI figures in De Bilt were always a bit warmer than in Cabau, 16 km away, where there is also a KNMI thermometer. The position of both places could, according to Meteo Consult, not explain the temperature difference of on average half a degree (Celsius). It was also not taken into account that De Bilt is located in a more built-up, and probably therefore warmer, surroundings than Cabau, near IJsselstein.
The meteorologists from Wageningen discovered this summer to their amazement that the temperature difference between both places in the KNMI figures had more or less disappeared. On enquiring of the De Bilt employees, it appeared that the thermometer had been moved. Since the intervention, the measurements from De Bilt show not 1/2°, but on average just 2 hundredths of a degree warmer than Cabauw, according to the spokesman of Meteo Consult.
This summer it appeared that the temperature difference was suddenly resolved. Again discussions blazed between the weather specialists and it was decided to closely compare the measurements between Bilt and Cabauw. “It was thus discovered that last summer in De Bilt was still 1/2 degree warmer and this year there was just a difference of 0.02 degree Celsius”, explained a spokesman of Meteo Consult.
The organisation decided to call the KNMI and heard that the “weather cabin” [translation: Stevenson Screen], in which the thermometer is located, had been moved. According to the KNMI the measuring instrument stood too close to a row of trees. Because the trees continued to get taller, the wind began to influence the temperature measurements too much. Now the “weather cabin” has been moved 200 m away, to a more open spot on the measurement field of De Bilt. KNMI employee Cees Molenaars cannot say how much influence the old placement of the thermometer has had on weather reports. “We must investigate that. We only regret is that we did not keep Meteo Consult and other parties informed of the movement.”
The thermometer of De Bilt is the official measurement used for determining heatwaves, cold waves, and summery days. To speak of a heatwave it must be at least 25°C released 5 days. Also it must be warm than 30° for 3 days. At 25° one can talk about a summery day.
With a cold wave, freezing temperatures must be measured for 5 adjoining days at De Bilt, with also 3 days with a hard frost. “The differences in minimum temperature between de Bilt and Cabauw were much smaller,” said the spokesman of Meteo Consult. “The chance that a cold wave is missed, is thus smaller.”
The thermometer in De Bilt has less influence on KNMI weather predictions. These are performed on the basis of the data of tens of measurement stations. Further, for scientific purposes, such as climate change research, the central Dutch temperature was brought to life long ago. For this, data from various stations is used [NOT TRUE — GISTEMP ONLY USES DE BILT!]. Meteo Consult are above all happy that the riddle has been solved. For fun they have also calculated what an extra half degree in De Bilt would have meant for this summer: 5 extra summery days and 2 tropical ones.
Coincidentally, I’ve been conversing with Jos de Laat of KNMI, the Dutch Meteorological Institute who offered some scans of weather station siting specifications from the World Meteorological Institute (WMO)
OK then, you can find the first part of the report here (~ 1 Mb):
Especially the beginning of part 3 is relevant, I guess. Because of document size considerations for now I only scanned up to paragraph 184.108.40.206.7 (after paragraph 220.127.116.11.7 the description of requirements for measuring on other locations like sea and the free troposphere starts).
Descriptions of sensor and siting requirements are also available online (see below) …
… but they are more formal and largely based on WMO report 488, which contains some interesting quotes that are not present in later reports. The online reports also refer to the report below, which unfortunately I was not able to locate either online nor in our library.
World Meteorological Organization, 1993a: Siting and Exposure of Meteorological Instruments (J. Ehinger). Instruments and Observing Methods Report No. 55, WMO/TD-No. 589, Geneva.
These specs are worth a read, because they show that quite a lot of thought and analysis went info choosing the specs.
As for the 100 feet cited by the NWS on this page: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/standard.htm
I suspect its a round off of 30.48 m where 30 meters is the minimum distance to an artificial heat source cited for a Class 2 climate site as defined by the specs used in the Climate Reference Network (CRN) which has a French lineage, and likely traces back to WMO.
It seems that no matter where you look, meteorological agencies can’t follow siting specifications.
Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit has more on De Bilt and the adjustments that are being applied there: