How not to measure temperature, part 92 – surrounded by science

Last week we had quite a row about temperature and temperature adjustments in Wellington New Zealand. One of the stations cited was the Kelburn district of Wellington, NZ.

NIWA issued a response statement regarding the charges leveled by The NZ Climate Science Coalition here:

http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/news/all/niwa-confirms-temperature-rise

They say:

Warming over New Zealand through the past century is unequivocal.

NIWA’s analysis of measured temperatures uses internationally accepted techniques, including making adjustments for changes such as movement of measurement sites. For example, in Wellington, early temperature measurements were made near sea level, but in 1928 the measurement site was moved from Thorndon (3 metres above sea level) to Kelburn (125 m above sea level). The Kelburn site is on average 0.8°C cooler than Thorndon, because of the extra height above sea level.

The NZ Climate Science Coalition responded with a series of graphs that showed how the temperature record of stations in Wellington looks:

Wgtn_temp_1

And they write:

What’s interesting is that if you leave Kelburn out of the equation, Thorndon in 1910 is not far below Airport 2010. Perhaps that gave NIWA some confidence that the two locations were equivalent, but I’m betting Thorndon a hundred years ago was very different from an international airport now.

Of course we all know that airports tend to run hotter than surrounding areas due to the huge expanses of runway, tarmac, terminal buildings, and car parks they have become as aviation has grown in the last 100 years, so it is no surprise to see the airport hotter than Kelburn, which is higher in elevation and with a bit more greenery, owing to the nearby Botanical Gardens.

I had an interest in tracking down the Kelburn station, just to see how good it is. I was able to find it on Google Earth as an aerial view which you can see below. I was unsuccessful in my first attempts at finding a photograph to document the measurement environment of the Kelburn station. I picked up the hunt again a few days later, and found it hiding in plain site. Thank goodness for tourists.

Google Earth aerial view - click for larger image

You can see the Stevenson screen is surrounded by astronomical science, such as the historic Dominion Observatory and the Carter Observatory to the west (off screen). But from a climate science perspective, it is also surrounded by asphalt, with a car park to the east. According to the Google Earth measurement tool, vehicles are parked within 6 meters of the Stevenson Screen.

But I really really wanted to get a ground level view to absolute ascertain the placement of the Stevenson Screen. Lots of web searches turn up nothing. I found pictures of the observatories, pictures of the Krupp gun, pictures of the skyline, but no pictures of the nearby weather station. After all, other than myself and surfacestations.org volunteers, who takes pictures of weather stations while on vacation? Still I figured, this is a major tourist spot, within walking distance of the top of the famous Wellington cable car, surely somebody had snapped a photo?

Then I discovered something in Google Earth called “Panoramio”, which had a whole collection of tourist submitted shots around the observatories.

Bingo!

Here’s the full image from Panoramio, the Stevenson Screen is clearly visible. Thank you J. Baines, wherever you are.

The car park asphalt at 6 meters away puts the station rating at CRN4, based on NOAA’s site quality rating system used for their Climate Reference Network. I’ve found that the vast majority of historical stations in the USA have been affected this way:

One wonders how this area has changed over time, and how long the car park has been there, and how much it, and the tourist vehicles that park next to the fence have contributed to the Kelburn climate record. Someone familiar with the history of the observatory might be able to shed some light on this. Was the screen always in this location? When did the car park go in? How many tree have been cleared around the site over the years? How many new buildings (Like the Carter Observatory) have but put up nearby? These are all issues which affect the temperature record. Disentangling those influences is difficult without an historical context.

I don’t blame the scientists at the observatory for letting the climate measurement environment at Kelburn deteriorate, after all they are charged with looking upwards, not at the grounds around them.

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Bad siting???
Who’da thunk it??
GIGO + fudge factor

Rob R

Why am I not surprised by this?

P Gosselin

Neat!
May I suggest truncating the green curve at 1955 and splicing on the red line?
We have to hide the decline!

By using the “Time” feature for this image (which only goes back to 2002) it appears the Stevenson screen may not have even been there. It’s a little hard to tell because of the image rez.
What has happened, however, is it appears a new structure was built in the car park area just to the east.

P Gosselin

“Unequivocal” – another warmist word that annoys me.

j.pickens

And from this real world of sited temperature measuring devices, we are supposed to infer changes of 0.2 deg. C per decade or less?
These weather stations were not designed or installed for this type of function.
They were designed to give day to day, week to week, day of year to day of year type weather information.
“Calibrating” them with mathematical functions to ascertain fractional temperature accuracies over many decades is a fool’s errand.
I should also note that temperature gauges at airports are used to guide pilots in safe takeoff and landing speeds at various aircraft gross weights.
As such, estimating high for temperature won’t get people killed, as hotter air is thinner, and causes lift to decrease in the aircraft.
Being biased high won’t get people killed, so I’d bet that the bias is there.
Locating a temperature station close to the tarmac at an airport is a GOOD THING from a safety point of view. Maybe that’s why many of them are located there.
Cross purposes, folks.

rbateman

My understanding of calibration tells me that Kelburne and the AIrport are nicely calibrated, occupying portions of the same time frame. Thorndon is calibrated with nothing. Is is separated by BOTH time & space, and flaps in the breeze.

pat

the placement of the weather stations appears to have played a bigger part in getting the desired fraudulent temp results than people realise.
on any given hot day where i live, the media will make a point of going out to check the temp at the car parks of shopping centres and report the much higher temp. it’s done as a reminder to people not to leave their children/dogs in locked cars.
if only the media would inform them this happened with the weather stations used for proving AGW, people would understand how easy it is to fudge figures.

It is PanOramio. I got few my pics on Googlegate Earth as well 🙂
Great stuff anyway.

Enjoy!
[snip – Besides this being waaaayyy off topic to this thread – for the gazillionth time, we don’t post Hitler parody videos here – we don’t like people calling us “deniers” related to that period in Germany, so I’m not about to stoop to this level.
Let me make it really really clear people: STOP SUBMITTING THIS VIDEO TO WUWT – Anthony]

I lived in Wellington from 1998 to 2003 and the car park was there when we first got there (I know because we spent nearly every weekend up at the botanical gardens with the kids exploring etc).
Mailman

I can almost feel the cool ocean breezes as they waft across the parking lot and cars thereon so recently having climbed the hill.

Sorry, about the posting. I did not know that was not allowed. Please accept my apologies.

Splice

Bad siting quite possibly. Another interesting question is has Kelburn and the airport station diverged significantly over the period of overlap. Just eyeballing it looks as though they do diverge.

Antonio San

Dare to dream…

mikey

Dont know if anyone has seen this ourageous news:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/06/copenhagen-editorial

Bernie

I agree with Splice, the airport and Kelburn seem to diverge. How is the Wellington record actually constructed? It looks like from the GISS data that it has been dropped. Am I reading this wrong?

Alvin

Again, the word “Unequivocal”. The report did not need it. Why not report the data and be done with it. It has an arrogance about it. Definition: allowing for no doubt or misinterpretation. “The debate is over”? It smells of a victory dance, the sound of a poor winner rubbing things in the loser’s face. That is what is driving me in my readings. It reads just like the emails, the exclusive club of elitists.

Henry chance

Check it out./ Even the digital thermometer in my car notices parking lot’s are hotter than open country readings.

For non UK residents can I just give you a slight measure of one of the ‘World Leaders’ attending Copenhagen.
Gordon Brown the British Prime minister can’t even measure economic growth properly his alleged speciality let alone world temperatures.
Yet he feels qualified enough to call you and I ‘Flat Earthers’.
We Brits have identified a trait in Gordon Brown which we call ‘The Jonah effect’ where everything he touches turns to sh*t.
Lets hope he can work his ‘Magic’ at Copenhagen.

I’m surprised how well the data from Kelburn and the airport track each other.
A difference plot would be interesting. How far apart are the sites? Has the data been homogenized?

pat

There is also the unusual practice of adjusting modern temperatures to normalize historical readings far in the past when the stations have moved. The adjustment becomes purely arbitrary because there is no way to measure the differential at the time of station movement . In 5 out of 6 instances NIWA made adjustments that were totally unfounded, but always served the past was colder , the present warmer meme. Instead the thermometer readings should have been kept and a note made. When this is done, all warming virtually disappears.

Richard

NIWA Seasonal Climate Outlook Dec 09 – Feb 10:
El Niño strengthens, with conditions likely to be cooler in south and drier in northeast
The El Niño in the equatorial Pacific has strengthened during October and November, and is expected to persist at moderate intensity through the summer of 2010 before weakening during the autumn. According to the latest outlook from NIWA’s National Climate Centre, mean sea level pressures are likely to be higher than normal to the north of the country and lower than normal to the south, resulting in stronger than normal south-westerlies over New Zealand.
The Centre says summer rainfall totals are likely to be in the normal or below normal range in the north and east of the North Island, and in Nelson-Marlborough, but near normal in other regions.
Temperatures for the coming 3-month period (December, January and February combined) are likely to be below average or average in all regions. [Global Warming?]

Myranda

P Gosselin:
Alvin:
I agree with you about the connotations of the word “unequivocal”.
However, as I read it, the word “unequivocal” is from a quotation by NIWA which was used by NZ Climate Science Coalition, and then quoted by Anthony. At the very least, it was used by NZCSC itself.
If that’s the case, then it would be improper for Anthony to change it.
(Or maybe it has already been changed, and I’ve not seen the article as originally posted.)

Myranda

OK, I misread: the quote is directly from NIWA.
(Shortage of sleep doesn’t help.)

Richard

Dave UK (13:04:46) : ..Gordon Brown the British Prime minister can’t even measure economic growth properly his alleged speciality let alone world temperatures.
Yet he feels qualified enough to call you and I ‘Flat Earthers’.

Maybe the world looks flat to him through his one eye, and this is some form of reverse (perverse?) psychology?

Andrei

The thing that surprises me about all of this is we are arguing about the validity of a purported temperature rise that is swamped by the margin of error in the measurements used to derive it and is essentially meaningless whatever ther “real” value is.
In actual human terms the climate of Wellington has not changed in any way discernible to a human being going about his daily business in the past 150 years.
I am reminded of the apocryphal tale of medieval theologians arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin as I watch this drama unfold.
That is not to say highlighting the problems with the data collection is invalid since it goes to demonstrate just how uncertain any claimed temperature rise is in numerical terms.
Rather to point out that these graphs are just noise and we shouldn’t get to bogged down in the fine detail of them

Richard

Tom in Texas (13:08:21) : I’m surprised how well the data from Kelburn and the airport track each other.
A difference plot would be interesting. How far apart are the sites? Has the data been homogenized?

Maybe they have some code to deal with the two data sets with the heading “APPLIES A VERY ARTIFICIAL HOMOGENIZATION FOR DIVERGENCE” ?

The gloves are coming off
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-scientist-threatens-boycott-of.html
“Michael Schlesinger, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois, sends an message to Andy Revkin of the New York Times (via his widely circulated email distribution list) threatening some sort of boycott,,,,”

DanD

You mean the chain-link fence doesn’t keep the heat from the parking lot out? 😉

ShrNfr

Is it true that the real meaning of GISS us Grossly Insane Sensor Siting?

Spenc Canada
Richard

I noticed something about the Wellington Airport Temp graph. There is a break for 1-2 years around 1992.
From 1960 to 1992 the trend looks pretty flat, but when the temperatures resume in 1994 there seems to be a step change upwards.
Now this could be due to the actual temperatures being higher from 1994 or / and there could be an influence due to any possible relocation.
The point is are we comparing like with like? The tracking doesnt seem to be as good in the last year either. Airport temp goes up and Kelburn goes down.

jdn

I’ve been following your survey of temperature monitoring stations, and, I have a simple question. Can these stations near asphalt be improved by painting the parkiing lots with reflective white paint? Would that be enough to restore their accuracy? I’m guessing the ones near jet airplanes & air conditioning exhausts are beyond help.

pat

“nature” strikes again:
Climate: CO2 unleashes more warming than thought: study
In a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, British scientists
said a tool commonly used in climate modelling may have badly underlooked
the sensitivity of key natural processes to the warming caused by CO2. ..
The study was coincidentally published on the eve of a 12-day UN conference
in Copenhagen aimed at providing a durable solution to the greenhouse-gas
problem. ..
“We don’t want to be overly alarmist here,” said lead author Dan Lunt of
Britain’s University of Bristol.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.afe85e1b14d6994fd32df9326ec7175a.d21&show_article=1&catnum=0
Nature Geoscience is a scientific journal published by Nature Publishing
Group, publisher of the flagship journal Nature
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Geoscience
lunt’s publishing connection to tim lenton UEA
T. M. Lenton1School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia,
Norwich, UK
D. J. Lunt5 – School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol,
Bristol, UK
http://www.springerlink.com/content/y458p335v1658234
29 NOV; UK TIMES: The great climate change science scandal
This weekend many of Jones’s colleagues were standing by him. Tim Lenton, professor of earth system science at UEA, said: “We wouldn’t have anything like the understanding of climate change that we do were it not for the work of Phil Jones and his colleagues. They have spent decades putting together the historical temperature record and it is good work.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6936289.ece

charles the moderator

Pat:

Tim Lenton, professor of earth system science at UEA, said: “We wouldn’t have anything like the understanding of climate change that we do were it not for the work of Phil Jones and his colleagues. ”

I think you may have just given us the quote of the week.

Martin

They did good science then it seems…
http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WarEarl-t1-body-d21-d15.html
I wonder if this calibration has been overruled ??
Martin

Kevin Kilty

Alvin (12:43:10) :
Again, the word “Unequivocal”. …It reads just like the emails, the exclusive club of elitists.

Yes, and often without any justiication at all. A similar term applied to the work of one’s opponents is “deeply flawed”–used without any examples of the flaws. At one time reading it would cause me to see red momentarily, and then begin working like hell to show the deeply flawed work as being, in fact, not so bad. Now I don’t get so worked-up. I’ve learned that these code phrases ID the elitists like a litmus paper.

If you go through the HARRY_READ_ME file, he talks in depth about trying to match up weather stations from several separate databases and more often than not his final answer is, “heck, just assume they’re the same.”
I think this has nothing to do with siting and everything to do with the bloody raw sausage that is HADCRUT3.

pat

History is made: papers’ single call
IN AN unprecedented initiative, 56 major newspapers in 45 countries are today publishing a shared editorial calling on politicians and negotiators gathering in Copenhagen to strike an ambitious deal on combating climate change.
The editorial appears in 20 languages including Chinese, Russian and Arabic. It says the Copenhagen summit has the power ”to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.”
The editorial was drafted by a team from the The Guardian in London, in consultation with more than 20 newspapers.
http://www.theage.com.au/environment/history-is-made-papers-single-call-20091206-kcwb.html

Nic

j.pickens makes a valid point
“I should also note that temperature gauges at airports are used to guide pilots in safe takeoff and landing speeds at various aircraft gross weights.
As such, estimating high for temperature won’t get people killed, as hotter air is thinner, and causes lift to decrease in the aircraft.”
The airport temperature gauge must show, for aviation safety;
The maximum, locally distorted, temperature of air expected to flow over an aircraft wing.
This may not be the same as the general area climate average.

Richard

OT but This is big.
Climate Scientists wielding the party whip to wavering faithful journalists – 3 strikes and you’re out!:
email from Michael Schlesinger, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois, to Andy Revkin of the New York Times:
Andy:
Copenhagen prostitutes?
Climate prostitutes?
Shame on you for this gutter reportage. This is the second time this week I have written you thereon, the first about giving space in your blog to the Pielkes.
The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists. Of course, your blog is your blog. But, I sense that you are about to experience the ‘Big Cutoff’ from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.
Copenhagen prostitutes?
Unbelievable and unacceptable.
What are you doing and why?
Michael

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-scientist-threatens-boycott-of.html#comment-form

Dr A Burns

It seems the Hadley Centre is circling the wagons. I mentioned a few days ago that Hadrut data from February had been deleted, now NO temperature data can be accessed.
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt

Richard

The email with emphasis:
Andy:
Copenhagen prostitutes?
Climate prostitutes?
Shame on you for this gutter reportage. This is the second time this week I have written you thereon, THE FIRST ABOUT GIVING SPACE IN YOUR BLOG TO THE PIELKES.
The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that YOUR REPORTAGE IS VERY WORRISOME TO MOST CLIMATE SCIENTISTS. Of course, your blog is your blog. But, I sense that you are about to experience the ‘Big Cutoff’ from those of us who believe WE CAN NO LONGER TRUST YOU, me included.
Copenhagen prostitutes?
Unbelievable and unacceptable.
What are you doing and why?
Michael

DJ Meredith

Not having the raw data, and not having a high resolution version of the Kelburn/Airport graph, it’s difficult to accurately make an assessment of something the eye is wanting to do…
It almost looks like the Airport plot lows don’t go down as far as the Kelburn’s, suggesting that maybe the “lows” at the Airport aren’t as low as Kelburn’s, which would result in an additionally higher temp trend.
Would love to see these plots superimposed at a smaller time scale….like 1980-1985?
———————not meant to detract from the above quote of the week:
“In today’s regulatory environment, it’s virtually impossible to violate rules” — Bernard Madoff

Frank K.

Richard (14:16:53) :
It is my fervent hope that “scientists” like Mr. Schlesinger will themselves experience “The Big Cutoff” – from their sources of funding!

Leon Brozyna

Another one of those classics on how to measure the growth of UHI-type effects over the course of a century. So many stations still operating are found in built-up areas which have the biggest effect on Tmin, resulting in higher overall temps.
Add to that the studies that are performed from a desk, looking only at temperature data points and this climate change is more a video game than a fair representation of reality. When’s the last time real field work was done? When’s the last time these pretend scientists looked askance at their own work and tried to shoot it down? When was the last time they doubted the quality of the data they received and, rather than adjusting it, just threw it out?

Michael

Days since last “official” sunspot: 14
From the Space Weather Prediction Center
Updated 2009 Dec 06 2201 UTC
Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity
SDF Number 340 Issued at 2200Z on 06 Dec 2009
Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 05/2100Z to 06/2100Z: Solar activity was very low. No flares were observed during the past 24 hours. The visible solar disk is spotless.
Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be very low.
Geophysical Activity Summary 05/2100Z to 06/2100Z: The geomagnetic field was quiet. The ACE spacecraft solar wind observations show velocities have steadily decreased through the period from around 430-375 km/s.
Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be at quiet levels for the next three days (07-09 December).
http://www.solarcycle24.com/

Queenslander!

Is there any move to survey weather stations around the world? What is needed apart from a camera? I’d help if I could.

Gail Combs

Dave UK (13:04:46) :
For non UK residents can I just give you a slight measure of one of the ‘World Leaders’ attending Copenhagen.
Gordon Brown the British Prime minister can’t even measure economic growth properly his alleged speciality let alone world temperatures.
Yet he feels qualified enough to call you and I ‘Flat Earthers’.
We Brits have identified a trait in Gordon Brown which we call ‘The Jonah effect’ where everything he touches turns to sh*t.
Lets hope he can work his ‘Magic’ at Copenhagen.
Reply
I managed to stumble across a recent article where Gordon Brown visited severely wounded soldiers at a hospital. They refused to speak to him. One even left the hospital rather than be in his presence! I guess the guy is really well loved. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6945976.ece

crosspatch

Hmm, have a look at this.
Notice how yesterday shows a record high temperature of 78 degrees for Samburg, TN for 5 December while surrounding stations show record lows. A look at wunderground shows the nearest town … Dyersburg, TN … having a high temperature of only 39F on that day.
What caught my eye was a single “record high temperature” in a sea of record lows.