Frigid Folly: UHI, siting issues, and adjustments in Antarctic GHCN data

A couple of days ago I sent this email to Jeff Id of the Air vent, as he quite familiar with Antarctic surface temperature analysis, having outed the many problems with the Steig et al “Antarctica is Warming” paper, demonstrating poor statistical techniques used by Steig, with help from Michael Mann.

On Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 3:11 PM, Anthony Watts  wrote:

Subject: can you replicate this?

Best regards,Anthony Watts

Jeff replied yesterday with:

I can replicate it.  The story behind this one is in the detail, which I’ve wasted a whole Saturday on.

Indeed the Devil is in the details, the details that few people, apparently including the scientists, bother to look at.

Jeff posted an excellent essay on the subject:

GHCN Antarctic, 8X Actual Trend – Uses Single Warmest Station


The red circle is surrounding Rothera Point station.

So as we can see, of all the stations available in the antarctic, GHCN has chosen to use a single station on the Antarctic Peninsula to represent an entire continent of the earth for the past 17 years (red circle). But it’s not just any station, it’s a special one. Rothera Point has the single highest trend of any of the adjusted station data.

Notice that the station is on the Antarctic peninsula, I’ve always said that using stations here to represent trends on the main body of the Antarctic continent is plain wrong, becuase the peninsula is in a different climate zone. See my discussion here and Jeff Id’s proof of it here.

I’ve also said time and again that most manned stations in Antarctica would be “urban” compared to the surrounding area. There’s no small towns, farms, pastureland, woods, etc to compare to. Just millions of square miles of snow an ice. The research stations are the metropolises of Antarctica, each a warm pocket of humanity due to land use change and energy expended to keep warm.

For example, this picture on a postage stamp from Australia’s Mawson Station, celebrating the Australian Antarctic Territory in 1997, may help you visualize the issue. Note the Stevenson Screen near the “living pod” on the right.

Here is the larger photo of the first day of issue card, the Stevenson Screen is also just visible above the snowbank in the lower right. Rather close to human habitation I’d say. Looks like its near a small AHI (Antarctic Heat Island). More here

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

I suspected similar problems might exist at Rothera, so I started looking around to understand what the measurement envirionment is like down there. First stop, Google Earth:

click for larger image

Looks cold, obviously taken in winter. But I also noticed something peculiar, that “tongue” that sticks out at the top of the photo. I showed my wife the photo without saying a word about it saying only “What does this look like to you?” Her one word answer: “airport”.

Yep and obviously not a naturally occurring one either. You can see that there has been infill between the point and Adelaide Island. I wondered what it looked like years ago? I found this photo in Google Earth’s Panoramio, circa 1976:

Rothera Station circa September 1976 - no higher resolution available

Looks rather sparse, few buildings, with no indication of a runway. Compare that to another Panoramio photo from a similar vantage point taken in 2007:

Rothera Station circa 2007 - click for larger image

Obviously the photo above was taken in summer. Looks like there has been some growth and land use change since 1976, inlcuding adding the runway with locally available materials. Given the dark albedo, and the mostly volcanic history of the Antarctic peninsula, it seems likely that the “local materials” would be volcanic rock.

Here’s closer view of that rock, from “Claire of the Antarctic

Rothera Research Station- Image from "Claire of the Antarctic"

Here’s another photo from Panoramio, a large panorama, which shows the entire Rothera station and the full length of the runway from sometime in 2008 or early 2009, based on the upload date listed. I’ve corrected the extreme fisheye effect in the original image and cropped a closer view for better presentation here.

Rothera Station Circa 2008-2009 - click for larger image

Here’s a link to the full sized lens corrected panoramic image. Warning quite large at 5463 × 709 and 0.6MB

So from the aerial and ground photos we can determine that:

  1. Rothera has seen land use change due to the infill for the runway and service areas.
  2. The albedo around the station has changed, due to the infill with that darker local materials.
  3. Rothera has seen growth in buildings, and presumably population since 1976.
  4. Rothera’s aviation fuel tanks seen above and here plus the new hanger indicate an increase in aviation traffic has likely been seen since 1976.
  5. There’s apparently pressure from the tourist trade also, enough that BAS has made the: Rothera Station_visitor_guidelines. How many ships and planes that now visit have anything to do with primary research? How much extra infrastructure was created to handle tourist traffic?

As an indication of an increasing tourist trade, there sure seems to be plenty of “tourist” type photos of Rothera Station on the web like this one:
From "Sue Ann's Antarctic Adventure" - click for more

According to a BBC reporter who visited Rothera Station, they even have a coffee house. Maybe a Starbucks even?

Tea at the Rothera base. Image: BBC
Getting on board ship impedes morning coffee at Rothera base

Here’s a DC-3 coming in for landing in January 2004. Research or tourists or both?
Image from Wikipedia - click to enlarge
Aircraft inside the hangar at Rothera
New hanger - gotta keep those planes warm or we are stuck here!

From the Wikipedia page where the improvements over time (and dates) to Rothera station have been listed) we find when the new runway was built:

With the commissioning of the gravel runway and hangar in 1991-92 air operations became more reliable and access to Rothera was greatly improved through a direct airlink from the Falkland Islands.

Just like airports wordwide, where many GHCN stations have been located, we see growth at the airport. Growth translates into UHI or in this case, AHI, since the next closest patch of humanity with a weather station is Base San Martin 75 kilometers away.

Here’s another take on the growth:

History: Built in 1975 on Adelaide Island, Rothera occupies a small rocky peninsula.  A 3000′ (900m) crushed rock airstrip and hangar were added in 1990-91, making Rothera a peninsula region logistics center for British Antarctic Survey Operations.

Information: Rothera can accommodate 124 people and boasts one of the few aquariums in the Antarctic.  The Bonner laboratory complex, completed in 1997, includes a recompression chamber, a wet lab and a terrestrial biology lab.   A large new sleeping quarters building , which can house 88 people, is being constructed and should be completed by 2002.

So it is with little surprise, given the land use changes, the increased infrastructure, the new gravel runway, and an increased  tourist trade that we see this sort of temperature plot from GISS:

Prior to 1985, it looks like recording temperature there wasn’t so important, as there is significant missing data. But with aviation growth comes a need for accurate weather information, and thus we don’t see any missing data since then.

Where do they actually measure the temperature at Rothera? That I don’t know yet, but given that the BAS puts hourly automated temperature reports on their website,and has a webcam it seems there is probably an automated weather station rather than a Stevenson Screen.

I’m guessing they have a readout for temperature in the comfort of the control tower:

Air operations control tower at Rothera Research Station

For all I know the thermometer could be on the roof or side of the control tower. Not unheard of.

Regarding the GISS temperature plot. There’s a clear upwards trend. The question is: how much of it is caused by localized human influences and land use change?

Clearly, Rothera Station is no longer a “pristine” place to do science, it’s just another destination, a pocket of humanity with an airport, a coffee shop and the only heat for 75 kilometers.

Is Rothera a good place to measure a long term temperature trend  to use for adjusting other Antarctic GHCN stations? Perhaps not.


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December 13, 2009 2:42 pm

haha, When I first saw the Steig recon and realized how many manned bases were in the easy to access peninsula, I called it a scientist detector.
The photo’s are great.

December 13, 2009 2:52 pm

Why am I not surprised – disgusted yes, surprised no!
I wonder how many square kilometres that lonely thermometer has to cover?

Ron de Haan
December 13, 2009 2:56 pm

Great job, well done.
These kind of publications make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Joseph in Florida
December 13, 2009 2:58 pm

This is blatant fraud, not science. There is no justification for this sort of shenanigans at all. Yet, this sort of story appears here all the time to the point I can not keep up or remember them all. Could we have a special collection of this sort of news?
Perhaps a tag “questionable” would do.

December 13, 2009 2:59 pm

Oh, good grief! They’re measuring the Antarctic continent’s temperature trend from 67.6 deg S?

Capn Jack
December 13, 2009 3:04 pm

I would hardly call this single station representative to Antarrghctic climate from a geological point of view, it is an outlier to the mass and happens to be in a warm spot.

December 13, 2009 3:05 pm

Wish I could get on that runway and scrape the surface with my shoe to see if the top is the same color as what’s underneath. In Baker City, OR, there is a crushed rock access road which has significantly darkened since it was laid down. Picture in gallery.

December 13, 2009 3:06 pm

I’m off to buy my ticket! Maybe buy a beach front time share.

December 13, 2009 3:06 pm

One feature of airports in snowy areas is that they scrape the snow off the runways as much as they can. So not only does the dark surface collect heat, it is artificially kept in a state where is can do so.

December 13, 2009 3:06 pm

These must be the new Vikings of Greenland, I wonder if same fate awaits them…

tim c
December 13, 2009 3:08 pm

Since it’s an automated thermometer they can probably leave it buried all winter!

December 13, 2009 3:08 pm

I keep waiting for some “world leader” to call BS on this entire subject of globull warming. I reckon I’ll have to wait till hell freezes over.

Charles. U. Farley
December 13, 2009 3:15 pm

Dave Wendt
December 13, 2009 3:18 pm

What is responsible for the rather pockmarked appearance of the snow field inland of the station? Could it be an indication of geothermal activity in the area?

December 13, 2009 3:19 pm

Hide the decline!

December 13, 2009 3:24 pm

GHCN has chosen to use a single station on the Antarctic Peninsula to represent an entire continent of the earth for the past 17 years
umm. this is supposed to be science, right? must be the ‘new science’ i’ve been hearing about from al gore

December 13, 2009 3:24 pm

And don’t forget the post from WUWT on May 7, 2008
Climate Models Fail at Antarctic Warming Predictions
Some nice NASA visualizations.
I would say the Rothera Station story is busted…

December 13, 2009 3:27 pm

I think you may be making a mountain out of a rockpile on this one. Those human settle pods you point out are designed to keep in as much heat as possible…I would wager that no significant heat is leaking from them. The only change, then, would be when the ground became visible and the gravel airstrip was in view of the sun. You might be talking about a heat island on the order of a few tenths of a degree and only in summer.
REPLY: Albedo on the runway is a big factor in summer, which when snowless raises the average monthly temp., raising the average yearly temp. And just where my good fellow, does that heat eventually go? It has to go somewhere. It does not vanish. -A

December 13, 2009 3:35 pm

Is there a temperature data set that does not have serious problems that just happen to support AGW?

December 13, 2009 3:43 pm

is this the “observer effect” i’ve heard about 🙂
“we” all know it’s true, but it’s not gonna change minds in copenhagen.
stick with your thread:
if you want to enlighten people. imho
can’t wait till this is over so i can delve into your archives.

December 13, 2009 3:44 pm

Hi Anthony,
The UHI, or AHI aspect of this story is hillllllarious. But the reason that GHCN uses only 1 research station in Antarctica is because of lattitude. You have to remember that GISS goes all the way to the poles but GHCN stops at 80 degrees or something because of the lack of historical data. So yes, there is only 1 station that represents all of Antarctica but it only represents the southern edges of the continent that reach below the limits of GHCN lattitude. If you look at the GISS temps for Antarctica they have several stations for the continent (and they even estimate for Antarctic temps when there were no stations bwaaaaaaaaaahahahahahha).

December 13, 2009 3:50 pm

Rothera Metadata History:
Rothera Metadata
Rothera Station, Rothera Point Adelaide Island, 67deg34’S,68deg08’W
1976 March
Data collection begins
Instruments in use – PAB, Barograph, Thermometers, Munro Mk4a anemometer, hair hygrograph and thermograph
PAB height 16.35m
12z and 00z manual obs 18z and 06z from autographic data
1977 July
PAB height 16.59m
00z, 06z, 12z, 18z all manual obs
1980 May
Wind sensors moved to temporary tower,
Wind sensors moved to new tower
Thermometer screen moved to new site
Munro replaced by Vector A100 anemo
Both PAB and Setra pressure sensor used
Both thermometers and PRTs used
PRTs replace thermometers
Setra pressure sensor replaces PAB
Three hourly obs – all manual
Vaisala PTU (height 31.5m) and Setra pressure sensor (height 16.6m) used
PT100 PRTs used
PRT aspirated
Vaisala PTU (height 31.5m) replaces Setra presure sensor
PRT placed in aspirated shield

December 13, 2009 3:54 pm

Bah, Humbug and Merry Xmas.
Although it may be claimed that one Tree may not be enough to gamble the fate of the world upon, may I make a counter-argument?
To you pragmatic kill-joys who, utilising the ancient and now discredited folk-lore of logic, systematically attempt to discredit the Science of DendroCrackerChineseCookieOlogy, you’re out of order. It’s Totally Robust!
Everyone knows that Scientific logic will overcome superstitious nonsence every time so why is it that now the only other plausible explanation for Global Warming- Witchraft has been discredited ( jones et familiars) do denialists claim that CO2 is not a candidate for demonisation!
Guys, one Tree for this Xmas is normal but one Tree for all our Xmases to come?

December 13, 2009 4:00 pm

“Those human settle pods you point out are designed to keep in as much heat as possible…I would wager that no significant heat is leaking from them”
Think about it – why is it not easy to live there if all you have to do is build some nice insulated buildings? Answer: because insulation only does so much.
The temperature differential in winter is upwards of 40°C between inside and outside. At that difference everything leaks.
Apparently penguins find that their body heat, despite their insulation, is sufficient in mass to be worth huddling together. A few degrees is significant.,
In summer it will be albedo effects rather than the huts.

December 13, 2009 4:09 pm

“Is there a temperature data set that does not have serious problems that just happen to support AGW?”
Mars, Luna, Venus, Io, and Pluto were all undergoing strong warming from 1990 to 2000. Wait-a-second.

December 13, 2009 4:09 pm

As I said…the only factor here is the albedo of the runway in my book…I do not believe 100 humans smattered around in very air-tight containment pods amounts to a significant urban heat island. The albedo affect may be real…and I placed the significance of it around 0.3 C in the summer (meaning 0.15 or so for the whole year)…which is not negligible. I just don’t think it’s going to result in big changes to the overall shape of that graph.
That said…I think the most important point is that this station is not actually on Antarctica…it’s on a peninsula…Antarctica has very different weather and is always snow and ice covered. So I agree that the GHCN database should not be using that point to represent Antarctica at large.

December 13, 2009 4:11 pm

One station determines the trend for the entire continent??
Why Not !!
One tree does it for the Northern Hemisphere !!!!!!

Jack in Oregon
December 13, 2009 4:12 pm

Has anyone built a list of the known weather station networks that make their info available? Specifically available in an automated online approach, with the data freely available for accessing?
I ask this, as I just remembered an automated network the fire services have. Its has 2,000+ automated weather stations, some of which are at extreme locations away from any known man placed heat sources. This network would make a beautiful tool to compensate for the UHI effect in locations like airports.
check out the automated results for some of these units in Oregon.
hourly, daily, monthly averages for pretty much anything you want to know about a location. year over year monthly averages show some interesting results already.
This network gives a great example of a comp for comparing like weather readings at the ASOS airport locations. Wilderness vs Airports in a data death match, with the wilderness having like equipment and life of site location’s point of view.

December 13, 2009 4:13 pm

From what I understand the Rothera Station temperatures has also been affected by ocean currents, as it sits on a peninsula. I predict that in the future that a college class about the climate scam will be required for certain degree programs.

December 13, 2009 4:15 pm

Climb every mountain, hide every decline, increase every incline.
I dont see anything wrong with their taking the station with the highest trend to represent the continent. After all the models predict that the warming will be greatest nearer the poles, and the evidence should match the predictions.

December 13, 2009 4:18 pm

Would it be novel to suggest to these dolts that one measures a continental temperature from within the continent?

Spenc Canada
December 13, 2009 4:18 pm

So now Australia is on the “Cook the Books” band wagon. What goes around, GW hide the decline, comes around, CO2 emissions “hide the increase”. Caught cheating! This things gets more twtisted every day!

December 13, 2009 4:18 pm

I’m not exactly sure where this particular research platform is located in Antarctica, but it looks (to my untrained, non-scientist eyes) like there’s possibly a “non-standard” Stevenson screen perched right on top of the toasty researchers’ laboratory. I’m fully-open to correction and welcome any explanation as to what that little white thing with the dark (green?) roof might be. Also, here’s an excellent overhead view of the runway and facilities at Rothera. I wonder how many lawsuits you’d have to fight to make that kind of impact to a wetland/marine system to install a runway in the U.S.?

December 13, 2009 4:21 pm

What they need in Antarctica is the ice continent equivalent to the Argo network, with an array of dropsondes scattered over the antarctic ice sheet designed to stay on the surface and not get buried in blowing snow (not an easy task I presume).
Then they report data to satellites periodically along with a condition code that indicates if they are indeed on the surface or drifted over and buried in snow.
That would of course cost money but would be a bunch cheaper then spending trillions of $$ on climate remediation that is not necessary.

December 13, 2009 4:27 pm

The UHI of that camp goes straight into the temp sensor.
Meanwhile, the rest of Antarctica is unihabitable. Might as well be on Mars.
The only place Antarctica is truly warming is in the minds of those suffering from Climate Scratch Fever. This is not the 1st time such imaginary runaway heating has afflicted thinking.

Anand Rajan KD
December 13, 2009 4:28 pm

I just looked up WolframAlpha for South Pole temperatures from 1960 to present date. There is increase in temperatures from about 1986 t0 1992 and then it falls back again. It seems a fairly dramatic increase: from a yearly mean of about -50 C to -30C.
Why did it happen?

December 13, 2009 4:29 pm

I think the scientists are just too fat and lazy to trek to the out of the way places to check the temperature readings and service the equipment.

December 13, 2009 4:38 pm

Anand Rajan KD (16:28:13) :
For the same reason that Scott and his team got caught by unexpectedly cold temps and perished. Read that account. Climate and Weather vary, always have, even in Antarctica.

son of mulder
December 13, 2009 4:38 pm

A few days ago Gordon Brown the UK Labour PM said
“With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics. We know the science. We know what we must do.”
I’ve always voted Labour. I’ve always followed science. I’ve always been interested in the the forefront of new technology. No amount of political spin, fatuous personalised insults, will stop me following science and being sceptical.
When I read a topic like this (in addition to all the Climategate related exposures) where 1 station is used in the official figures to represent 17 years of temperature trends of a whole continent and, of the 27 available sites, it’s the one that shows the greatest warming trend of all, I’m not behind-the-times, I’m surfing the tidal wave that’s going to engulf the whole AGW scientific farce.
It seems Mr Brown knows as much about AGW science as Mr Blair knew about WMD. World leaders sure need to act. They need to sort this farce out. They can’t make valid policy decisions based on clearly bad data, when the magnitude of the failings of the climate science process is masked by deliberately prejudiced data and adjustments. Institutionalised prejudice is a phrase that comes to mind. And climate science appears to be riddled with it.

December 13, 2009 4:39 pm

Station data from British Antarctic Survey:

George Turner
December 13, 2009 4:48 pm

Isn’t this like estimating the temperature of North America from a single weather station in Miami?
REPLY: Bingo!

Creation Man
December 13, 2009 4:51 pm

Yet another instance of faulty siting and selection bias. Does GHCN have a single weather station that we can trust?

Gil Dewart
December 13, 2009 4:56 pm

Never forget Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. When you measure something you inescapably affect the thing you are measuring. In the case of temperature, for example, avoid breathing on the thermometer at forty below, and site your met shelter as remotely as possible. From personal experience I can affirm that the Antarctic is a very tough place to make any kind of scientific observations. The workers there deserve the greatest respect, but remember the limitations of an extreme environment. By the way, to “Antarcticans” the Peninsula is considered the “banana belt”. It is atypical of either the adjacent, higher latitude, larger West Antarctic ice sheet, or the distant much higher, much colder, much larger East Antarctica, which contains the Polar Plateau. The Peninsula is to Antarctica, so to speak, what the Isthmus of Panama is to the North American continent.

December 13, 2009 5:07 pm

Picture of Stevenson Screen at about half-way down under “Rothera Diary — July 2008.”

December 13, 2009 5:08 pm

Here is a photo of the weather station at Rothera (dusk or dawn – hard to see):
According to the notes on that blog, as of 2007, it used a Stevenson screen thermometer.
Described on this blog here – he was the station meteorologist in the BAS and might answer some questions if contacted through his blog:
The photo of the “airport tower” in the WUWT post is actually the operations center – communications, ops planning, airport operations.

December 13, 2009 5:21 pm

Here is a beautiful photo of the Rothera Point Stevens Screen:
There is also a nice photo of one of the automated weather stations that are located in the field (1 to 2 Otter flights away) on his newer blog site:
He built the weather station that is pictured.

December 13, 2009 5:22 pm

Hmmm isn’t the blog research dynamic interesting?
After about 3 hours of comments and we have a file of pictures assembled, showing the local environment of the temperature recording station, lists of station data, history of changes, and a point of contact blog run by someone who was the station meteorologist. Not to mention that the story has already been picked up by a news outlet.
Next ! Now serving number 32 at the hide the decline debunking window. 😉

December 13, 2009 5:24 pm

SABR Matt (15:27:25) :
I think you may be making a mountain out of a rockpile on this one. Those human settle pods you point out are designed to keep in as much heat as possible…I would wager that no significant heat is leaking from them.

I think you haven’t grasped the physics at work here.
Heat flow depends upon temperature difference and the thermal conductivity of the material in the shell. Since the temp diff is HUGE, the materials are chosen to have absolutely minimal therm cond. But just as you don’t (and can’t) make your house a perfect insulator, neither can they (even less so). A HUGE temp diff times a tiny therm cond could give any value for heat transfer, depending on the exact values of the two factors. But even without looking up exact details, we know that there is absolutely no reason for them to make the heat transfer even less than it is with normal buildings in normal climates.
Lugging all that material to Antarctica costs money, getting even better insulators costs money. If the net result is around about the same heat transfer as for normal buildings elsewhere, they are doing very well and will require normal heating. No way are they going to expend even more money for even better insulators to get less heat transfer than we all commonly accept in normal buildings in normal cities. In fact I would wager that they are content with less, and use more heater fuel. All the heating must escape, or the building just gets hotter and hotter. The fact that the absolute outside temperature is really cold misleads our intuition, but the physical facts cannot be changed.
According to this page, Mawson uses 15,266L of fuel yearly for heating and ventilation. All that heat escapes. Do you know of a small group of buildings in a normal climate about the size of the ones shown above that use that much fuel for air conditioning?

December 13, 2009 5:24 pm

The ‘Team’ always say that warm Greenland didn’t mean a warm globe, because it was local warming. In the same way, the thermometer actually reads the whole continental temperature and not the local one because they use algorithms (which is like magic but smarter).

December 13, 2009 5:26 pm

This place is sitting on a peninsula in what I suspect is a very windy area.
If that’s the case, then the albedo effect of the runway and settlement may be significantly reduced, perhaps to a negligible level.
IOW, this may be essentially measuring ocean temps.

December 13, 2009 5:27 pm

It would be interesting to know the amount of fuel used for heating at Rothera. Regardless of insulation, every bit of fuel used creates heat that eventually gets into the local environment. If you could track the increase in heating fuel over the years you might get a nice measure of the increase in local temperature caused by heating.

December 13, 2009 5:28 pm

Regarding the GISS temperature plot. There’s a clear upwards trend. The question is: how much of it is caused by localized human influences and land use change?
I had posted a comment on the Air Vent earler ( ) – comment #4
Base Orcadas (60S) contributes to and is a modifying station for the GISS 64-90S zone.
This shows up well in the following graphs:

December 13, 2009 5:29 pm

One more photo – the Stevenson Screen is at upper right in daylight, sharp photo:
More automated station photos:

December 13, 2009 5:36 pm

I’ve just realised part of this graph:
is wrong, (the in the lower graph, the negative values have been added together in error) although it does not affect the overall conclusion of the role of Base Orcadas.

December 13, 2009 5:52 pm

Have you looked up the amount of Rocksalt they use?
Do they by any chance attempt to keep the runway open by deicing it?

December 13, 2009 5:59 pm

Jeff Id replied: “I can replicate it. The story behind this one is in the detail, which I’ve wasted a whole Saturday on.”
Not one second of this and all the work done by such people to try and bring back reality (also sanity) for the sake of the entire world is “wasted”.
Both the present and the future owes a huge debt to you all. There is no waste in what you do.

Anand Rajan KD
December 13, 2009 6:05 pm

rbateman (16:38:52) :
Weather vary, always have, even in Antarctica.
I know that there is weather in Antartica. 🙂 The variation I pointed seems like a long-term effect – a decadal one. Just type in “South Pole temperature” into Wolfram and you’ll see. It’s the magnitude of variability that is so surprising – Wolfram is throwing up yearly means after all. And there should be no UHI to speak of in this region.
For the North Pole, Cylt airport data comes up. It shows a similar ‘spike’, but about 20 years earlier. It goes down in the same way and remained low.
You can check out any city this way. I’ve seen a few cities – the graphs seem to hold pretty steady. Only the poles/near poles seem to be showing this, IMO

Polar Bears Are Vegans
December 13, 2009 6:16 pm

There must be a comedian who could make his name out of this material? (Not Gore,I mean from the sceptical end).It’s ripe for satire.

Henry chance
December 13, 2009 6:23 pm

On November 20 I posted that the CRU folks would immediately start justifying their claims by reason of the e-mails being taken out of context.
Here we have an honest attempt to put a temperature reading in context. It is influenced by the airport and human warming. I am told some of the airplane hangers on the North slope cost 500 dollars everytime the hanger door is opened and closed for a plane to go in and out. That is a lot of heat.

December 13, 2009 6:29 pm

Ed (17:21:26) – This from your site:
Climate data today
Rothera research station
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
temperature (°C) 0.8 0.4 -2.2 -4.0 -4.9 -11.7 -10.9 -9.9 -6.5 -3.2 -1.0 -1.2
windspeed (km/hr) 16.7 22.2 25.9 22.2 20.4 14.8 22.2 27.8 20.4 29.7 18.5 22.2

December 13, 2009 6:40 pm

From that site : “1400s – The rise in sodium in the ice marks a time when seas were stormier, throwing up salt onto the ice. Some scientists think that these stormier times mark ‘the Little Ice Age’, a period of much cooler temperatures that lasted until the 1900s.”
Little Ice Age? (Recovery from the LIA???) – I thought the warmists claimed the LIA was only a local phenomenon? Now there is evidence it was global? What next? the MWP was global too?

December 13, 2009 6:42 pm

Picture of Stevenson screen looking north northeast (IIRC) at then click on “July 2008” (1st photo). Second picture is of the base taken from the metereological tower from which one could presumably locate the Stevenson screen.

Graeme From Melbourne
December 13, 2009 6:43 pm

Picking the station with the highest warming trend = … clearest indication of the man made warming signal … = “Confirmation Bias”.

December 13, 2009 6:47 pm

FWIW, I’ve put a link to this article from my arctic page here:
That article has “The GIStemp Way” which in this odd case actually is a little bit better. GIStemp starts with the GHCN ‘unadjusted’ so has more stations to start with than make it to the GHCN Adjusted. Then it adds in a lot of antarctic data from SCAR. From the GIStemp Readme:

For Antarctica: SCAR –

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of the usual deletion of thermometers over time and then the UHI step that smears warmer perimeter temperatures (where it has more thermometers) into colder areas. So, at the end of the day, you end up with a similar “CookedBook Stew” but with different seasonings…
At any rate, this “GHCN Adjusted” article is just great! It also shows what you can do with the data once loaded into a simple real database. It’s not that much data and once it’s in and loaded, a lot of “what if” reports are real easy to produce.
It also shows how each time anything gets “adjusted” it magically gets warmer…
So, I guess the next step is a steady stream of “cooked data” stories printed out and sent to various senators? Can the OMB audit Nasa / NOAA / NCDC / GISS “climate books” too? Does it take more than one senator to ask for such an “audit”?
Just thinking…

December 13, 2009 6:48 pm

Wow. Great work Anthony / Jeff.
I see no surfacestation is left untouched throughout the world, even on the 7th Continent!
Way to keep on top of it!!
Meanwhile…over in Vostok….
As the austral Summer Solstice is just days away, the current temp in Vostok is a balmy minus 36 F with blowing snow.
Cue Gershwin’s “Summertime”.
Norfolk, VA, USA

Antonio San
December 13, 2009 6:54 pm
Come protest in Edmonton: coldest record broken -46c (-59c with windchill)… we love global warming!

December 13, 2009 7:12 pm

Apparently it is easier to find the thermometers on the web than on location. 🙂
Robert’s blog seems to speak of two sets of stations: One with 3, and one with 5 stations.
“three automatic weather stations along the length of the iceshelf, for a University of Colorado NSF project”
“5 Automatic Weather Stations that are run by our met department and which are scattered across the peninsula and ice-shelves”

December 13, 2009 7:16 pm

Anand Rajan KD (18:05:55) :
And there should be no UHI to speak of in this region.

What makes you assume that is the case?
At those temperatures heat island is very significant, you can feel the radiant heat of a car on your face when it is 10’s of feet away. If someone opens a door to a heated garage or home you can feel the radiant heat of the interior well away from the building.
If an interior building is heated to 72 deg F (22.2 deg C) and it is -40 F/C outside you have a temperature difference of 112 deg F (62.2 C) between the inside and outside temperatures.
If something in your home was that much warmer than the air temp, would notice the heat output as you walked past it. I don’t know about you, but I can feel the heat radiating from a pan of boiling stew when I am a considerable distance away from it, and the temperature difference is similar.
Temperature monitoring equipment can be effected by radiant heat warming at considerable distance from an object that is that much warmer than its surroundings. We are after all talking about skewing the measurement only a fraction of a degree C or so to totally screw up the value of the temperature record.

DJ Meredith
December 13, 2009 7:32 pm

Can volcanos effect local temps? I mean, it just seems that if you superimpose a map of the known volcanos on top of the GHCN stations things get kinda busy….
…and that one doesn’t include Pine Island, or the other sub-sea volcanos all along that edge of Antarctica. The Larson, Ross, and Wilkins neighborhoods would, I’d expect, to be at least a tiny bit warmer than other parts down there. Maybe?
In any case, putting a thermometer next to a very hot, continuously variable, uncontrolled, and endlessly fueled heat source and expecting temps representitive of an entire continent doesn’t seem like good science.
Unless, of course, we’re using current volcano temps as proxies….which would seem to fit with everything else we’re seeing.

Aqua Fyre
December 13, 2009 7:39 pm

Has anyone had a look at the Sewage & waste disposal issue at Rothera Station ?
There are two reasons for bringing this up.
First point (this may no longer be the case) is that the UV treated grey water is apparently dumped straight into the sea. 24/7-365 days a year. Does this plume of water effect local sea temperature. Is there a temperature effect due to any increase in microbial sea life ?
Secondly, it appears that Rothera Station now uses a Two stage Incinerator that uses very high temperatures to burn waste materials.
I cannot find any data with regards to how such a heat plume would be contained and not effect air temperature readings in the surroundings.
But this is an overview report.
Aqua Fyre
Does anyone know ?

December 13, 2009 7:46 pm

This might be of interest regarding UHI at Rothera, since the Stevenson screen does not appear to be close to any buildings or to the runway. From “The Urban Heat Island in Winter at Barrow, Alaska (Hinkel et. al. 2003) found at .

When wind velocity is ≤4 knots (2 m s−1), the UHI is at maximum strength, with an average magnitude of 3.2 °C. This wind condition, however, occurs in only 7% of the cases. At wind velocities of 4–8 knots (2–4 m s−1), the average UHIM (UHI magnitude) is reduced to 1.8 °C. When average daily wind velocity exceeds 20 knots (>10 m s−1), the UHIM approaches 0 °C.

I suppose the relevance of this reference would depend on the wind patterns at Rothera.
Of course, this would not mitigate the choice of Rothera to represent all of Antarctica.

December 13, 2009 7:50 pm

Regarding the living pods: In order to contain every bit of heat there would have to be no exchange of stale air inside the pods with fresh air outside the pods. By morning the inhabitants would be gasping for breath, unless the pods were built for astronauts, complete with CO2-removing-systems.
The perfect pod would require the heat being turned up only for a brief moment, and then it could be turned off until morning. This doesn’t go very well with the statement, “Mawson uses 15,266L of fuel yearly for heating and ventilation. All that heat escapes.”
Very good point, about the amount of heat that escapes every time they open the doors to the hangers.
Regarding the idea that the site’s exposure makes it likely wind blows away all heat: It would only take a single calm night out of twenty to effect the average temperatures. It might only take a single hour, if you were measuring during a time when the sun never rises, and the mini Urban-Heat-pocket created the day’s “high” temperature. Supposing that high was “only” minus thirty rather than minus forty, then that ten degree difference, averaged out over twenty days, raises the average .5 degrees, even if it only lasted an hour. And then they take that number and use it over the entire continent of Antarctica???!!!
Truly, if you left the door of your pod open, near that Stevenson Screen, you would effect the temperature of the entire continent!
Remember the time Anthony drove through the desert city at night, watching the temperature read-out on the dashboard of his car? Imagine doing the same thing, driving some sort of electric golf cart through this base, on a calm winter night when the temperature all around the base was minus 40, and the wind was calm.
I’ll do the experiment myself, if you’ll fund my trip.

December 13, 2009 7:53 pm

Caleb (19:50:40) :
I’ll do the experiment myself, if you’ll fund my trip.
Ahhh I see Caleb understands how academics work 😉

December 13, 2009 7:54 pm

At a guess the weather recording instruments would be located on a building. Looking at the snow build up around the buildings, instruments would be buried or damaged during winter….

December 13, 2009 7:58 pm

Did a new base get built at the South Pole by the USA? I believe the previous base is now buried under mountains of snow.

Indiana Bones
December 13, 2009 8:13 pm

According to Robert Webster there are 5 automated weather stations scattered across the penninsula. So, why use the data from the one most obviously subject to man-made heat…??
Oh yeah, they need to show man-made warming!! Doh!
And rarely do we ever hear the news that overall the Antarctic continent has been GROWING about 4% since the satellite record began (1978). And it holds 90% of the ice on Earth.

December 13, 2009 8:20 pm

I have learned an awful lot by reading this site about how these temperture measurements are taken and what proxies are. In the field of dendrochronology, any old countryboy can tell you that a lot of things can influence the growth of a tree. I transplanted a Live Oak some 10 years ago, when it was about five feet tall. Forunately for the tree, it was planted near a sewage system drain field. It is now the largest of nearly 30 oaks planted at the same time, now almost 20 feet in height and thicker than the other trees planted at the same time. Also, we planted two pecan trees at the same time, but buried my beloved pet dog under one so as to make the tree a memorial of sorts. It is now twice the height of the other tree.
Anyway, my real question is this; if the whole global warming scare begins to “blow over” in the next few years, what exactly is the “exit” strategy for all of the scientists who have supported it? How do they distance themselves from it? One guess would be a very slow, methodical retreat, over a period of about five years, with statements like “we may have had some of the science wrong..”, or “…of course, not every scientist believed in AGW…”, and my favorite, “…it was science at it’s best…self correcting you know…scientists were, after all, the ones who finally blew the whistle…”

December 13, 2009 8:20 pm

It’s a bit like using the average temp of Weipa, which is on the West coast of the QLD peninsular in the Gulf of Carpentaria, for the entire continent of Australia.
….. Considering that Weipa is tropical, it would make Melbournians blink twice.

December 13, 2009 8:30 pm

Concerning these Antarcticia temp stations, has the human factor been considered? I mean, how are these things read? Inside via a computer (my guess) or outside via a body and a clipboard?

December 13, 2009 8:31 pm

Clarence (20:20:00) :
This is a major issue IMO. The ones leading the AGW science research and write the papers that end up in the IPCC reports. The IPCC reports end up exaggerating the trends which in turn get whipped up another order of magnitude by advocacy groups and politicans.
By virtue of the fact that there are a couple degrees of separation and so many “contributors” to the IPCC shenanigans, there are plenty of degrees of separation so that no one remains solely culpable. Where would you point the finger? Sure there may be the odd fall guy like Phil Jones (maybe), but I doubt too many scientists will get too much egg on their faces.
Likewise we will have the same level of plausible deniability from politicians as the ole WMD argument that got us into Iraq. Politicans will simply end up saying that they were acting in the world’s best interest based upon the best science available to them at the time. They are not climate experts after all.
You see? There is no downside for any of the AGW players. In the meanwhile the scientists get to sup at the trough of research funding provided by the world’s governments and politicans cruise around on junkets to save the planet. They never go to undesirable locations, of course, always Bali, Vienna, Rio, etc …

December 13, 2009 8:37 pm

It’s interesting to see that the ethics of the Tobacco Institute live on

Jean Parisot
December 13, 2009 8:48 pm

How are these stations gridded? Is there a list of spatial component of the “global average” each station represents in each of the three datasets? It would seem if the “Team” was going to get creative with adjustments they would have done so where they got the most value — when a crooked shopkeeper is going to put his thumb on the scale he does it for the fish, not the potatoes. Might make a nice map to start working this data back.

December 13, 2009 8:51 pm

Ed (17:29:07) :
More automated station photos:
That’s a good one, with an airplane in the background.
There may be more than one instrument in the area that measures temperature.
I’d say likely, since there is an airport. How would we know which station is used and by whom?

Jean Parisot
December 13, 2009 8:53 pm

Opening the shelter door is a butterfly’s wing compared to the vehicle and generator exhaust that will be present when people are working. Those engines are left running for long periods of time, I am also certain that the original siting of the station was due in part to its “mild” weather conditions.

December 13, 2009 9:00 pm

I can’t take much more of this crap that’s going on. One station? Where the eff is the ‘objective’ media on this?

Aqua Fyre
December 13, 2009 9:05 pm

J.Hansford wrote :
“It’s a bit like using the average temp of Weipa, which is on the West coast of the QLD peninsular for the entire continent of Australia. Considering that Weipa is tropical, it would make Melbournians blink twice.”
I was thinking along the same lines.
Except I was thinking of using tropical Darwin’s Airport ‘smoking gun’ to ‘warm up’ Hobart.
Chck Chck Boom.

Dave F
December 13, 2009 9:05 pm

I would just like to point out that you do not forget to close the door in Antarctica. I believe they vote you off the island for that. 😉

December 13, 2009 9:17 pm

This graph by NASA GISS appears to give a more varied picture for 1955 -> 2005 annual mean temperatures, and, if I’m not mistaken, says that the southern most part of Antarctica has been cooling.

December 13, 2009 9:19 pm
Bill Parsons
December 13, 2009 9:22 pm

On Mon, 2009-02-09 at 16:53 +0000, Phil Jones wrote:
I’ve done a lot with the Antarctic temperature data – I also have an
archive of MSLP data for most sites (for some it is station level pressure).
With regards homogeneity it is difficult to do much beyond the Peninsula
(and be confident about anything) as the stations are too far apart. There is an issue I could ask Adrian – whether ERA-INTERIM is good enough since 1988? This could also assess the AVHRR, but this may be circular.
I’ve read Steig et al now, and I can see all the comments on the CA and
RC sites about some of the data. It seems that BAS have made some mistakes with some of the AWS sites. The only AWS site used in CRUTEM3 is the one at Byrd, as this is at one of the manned sites. The issue with the AWS’s is getting reasonable data in real time. Whilst I was away the checked monthly data arrived for 2002! I will add Byrd’s data in. The problem is that some sites get buried, but still seem to transmit. What Steig et al have done is a paleo-type reconstruction of the full field from the AVHRR for a recent period and extended it back to 1957. If the data are OK, all you’re assuming is that covariance structure remains the same.
I did this paper (attached) ages ago, but it doesn’t seem all that relevant.
Anyway – I do need to come down to see Ian. Possibilities would be coming
mid week, say Feb 25/26 or March 4/5. How do these dates suit? I’d need to
spend the night – maybe that Travel-lodge near you, it is only one night!

I’m assuming the email pertains to mmts, since it says they “continued to transmit” when buried?

December 13, 2009 9:37 pm

@Caleb (19:50:40) :
I think you made a good point. Referring to the Barrow, AK paper, the authors found that 25% of the time the wind speed was less than 7 knots, which would mean for Barrow that the UHI magnitude would be between about 1.8 and 3.2 degrees C.
@ Clarence (20:30:12) :
Looking at the siting of the Stevenson screen, it appears to be on a hill and also on top of volcanic rocks, while the undisturbed surroundings appear to have snow cover all year round. Given that, one would have to wonder just how different the exposed volcanic rock would be from asphalt. Assuming that they would be similar, would it not be appropriate to classify Rothera as being sited on top of an “artifical heating source,” as classified in the link to NOAA’s Climate Reference Network Site Handbook at ? If so and given the siting on top of a hill and being on top of an artificial heating source (at least in the summer), then wouldn’t Rothera be classified as a CRN 5 station with an error greater than or equal to 5 degrees C?

December 13, 2009 10:27 pm

The Wikipedia page for Rothera says that Bransfield House is where meteorological work is done. That refers to this building, which has the Operations tower at one end. The tower is obvious in the Panorimo photo. There is a New Bransfield House, built closer to the water and to the left of the other buildings shown in the Panorimo shot (images here and Gigapan view toward water).
However, the meteorology group at this base processes data from several weather stations and is described as performing research. So the location of this staff is less likely to be near the equipment because this is more than a weather shack level of operation. Also, as this is a year-round air operations base and has a lot of equipment, the instruments could have been placed anywhere. They would have to be close enough to be maintained during the winter, but there are a lot of buildings from which staff could exit to reach the instruments. For aircraft needs, they’re probably not on a mountain but are probably near the rock runway or the skiway.

Keith Minto
December 13, 2009 10:27 pm

George Turner (16:48:33) :
Isn’t this like estimating the temperature of North America from a single weather station in Miami?
REPLY: Bingo!
and Tenuc (14:52:18)
Sort of, but not as accurate……
Land area of the United States 3,719 million square miles
Land area of Antarctica 5,405 million square miles

December 13, 2009 10:39 pm

DJ Meredith (19:32:30) :
“Can volcanos effect local temps? I mean, it just seems that if you superimpose a map of the known volcanos on top of the GHCN stations things get kinda busy….
Reply: Thanks for the link. He he 🙂 Made me smile to see that one of the volcanoes close to the station is called… Deception 1. How appropriate.

December 13, 2009 10:45 pm

Slide 10 of this PPT shows a Rothera AWS installed near the skiway in the 2006-2007 summer. An earlier AWS was shut down in 1998 – “altitude 15 meters” provides a contour line when searching pre-1998 photos.

December 13, 2009 11:03 pm

that is a rather significant scandal.
the antarctic covers about 3% of the earth’s surface.
if the temperature increase has been overstated by 1 degree, the global temperature record would be 0.03 deg to high, if it was overstated by 3 deg, that amouts to almost 0.1 deg !
I start to take into consideration that 1934 was the hottest year globally in recent history.

Aqua Fyre
December 13, 2009 11:24 pm

I don’t think you can call volcanic rock an ‘artificial’ heating source most especially that it is in~situ.
I do not know what the albedo of the Rothera volcanic rock is, but given the dark coloured nature of most basaltic rock, it’s most likely to be in the same range as tarmac.
In keeping with this, I dare say, that the crushed rock airstrip is of far greater significance.
Aqua Fyre

December 13, 2009 11:24 pm

Ed (17:21:26) : “Here is a beautiful photo of the Rothera Point Stevens Screen:
What’s that tall cylinder beside the tower? It seem not to be shown in the 2007 photo. Snowfall collector? Incinerator? BBQ?
SABR Matt (15:27:25) : “…Those human settle pods you point out are designed to keep in as much heat as possible…I would wager that no significant heat is leaking from them.
Looking at the interior view of the pod porthole shown on Rob Webster’s blog leads me to believe the insulation thickness is minuscule, at least for the one shown here:

December 13, 2009 11:34 pm

AnonyMoose (22:27:34) :
“The Wikipedia page for Rothera says that Bransfield House is where meteorological work is done. That refers to this building,”
“This is the main building where we eat drink and live called Bransfield House… ”
This is taken about 11am in the morning in Midwinter with Nacreous clouds above the building. These clouds are only seen in winter and are ones high up in the atmosphere… not sure of the complete science of why they glow but I am sure someone is looking into it.”
I’m thinking a very large light bulb.

Martin B
December 13, 2009 11:39 pm

It is a well known effect that coastal areas tend to be warmer than inland areas, due to the moderating effect of oceans, which have a great deal of thermal inertia. From the map included at the beginning of this post, it appeared that all of the temperature recording stations, save Byrd station at the pole, were on the coast. And the Rothera station, being on a peninsula, would almost certainly always be the warmest given that it is in close proximity to the water on two sides, and appears to be the northernmost station as well.
And this station was used by the GHCN to monitor the whole of the Antarctic continent? What a crock!

December 14, 2009 12:17 am

It’s possible I’m underestimating the potential heat transfer…but I assure you…as someone whose friend has just recently returned from a winter research excursion in Antarctica, those pods are not thin. It would be highly impractical and dangerous to house research scientists in Antarctic settlements that did not incorporate buildings designed to keep in the heat and keep out the cold.
Even if the heat transfer from those pods is the same as the heat transfer from (say) a residential neighborhood of comparable size, no urban heat island has ever been shown to exist in residential neighborhoods. Only in areas with population density greater than 1000 heads per square mile. Granted, the background thermo field in Antarctica is inherently more reflective than the fields of North America, so landuse changes will be very important. But anthropogenic UHI? I kind of doubt it. The biggest problem is the dark pumice used to pave the airport strip..the Stevenson screen and temperature equipment is probably entirely too close to that and in the summer, that’s probably causing noticeable warming.

December 14, 2009 12:19 am

BTW…there are similar sweeping problems with the temperature anomalies calculated in the NORTHERN polar regions too. The fewer people living in an area, the more suspect the temperature data. The fact that a large part of the global warming trend since the 60s has come from the north pole screams the potential for data manipulation and/or bad statistical techniques biasing the results by perhaps as much as half a degree C.

Rhys Jaggar
December 14, 2009 12:43 am

1. Are all antarctic stations sited near the natural limit of the land mass?
2. Is there evidence that coastal climate shows differences to the interior?
3. If so, how can coastal sites alone be representative of an enormous continent?

December 14, 2009 1:02 am

>>Those human settle pods you point out are designed
>>to keep in as much heat as possible…I would wager
>>that no significant heat is leaking from them.
If those pods were that good as insulators, then in the winter pics they would be covered in frost or adhering crystals of ice-snow.
In reality, the dark colour and leaking heat must be keeping them a few degrees above ambient – and that WILL affect the nearby Stevenson screen.

Don Keiller
December 14, 2009 1:14 am

I worked down at Rothera in the 1990’s. It didn’t strike me at the time but it does now. Rothera Point has been largely cleared of ice and snow, for personnel safety reasons. The underlying rock is very dark. It also has a huge matt black gravel runway right alongside the main base.
Can’t remember exactly where the weather station was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on snow/ice.
Of course this change in local albedo would have no effect on local temperature readings would it?

December 14, 2009 1:27 am

>>I cannot find any data with regards to how such a heat
>>plume would be contained and not effect air temperature
>>readings in the surroundings.
And if you get a big, fat high pressure system over the station, as you do in cold climes – with its accompanying and blocking temperature inversion – a lot of that heat will simply get trapped in the inversion.
This may be capable of warming the locality to a measurable degree

December 14, 2009 2:48 am

But, where are the solar arrays and wind farm? Could they be using evil fossil fuels?

December 14, 2009 2:51 am

We know now that we are dealing with dishonest people. It goes right back to the start when they realized that the best [rural] temperature stations showed little or no warming. The warming had to be fabricated by using badly sighted sensors and ‘adjustments’.
OT, the Lex column in today’s Financial Times shows some of the money interests involved. It lists the amount of subsidy or carbon tax needed by the alternative energy industry before they can compete with coal for electricity production. The units are euros per tonne of CO2 and are way above the current carbon trading price in Europe which is 14 euros a tonne:
co-fired biomass = 73
onshore wind power = 131
offshore wind power = 248
photovoltaic solar power = 572

December 14, 2009 2:56 am

“Roger Carr (17:59:50) :
Jeff Id replied: “I can replicate it. The story behind this one is in the detail, which I’ve wasted a whole Saturday on.”
Not one second of this and all the work done by such people to try and bring back reality (also sanity) for the sake of the entire world is “wasted”.
Both the present and the future owes a huge debt to you all. There is no waste in what you do.”
I second that.
cheers David

Richard Briscoe
December 14, 2009 3:52 am

The guys at Rothera are in no way to blame here. Obviously, if you’re camped on the edge of Antarctica, and your chief link to the outside world is by air, your priority is to monitor the weather – including temperature – at the airstrip. On this basis, putting your thermometer on the control tower makes perfecr sense. Thyey’re monitoring weather, not climate after all.
The fault lies entirely with GHCN using these readings to measure long term climate trends. They are clearly unfit to measure this for the penisula, let alone for continental Antarctica.
On the matter of insulation, the pods will not be designed to keep in as much heat as possible, only as much as is economical. Lost heat costs money, but so does insulation, and the law of diminishing returns means that each additional layer of insulation saves less heat while still costing the same. At some point it’s just not worth adding any more. Also even a perfectly insulated pod will still release heat every time that someone goes in or out.

paul wright
December 14, 2009 3:58 am

George Turner (16:48:33) :
“Isn’t this like estimating the temperature of North America from a single weather station in Miami?”
It is important to embarrass the man-made global warmers. Could someone take the North Ameican continent and overlay Antarctica so that the peninsula covers Florida? Send the diagrams to the media; then let the population decide if the Antarctic temperatures quoted are a scientific method to represent the temperature for all the continent.

December 14, 2009 4:29 am

Keith Minto (22:27:55) :
{George Turner (16:48:33) :
Isn’t this like estimating the temperature of North America from a single weather station in Miami?}
“REPLY: Bingo!”
[and Tenuc (14:52:18)]
“Sort of, but not as accurate……
Land area of the United States 3,719 million square miles
Land area of Antarctica 5,405 million square miles”
Thanks Keith – new it was big, but not THAT big 😮
GHCN = Global Hockystick Creation Network (and they expect anyone to believe this is science?)

Beth Cooper
December 14, 2009 5:36 am

The tricky truncactors are at work again…
First remove inconvenient data and if that’s not enough, eradicate stations.

Beth Cooper
December 14, 2009 5:38 am

ooops, ‘I meant truncators’

December 14, 2009 5:41 am

As Anthony stated in the thread, aviation safety is the primary reason temperature records are being taken at all. The temperature readings are obviously taken by the ATC people, and the thermometer is probably attached at the summit of the tower -and it is probably automated. Can’t blame the controllers; they have more important things to attend to.
This should be a serious lesson concerning station sitings. The climate people have been riding piggy back on the FAA/operational meterologists back for decades. What is good for aviation safety is usually not good enough for climate science. Yet, aviations weather reporting stations are usually far superior to NOAA’s Co-Op stations. And we’ve only been looking at North America. It is probably fair to say that the entire reporting network is garbage as far as long term continuity is concerned.

Peter Plail
December 14, 2009 5:42 am

For those of you who have only thought as far as the effiency of the living pods, consider two things where does the heat and power come from. I would guess at lest some form of powered generator which, due to the comparative inefficiency of the generation process, must produce a lot of waste heat.
And what about all the waste produced (human and material) – they are not going to insulate that either.
Add the motor vehucles, aircraft and ships and you have multiple heat sources all over the area.

Anand Rajan KD
December 14, 2009 5:47 am

hotrod (19:16:37) :
What makes you assume that is the case? [that the South Pole would have no UHI effects]
The temperature readings were from the airport – which is a skiway. Bad siting of the thermometers could have resulted in the 80s-90s spike.

December 14, 2009 6:30 am

Butch (02:48:15) :
But, where are the solar arrays and wind farm? Could they be using evil fossil fuels?
Yup. The fuel farm is plainly visible in the left foreground of both “Rothera Station circa 2007” and “Rothera Station Circa 2008-2009”.
Helloooooo, generator heat plume…

December 14, 2009 8:36 am

Juraj V. (15:49:57) :
Fortunately, we have satellite readings above Antarctic:

Except of course that there are no reliable measurements below 70ºS.

December 14, 2009 8:46 am

SABR Matt (16:09:20) :
As I said…the only factor here is the albedo of the runway in my book…I do not believe 100 humans smattered around in very air-tight containment pods amounts to a significant urban heat island. The albedo affect may be real…and I placed the significance of it around 0.3 C in the summer (meaning 0.15 or so for the whole year)…which is not negligible. I just don’t think it’s going to result in big changes to the overall shape of that graph.

Also almost perpetual winds of ~30mph.

Leon Brozyna
December 14, 2009 9:13 am

Not only does Rothera Station have the land use changes affecting it, but don’t forget those (relatively) warm ocean breezes. How does that relate to the deep interior of West Antarctica? It’s like judging the climate of Montana by what’s happening in Key West. The temperature right now in Key West, Florida is 80°F, 3° above the normal high for this date. Obviously, the U.S. then is warming. Wonder if that is any comfort to the residents of Montana?

George E. Smith
December 14, 2009 10:03 am

Well if you put your arm down a burrow, and a mad as hell badger grabs your hand in its teeth and won’t let go; don’t go assuming that every hole in the ground contains a badger.
There’s a name for this sort of jump to unwarranted conclusions; it’s known as the Nyquist Sampling Theorem.
That’s why tree rings don’t serve to tell temperature from either; well core borings of tree rings certainly don’t.
Clearly Rothera is attracting a lot of grant money; which is going into anthropogenic (local) climate change.
Nothing more to see here folks; move along now !

James Chamberlain
December 14, 2009 11:22 am

according to wiki, who is hopefully not political on this matter….. The US is about 10,000,000 square kilometers. This is, I assume, including alaska and hawaii. Antarctica, according to wiki, is about 14,000,000 square kilometers. So, I guess the miami to the rothera point comparisons are resonable.
I had no idea that antarctica was so huge!

Chris Winter
December 14, 2009 12:10 pm

Most everyone in this thread seems to just assume that Rothera supplies the only temperature measurements for the Antarctic Peninsula. Have any of you tested that assumption?
I did a little Googling and pulled up some relevant data:
Antarctic Automatic Weather Stations Project
a. A list, dated 13 Nov 2009, of all Antarctic weather stations maintained
by all nations. It looks like there are about 280 of them.
b. And here is a map of Antarctica, showing the locations of those sites.
The automated sites managed by Universty of Wisconsin are identified,
and all sites are color-coded according to nation responsible.
c. This site merits close attention:
It would seem from this that Antartica is well covered by weather stations, automated and otherwise. Perhaps you folks need to revise your conclusions.

December 14, 2009 12:57 pm

Chris …
nobody thinks there is only one weather station … we are questioning why some folks choose NOT TO use more stations in their AGW work …
cherry picking maybe …

Sioned L
December 14, 2009 3:51 pm

Can someone tell us where the undersea volcanoes are in relation to the location of Rothera on the Antarctica Peninsula? Could they affect the temps there?

December 14, 2009 5:27 pm

If they plow or salt the runway then the biggest albedo effects would be at the beginning and the end of the summer, when they are turning snow into bare earth.

December 14, 2009 6:39 pm

I can’t very well upload graphics into this comment section, but I did some slapdash work to get a map of Antartica on exactly the same scale as a map of North America, and then put them side by side…pretty ridiculous, I have to say. As far as I can tell, using Rothera for all of Antarctica is more or less similar to putting a single thermometer in the Catskills and thinking that that one single thermometer would give you all the information you needed about the average temperatures for everything between Port Jervis and Fairbanks, Alaska. Um…yeah, that’s a significant sample size right there, that is. Here is where I posted the pictures.

Keith Minto
December 14, 2009 8:34 pm

Sioned L (15:51:16),
There is an undersea volcano in the A sound on the tip,not really near Rothera. But here is an ice thickness image from NASA is more revealing.
I would say that the lack of sea ice in the western peninsula relative to the east COULD indicate undersea warming.

December 14, 2009 9:47 pm

Some GHCN temps, adjusted and unadjusted, from my area. Notice how older temps are all adjusted downward relative to newer temps. Also notice the GISS plot in the bottom right corner — it has an upward slope not evident even in the adjusted GHCN plot.
All plots from appinsys, except the GISS.

December 14, 2009 9:48 pm
December 15, 2009 2:24 pm

An interesting comment and a reply for the new post, “Are the CRU data “suspect”? An objective assessment.” at RC.
..hmm, maybe we really do have to reinvent the wheel, do we?
While I’m at it, does anyone have any clue what data would be the most common to use in global warming related studies? To me it would make sense to use the adjusted data, rather than raw. (there’s no reason not to.. atleast so far) So I was just thinking, if the adjusted data is actually as bad as it seems, what kind of an effect would it have to climate science in general? I’m asking this because I’ve seen a lot of comments, conclusions and such which say something like “..but this wouldn’t explain the rapid warming of the last XX years..”.
I hope I made my question clear enough!

December 18, 2009 8:47 am

i worked at rothera as a meteorological technician for more than 2 years from 2006 until 2009.
There are so many holes in what has been posted on here that it would take weeks to correct them.
It’s such a shame that the hard and honest work of so many people has to be seen as part of some global conspiracy – what exactly is to be gained for the hard working people of the British Antarctic Survey in falsifying numbers or doing a shoddy job?
Nacreous clouds are lit from below by the sun. They are PSCs (polar stratospheric clouds) which occur above the troposhere when the temperature there is below about -80 degrees C. They are important in understanding the natural destruction of ozone in the stratosphere.
Weather balloons are released usually 4 times per week all year, taking meteorological measurements up to about 30kms altitude.
The met data from rothera is recorded electronically now using very accurate sensors which are checked daily.
The runway is to connect to the outside world. Its covered in snow for more than half of the year. The weather station next to the runway is solely used for aircraft safety – we had a plane flipped over trying to land in bad weather a few years ago.
There is no “coffee house”. There are two coffee machines in the dining room.
They use generators which burn MGO (Marine Gas Oil). This is not ideal.
I was personally responsible for building and maintaining many automatic weather stations on the antarctic peninsula and further into the continent. The reason that there are not more of them is lack of money.
The runway will contribute in an extremely minimal way to the changes in temperature in the area.
The force of ignorance displayed on this page is staggering. And depressing.
Thats all.

John prendergast
December 18, 2009 9:23 am

This poor chap may be diligent but he is but a tollin a bent organiosation.

December 19, 2009 9:08 am

Rob W,
Relax, my friend, nobody is impugning your hard and honest work — for which we all thank you, or at least I do.
Nobody thinks you are part of a vast worldwide conspiracy. Nobody thinks that anybody at Rothera did anything wrong. We are aware that dedicated persons such as yourself have built many automated weather stations on the peninsula and further into the continent; indeed, that is most of the point of the post.
What the post argues is that certain people who have USED the data that diligent persons such as yourself provide, appear to have done so with gross dishonesty. Saying that a single thermometer located at Rothera represents a reliable picture of temperatures across Antarctica is approximately equivalent to saying that you can tell what’s going on in Fairbanks, Seattle, Calgary, Fargo, and Columbus all based on a single observation point in Port Jervis, New York. It is an absurd suggestion, and to double down and say that “the science” for Antarctica is “settled” beyond dispute based on that sole observation point, is to have left the realm of science and entered the world of megalomaniacal fantasy. And that would be true even if we did NOT have other observation stations against which we could gauge the Port Jervis thermometer, and even if the Port Jervis station were not the single observation station that most emphatically drew the picture one wished to present, and thus were not demonstrated by all — ALL — the other available evidence to be the outlierest of outliers, rather than a representative sample (if a sample size of 1 can ever under any circumstances be meaningfully considered a “sample” rather than mere anecdotal evidence).
The fact is that the Rothera station has showed more warming than any other station in all of Antarctica. The comments are full of speculation about what could have caused Rothera to be the outlier that it is, and you are welcome to provide whatever theory you wish to provide — indeed, with your specialized knowledge you can speak to groundless speculations such as “increased tourist traffic” and greatly improve the discussion. But nobody here is saying, “Rothera has an airport; so I bet it’s warmer than the other points.” We can tell it’s showed more warming than the other stations because we can read the data. People are indeed speculating in the comments about the cause of the unusual warming that unquestionably has taken place at Rothera, compared to every other station in Antarctica. “Maybe it’s warmer because they built an airport.” “Maybe it’s warmer because the generators are producing heat.” “Maybe it’s warmer because they get lots of tourists.” “Maybe it’s all that coffee the local Starbucks is brewing.” But that it’s warmer, is beyond dispute, because the data say so indisputably.
Thus the basic points, which are the following, are not in dispute so far as I can tell:
1. Rothera is the most extreme outlier in Antarctica.
2. It’s not hard to figure that out, if you just include the other available data for inspection.
3. But certain persons who are eager to trumpet the dangers of global warming and the urgent need to invest tremendous amounts of power into hands of politicians and bureaucrats, and concomitantly a tremendous amount of grant money into the hands of persons such as, conveniently, themselves…at least one such person has declared to the world that “all of Antarctica is warming” by using the Rothera outpost, and the Rothera outpost alone, as a proxy for all of Antarctica.
If those three facts are indeed true (and they may not be; I would be interested in any challenges that can be mounted in dispute of those three facts), then it seems very difficult to avoid the conclusion that some deliberate scientific fraud has been practiced.
But not by you, my friend. Not by you. Nobody thinks that at all, and I believe I probably speak for just about everybody here when I thank you for the dedication to science that has led you to spend years of your life doing the dirty work on which all science depends. I thank you and I salute you.

Upon Further Review
December 29, 2009 4:31 am

Interesting story … and reminiscent of something a friend of mine recently mentioned to me after watching a PBS documentary. One of the global CO2 gauges is located high on a mountain in Hawaii — which sounds really pristine, yes?
Well it is … umm, except for the fact that it’s in the same neighborhood as an active volcano that spews CO2 like Old Faithful spews H2O.
All of which suggests that there are always ways to cheat the system without literally cheating the system. You can gather perfectly accurate readings without having to pull any East Anglia-type “tricks” to “hide the decline” … as long as you have a working knowledge of the planet’s most abnormal places.

Upon Further Review
December 29, 2009 5:22 am

Speaking of Antarctica, here’s an excerpt from a story that you won’t likely see reprinted in America’s mainstream media. It was published in April 2009:
“ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap …
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week’s meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown ‘significant cooling in recent decades.'”
Significant WHAT in recent WHAT? Quick, somebody alert Al Gore, East Anglia and the IPCC!

Sceptic to GW skeptics
February 4, 2010 4:07 am

In a Norwegian blog I read I saw that this article was cited as a “proof” that the urban heat island (UHI) effect may influence temperature measurements even in Antarctica.
Your main point here, apparently based on a bit of googling, seems to be that man-made changes to the environment at Rothera Station, especially building a gravel runway from dark volcanic rock, decreases the albedo and thus increases the measured temperatures significantly.
I have a few comments and questions:
For three quarters of the year or so the landscape is completely covered in snow – runway, buildings and all. (The satellite photo from Google Earth, under which you commented “obviously taken in the winter”, is obviously NOT taken during the darkest months of the year, since the short shadows prove that the sun is far above the horizon.) The snow will blow off and melt first in exposed places, on and around the mountains, hills and rocks visible on the photos, and later in lower and flatter areas downwind, where it has collected in drifts. What is the albedo effect of man-made changes when they are covered under the snow?
Rothera lies south of the Antarctic Circle. Thus, for some weeks in the winter the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all. What is the albedo effect when there are no sunrays that can be reflected or absorbed?
Now let’s take a look at the landscape in late summer when the snow is (mostly) gone. Depending on the contrast in the photos, the dark volcanic rock you mention seems to range from dark grey to light grey. You point out yourself that this is the locally available material. The summer picture shows a grey runway in a grey, rocky and barren landscape. How does moving rocks and gravel a few meters and leveling it out decrease the albedo and increase the temperature?
Furthermore: The UHI effect is generally most apparent at night (i.e. for minimum temperatures), since materials like asphalt, concrete etc. stores the heat. The higher the difference is between day and night temperatures, the higher the UHI effect. This far south, however, where there is midnight sun in summer, and especially on an island with an archetypical coastal climate (mostly influenced by the sea temperature), there is little difference between day and night temperatures. What is the effect of heat storage then?
You have no clue where the measuring station actually is, you have no alternative measurements to prove your case, you have nothing except speculations. And measurements of sea temperatures in surrounding areas and in the Arctic show the same warming pattern. Have you tried googling for runways on the North Pole?
If the measured temperature rise at Rothera is most apparent in the middle of the winter (as it is in the Arctic), your speculations are completely irrelevant. For a large part you are basing your theories on an albedo effect you have found WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE. Well, there is NO albedo effect where the sun doesn’t shine. But as we know, it might be a suitable place to shove useless things.

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