Of Hawks and Handsaws

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

“I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw”

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii

Following on from my look at the USHCN temperature dataset, I have gone north (if not north-north-west) and looked at the NORDKLIM dataset. This dataset covers Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.  Of the seventy-five stations in the dataset, fifty of them have records covering the period from 1900 to 1999. Figure 1 shows the average of those selected temperatures for that period.

Figure 1. Average of the 50 long-term stations in the NORDKLIM dataset. The warmest year in the data is 1934. Photo is of Tromso, Norway, 70° North Latitude.

As before, I wanted to look at the changes in different months, to see when during the year the warming occurred. Figure 2 shows the decadal changes in the temperature for each month.

Figure 2. Decade-by-decade changes in the temperature of the Nordic countries. Photo is of Tromsoe, Norway, 70° North Latitude

As you can see, the changes are similar to those in the US. The summer temperatures have not changed. Winter temperatures (January to March) have warmed. One difference is that the winter warming is larger in the NORDKLIM temperatures.

The more I look at these datasets, the more I think that we are looking at the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. This is the change in the recorded temperature due to increasing development around the recording station. Increasing houses, buildings, industry, parking lots, and roads all increase the recorded temperature at nearby stations. The NORDKLIM notes say:

Especially one should notice that stations represent local conditions, which may have been effected e.g. by urbanisation

This effect is known to be greater in winter than in summer. In a study done in Barrow, Alaska, for example, there is a 4.5°C difference in the UHI effect between January and July. The winter to summer difference in the UHI in Fairbanks, Alaska is estimated to be 1.2°C.

In addition to the physical development (buildings, roads, etc.), another reason for this UHI can be seen in the photos used to illustrate the graphs. This is the direct usage of energy in the cities. For example, estimates of the energy usage for the New York City area are on the order of 5 * 10^18 joules annually. This gives a local forcing of ~ 20 W/m2.

How large an effect is this? Well, to get this amount of forcing from increasing CO2, instead of merely doubling, it would have to increase by more than forty times

The colder the city is on average, the more effect that this will have. A building kept at 70°F (20°C) will have little effect on temperature if the local temperature is only slightly below that. If the temperature is below freezing, on the other hand, this will be a much larger effect.

In addition, the colder the weather, the more energy is put into heating the buildings. This also increases the winter UHI. As a result, we would expect the effect we have seen, that the recorded change in winter temperatures is greater in the NORDKLIM dataset than in the USHCN dataset.

My conclusion? At least part of the warming in the US and the NORDKLIM datasets is the result of UHI distortion of the records. An unknown but likely significant amount of this UHI heating is due to direct energy consumption in the cities.

And knowing how much of the temperature change is from UHI is harder than telling a hawk from a handsaw.

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111 thoughts on “Of Hawks and Handsaws

  1. Do we have reliable measurement and calculation of global temp rise from satellites? If so do they show the same warming as thermometers? If they do then doesn’t that discredit the UHI effect as insignificant? Or was most of the UHI effect created before the satellites started measuring?

  2. “This effect is known to be greater in winter than in summer. In a study done in Barrow, Alaska, for example, there is a 4.5°C difference in the UHI effect between January and July. The winter to summer difference in the UHI in Fairbanks, Alaska is estimated to be 1.2°C”
    That’s the study I wanted to hear about a few articles back. Thanks!
    I still suggest that given MMTS siting considerations, there’s got to be some of that January vs July delta in even “rural” monitoring sites as well.

  3. I’ll toss out another simpler theory for northern latitudes.
    The side walk effect.
    Anybody who has ever shoveled a sidewalk or driveway knows the snow melts faster near the sidewalk/driveway. As long as the side walk is covered in snow the whole area stays snow covered longer.
    For for places like Barrow, simple side walks hasten spring snow melt, hence a change in albedo which creates warming.

  4. I used to receive NOAA HRPT images at home. (Anthony will know what those are.) I had an IR image of the midwest taken on a clear night in the winter after a polar air mass had swept across the region. All the cities, even small ones, and also all the major roads were visible as warmer areas compared to the large rural areas showing the UHI exists. Too bad I lost it. I’m sure a similar image could be found if someone wanted to plod through the NOAA archive of POES satellite image data.

  5. Significant amount? Nearly all of it! Or at least all of it that doesn’t radiate to space without warming the air.

  6. Some of the issues touched on here have been discussed by ATJ deLaat in a paper titled:
    “Current Climate Impact of Heating from Energy Use.”
    I am not sure if this has been published in a Journal but it was available as a pdf document on the net about a year back. Well worth a look.

  7. It’s a pity that the data set doesn’t reach into the 21st century, or to be more precise to 2009 at least. Is there a collected record for northern Europe right up to very recent times? I would be most interested in a URL.

  8. I’m betting the climate changes to colder in the next 5 years due to the extended solar minimum, my secret weapon.
    Sunspot number: 0
    Updated 19 Apr 2010
    Spotless Days
    Current Stretch: 5 days
    2010 total: 12 days (11%)
    2009 total: 260 days (71%)
    Since 2004: 782 days
    Typical Solar Min: 485 days
    Solar wind
    speed: 359.0 km/sec
    density: 2.2 protons/cm3
    http://www.spaceweather.com/

  9. “Henry chance (14:13:22) :
    Looks like buying some carbon credits would fix the winter warming.”
    How about bulldozing Stockholm? 😉

  10. Not only does USHCN data show that rural areas warmed slower than suburban areas that warmed slower than urban areas during the warming period from 1979 – 1998, but also during the cooling period from 1998 – 2008 rural areas cooled faster (etc.). Pretty conclusive from what I could see.

  11. I would also like to see the data from 2000-2009 included as we’ve previously been told from various sources that last decade was the warmest on record.
    Is the data unavailable?

  12. I spent yesterday evening tilling my garden and now Michael (14:30:46) tells me the sun isn’t going to cooperate. Well, I’ll settle for some snow peas and radishes and probably forget the ‘maters and peppers. Who needs the heartburn anyway?

  13. In the case of this article, be carful with attributing to much winter heating to Uban Heat Island effect. With most of these areas near or north of the Arctic Circle, there is mostly only building heat affecting UHI in the winter. Very little concrete or surface changes causing heating during the long, long nights.
    In fact, it could be a method of parsing out some contributors to UHI. 🙂

  14. In addition, the colder the weather, the more energy is put into heating the buildings.

    It would be interesting to study the graph of one of these southern american cities, Phoenix (AZ) for example, and see if there is a temperature increase versus energy consumption correlation.
    My guess is that outside temperatures in Phoenix have raised during the summers due to the increased use of air conditioning units over the decades.
    It would be a nice way to prove your theory. 🙂

  15. Rob R (14:25:12)

    Some of the issues touched on here have been discussed by ATJ deLaat in a paper titled:
    “Current Climate Impact of Heating from Energy Use.”
    I am not sure if this has been published in a Journal but it was available as a pdf document on the net about a year back. Well worth a look.

    Many thanks for the deLaat citation, it is available here. He supports my conclusion, viz:

    Furthermore, the near-surface impact of waste heat will be larger in cold climates compared to warm climates and larger during nighttime compared to daytime due to a combination of differences in mixing depth (boundary layer height), latent and sensible heat balance (at low temperatures, hardly any evaporative cooling occurs), and radiative equilibrium temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann law).

  16. UHI is real and I don’t think any reasonable person would say otherwise. It seems to me the debate is not so much about is or is not but about how much. I strongly suspect the complexities of the problem will only be magnified when the local situation is considered from one location to the next. Making gross adjustments based on some model or another would be almost as problematic as making none at all. I don’t see an easy way out of this mess and that is probably why no action is being taken. What ever is done will cost plenty to do and will need to be uniform across the whole works.

  17. I’ve always said that this is Mann-made ‘global’ warming. How the climate scientists are able to tweaze out UHI to within tenths of a degree is beyond me. Doesn’t bias ever come into it? :o)
    The EPA says:
    “Heat islands occur on the surface and in the atmosphere. On a hot, sunny summer day, the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50–90°F (27–50°C) hotter than the air,2 while shaded or moist surfaces—often in more rural surroundings—remain close to air temperatures. Surface urban heat islands are typically present day and night, but tend to be strongest during the day when the sun is shining.
    In contrast, atmospheric urban heat islands are often weak during the late morning and throughout the day and become more pronounced after sunset due to the slow release of heat from urban infrastructure. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings.3 On a clear, calm night, however, the temperature difference can be as much as 22°F (12°C).3”
    http://www.epa.gov/hiri/about/index.htm

  18. … to get this amount of forcing from increasing CO2, instead of merely doubling, it would have to increase by more than forty times …

    Since CO_2 forcing is logarithmic, you have to be careful how you word such statements. Maybe something like “this is forty times the amount of forcing attributed to the rise of CO_2 levels since 1900” could have been better.
    Beyond that is the question of whether it is even meaningful to compare these two `forcings’ as they are not even being applied to the same system. One is a local forcing which will have a purely local effect, while the other is a global forcing will cause a more complicated global effect involving feedback mechanisms not present in the local case.

  19. Willis, I appreciate your efforts here, and I really like the way you’re graphing the temps. I understand the UHI being more pronounced during the winter, however, when I look at the graphs, the divergence between 12 and 1, or Dec and Jan seem too large. I would have expected a more consistent flow. Of course, it could be my eyes, but I’m wondering if you’ve graphed the data with 1 or 12 at the center of the X axis? Yes, it would make for an ugly graph, but…….

  20. For those confused by the ending expression (hey, I looked it up):

    know a hawk from a handsaw to be able to judge things; be discerning
    [from Shakespeare (Hamlet II:2:375); handsaw is probably a corruption of dialect heronshaw heron]

    (Before looking it up I would have said sure, it’s easy to know the difference. A hawk is easier to sharpen, some are also good for smoking.)

  21. The colder the city is on average, the more effect that this will have. A building kept at 70°F (20°C) will have little effect on temperature if the local temperature is only slightly below that. If the temperature is below freezing, on the other hand, this will be a much larger effect.>>
    The other one I think gets missed a lot is inclination of the sun. A cold climate features shorter days, but also a sun that hangs lower on average to the horizon. So the vertical face of a building presents an almost perpendicular surface to incoming radiance and in most cases a darker color than snow. As a consequence, the amount of energy a building absorbs from the sun (and re-emitts as longwave) is higher in winter than in summer, and higher still than the amount of shortwave that would have been absorbed had it hit snow at a sharp angle and mostly just bounced off.

  22. Is there no decadal record for 1999-2009?
    Can’t we see the cheat of a 9-year average if the ten-year isn’t available?

  23. Here are the monthly max temp linear trends (MS Excel TREND() function) of (a) the 4 longest-running Australian stations and (b) all 29 Australian stations with 100+ years operation:
    overall trend deg C / 100yrs
    month 4 stns all stns
    Jan -0.4 -0.2
    Feb -0.3 -0.1
    Mar -0.3 0.5
    Apr -0.1 0.2
    May 1.1 0.7
    Jun 0.9 1.0
    Jul 1.2 1.3
    Aug 0.5 0.7
    Sep 0.6 0.6
    Oct 0.2 0.4
    Nov -0.2 -0.1
    Dec -0.8 -0.5
    full year 0.2 0.4
    NB. In Australia, Dec-Feb is summer, Jun-Aug is winter.

  24. harrywr2 (14:20:35) wrote of “The side walk effect.
    Anybody who has ever shoveled a sidewalk or driveway knows the snow melts faster near the sidewalk/driveway… For for places like Barrow, simple side walks hasten spring snow melt, hence a change in albedo which creates warming”
    I like this one. Next winter when I’m feeling lazy I can tell my wife that I can’t shovel the sidewalk because that causes The Warming. Perfect!
    Urederra (15:02:55) wrote: “In addition, the colder the weather, the more energy is put into heating the buildings.
    It would be interesting to study the graph of one of these southern american cities, Phoenix (AZ) for example, and see if there is a temperature increase versus energy consumption correlation.”
    But, since most of that power comes from coal burning, these spinners will just link that CO2 output to The Warming.

  25. The ‘CO2’ driven effect, recycling photons, should be easy to separate from the UHI effect by examining the kinetics of heating.
    If you examined the change in daily warming and cooling on four days, at the Mar/Sept Solstice and June/Dec Equinox, you could work out the rates of heating and cooling.
    The Solstice/Equinox makes life a lot easier as you are comparing two sets of two pairs.
    Now, if AGW is correct, there should be an increase in the rate of warming and a decrease in the rate of cooling.
    A UHI effect would probably slow the rate of warming (as concrete has a lot of thermal inertia) and slow the rate of cooling (as they radiate).
    I have never been able to get a good set of data of an hourly series, from those four days, from the 60’s up to now.
    If anyone knows a nice place, point it out to me.
    I did do the analysis on the Vostock data, that showed no change in yearly cooling/heating rates; but I was informed it is not a fair test as there is no water amplification.

  26. The 30s and the 90s look like the warm decades in both winter and summer. Supposing UHI effects in the latter are a reasonable hypothesis, but I wonder about the former.

  27. know a hawk from a handsaw to be able to judge things; be discerning
    [from Shakespeare (Hamlet II:2:375); handsaw is probably a corruption of dialect heronshaw heron]

    Interestingly I immediately thought of:
    hawk (plural hawks) A plasterer’s tool, made of a flat surface with a handle below, used to hold an amount of plaster prior to application to the wall or ceiling being worked on: a mortarboard.
    But on closer examination, I suspect the meaning was intended to be:
    to hawk at: to fly at or attack on the wing, as a hawk does. Of a person: To fly a hawk at.
    1605 Shakes. Macb. ii. iv. 13 A Faulcon towring in her pride of place, Was by a Mowsing Owle hawkt at, and kill’d. 1633 G. Herbert Temple, Sacrifice xxiii, Who does hawk at eagles with a dove?

    So what was “hand saw”?
    Well looking to the OED we find the obsolete phrase: to draw the saw (of contention or controversy): to keep up a fruitless dispute. to be under the saw of contention: (of a question) to be the subject of profitless dispute. to hand the saw: to take turns, change parts, with another in some work or function. to hold (a person) at the long saw: to keep in suspense.
    This was certainly in use at the time: 1674 Now because ghost cannot hand the saw thus with body+Thence ’tis [etc.].
    So in my opinion (for what little it is worth) it would appear the judgement that Shakespeare was referring to was the judgement between those who fly at the attack like a Hawk and those that take it turn and turn about like those who use the “hand saw”.

  28. Billyquiz (14:32:42)

    I think you’ll find that the picture is actually of Tromsø, not Oslo.

    One photo is Tromsø, one is Oslo.

  29. David W (14:53:43)

    I would also like to see the data from 2000-2009 included as we’ve previously been told from various sources that last decade was the warmest on record.
    Is the data unavailable?

    I’ve not been able to find it … any pointers are welcome. Much of the NORDKLIM data doesn’t extend beyond 2000, or start before 1900.

  30. mindbuilder (14:11:01)

    Do we have reliable measurement and calculation of global temp rise from satellites? If so do they show the same warming as thermometers? If they do then doesn’t that discredit the UHI effect as insignificant? Or was most of the UHI effect created before the satellites started measuring?

    I looked at comparing the NORDKLIM data to the satellite data, but unfortunately there’s only two decades of data overlap, and the confidence intervals are wide …
    However, given that, here’s the graph. It is of the change from the 1980-89 decade to the 1990-99 decade.

  31. Ian H (15:33:33), thanks for your comment.

    … to get this amount of forcing from increasing CO2, instead of merely doubling, it would have to increase by more than forty times …

    Since CO_2 forcing is logarithmic, you have to be careful how you word such statements. Maybe something like “this is forty times the amount of forcing attributed to the rise of CO_2 levels since 1900″ could have been better.

    My statement is accurate (barring a stupid arithmetical mistake, which wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that). A forcing of 20 W/m2 is more than five doublings of CO2.

    Beyond that is the question of whether it is even meaningful to compare these two `forcings’ as they are not even being applied to the same system. One is a local forcing which will have a purely local effect, while the other is a global forcing will cause a more complicated global effect involving feedback mechanisms not present in the local case.

    I am comparing the size of the forcing, not the size of the thermal effects (which are unknown). I just want to give people a sense of the relative size of the two forcings, those of thermal UHI and of a doubling of CO2.

  32. Part II .. So in my opinion (for what little it is worth) it would appear the judgement that Shakespeare was referring to was the judgement between those who fly at the attack like a Hawk and those that take it turn and turn about like those who use the “hand saw”.
    Intrigued by what Hamlet may be referring to in the scene I’ve had a look and the crucial reference seems to be that the King of Norway is trying to trick Claudius (Hamlet’s step dad & uncle) into allowing a hostile army into his country. Claudius appears indifferent to the fact that a powerful enemy will be riding through his country with a large army in tow. Claudius is much more worried about Hamlet’s madness, showing that where King Hamlet (Hamlet’s dad – killed by Claudius) was a powerful warrior (the hawk?) who sought to expand Denmark’s power abroad, Claudius is a politician (hand saw … to be the subject of profitless dispute … endless going to and fro)

  33. kadaka (15:40:42)

    For those confused by the ending expression (hey, I looked it up):
    know a hawk from a handsaw to be able to judge things; be discerning
    [from Shakespeare (Hamlet II:2:375); handsaw is probably a corruption of dialect heronshaw heron]
    (Before looking it up I would have said sure, it’s easy to know the difference. A hawk is easier to sharpen, some are also good for smoking.)

    Shakespeare loved plays on words. There’s a couple of possibilities. One is yours, that the text is corrupted from a “hernshaw” or “henshaw”, meaning a heron.
    The other one that a “hawk” is a shaped piece of wood used by bricklayers to carry mortar, that is to say a tool which is different from a handsaw. No one knows which was meant.

  34. kadaka (15:40:42) : “(Before looking it up I would have said sure, it’s easy to know the difference. A hawk is easier to sharpen, some are also good for smoking.)”
    Reminds me of the Lewis Carroll riddle, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” The best answer: “Because you cannot ride either one of them like a bicycle.”

  35. I think Willis makes an excellent point here, if large cities such as NY can create a 20w/m2 forcing, which is 5 times that of a doubling of co2, why have these large cities not yet been destroyed by severe floods, drought, shrinking fish, frog death etc…? If people dont even notice a 20w/m2 increase, why would they notice 3.8w/m2? I know one is localised and one is global, but no one is complaining about the warmer night time temps and winter temps, especially in NY!

  36. Sorry about the long post. This is just a quick thing I got interested in after reading this post.
    UHI in New York City: A simple calculation
    In 2003 New York City had a forecasted peak electricity demand of 11,020 MW (see http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/energy_task_force.pdf ). When considering the urban heating island effect, one must ask where this electrical energy goes. Any decent thermodynamics student should be able to tell you that this electrical energy will eventually end up as heat which is dissipated to the surrounding environment. This dissipation of heat is potentially manifested as an increase in surrounding temperature. Thermodynamically the atmosphere is considered a reservoir and as such under strict definition heat may be removed or added to a reservoir without perceptible change in reservoir temperature. This is a reasonable assumption considering a single piece of equipment. However, considering the large power use of a city this heat may indeed affect the temperature of the surroundings.
    In the following analysis we will consider the following assumptions and parameters.
    1) New York city has a land area of 790 square kilometers or 7.9 x 10^8 m^2
    2) New York City has a electrical power use of 11020 MW
    3) Things such as natural gas heating oil heating and other thermal heating loads are neglected (this is a really bad assumption but is likely counteracted by other assumptions below)
    4) Transportation energy regarding those methods in which use fuel directly (not electricity) is also neglected (like 4 another bad assumption)
    5) All thermal energy gets put into the atmosphere (likely a bad assumption but one that is balanced by assumptions 3 and 4 above)
    6) As per reliability regulations 80% of the city’s power must be generated in city so the thermal heat from the exhaust of the power generation is included. I assume a thermal powerplant efficiency of 31%. With assumption 5 above this adds 24488 MW to the atmospheric thermal load. (isn’t likely that all the thermal energy goes to the atmosphere from the power plant as there are water bodies all around NYC but this is just an exercise right?)
    7) The UHI bubble is 100 m tall and the entire volume is exchanged with fresh incoming air every hour (this largely depends on atmospheric conditions wind patterns etc)
    8) The entire volume is a single temperature. (definitely not true but this is a simple minded estimate)
    The calculation proceeds as follows Energy = Power x time = 35508 MW x 3600 sec/hour =1.278 x 10^14 Joules
    Energy is absorbed by the atmosphere. Energy = volume (7.9 x 10^10 m^3) x density (1.16 kg/m^3) x Specific heat (1004 J/(kg x C) x temperature rise.
    Solving for temperature rise Delta T = 1.39 deg C. So this means that the UHI in NYC with the assumptions stated gains 1.39 C even if the entire volume is changed with fresh air every hour. Now there are a lot of simplifying assumptions and really bad assumptions neglecting some energy sources and where the thermal energy goes to but this simple calculation shows that UHI is indeed a real phenomenon even without additions from pavement etc.

  37. mindbuilder (14:11:01) :
    Do we have reliable measurement and calculation of global temp rise from satellites? If so do they show the same warming as thermometers? If they do then doesn’t that discredit the UHI effect as insignificant? Or was most of the UHI effect created before the satellites started measuring?
    **************
    Yes we do. Woodfortrees.org is an excellent resource.
    Actually satellite data shows a cooling from 1998 to 2010.
    Ground stations show a warming.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1998/to:2010/trend/plot/uah/from:1998/to:2010/trend
    That is why climate alarmists like ground statons.
    There are no parking lots in space so they can’t put thermometers close to them.
    he trend from 1998 to 2010 is:
    GISS – our old friend Dr Hansen =+.0111 per year 1.11 o C in 100 years
    UAH satellite data trend = – .00282 [that is NEGATIVE] OR NEGATIVE .28 o C in 100 years.
    If you take a longer time period the GISS trend is ALWAYS higher than the satellite.
    Why? Because there are no parking lots or UHI in space.
    FACTS ARE SO INCONVENIENT FOR THE CLIMATE ALARMISTS.

  38. Continuing my research, here are the changes from the 1980-89 decade to 1990-99 and 2000-10 for the USHCN surface temperature and the UAH MSU satellite data.

    As you can see, there is a good fit between the USHCN and the UAH data. I assume this is because the NORDKLIM data has not been adjusted for UHI … but who knows?

  39. I would also like to see the data from 2000-2009 included as we’ve previously been told from various sources that last decade was the warmest on record.
    Is the data unavailable?

    It’s probably available. It may well be the warmest on (our exceedingly short) record. But that argument is bogus because it has cooled measurably since the peak of 1998.
    It’s as invalid as the argument (1984) that Reagan was worse for inflation than Carter (false) because — average — inflation under Carter was in fact lower than under Reagan (true). Reagan thoroughly shot down that silly argument with the immortal one-liner, “If the Carter administration were a book, you’d have to read it from back to front to get a happy ending.”
    [P.S., If FDR had made the exact same remark, it would be referred to not as a one-liner, but as a “quip”.]

  40. Willis, the acceptable agreement seems to be in the aggregate comparisons though.
    It has always seemed to me that we should be comparing the final ground-station-generated map to the satellite map before the spacial averaging into a single temperature.
    That is:
    “USHCN says the temperature at Lat/Long is XXX, MSU says it is YYY, error, standard deviation, bias determination, etc.”
    Taking something like the data from here:
    http://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/Search.html?group=67
    And comparing that to either individual surface stations or the resulting temperature map after the massive infilling steps.

  41. my basic thought is you take average in a day and average to a month then average it to a year and average it with stations similarly done locally (if 1000 kms can be considered local by anyone other than AGW advocates) then regionally then globally and are left with a big nothing because all the information in the data is averaged out.

  42. Alan S. Blue (19:48:28)

    Willis, the acceptable agreement seems to be in the aggregate comparisons though.
    It has always seemed to me that we should be comparing the final ground-station-generated map to the satellite map before the spacial averaging into a single temperature. …

    Agreement in the continental US is pretty good … up north, not so much.

  43. The albedo of bare roads and buildings is much higher than snow. On a still winter night, downtown Denver is often 10-15 degrees warmer than outlying regions at the same elevation.

  44. davidmhoffer (16:16:12) :
    A cold climate features shorter days, but also a sun that hangs lower on average to the horizon. So the vertical face of a building presents an almost perpendicular surface to incoming radiance and in most cases a darker color than snow. As a consequence, the amount of energy a building absorbs from the sun (and re-emitts as longwave) is higher in winter than in summer, and higher still than the amount of shortwave that would have been absorbed had it hit snow at a sharp angle and mostly just bounced off.
    ————–
    Not sure if I understand what you are saying. A building will absorb more energy from a low-angled sun than the surrounding snow, but I’m not sure why a building would absorb more solar energy in the winter than in the summer. Sure, more energy enters the windows if the sun is at a low angle, which can help heat the interior (on sunny, windless winter days in Toronto there is a noticeable heating effect) but in the summer the roof absorbs tremendous amounts of energy, plus the length time buildings are being irradiated by the sun is much greater as the days are longer. The difference in albedo of plowed and salted roads, driveways and parking lots, shovelled flat tarred roofs, and dark brick buildings are probably greater contributors to the UHI than the sun hitting building walls as opposed to roofs.
    I’m wondering how the introduction of effective insulation has affected the history of UHI. Insulation was uncommon prior to the post-Second World War period, and was not a major concern while energy was cheap, preceding the OPEC oil crisis of 1973. Fiberglass was invented during the Great Depression, but not used until after the war. Effective double-paned windows and efficient insulation really did not come about until the late 1970s (? just guessing but I know that the houses of the 1960 had doubled-up pairs of those awful glass pane sliders.) The increasing use of insulation would dampen some of the increased UHI that otherwise would show up due to increasing populations and population density.

  45. For those who were wondering what sort of “hawks” I was referring to, click here.
    (FWIW, that’s what I found when I Googled for something other than the Wikipedia entry.)

  46. Willis & Anthony
    I am doing a similar study for Australia – unfortunately I am very slow and keep getting distracted by other non AGW aspects of my life.
    My results are exactly the same as yours.
    Amongst other locations, I have done a very indepth study of Sydney, my home town, where there is 150 years of data, as well as 100 years of “value added” data from the BOM, who are warmists as you probably are aware.
    It is all VERY interesting.
    Knowing the location of the Sydney Observatory intimately and also having read the history of the site, i have been able to put sudden changes in human activity against sudden changes in temperature. Most instructive.
    The BOM “value adding” process is also quite entrancing but there I am waiting for some answers to my questions before getting too excited.
    More later, but what I see leads me towards the theory that all or almost all of Australian warming is due to UHI.
    And is Australia like Camelot? Or does it reflect what is happening in other parts of the world?
    (Camelot you may recall is said to be a mythical place where everyoby and everything only wake up each 100 years).
    Enough – more later.
    I hope to make a posting in a few weeks.
    Anthony has my email if you want to get in touch.

  47. Note that the data set includes some homogenised/reconstructed data, i.e. some well thought out but poorly documented guesses, like for 99840 Svalbard airport, which has been in service only since 1975 but is reconstructed back to 1911 using data from tens of km away (even hundreds) for much of the period. So the station is not too useful for climate studies.
    You should try to find data for 2000-2009 as well. That decade has been quite warm, very warm in the arctic.

  48. Willis, thanks for the interesting post, which confirms what I already suspected: There’s nothing special with the current warm period compared to the 1930s/40s warm period.
    Your by-month graph is a bit difficult to read because of the similar colors of the important 30-39 period and the 80-89 period, but isn’t that the 30-39 period that has winters comparably warm to the 90-99 period?
    Arctic warming is all about the AMO. And still we have to endure propaganda like this: http://blog.norway.com/2009/09/02/ban-sees-first-hand-view-of-climate-change’s-impact/ … sigh. When that story ran on Norwegian TV, I had a look at the ice maps, and the ice border was not far from average in the area northwest of Spitsbergen (which I think the UN secretary general visited).

  49. A most interesting aspect of the jigsaw.
    What happens in very equitable climates?
    Is the ‘Winter UHI effect” less or absent?

  50. Willis, I took a picture of the Stephenson screen at AES airport in north west Norway in march. This airport has grown a lot since 1950. The picture showed something interresting: around the screen there was no snow. The brown grassy spot around the screen looked like a nice spot to sit in the quite warm march sun. The fields around this spot were covered with 50cm of snow. There were a few bushes around the screen that had caused the melting around this screen. My bet is that these small changes in time will affect more a snowy location compared to a snow-free.

  51. It is hard for Southerners to envision how very short the winter days are, up near the arctic circle. In December the sun has barely poked above the horizon, and already it is setting.
    Even when insulation is very good, buildings still have plumes of steam from their exhaust. On bitterly cold and calm nights, with a strong inversion, this moist exhaust has nowhere to go. Even in very dry air, without a cloud in sight, I have seen a dust of fine “snow” on sidewalks, or suspended in the beams of a midwinter sunrise, simply because the moist exhaust from buildings can’t remain in the very cold air, and precipitates out. As it condenses from vapor to ice crystals, I imagine a fair amount of latent heat is released.

  52. For what it’s worth, the quotation about hawks and handsaws wasn’t in the first printed edition of Hamlet in 1603. In the quartos of 1604 and 1605, it occurred as , “I knowe a hauke from a hand saw,” with hand saw as two words. In the 1623 first folio, Handsaw is one word and capitalized.
    That the earlies use was as two words casts some doubt on the theory that it was a misprint of hernshaw.

  53. I have looked a lot at individual monthly CET trends on Excel. The linear trend for June over the whole series is completely flat. The greatest rises over the whole series, or the last one hundred years are seen at the months around the Equinoxes, March, April, September and October. It is at these times that the solar wind makes the best connection with the Earth system, and the strongest solar storms and aurora occur.
    NASA has observed the twisted magnetic ropes in the solar wind, migrate towards the North Pole in the Northern Hemisphere winter. I would suggest that intermittent connections here, are responsible for sporadic warming events during the winter months.
    The linear trends for the last 1 hundred years show no particular rise for February or May, but really strong warming around the Vernal Equinox, (March/April). A slight warming through summer months, strong warming around the Autumn Equinox, a moderate rise in November, then fairly strong in December/January.
    Here is a study I found of the last ten years; http://www.c3headlines.com/2010/01/central-england-temperatures-runaway-warming-during-the-last-decade.html

  54. kadaka: “For those who were wondering what sort of “hawks” I was referring to, click here.”
    I had visions of you sharpening a platerer’s tool!
    Still, the more I think about it, the more sure I am that my interpretation is likely to be correct. And it is related to the following phrase
    to draw the saw (of contention or controversy): to keep up a fruitless dispute. to be under the saw of contention: (of a question) to be the subject of profitless dispute. to hand the saw: to take turns, change parts, with another in some work or function.
    Hamlet is contrasting the “man of action” who was his father and also the similar man of action who is teh King of Norway (both in action like hawks) to the “dithering to-and-fro of the handsaw politician” who is his step-dad/uncle/(illegitimate)king.
    Also the Hawk would have had a high social status being the sport of kings. Whilst a handsaw (those who are at each end of a handsaw pulling it first one way then the next see:-http://www.thewanderingnomad.com/51.jpg) is a lowly profession a dirty profession in which you get covered in sawdust.
    It would seem that the contrast might also refer to the kingly king (hamlet’s father) and the person not fit to be king (his uncle who murdered his father).
    Interestingly saws after often used to explain the phrase: “top dog” which is assumed to mean the top person on the handsaw: (see:http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/top-dog.html for good picture) When wooden planks were sawn by hand, two men did the job using a two-handed saw. The senior man took the top handle, standing on the wood, and the junior took the bottom, in the saw-pit below. Add to this the fact that the irons that were used to hold the wood were called dogs and that the bottom position was much the more uncomfortable, and we can jump from this scene to the origin of ‘top dog’ and ‘underdog’. … although there’s no contemporary evidence to support the use of the phrase.

  55. Caleb (00:24:39) : edit

    It is hard for Southerners to envision how very short the winter days are, up near the arctic circle. In December the sun has barely poked above the horizon, and already it is setting.
    Even when insulation is very good, buildings still have plumes of steam from their exhaust. On bitterly cold and calm nights, with a strong inversion, this moist exhaust has nowhere to go. Even in very dry air, without a cloud in sight, I have seen a dust of fine “snow” on sidewalks, or suspended in the beams of a midwinter sunrise, simply because the moist exhaust from buildings can’t remain in the very cold air, and precipitates out. As it condenses from vapor to ice crystals, I imagine a fair amount of latent heat is released.

    Interesting thought, Caleb. I had never considered all of the H2O in exhaust and the warmth released when it condensed/froze. I just ran the numbers, and if we assume that the water is freezing (rather than condensing) it adds about 15% to the direct thermal energy from the burning of gasoline … I figure it like this, check my numbers. Gasoline is a mixture of hydrocarbons. For every gram of gasoline burned, we get about 1.2 grams of water.
    A gram of gasoline contains about 21,750 joules of energy. 1.2 grams of water releases about 3,370 joules of energy when it freezes.
    Always more to learn …

  56. harrywr2 (14:20:35) :
    “I’ll toss out another simpler theory for northern latitudes.
    The side walk effect.
    Anybody who has ever shoveled a sidewalk or driveway knows the snow melts faster near the sidewalk/driveway….”

    I was think something similar. Back when I was a kid, the roads disappeared during the winter and everyone used studded snow tires or chains. Now the roads are salted as well as plowed and all that black top is visible instead of covered with snow and ice.

  57. The saga continues (Anglo-Saxon pun!)
    Just to check, my interpretation of “hawks and handsaws” I tried to check the rest of Shakespeare for “saw” but obviously because cutting saw and seeing saw were spelt the same this is problematic. However, this is interesting as it is a hangover from the Anglo-Saxon usage of saw to mean saying or “saga”, and this is how it is used in Hamlet earlier:-
    ACT I SCENE V
    Enter GHOST(Hamlet’s dad & rightful king) and HAMLET.
    … Ay, thou poor ghost, … I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, That youth and observation copied there;
    We also have in As You Like It “Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts   Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon.”
    Again the modern phrase would be “wise sayings” or even “wisdom”, and it was because “saw” meant saying, that Shakespeare had to write “hand-saw” and not just “saw”.
    So what did Shakespeare mean by “handsaw”? In King Henry IV, Part I we have FALSTAFF saying: “I am a rogue, if I were not at half-sword with a dozen of them two hours together. I have ‘scaped by miracle. I am eight times thrust through the doublet, four through the hose; my buckler cut through and through; my sword hacked like a hand-saw–ecce signum! [meaning behold the sign!] … … so clearly something with a saw blade!
    But going back to cutting saws (in last post), in the THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Shakespeare specifically mentions a saw pit:-
    wee’l dresse Like Vrchins, Ouphes, and Fairies, greene and white, With rounds of waxen Tapers on their heads, And rattles in their hands; vpon a sodaine, As Falstaffe, she, and I, are newly met, Let them from forth a saw-pit rush at once With some diffused song: [diffused meaning confused or even delirious] Vpon their sight We two, in great amazednesse will flye: Then let them all encircle him about, And Fairy-like to pinch the vncleane Knight;
    The connection with “confusion” even madness is interesting as Hamlet is feigning madness when he uses the phrase “hawks and handsaws”, and from the way there is no other reason to mention saw-pits except to enhance the idea of “fairy-behaviour” I think saw pits may have been associated with madness – perhaps sawing decayed wood with fungal growth led to frequent madness by those in the saw pit who accidentally ingested fungal growth?
    But overall in Shakespeare time the action of sawing as is in the phrase: “see-saw” used at the time of Shakespeare 1640 Let me not see you act now, In your Scholasticke way, you brought to towne wi’ yee, With see saw sacke a downe, like a Sawyer.
    And in Shakespeare Lucrece In rage sent out, recald in rage being past, Euen so his sighes, his sorrowes make a saw, To push griefe on, and back the same grief draw.
    Could this to-fro be intended to contrast in some way with the characteristic behaviour of a hawk?
    We read also in ‘Romeo and Juliet,“Hood my unmann’d blood, bating in my cheeks.” But to any one not conversant with the terms used in Falconry, this line would be perfectly unintelligible. An “unmanned” hawk was one not sufficiently reclaimed from the wild to be familiar with her keeper; and such birds generally “bated,” that is fluttered or beat their wings violently in their efforts to escape.
    So, perhaps the comparison is between “handsaw” behaviour of one who is really mad (like the fairies from psychedelic toxic fungal infections in the wood) rocking too and fro and the hawk who flutters in an apparently similar way but is in reality perfectly sane.

  58. James Sexton (15:34:07) :
    Willis, I guess, because I haven’t seen a response, you either missed the question,(happens) or I wasn’t clear or emphatic enough.(probably both). I’ll try again.
    Willis, there is something wrong with your graphs or the numbers used. Sure, I buy the UHI effect. What I don’t buy is how much greater the UHI is in Januarys as opposed to Decembers. In Decembers’ one sees a slight divergence in your spaghetti straps. Move to the Januarys, then one sees a great divergence. It is as if something magical happens every January. Willis, you know it doesn’t work like that. You know the graph is representative of half of a circular shape. The difference between 12 and 1 is disjointed. Of course, it could be the numbers you’re using and that someone else has done something “magical” with the numbers before you got them. But, its as if time starts anew every January. I don’t mean to be vague, I wish I could show you, and I don’t mean to be hyper critical, but better to find the problem here than someone else finding it elsewhere. If you have further questions about what I’m seeing, or I could help in anyway, feel free ask.
    Kindest regards,
    James Sexton

  59. harrywr2 has it right – it’s not only energy use, pavement plays a role too… and then there’s the combination 1-2 punch of roads with cars running on top of them.
    An additional conspiracy theory… UHI has a pronounced effect on Tmin, which appears to be exagerrated by the temp reconstructions. If you recall Dr. Spencer’s reconstructions, that took 4 daily temps and averaged them instead of Tmax/Tmin – the more I think about it, the more logical it seems that it might be in large part responsible for the discrepency between his reconstruction and the mainstream ones.
    I hate to keep beating a dead horse here but pavement, pavement, pavement… In the US we have paved the equivalent of Wisconsin. Power consumption cannot explain the observed severe change in temp trends at relatively low population densities – it is the structures, paving and other LULC effects that are the strongest. Power consumption explains why, a NYC for example, continuesto see strengthening UHI once pavement, structures, an other LULC changes have been effectively satuated for a given area.
    Willis,
    I’m not really disagreeing with you here, but the sidewalk effect – as Harry calls it – is important to consider too!

  60. vigilantfish;
    Not sure if I understand what you are saying. A building will absorb more energy from a low-angled sun than the surrounding snow, but I’m not sure why a building would absorb more solar energy in the winter than in the summer>>
    Let’s take an extreme example for illustrative purposes. Let’s suppose in summer at high noon the sun is at an 80 degree angle to the earth and shining away at 500 watts per square meter. In winter, let’s say the sun is at a 10 degree angle to the earth, exposing it to only 50 watts per square meter.
    Now let us erect a building 1 meter by 1 meter by 100 meters tall. In summer, the top of the building, which covers 1 square meter of earth, is getting hit with 500 watts per square meter. Same as the earth it covers would have. But the south facing wall represents a 100 square meter surface at a 10 degree angle to the sun that didn’t exist before, absorbing 50 watts per square meter ( x 100). So in the summer time we went from 1 square meter of earth absorbing 500 watts to 1 square meter of building absorbing 5,500 watts (when the south facing walls is included)
    Now let’s do the numbers for high noon in winter. The top of the building is at a 10 degree angle to the sun and so is only getting 50 watts per square meter, just like the earth it covered would have. The south facing wall however, is now at an 80 degree angle to the sun, and so getting hit with 500 watts per square meter over its 100 square meter surface for a total radiance between the roof and the south facing wall of 50,050 watts.
    Of course I built a very thin tall building just to exagerate. But you can see that even with a very short day in winter, the building absorbs much more energy from the sun than it does in summer. I’ve never been able to get anyone to due this, but I also suspect that if you measured UHI in winter moving from city centre to the south, you would get a different value than if you measured UHI from city centre going north.

  61. vigalintfish;
    my apologies, I forgot one part of the equation. Remember the 50 watts per square meter in winter? Well most of it reflects off the snow. Angle of incidence = angle of reflection. So the sun is shining at a 10 degree angle downward onto the snow, and then reflecting back up at a 10 degree angle upward going in the same direction…. and running straight into the south facing wall of the building instead of proceeding into space.

  62. James Sexton;
    Willis, there is something wrong with your graphs or the numbers used. Sure, I buy the UHI effect. What I don’t buy is how much greater the UHI is in Januarys as opposed to Decembers>>
    If you take a look at my explanation above re how much energy a building absorbs from the sun in winter versus summer, it might be part of the answer. I am guessing that someone less lazy than I, and with accurate math skills rather than guestimates for illustrative purposes, could show that the maximum absorption of energy from the sun would be a combination of sun’s inclination and length of day with maximum arriving somewehere after the winter solstice…. like January or February…

  63. Living in a suburb of Stockholm I notice the UHI winter effect every time I drive my car from my home in a residential area approx 10 km outside Stockholm to Stockholm City. My car thermometer normally shows a difference of 2-3 degrees C. I.e. it is 2-3 degrees warmer in the City.

  64. davidmhoffer (06:34:48) and (06:46:39) :
    Thanks for the clarification. I’m a suburbanite, and was thinking in terms of ordinary houses. Obviously when considering tall buildings, there would be more sun exposure to the south- to some extent east- and west-facing walls in the winter. I suppose this factor would be more important than the shadows cast by other nearby tall buildings as the overall effect would be cumulative.

  65. All this talk about hawks seems to have frightened off our local small bird population – not a Wren in sight.

  66. Re: Hawks and Hand Saws:
    So many lines of the Bard are like this. Endless delights in the music of the words, the complexities of nuance, meaning, and emotional shading. He was the greatest punster of all times. Puns, being cousins to riddles, when well done delight the both ear and imagination.
    Surely, he meant many things in this line. Was Fortinbras not a hawk in spirit and deed, while Claudius vascillated as a hand saw? Hamlet claims to know the difference, yet the whole play is about his struggle to be a hawk, when his intellectual inclinations trapped him into playing the hand saw. In the end tragedy befell Hamlet and all around him, for he could not escape his own nature, while trying to be true to a nature unnatural to him.
    KW

  67. As a person who lives in Norway i can indeed verify that most of the warming has occured during the winter. I personally also believe that UHI is a large part of this, since the temp is usually several degrees warmer in populated areas during the winter compared to surrounding areas.

  68. Willis, my heating handbooks show that a gallon of #2 fuel oil produces about 1.2 gallons of water when burned in a modern boiler. I assume that kerosene (jet fuel) and propane produce similar amounts, perhaps more because of the higher hydrogen content. Natural gas (CH4) would produce the most water per unit of heating (if I have stated that correctly). Even at N43 latitude in New England, we often see clear-day snow from heating plants when the temperature is very cold. However, accumulation of the fine crystals seems to be largely offset by sublimation in the dry air.

  69. From Kwinterkorn (08:40:20):
    (…)
    So many lines of the Bard are like this. (…)
    Surely, he meant many things in this line. (…)

    In the intro to my Revised Standard Version (RSV) Bible, it mentions a main reason for the new version was that the English language had changed since the King James version. Words had differing meanings, some even meant the opposite of the original. As it explicitly mentioned, this is why Shakespeare’s lines can sound so strange.
    While it’s been interesting reading so many comments about his hidden wit and so many other interesting facets of his writing, I think what would be most productive is if people well-versed in the history of the English language actually went through his plays and converted as needed to Modern English, so we can really see what an actual listener back then would have perceived him as actually saying. Might not sound as witty, but at least it’d be more accurate.

  70. ********************************
    mindbuilder (14:11:01) :
    Do we have reliable measurement and calculation of global temp rise from satellites? If so do they show the same warming as thermometers? If they do then doesn’t that discredit the UHI effect as insignificant? Or was most of the UHI effect created before the satellites started measuring?
    ******************************
    You can see from the slope of the UAH vs GISS/HADCRUT3 data that the increase as measured by satellite is less than the other two.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1980/to:2010/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1980/to:2010/trend/plot/uah/from:1980/to:2010/trend

  71. davidmhoffer (06:46:39) :
    James Sexton;
    Willis, there is something wrong with your graphs or the numbers used. Sure, I buy the UHI effect. What I don’t buy is how much greater the UHI is in Januarys as opposed to Decembers>>
    If you take a look at my explanation above re how much energy a building absorbs from the sun in winter versus summer, it might be part of the answer. I am guessing that someone less lazy than I, and with accurate math skills rather than guestimates for illustrative purposes, could show that the maximum absorption of energy from the sun would be a combination of sun’s inclination and length of day with maximum arriving somewehere after the winter solstice…. like January or February…
    Yes, I buy that part of it, sadly, I’m probably not less lazy, however, curiosity is getting the better of me…….I’m running the numbers and graphing myself. I’m using Excel only w/o any special coding. So far, the graph looks remarkably similar to Willis’. Next, I’m going to check the numbers as far as divergence from month to month, and compare, but the more I look at it, I’m suspect of the numbers themselves.

  72. **************
    Digsby (08:33:24) :
    All this talk about hawks seems to have frightened off our local small bird population – not a Wren in sight.
    ******************
    They may have been eaten by wind turbines – the “green” alternative.

  73. Hi Willis
    I live in Florida and I don’t have much experience with real cold weather. I’ve been in Kansas a few times during cold and western North Carolina. From my very limited experience, it seems to me, that when it gets cold, there is less wind. When there is less wind, there is more of a heat bubble. The UHI affect may not be dissipated as it might be in the summer time.
    Now, again, that might be Florida thinking. When I campout in freezing temps in the Ocala Forest, if there is no wind my tent stays nice and cozy (sometimes as much as 10degrees warmer than outside (33 outside, 45 inside). When there is a breeze (very rare) the inside quickly gets as cold as the outside. In the summer time here there is almost always wind. The air is always moving somewhere. Maybe that dilutes the UHI affect in the summer time.
    YMMV.

  74. Kwinterkorn (08:40:20) :Re: Hawks and Hand Saws:
    So many lines of the Bard are like this. Endless delights in the music of the words,

    Of course you could see the two sides of the debate on the climate as being like that between Hawks and Handsaws. The hawk is a single-hit hunter, it goes in for the kill in one. The handsaw is a slow but steady progression. As such I would suggest that Hawks represent the view of science/technology that you can “do everything at once” or conversely that you can “understand the complete system” as a sum of its parts.
    In contrast the handsaw represents incrementalism: that systems are holistic entities that have to be understood as a working system to which modifications are made. (typical of engineering)
    Now this will be a bit of a leap of faith (and if anyone is interested I could fill in the details), but the “all in one” hawk view is one adopted by those who look at a problem and try to deconstruct it into it component parts. Or more accurately, they represent those who believe you can simply assemble together a system from the separate parts and the total system is merely the sum of the functions of its parts.
    In contrast the handsaw represents the incrementalist who is typical of engineering who sees a system and tries to understand the impact of a small change which does not upset the system as a whole.
    The “Hawk” approach is typical of relatively simple systems or problems that can be highly compartmentalised and with huge budgets and very little need to optimise the system as a whole or rationalise function of the system as a whole rather than each individual component part. The moon launch is typical of the idea of “going for the target in one (or very few) steps”.
    The incrementalist approach is typical of very complex systems relative to the resources available. Typically such systems have tight budgetary constraints and/or rely on huge expertise/experience. Problems are tackled without trying to understand the full function of the system — a small part is worked on in isolation whilst trying to maintain the integrity of the whole. A typical system is a windmill (low-cost early developers were criticised for “throwing metal” at problems) or the human body (too complex to understand – no one tries to build a body from the “bits”)
    So how does this relate to climategate/sceptic
    The climategate gang have tried to deconstruct the problem of world temperature based on their belief that they can identify all the components that affect the climate. This belief leads them to try to deconstruct the world’s climate into its simplest components (the effect of gases etc.), they then try to construct a pseudo-climate proxy via their models of the climate believing the complete system is simply a combination the (known) component parts. In practice this means they look at the known changes in the atmosphere … ignoring anything they don’t know about or can’t measure or haven’t got the historic data for … and then they make the mega-huge jump to say that because they (think) they have all the variables affecting the climate the climate must therefore only respond to these variables and whilst the relationship doesn’t fit at all well, it is assumed that A->B so the variables must be the (only) drivers of global temperature and then because climate must be caused by the known variables there will be a simple and direct relationship (even if they have to fudge it) between the known variables and the temperature. – So like a hawk … a belief that success comes from a single simple movement (logically movement) or strike.
    In contrast, the sceptics seem to come from an engineering type background where they are familiar with systems which cannot be understood by understanding their component parts (often for very practical reasons like it’s too expensive), where systems have to be maintained and gradually and incrementally improved and where the systems are far too complex to understand precisely how any change will affect the system as a whole. Those from this background tend not to try to deconstruct climate into the constituent parts and then assume we can model climate based on the available knowledge of constituent parts. Instead we use a range of tools/experience to assess whether the small (apparent) change in temperature needs to be explained by some change like e.g. CO2.
    The type of approach this leads to is summed up by the question: “Does the system’s characteristic AS A WHOLE (with variation) explain the temperature record and is there evidence of change in the SYSTEM AS A WHOLE.
    “Engineers/incrementalists are very happy to work with such concepts as “system noise” and it doesn’t worry us that we don’t understand the last detail of the systems we work on because our practical training gives us a range of highly sophisticated tools by which we can understand incremental changes without having to deconstruct back to constituent parts. And so we view the climate as a complete system and view CO2/temperature as two incremental changes and we have the tools to determine whether they are related without resorting to the fruitless exercise of deconstructing a system which is impossible to deconstruct into all its parts like the world’s climate.
    To summarise
    Hamlet is contrasting two types of leadership: the swift one-off action of the “hawk” can be contrasted with the slow “to-and-for” diplomacy of the “handsaw”. Similarly in climate “science”, the attempt to characterise the earth’s climate in a single movement from known variable to modelled climatic change (where variation is ignored) can be contrasted with the view that the complexity of climate is best viewed as a complete holistic system where small incremental changes like CO2 are of no concern unless they cause the system to move beyond the normal variation of the climate.

  75. From Fred Harwood (09:19:46):
    Willis, my heating handbooks show that a gallon of #2 fuel oil produces about 1.2 gallons of water when burned in a modern boiler. I assume that kerosene (jet fuel) and propane produce similar amounts, perhaps more because of the higher hydrogen content. Natural gas (CH4) would produce the most water per unit of heating (if I have stated that correctly). (…)
    Well, that could account for part of the sea level rise. We have been burning lots of fossil fuels, and recreating lots of “fossil water.” 😉

  76. @davidmhoffer
    “Let’s take an extreme example for illustrative purposes. Let’s suppose in summer at high noon the sun is at an 80 degree angle to the earth and shining away at 500 watts per square meter. In winter, let’s say the sun is at a 10 degree angle to the earth, exposing it to only 50 watts per square meter.”
    You seem to forget that Norway is pretty damn far north. The sun here in middle of norway does not even reach more than 3 degrees above horizon during december. When the sun is so low in the sky it wont really heat anything. It is so weak that you wont even feel the sun on your skin even on a mild winter day. There is also hardly any difference between day/night in winter months due to sun being so low in the sky.
    Even during summer soliscite the sun does not reach more than 45-55~ degrees above horizon during noon.

  77. The UHI can be estimated by simply keeping an eye on your car’s temp indicator as you drive into town. Doesn’t need to have absolute accuracy since you are only looking at the relative difference.
    It would be a simple matter to then tabulate the readings from many contributors as they travel between two places at different times of the year to get an idea of the UHI.

  78. James Sexton (09:44:03) :
    “…..Yes, I buy that part of it, sadly, I’m probably not less lazy, however, curiosity is getting the better of me…….I’m running the numbers and graphing myself. I’m using Excel only w/o any special coding. So far, the graph looks remarkably similar to Willis’. Next, I’m going to check the numbers as far as divergence from month to month, and compare, but the more I look at it, I’m suspect of the numbers themselves.”
    Do not forget dial M for missing minus signs. The likelihood of having a minus sign is greatest in the winter at night. That combined with the UHI probably explains a lot of the divergence.
    I notice the greatest divergence is in the winter but there is also a divergence in the summer during peak A/C use too. (not to mention all those buildings absorbing the summer heat and radiating it at night)

  79. vigilantfish (08:21:57) :
    davidmhoffer (06:34:48) and (06:46:39) :
    Thanks for the clarification. I’m a suburbanite, and was thinking in terms of ordinary houses. Obviously when considering tall buildings, there would be more sun exposure to the south- to some extent east- and west-facing walls in the winter. I suppose this factor would be more important than the shadows cast by other nearby tall buildings as the overall effect would be cumulative.>>
    I grew up on a farm but have since undergone suburbanite conversion. Houses show the effect too, it is why winter cities try and design for maximum southern exposure in residential areas. Saves on heating fuel. You can even measure a pronounced UHI just driving through a warehouse district where the warehouses are cold storage (ie not heated). The taller the building, the more pronounced it is. I live due west of downtown. Just anecdotal observation of my dashboard temperature gauge I notice a much larger UHI driving home in the evening than I do going downtown in the morning and more so in winter. Never thought to compare Dec to Feb. If I forget to turn off at my street (and yes I do that sometimes) and keep going to the edge of town, the UHI is still visible from residential to rural, just not as pronounced as from downtown to residential.

  80. James Sexton (05:17:42)

    James Sexton (15:34:07) :
    Willis, I guess, because I haven’t seen a response, you either missed the question,(happens) or I wasn’t clear or emphatic enough.(probably both). I’ll try again.
    Willis, there is something wrong with your graphs or the numbers used. Sure, I buy the UHI effect. What I don’t buy is how much greater the UHI is in Januarys as opposed to Decembers. In Decembers’ one sees a slight divergence in your spaghetti straps. Move to the Januarys, then one sees a great divergence. …

    Apologies, James. It is possible that either the graphs or the numbers used are incorrect … but I just checked both and they seem to be correct. The numbers are straight off of the NORDKLIM spreadsheet.
    However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t make a stupid (or even a wise) mistake. It has happened more than once. Which is why I cite all my sources.
    I suspect the problem is more apparent than real. Here’s a 15-month look at the same data, which cycles back to January, February, March where it started:

    I don’t see much that looks wrong there, but YMMV …

  81. DavidmHoffer
    Following the great fire that largely destroyed Ancient Rome, the Emperor Nero was exalted to rebuiild the city with ‘streets narrows and buildings tall’ in order to overcome the UHI effect. This had caused Beech trees to migrate out of the city and caused the great and the good to flee the place in summer on any pretext. They also noted that their oranges grew well even in winter and that frosts had disappeared within the city.
    In my opinion UHI is of much more concern than Carbon dioxide and has a measurably greater effect.
    Tonyb

  82. In reply to Digsby (08:33:24) :
    “All this talk about hawks seems to have frightened off our local small bird population – not a Wren in sight.”
    Jim (09:44:15) wrote:
    “”They may have been eaten by wind turbines – the “green” alternative.””
    Sorry, Jim, only regular readers of this blog would likely understand my playful reference to a “Wren”. Stick around and you may discover why my capitalizing the first letter wasn’t a typo.

  83. Quite a few times I have seen AGW tracts expounding that the occurrence of the greatest heating at high latitudes, in winter, and at night is a “fingerprint” of AGW. (The logic is that in the colder conditions, there is less water vapor in the air and hence less natural greenhouse effect, so each increment of CO2 has a greater effect here than in warmer conditions.)
    I have often thought reading these things, “Wait, that’s the fingerprint of UHI as well!”
    But it works both ways. How can we be sure that this is not the expected result of AGW?

  84. WIllis: Since your calculation of 20 W/m^2 of energy consumption in NYC didn’t include any references, as a good skeptic, I “audited” it. 5*10^18 J/yr divided by 3.15*10^7 s/yr gives 1.58*10^11 W (J/s). NYC has an area of 789.4 km^2 (Wikipedia) or 7.89*10^8 m^2, yielding 201 W/m^2, roughly as much energy as delivered by sunlight.
    Interestingly, Wikipedia (citing the World Resources Institute) also says per capital energy use in the U.S. is 327 GJ/yr. NYC’s population is 8.36 million (Wikipedia), giving a total energy use of 2.72*10^18 J/yr. So your figure of 5*10^18 doesn’t seem absurd at first glance. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_energy_consumption_per_capita
    In the US, about half of fossil fuels are used to generate electricity, which is done outside the city. presumably with less than 50% overall efficiency. Most of the goods and food used in NYC are produced outside the city along with the per capita energy needed to produce them. If one postulates that 80% of the energy consumed by the people of NYC is actually released as heat outside of the city, then NYC might release about 5*10^17 J of heat per year, and that would give a number close to your figure of 20 W/m^2. So 20 W/m^2 of energy released in NYC appears sensible.

  85. Curt (12:51:18) : edit

    Quite a few times I have seen AGW tracts expounding that the occurrence of the greatest heating at high latitudes, in winter, and at night is a “fingerprint” of AGW. (The logic is that in the colder conditions, there is less water vapor in the air and hence less natural greenhouse effect, so each increment of CO2 has a greater effect here than in warmer conditions.)
    I have often thought reading these things, “Wait, that’s the fingerprint of UHI as well!”
    But it works both ways. How can we be sure that this is not the expected result of AGW?

    See my post above for one way to distinguish between the two …
    w.

  86. Willis, I live in Norway and I own detailed population records for the last centuries for all of Norway and I can certainly also comment on landscape details (coastal, inland, altitude etc. If you wish to look into this, e-mail me the list of weather stations you have in Norway and I can provide the population growth and any anomalies. It would be interesting to find whether there is correlation between population growth and rises in temperature in winter. The webmaster have my email address.

  87. Willis Eschenbach (11:35:27) :
    Apologies, James. …..
    No don’t, none needed. I was just hoping you see the same thing I see in the graphs.
    Oddly enough, I graphed the data several different ways, one of them just as you did with the 15 month. Yep, mine looked almost exactly like yours. I flipped through the numbers, and nothing stood out and according to the numbers, the greatest difference in average is indeed between Dec and Jan. You UHI explanation is probably the best for the divergence, but then, we’ve both dealt with numbers that lie.
    In the .pdf that accompanies the data, in the 2.1 section I find…………”There are 68 stations with data on monthly mean temperature in the NORDKLIM data set. Mean temperatures have usually gone through quality control. They have often been tested for homogeneity breaks and possible inhomogeneities have been adjusted. However, the data may still contain some homogeneity disturbances. Especially one should notice that stations represent local conditions, which may have been effected e.g. by urbanisation.” Also, in 2.0 under the “Maps and Graphs” heading I find, “Also some subjective characterisations on reliability and homogeneity of data are presented. Heino (1994) discusses reliability and homogeneity questions of many climatic elements.”
    I was under the impression that this was a different group people that had been collecting the data other than the “I’ve got to fix this data” group of people. Sadly for me, this stops me from looking any further. I’ll just assume they’ve screwed it up. Based on what I’ve read and seen, I’d say, the graphs are correct, the numbers used are the ones provided, and you’re right!!! Their UHI adjustments are woefully inadequate and they’re “homogenizing” one month more diligently than the other.
    Thanks for your patience.
    James

  88. Sorry, Willis, I don’t see it. All I see is a reference to the density of energy use in NYC, comparing it to CO2 forcing, which is not really relevant to the main point of your post.
    Eyeballing your graphs, I see about a 1C greater warming in winter compared to summer (it would be interesting to see the different seasonal trends plotted and slopes calculated). This could be within the bounds of a reasonably hypothesized AGW differential effect.
    Note that I’m not saying I believe this is so. I am just saying I haven’t seen anything in your analysis yet that convinces me it is not likely to be so.

  89. @ Curt (14:40:41) :
    I’ve read and listened to the “higher latitudes” rationalizations. It never made any sense to me. To me, originally, it went something like this……”We’re getting globally warmer because in a few local places we’re getting warming, but the other places we aren’t getting warmer, but that’s not global.” Further, the onus isn’t upon anybody to prove or disprove what someone else is asserting. What I’m getting from Willis is ‘here’s the temps, here is the temps on a graph for the visually stimulated people.’ UHI is a perfectly reasonable(if not charitable) explanation for why people may see warming.
    I, typically hate graphs, I like numbers instead. I use graphs for finding discrepancies when there’s a large amount of data to process. What I see from the data and graphs………. I’m not really seeing warming during the winter months, rather a divergence from what is normally occurring during the rest of the decadal(?) years. If one looks at Willis’ graph in his submission, we see the greatest divergence occurs between Dec.’s and Jan’s. (The spaghetti straps separate.) It could be this is the time of year, EVERY DECADE FOR A CENTURY we are getting warmer. Feburary’s are also divergent, but not as much and as we move towards April, suddenly, things are back to normal pretty much until December moves into January again. (July and August have divergences, but not as pronounced.) Given the CAGW theory, applying it in this instance defies all logic. The CO2(or any and all other GHG) is only cooking us in certain months of the year???? What? The other months the CO2 is tired and is resting? If that is true, then CO2’s effect is only felt seasonally and the presence is seasonal.(Which I seriously doubt, but I haven’t seen any credible assertion about how long CO2 stays in the air either.)
    My take, someone is mucking with the numbers. My other most recent post, shows they have “homogenized” the temps. They don’t give us an appendix which states what they did or how or why, just, they did. I haven’t bothered to read the referenced materials, only because I’m so weary of doing so. Every time in the past, I’ve found when this occurs, it is arbitrary and without rationale. Other than to present a point of view that wasn’t backed up by the original numbers. I’m quite certain, if one was to do the research, one would find the historical temps in NORDKLIM are predominantly “homogenized” downward and as one moves closer to the present, temps are predominantly “homogenized” upwards. It has been so in every case I’ve looked at. Darwin is a great example, but there are sooo many others.
    If you know any of these homogenizing bastages, ask them why the UHI affect is so much greater at the turn of the previous century than the turn of the current one. I have yet to see a formula for UHI, but all seem to incorporate it in their “homogenizations” Dr. Spencer seems to be making great strides towards a standard, but he’s not there yet. It is absolutely ludicrous for the scientific community to include accommodations for UHI and yet not print a formula for doing so. Suffice it say, obviously they’re doing it wrong.
    Sorry for the length, and the rant.
    James Sexton

  90. James Sexton;
    The CO2(or any and all other GHG) is only cooking us in certain months of the year???? What? The other months the CO2 is tired and is resting?
    LMAO
    Great rant.
    Of course it is resting, that’s what you do when you are sick. You did know the climate is sicklacel didn’t you?

  91. davidmhoffer (18:52:52) :
    James Sexton;
    The CO2(or any and all other GHG) is only cooking us in certain months of the year???? What? The other months the CO2 is tired and is resting?
    LMAO
    Great rant.
    Of course it is resting, that’s what you do when you are sick. You did know the climate is sicklacel didn’t you?
    lol, one of the reasons I come here is to try my hand at humor and catch the other subtle (or not so subtle) attempts!!!! sicklacel………..I had to pronounce it twice before I chuckled………damned beer.

  92. Willis, 2.6mm of the yearly rise in the oceans is due to producing ground water from slow to recharge aquifers. The water produced by burning fossil fuels is 7% of that produced from “fossil” aquifers. 70% of the ground water is used for sprinkler irrigation. The other big player is water vapor discharged into the atmosphere from evaporative cooling towers. This water vapor is in large part aerosols and the rest is essentially 100% saturated. The cooling towers discharge 24/7/365. The ground water production has slowed somewhat since 1995 due to dropping levels.
    The ground water also adds heat to the atmosphere for the first 10 day cycle.

  93. Curt (14:40:41) : edit

    Sorry, Willis, I don’t see it. All I see is a reference to the density of energy use in NYC, comparing it to CO2 forcing, which is not really relevant to the main point of your post.

    Curt, I gave a link to my post, I’ll give it again. Nothing about energy use in NYC.
    The link is here. Click it for the relevant comment.
    w.

  94. Interestingly, I zipped over to the AMSU-A site, picked Ch04 (near surface) and turned on all the complete years. Using the well known and sophisticated “eye ball scrutiny method” it seems to look like the most variability is in fact Dec, Jan Feb and the least is April, May June…
    Is there any way to see this data by latitude? Even just having the two hemispheres separate would be worth looking at. Back to SDO images now, those are way more cool than squiggly graphs.

  95. mindbuilder (14:11:01) :
    Do we have reliable measurement and calculation of global temp rise from satellites?

    No answer. Inconvenient question.

  96. 20 W/m2 – Threnberth et al is searching for 0.9 W/m2, maybe You could give them a hand, Will? 🙂

  97. James Sexton (18:02:29) :
    . The CO2(or any and all other GHG) is only cooking us in certain months of the year???? What? The other months the CO2 is tired and is resting? If that is true, then CO2’s effect is only felt seasonally and the presence is seasonal.
    One possible explanation for this was offered by Evans and Puckrin 2006
    http://ams.confex.com/ams/Annual2006/techprogram/paper_100737.htm
    Their experiment used spectral analysis of downwelling longwave radiation to quantify the contribution of the various GHGs to the greenhouse effect. The authors were focussed on providing verification of AGW and, in my view at least, managed to overlook the most significant implication of the data they gathered, i.e. that CO2 is only a significant contributor to the GHE when H2O in the atmosphere is seriously reduced, as in the cold dry air at the Poles and at mid to high latitudes where winters are severe. At tropical and subtropical latitudes only large desert areas like the Sahara would fit the criteria.
    To me that has always suggested that to the extent that CO2 is affecting the climate at all, it would not be global and constant, but limited both spatially and temporally. And since the AGW hypothesis requires CO2 driven warming to drive extra H2O into the atmosphere to amplify warming, the suggestion this data provides that CO2 will be a negligible factor over the tropical oceans would seem to me to be almost a stake through heart of the whole enterprise.

  98. Willis, I think its important to really, really plot different sites in Norway, and keep in mind that there are places that CANNOT have UHI effects.
    There is no use plotting Blindern in the middle of Oslo…..
    I am thinking of stations that is placed at light-houses positioned in places people simply do not live. What I have seen when doing that , is a clear and present hockey-stick curve.
    http://pgosselin.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/russian-scientist-expect-cooling-pols-sitting-on-the-wrong-horse/
    It looks like the gulf-stream is doing stuff no one really has reckognised? Except the russians? Very interesting stuff anyway.

  99. kwik (03:00:05) : edit

    Willis, I think its important to really, really plot different sites in Norway, and keep in mind that there are places that CANNOT have UHI effects.
    There is no use plotting Blindern in the middle of Oslo…..
    I am thinking of stations that is placed at light-houses positioned in places people simply do not live. What I have seen when doing that , is a clear and present hockey-stick curve.

    kwik, I’m not sure how to respond. I have plotted every NORDKLIM station that covers the whole of the 20th century in Figure 1. This includes stations with UHI … and yet there is no “hockey-stick curve”.
    Go figure … you are right, it is all interesting.

  100. There is a clear relationship between temperature and energy consumption. See for example for an individual house:
    http://www.countcarbon.com/MinTemp.gif
    I previously analysed similar data for a power station for a uni assignment years ago and the V-shaped graph of energy consumption vs mean temperature had straight lines, bottoming out at about 20degress I think.
    So based on energy consumption, there should still be a UHI signal in summer in warm places.

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