Is Armagh Burning?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Anthony has highlighted a study by Coughlin and Butler. Their study says that there is little or no urban warming (urban heat island, or UHI) in the temperature record from the Armagh Observatory in Ireland. They say:

It is concluded that temperature observations made at Armagh Observatory have been unaffected by rapid urbanisation over the past three decades.

Why is Armagh important? And is there really no UHI in Armagh?

The Armagh record is very valuable because it is one of the longest well-documented temperature series in existence. Here is the monthly mean temperature record from Armagh. (NOTE: I have replaced the earlier Figures 1 and 3, which only went up to the year 2004, with updated figures which now include 2005-2010. My thanks to those who wrote in with the location of the post-2004 data.)

Figure 1. 209 years of monthly temperatures at Armagh, Ireland. Pale blue is monthly surface air temperatures. Dark blue is Gaussian average of the temperature. Photo is noctilucent clouds over Northern Ireland.

My conclusions from Figure 1?

1. First, one single temperature station says nothing about the temperature of the planet. However, this one says a lot about century-long temperature changes in the North of Ireland.

2. The most striking thing to me is the slow regularity of the two-century-long temperature trend. Yes, there are decadal swings. But they don’t stray far from a simple trendline.

3. The recent warming from ~ 1980 on is not particularly unusual or anomalous compared to earlier periods of warming. From this, however, we can’t tell if there is a heat island signal in the record.

4. The Armagh data shows the same 0.6°C temperature trend over the 20th century that is shown by the global record. It also shows the same features as the global record, warming to the late 1940’s, cooling for thirty years or more, recent warming.

5. There is no sign of any acceleration, and indeed little change at all, in the long slow two centuries of warming.

Oddly, the Armagh Observatory data does not form part of the GHCN dataset that is used by all parties to create global temperature datasets. But I digress. Onward to the UHI.

First, some terminology. “UHI” stands for “Urban Heat Island”. Bad name. There’s lot’s of heat islands that are not urban. Trees, changes in the vegetation of the site, hedges, all of these can cause heat islands. I prefer the term “LHI”, for “Local Heat Island”. I know, I’m swimming uphill, so I call it UHI like everyone else does. But remember it doesn’t have to be urban.

The question of whether Armagh contains a heat island signal is an important one. Casting around for a way to determine the amount (if any) of heat island signal in the Armagh data, I decided to look at the relationship between Armagh temperature and the sea surface temperature (SST) of the North Atlantic and the Irish Sea. I reasoned that for an island on the edge of the North Atlantic, the SST would determine the land temperature. Here are the areas I used to see if my reasoning was correct:

Figure 2. Areas of ocean used for the comparison with the Armagh temperatures. Armagh Observatory is at the center of the yellow house. Left gridsquare is the North Atlantic area. Right gridsquare is the Irish Sea area.

I took the anomalies of the HadISST sea surface temperatures for each of those areas, and of the Armagh temperatures. Here are the results:

Figure 3. Temperature anomalies around Ireland. Monthly averages have been removed. Note that the vertical scale is different from Figure 1. Pale colored lines are actual monthly anomalies, heavy solid color lines are Gaussian averages. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are HadISST temperatures from KNMI.

Now, that’s pretty interesting. My observations, in no particular order, are:

1. As I suspected, the ocean temperature around the island of Ireland determines the Armagh temperature. The island is ruled by ocean winds and breezes.

2. The Irish Sea and the North Atlantic temperatures are quite similar. This increases confidence in the precision of the sea surface temperature data.

3. As you would expect, the swings in the land temperature extremes are greater than those of the sea surface temperature.

4. From 1900 to 1986, the averages of all three records are generally all quite close to each other. I always like seeing such a close correspondence of two entirely separate and discrete natural records. It increases the confidence in both datasets. In particular, the wiggle-match between the North Atlantic (heavy red line) and Armagh (heavy blue line) is quite impressive.

5. From 1986 onwards, the Armagh and the ocean datasets diverge in a significant manner.

6. The size of the divergence from 1986 to the end of the record in July 2010 is about a degree.

The Coughlin and Butler paper says:

The grounds surrounding the Observatory and its climate station have remained relatively unchanged over the past 200 years. However, in that time, the town of Armagh has spread in several directions, including to the north and east, past the Observatory site. Much of the development around the site has been in the form of housing built over the past 20-30 years and this development still continues.

Does this mean that Armagh is showing urban or site-specific warming over the last quarter century? I don’t know. But I find it mighty suspicious that after 85 years of running right in sync with both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea, the Armagh temperature should suddenly strike out on its own towards new heights, just when the town starts building up around it.

As a result, I’m not prepared to agree with Coughlin and Butler that there is no UHI signal in the Armagh data. They say:

However, recent research into the historical temperature records and comparisons with present day data from rural weather stations indicate that any temperature differences which existed between the Observatory site and the countryside 20-30 years ago have not increased over the intervening years.

Comparison of Armagh with ocean data, however, clearly shows increasing temperature differences in the exact time frame which they have used in their paper to discriminate a valid signal.

My regards to all,

w.

PS – I can’t find any Armagh data after 2004 … does anyone know where it might be available? (Solved, thanks to those who wrote in.)

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August 29, 2010 1:45 am

Willis,
I like your assumption about sea surface temperatures determining the temperature. The same of course must apply to New Zealand where we have raw temps showing no warming and NIWA’s adjusted” temps showing over 1 deg C warming in the last 100 years.
Does anybody know what the sea surface temps have done over the last 100 years in the Tasman and South Pacific around NZ?

pwl
August 29, 2010 1:56 am

Interesting analysis Willis.
It seems that they missed what you found, does that mean that your analysis invalidates their in part or in whole paper? If so then it seems important to get your analysis published as a peer reviewed paper.
Keep at it.

August 29, 2010 1:57 am

I suppose it just goes to show how problematic getting genuine, reliable land surface data sets is. If an apparently “unaffected” site is affected by nearby urbanisation rather than direct urbanisation then what hope is there for all the more obviously affested sites at airports etc?

Editor
August 29, 2010 2:01 am

Willis,
Current data at Armagh: http://climate.arm.ac.uk/aws.html

stephen richards
August 29, 2010 2:02 am

to find all the data you have to pick it from the site bit by bit. It is laborious, cumbersome and time consumming. I emailed Armagh last year for the later data and although we exchanged several very polite emails it seems unlikely for now that they will make it any easier.

richard telford
August 29, 2010 2:14 am

I think hedges would better be described as a microsite issue than a catch-all LHI (not all microsite issues would give a positive temperature)
Decomposing the temperature into max vs min temperatures, or windy vs calm days would give more insight into any possible UHI at Armagh.
recent data at
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scan.html

Sue Smith
August 29, 2010 2:16 am

The Met Office has monthly data for Armagh from 1865 to date.
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/stationdata/armaghdata.txt
I don’t know how it compares to the data actually held at Armagh.

Nick
August 29, 2010 2:22 am

Armagh may jump above the SSTs from the mid-1980s,but they both show a similar trend increase from that point. Is that UHI bleeding over the sea?
Need to compare Armagh with nearby genuinely rural sites.

August 29, 2010 2:24 am

Here is a link to updated monthly temperatures at Armagh:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/stationdata/armaghdata.txt
Try this one for daily data:
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scan.html
I concur that the conclusion by Coughlin and Butler is a little premature.
Having a look at the 360° panorama, just from above the met station, you can see a lot of trees.
How they used to manage that vegetation in the past?
Surely, in Europe there are a lot more trees in these decades then before.
Some old photographs are required!

Phillip Bratby
August 29, 2010 2:31 am

“I reasoned that for an island on the edge of the North Atlantic, the SST would determine the land temperature. ” Anyone who lives in these fair isles knows that to be the case. And the further west, the more the climate is dominated by the Atlantic. The further east, the more the continental effects become apparent. If it weren’t for the warming effects from the Atlantic, these isles would be pretty well uninhabited.

Peter Dunford
August 29, 2010 2:32 am

I wonder what caused the spike in the 40’s. Haven’t found much info on google.

Tenuc
August 29, 2010 2:38 am

We know UHI exists. We know the town of Armagh has spread in several directions, including to the north and east, past the Observatory site. Why wouldn’t this show in the temperature record???
Well done Willis, for an elegantly simple refutation of the Coughlin and Butler study.

David
August 29, 2010 2:42 am

Armagh already has a significant place in Climate Science because of the Butler and Johnson 1996 paper and its use by David Archibald and others as part of their evidence of a link between solar cycle length and intensity.
Some have suggested that this possible link has become less persuasive in recent years making it doubly important to make sure that its recent record is both available and uncontaminated.
Why on earth isn’t it in the GHCN data set?

Mooloo
August 29, 2010 2:49 am

Surely the point of showing a lack of UHI at Armagh is to “prove” that the recent warming in CO2 induced, and not an artifact of UHI.
Why anyone interested in proving CO2 warming would go anywhere near Armagh is a mystery to me. I would think they would keep that particular record quiet.

HR
August 29, 2010 2:55 am

I did my own 25 year smoothing on the armagh data (somebody can tell me if that’s valid or not)
http://i38.tinypic.com/2ewply8.png
And my scale is different to yours. It seems to show a good low frequency oscillation superimposed on a warming trend that seems to stretch back to the start of the record.

John Ballam
August 29, 2010 2:56 am

Anthony,
Clearly your analysis is different to the original, in that you compare against sea temperature rather than surrounding rural temperature, but it is interesting none the less. My question is this – when sound arguments like this can be made, backed up with hard data, why do they seem to only get published in blogs? If the argument is sound, surely it would be better to turn it into a full-blown paper and submit it to a journal. Wouldn’t that counter the argument that “skeptics never do real research?”
John

HR
August 29, 2010 2:59 am

The post 2004 data is there but in raw form
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scans/

Tom Roche
August 29, 2010 3:02 am

Living in Ireland, one of the factors I feel is relevant over the last 30 years has been the predominance of westerly winds. It has been almost an exclusive feature of our weather, this is an additional factor in warming, try adding data on same to the mix and see if it accounts for the discrepancy.

Reference
August 29, 2010 3:09 am

Willis,
Does this help?
Data up to July 2010
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scan.html
See also source page http://climate.arm.ac.uk/

Andrew P.
August 29, 2010 3:29 am

Another excellent post Willis. The only comment I would make is that rather than the ocean determining the Armagh / Irish land temperature, I would say it heavily has a heavy influence. I say this because while the seas around Ireland (and in my case Scotland) act as a buffer and moderate extremes, it is the wind (and more its direction) which is still the key determinant. (e.g Dec 2009 to mid February 2010 when the North Atlantic was still relatively mild, but north and north-east winds, (and long periods of still conditions) resulted in us having the coldest winter since 1963, (and the coldest December and January since 1914). i.e. it’s the jet streams which determine the weather we get, and the Atlantic which moderate it. (And that’s the key reason why the Met Office were/are so bad at their long range/seasonal forecast – they have invested in models which play around with the symptoms rather than the causes – i.e. the AO and jet stream patterns.
Back to the specifics of Armagh, I agree with one of the commentors on Anthony’s post, that the site will be exposed to noticeable UHI when the wind is coming from the adjacent urban area, at least in the winter months.
One last point (which I think has been made by Tallbloke previously) about the CET and Armagh records; they would be much more useful indicator of the long term temperature record (for the northern Atlantic/Hemisphere), if they had corresponding wind direction and duration data. Who is to say that a year with a temperature anomaly of +3 was actually that warm – it could be that there were far fewer north winds than normal that year, which would have brought down the ‘local’ average.

TinyCO2
August 29, 2010 3:39 am
Henry Pool
August 29, 2010 3:39 am

Willis E. Says:
I don’t know. But I find it mighty suspicious that after 85 years of running right in sync with both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea, the Armagh temperature should suddenly strike out on its own towards new heights, just when the town starts
building up around it.
Henry@Willis
I am puzzled that I see the same or similar upward trend at between 1940 and 1950. What could have been the cause of that?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 29, 2010 3:40 am

PS – I can’t find any Armagh data after 2004 … does anyone know where it might be available?
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scan.html

Monthly Records
This section allows you to select, from the databank, an image from the original record book containing the raw meteorological data for any given month between December 1794 and June 2000 but excluding April 1795 to June 1795 and June 1825 to December 1832.
Data from July 2000 until July 2010 is available in digital format rather than as a scanned image.
The data is not corrected for instrumental sensitivity, exposure of the instruments or the time of observation. It is contained in monthly tables of observed data with some general comments on the weather by the observer.
(Calibrated data is available here.)

AJB
August 29, 2010 3:40 am

Maybe a comparison with Valentia Observatory would be useful.
51° 56′ 23″N, 10° 14′ 40″W.

Christopher Hanley
August 29, 2010 3:43 am

I don’t understand why the 200 year Armagh temperature record, in conjunction with the 350 year CET record, cannot be treated as a reasonably accurate proxies for the NH or even global temperature, particularly because they are from a predominantly maritime climate.
http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/CETvsArmagh_long.html

John R. Walker
August 29, 2010 4:03 am

There are now manual and automated weather stations on the Observatory site
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/aws.html
There is data up to March 2010 in the archives – even though the recent annual folders are all dated 21 April 2004. The data within is more recent.
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/archives.html
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scans/

August 29, 2010 4:17 am

Isn’t the small part of Atlantic too small? When comparing annual Armagh record with the whole N Atlantic [0-70N 280-360E], the agreement is much better.
http://i38.tinypic.com/10nx66w.jpg

Vince Causey
August 29, 2010 4:20 am

Interesting conclusion: “However, in that time, the town of Armagh has spread in several directions,. . . Much of the development . . . housing built over the past 20-30 years”.
But “Comparisons with . . . rural weather stations indicate that any temperature differences which existed between the Observatory site and the countryside 20-30 years ago have not increased over the intervening years.”
So, although there is massive and ongoing development around Amargh, this has not contributed to any warming. This begs the question: are these rural weather stations themselves free from UHI? One would like to Google satellite them at the very least, since some so called rural stations turn out on closer inspection to be not quite as rural as one would have thought.

August 29, 2010 4:23 am
Leon Brozyna
August 29, 2010 4:28 am

So, over an eight month period, from Feb to Oct 96, they found the Observatory temps to be warmer than the test sites — Tmax at .1°C warmer and Tmin at .4°C warmer. Slight but real. I wonder what they’d find if they repeated the study now, 14 years later. Especially when you consider that during the period of the study the 6 yr Gaussian avg of Armagh was fairly close to that of the SST values; now there’s more of a spread.

Editor
August 29, 2010 4:28 am

I’d have to agree that Armagh may be UHI affected now. Although the Ovservatory is still ‘connected’ to the farmland the fingers of the town are spreading around it and it is to the Northeast of the town centre. Prevailing winds tend to be Southwesterly so it would be interesting to look at temperatures in relation to windspeed and direction. I believe also that rural areas with regards temperature may be most sensitive to anthropogenic effects in the 2,000+ population band (for which I want to chase up where I read this statement); the population of Armagh is now ~15,000. although it is not a very compact town.
I did a quick comparison using Google Earth – identical images below from 10km altitude, but with the Nasa Earth City Lights overlay (second link) the observatory lies in the midst of the bright area:
http://diggingintheclay.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/armagh-from-10km.jpg?w=632&h=422
http://diggingintheclay.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/armagh-from-earthcityllights-overlay.jpg
Note this overlay is different to that used by GISS for its nightlights adjustments, but I’ve done regular visual comparisons of the Google overlay with the GISS values for sites.

Paul_K
August 29, 2010 4:33 am

Hi Willis,
Your analysis is suggestive, but leaves open the possibility that the different atmosphere-surface coupling over land and sea is giving rise to the temperature differences. If the recent recorded temperature change was in fact (a) real and (b) due to an increase in downwelling LW due to GHGs, then wouldn’t you expect to see terrestrial temperatures climbing faster than SST? Have you come across any studies of coastal temperature stations to see whether there is a systematic difference in trends between land and sea in such stations? On a separate point, since the original study is within satellite era, is there any chance of persuading Dr Roy Spencer to download the AMSU TLT anomalies in the nearby gridcells to see whether they show an “averaging” of the terrestrial and marine temperature trends over the Armagh region?

August 29, 2010 4:34 am

Once I compared the MSU trend since 1979 in the 2.5×2.5° Armagh grid with the Observatory record, and while individual monthly anomalies were not exact, the overall trend was exactly the same.

Ed Fix
August 29, 2010 4:38 am

When I read the Coughlin and Butler paper, I was struck by their conclusion that even though Armagh had grown past the observatory in two directions, the city had left a “finger” of open land reaching from rural countryside to the observatory, and had therefore spared the observatory from UHI effect. Their reasoning seemed to be that it is conceivable that the observatory had been spared from UHI, therefore it was unaffected.
In other words, wishful thinking.

Editor
August 29, 2010 4:39 am

I meant to say also I found figures that population density of Armagh County has increased 20% between 1981-2009 (73.5 to 87.6 persons per sq km). I haven’t been able to find population figures for the town for that period – yet anyway.

Andreas
August 29, 2010 4:41 am

O, there I learned something new and exciting, thank you for that bit of writing.
My teacher in forest-meteorology always mentions that the temperature series from Uppsala here in Sweden is the longest and best temperature series in the world, maybe he’s a bit patriotic but what do I know. The Uppsala series would maybe show the UHI-development quite well i believe since Uppsala been a “larger” city for many hundreds of years.

August 29, 2010 5:00 am

Verity Jones says:
August 29, 2010 at 4:28 am
Reply;
Wow the observatory must be more concerned over light pollution, than UHI background.

JohnH
August 29, 2010 5:09 am

No only will there be the extra heat from the new housing but the % of homes with central heating in the UK has increased over the last 30 years too. Extra commuting too but offset by better home insulation.

BBk
August 29, 2010 5:18 am

John Ballard:
“If the argument is sound, surely it would be better to turn it into a full-blown paper and submit it to a journal. Wouldn’t that counter the argument that “skeptics never do real research?””
Sure, if you can get past the gatekeepers at the journals. ClimateGate made it pretty obvious that you’re working uphill at best.

August 29, 2010 5:23 am

Natural trend in the temperature’s anomaly (excluding urban factors) anywhere in the British Islands should not vary to any significant degree, although absolute values may.
There is a good reason to assume that apparent existence of a N. Atlantic precursor may signal a significant temperature drop in the next decade.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETnd.htm

latitude
August 29, 2010 5:44 am

They found that Armagh was warmer day and night, than the test stations.
What am I missing here?
“The mean difference in daily maxima between the Observatory and the mean of the three rural stations is found to be 0.11oC, whilst the difference in minima is 0.41oC,”
0.11C warmer day time, and 0.41C warmer night time
Wouldn’t that be UHI?

Sandy
August 29, 2010 6:02 am

It is worth pointing out that the SSTs used as a control may also have some Mann-made warming.

Berger
August 29, 2010 6:07 am

Some more questions:
what do we know about the station history, the thermometers used (for how long?) and beeing changed (when?), methods (daily time of measurment) etc.

Gary Pearse
August 29, 2010 6:12 am

Hmm it took Butler et al (The Met Office) to do an elaborate multi-year experiment with new installations to arrive at conclusions that a casual reader of the paper could see were wrong ones. Willis you did an unequivocal experiment with existing data in hours to show what was really going on – a much better approach than simply arguing with the authors about their conclusions. Dr. Butler and colleagues, this is what happens when you “know” the answer before you do the experiment. When I got to their discussion and conclusions I expected they would state the conclusion that their work led me to – yes there is an apparent UHI effect of about half a degree.

Robin Kool
August 29, 2010 6:16 am

That’s a great article.
You give the facts and you walk us through your reasoning.
Thank you.

BarryW
August 29, 2010 6:19 am

I wonder, did they run a temperature transect of the area? Additionally, did they check for MHI (Microsite Heat Island)? A few changes, such as a parking lot upwind or AC in the area would be obvious culprits.

August 29, 2010 6:20 am

Verity Jones says: August 29, 2010 at 4:28 am

…I believe also that rural areas with regards temperature may be most sensitive to anthropogenic effects in the 2,000+ population band (for which I want to chase up where I read this statement)

Try this and this – I still wonder if these Eschenbach-like sensible Russian scientist’s assessments from the Heartland conference have not been equalled.

August 29, 2010 6:27 am

HR says: August 29, 2010 at 2:55 am

I did my own 25 year smoothing on the armagh data…

I think your graph shows nicely the two factors Akasofu talks about (a) a 60-year cycle (b) overlaid on a steady rise out of the LIA. Note also, if one assumes this to be the case, the trend line would be flatter (start- and end-points of the trendline are not at the maxima or minima).

John Finn
August 29, 2010 6:29 am

Willis
I think you may have jumped to conclusions a bit too quickly. Your analysis seems to be:
Armagh temperatures tracked ocean temperatures fpr several decades until ~1980 when Armagh Obs temperatures began to diverge. Conclusion: UH caused the divergence.
Maybe or maybe not. You need to be aware that temperatures at stations right across the “British Isles” (apologies to the Irish) have risen since ~1980 at a similar rate to those at Armagh. These are in many diverse locations both urban and rural. Have they all undergone urban heating – by the same amount? The temperature station in my own part of the CET region is located in long established area where the population has actually fallen since 1970. If urban heat was a factor it would have have shown up in the immediate post-war period.
I think I’d believe in a reduction in cloud cover before I’d accept UH as the cause for the (UK and Irealnd) warming.

John Finn
August 29, 2010 6:46 am

To add to my previous post, i.e.
John Finn says:
August 29, 2010 at 6:29 am
One of the reasons AGW got public support is because everyone right across the country recognised that our winters had become milder and our summers warmer. It was a real effect that we all experienced – not some measured artifact from increased urbanisation.

August 29, 2010 6:54 am

Willis, I just love your work. I looked at the “wiggle match factor” too when I compared surface station temperature records surrounding Yamal with the treering record, and it was this that made it ridiculously plain that the treering record was quite alien to the rest while the thermometer records had a high correlation factor with each other.
Willis, some more tweaks and I think you have the seeds of a world cracking report.
(1) compare Armagh “wiggle factor” with Loughgall, Annaghmore, and Tandragee -and a couple more if Verity can help
(2) compare Armagh trends and wiggle factors with CET – in the era before UHI problems – and a couple more longterm semi-maritime records if poss
(3) look at the wind factors re Armagh UHI
(4) reference our citizens science work on quantifying UHI eg my refs above to Verity, McKitrick’s work, WUWT “sixth-grader work”,
…and hey presto, you’ve got the start of the real global temperature anomalies record (at temperate maritime NH latitudes) from the LIA until now. All the thousands of pasteurized records are not really needed! IMHO!

John Finn
August 29, 2010 7:02 am

Christopher Hanley says:
August 29, 2010 at 3:43 am
I don’t understand why the 200 year Armagh temperature record, in conjunction with the 350 year CET record, cannot be treated as a reasonably accurate proxies for the NH or even global temperature, particularly because they are from a predominantly maritime climate.
http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/CETvsArmagh_long.html

I’m sure they would be used if it weren’t for the fact that both the CE (Central England) and Armagh
have warmed by more than 1 degree over the past 30 years. This is about twice as much as the surface temperature trend.

kagiso
August 29, 2010 7:06 am

You state: “First, one single temperature station says nothing about the temperature of the planet. However, this one says a lot about century-long temperature changes in the North of Ireland.”
However this is not true. While we get the occassional period of high pressure central european weather, most of the time the temperature of the British isles is pretty much controlled by the temperture of the Atlantic. Because the Bering straits are so shallow, a very large proportion of the hot surface water of the Pacific is circulated all the way round to the Arctic for cooling via the Atlantic.
The temperature of the Atlantic is controlled by the temperature of the Pacific. So with a delay of a year or so the Armagh temperature is tracking the average temperature of the Pacific ocean.
Through a stroke of good fortune, the Armagh record, along with the CET from the English midlands (which closely correlate with each other), are not only the longest high quality temperature data records. They are very, very, good proxies for world temperature (recent UHI effects excepted).

Gary Pearse
August 29, 2010 7:10 am

Willis, prevailing wind direction is important – it appears that Butler et al are unaware that the prevailing wind across all of Ireland is south-westerly:
“Ireland has a temperate maritime climate that is influenced both by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the southwestern winds of the Atlantic Ocean, known as the prevailing winds. The combination of these two factors results in temperatures that remain fairly consistent across the entire country. The Atlantic Ocean influences the moderating effect by absorbing heat in the summer and releasing it during the winter.”
http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=prevailing%20seasonal%20winds%20Armagh%20Northern%20Ireland&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA
Butler et al attribute the lack of UHI effect to there being a playing field contiguous to the north border of the observatory. Meanwhile, the bulk of the city is south and west of the observatory. Since the temperature across virtually the whole island is pretty much the same one could look at recording sites that are north of Irish urban centres and see if they show a bump relative to other sites.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/26/uhi-study-of-the-uk-armagh-observatory/

Stacey
August 29, 2010 7:12 am

Dear Willis
Professor Manley stops using one of the CET stations because of the urban heat island effect; I am sure you know this.
http://www.rmets.org/pdf/qj74manley.pdf
He also discusses earlier on in the document the effects of hollows etc ie supporting your view on the use of LHI instead of UHI.
If you have already compared the Armagh and CET Data sets I would appreciate a link.
I would have reproduced some of the paragraphs unfortunately the document is an image and not text.

August 29, 2010 7:36 am

The background color on the graph makes it almost impossible to see the data/trend.

BillyBob
August 29, 2010 8:04 am

Its interesting to not the max peaks are the same but the min bottoms are not as low.
It isn’t any hotter … it just doesn’t get as cold.
Isn’t that a UHI trademark?

Jimbo
August 29, 2010 8:04 am

OT
Nature Magazine 27 August 2010
Cold empties Bolivian rivers of fish
…….wreaking havoc on wildlife, it is unprecedented in recorded history.
…………..linked to the deaths of at least 550 penguins along the coasts of Brazil and thousands of cattle in Paraguay and Brazil, as well as hundreds of people in the region.

Jimbo
August 29, 2010 8:06 am

Re: my last comment-
It’s blamed on global warming though. :o(

Pat Frank
August 29, 2010 8:16 am

John Finn, you’re just making an argument from analogy, between temperatures at other stations across the isles and temperatures at Armagh. Then you’re assigning causality from the correlation. Your argument is much weaker than Willis’.
Climate physics goes with the greater heat capacity, which is why littoral temperatures are governed by a nearby ocean. Armagh clearly fits that criterion. Willis’ argument also follows Jim Hansen’s empirical correlation of temperatures across 1200 km. Armagh should clearly be influenced by nearby sea surface temperatures on those grounds, too. Willis’ argument follows established climatology. Yours doesn’t.
The question here, lest we forget, concerns the integrity of Armagh’s point-source temperature record. Trends elsewhere, and global or wide-area temperature fields, are an irrelevant distraction.

Severian
August 29, 2010 8:32 am

Hmmm…did they hide the incline?
Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

BillC
August 29, 2010 8:50 am

In the note about the playing fields near Armagh, perhaps the composition has changed. I’ve seen studies on temperature around synthetic playing fields (all the rage in the US) that are significantly warmer than grass (which they call “natural turf”).
Results vary (see links) but 10-20 degrees F warmer than grass with significant heat retention seems common.
So in general, things that *look* like grass may be causing local warming (Synthetic Grass Heat Island effect?). This is a serious issue, as many of us seem to be using satellite imagery to determine grass areas near stations.
Perhaps higher res looking at clarity and color of lines might be a guide? Nearly all synthetic fields in my experience have painted color lines.
See e.g. http://cedb.asce.org/cgi/WWWdisplay.cgi?0705609 (subsurface temps higher, air temp with wind not) and http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/outdoors/synthetic_turf/crumb-rubber_infilled/docs/fact_sheet.pdf (reporting on the BYU study and others, with links).

Tenuc
August 29, 2010 9:02 am

John Finn says:
August 29, 2010 at 6:46 am
“One of the reasons AGW got public support is because everyone right across the country recognised that our winters had become milder and our summers warmer. It was a real effect that we all experienced – not some measured artifact from increased urbanisation.”
I agree. The public at large have short memories regarding the past weather and, at the time the CAGW conjecture was popular, the public trusted science to deal with long term trends.
Unfortunately for the warming hoax, many people did remember that climate scientists in the 1970’s were convinced the next ice-age was starting. Just like today, they had computer climate models to predict the future, which always showed we were heading for ‘snowball earth’.
The number of sceptics has grown since then. People are more interested in climate science now (ironically stimulated by the MSM) and, following the IPCC hockey stick debacle and the CRU Climategate scandal, any remaining trust in climate science has gone.
With a quiet sun, the next few decades will bury this divisive scam as the cold returns across the globe. It’s a pity world governments aren’t building more power stations, especially in the third world, as current capacity will be insufficient to prevent millions of deaths.
Climate is ultimately driven by deterministic chaos, and real climate metrics (100y+) show that Earth’s energy supply systems are constantly oscillating up and down with no discernible trend…
1410-1500 cold – Low Solar Activity(LSA?)-(Sporer minimum)
1510-1600 warm – High Solar Activity(HSA?)
1610-1700 cold – (LSA) (Maunder minimum)
1710-1800 warm – (HSA)
1810-1900 cold – (LSA) (Dalton minimum)
1910-2000 warm – (HSA)
2010-2100 (cold???) – (LSA???)

anthony holmes
August 29, 2010 9:03 am

Well , everybody knows that in Ireland they build their houses out of turf , which is highly insulating , therefore through the long winter months with windows and doors closed the houses leak no heat that could warm the surrounding atmosphere , thats why there is no increase in warmth despite tens of thousands of central heating systems busting their guts to keep the winter cold out . Simplz !!

Mark V
August 29, 2010 9:03 am

I hope this is not off topic. I think this is another really good piece of work amongst many others at this site, and several other sites, that present arguments and provoke thinking on climate change. It strikes me however, that little of this work ever stands the test of “proper peer review” outside the really good comments people make, and it rarely leads to publication in “proper journals”. Is it time for Watts Up With That to start an open access online journal of reasoned climate science? Consolidate what is known in one place. Use the valuable contribution of all the comments to make papers stronger and then have the academics and learned people who frequent these sites, or who run them, do the peer review. This will lead to good bullet proof science, if the comments are used to write more robust arguments and give it the credibility of formal publication and peer review. Credible science deserves a home. Do credible reasoned science and publish it in one place to consolidate all the knowledge. Maybe a thought for consideration. Keep up all the good work and all the thought provoking comments.

polistra
August 29, 2010 9:06 am

Here’s a quick-n-dirty fit of the Armagh ‘Storminess’ graph with a sunspot graph for
the same period:
http://ockhamsbungalow.com/blog23/armagh-storm-plus-sun.jpg
Looks pretty close after 1850, not so close before.

John Finn
August 29, 2010 9:11 am

Pat Frank says:
August 29, 2010 at 8:16 am
John Finn, you’re just making an argument from analogy, between temperatures at other stations across the isles and temperatures at Armagh. Then you’re assigning causality from the correlation. Your argument is much weaker than Willis’.

My argument is based on the very small statistical probability that each station across the British Isles has been affected by urban heat to the same (or very similar) degree as Armagh. My argument is also based on my experiences in the UK over the past several decades. I think my argument is stronger than Willis’.

kfg
August 29, 2010 9:37 am

“Climate physics goes with the greater heat capacity, which is why littoral temperatures are governed by a nearby ocean. Armagh clearly fits that criterion.”
Although, as Willis demonstrates, the nearby ocean fits it better.
“The question here, lest we forget, concerns the integrity of Armagh’s point-source temperature record.”
And thus uninteresting to anyone who isn’t interested in the weather around Armagh. The question here, lest we forget, are the global trends. Are people forgetting that exercises such as this are to demonstrate the prima facie absurdity of claiming to be able to measure the Global Mean Temperature (which can only be energy in vs. energy out) using a scattering of land based weather stations on this piebald Blue & White planet we inhabit?

Editor
August 29, 2010 9:45 am

As always Willis makes a compelling case in yet another well written piece. UHI is simply not well enough represented in overall calculations.
As well as Armagh we have a wealth of much examined and validated instrumentation (Phil Jones got some EU grants to check some of these out) that record the temperatures during a large part of the LIA which follow the information Willis has posted. I collect them here.
http://climatereason.com/LittleIceAgeThermometers/
These are backed up by numerous observations by scientists, farmers, Presidents, crop records, weather diaries. So whilst we can’t go back into the far depths of time with instrumentation (thermometers) we can still cover a great deal of the Hockey stick timetable and come to a reliable conclusion as to what has been happening.
It is important to put the known climate data into its proper perspective. Willis has shown the Armagh trends-this is CET to 1659 showing trends.
Overall trend;
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jdrake/Questioning_Climate/_sgg/m2_1.htm
By month;
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jdrake/Questioning_Climate/_sgg/m2m1_1.htm
As can be seen, throughout the very long record the temperatures have been warming-centuries before the increased input of Co2 by man. From my own research it is clear that the worst excesses of the LIA ended abruptly in 1698. The period around 1700-1730 shows a particularly notable upturn in temperatures.
This instrumental record is backed up by various other records, such as this one from Uppsalla.
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/how-long-is-a-long-temperature-history/
We are fortunate with this record- from Arrhenius’s home town- to have the botanical garden records as well. These take us back to around 1695. Around 1710 they talk about planting outside some quite exotic plants-together with mulberries.
So the temperature rise can be traced back to at least 1690, and if we look further back, before the English Civil War, we know that the coldest part of this second phase of the LIA ocurred in the early part of the 17th Century, so we can actually trace that rise from around 1620.
I traced part of that long rise from the Dalton minimum of 1812 using Charles Dickens life as a proxy to follow temperature trends.
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/bah-humbug/
The modern GISS record from 1880 merely ‘plugs’ into the end of this well documented slow and gentle rise. The Giss record curiously starts from a known trough in temperatures around 1880-if Hansen had taken the previous decades records, when there was a notable peak, the slope would not be as high as is commonly shown. I have commented on this in various of my articles including this one;
“Article: Three long temperature records in USA. Author: Tony Brown
This article links three long temperature records along the Hudson river in the USA. They illustrate that a start date of 1880 (Giss) misses out on the preceding warm climatic cycles and that UHI is a big factor in the increasingly urbanised temperature data sets from both Giss and Hadley/Cru
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/triplets-on-the-hudson-river/#comment-13064
To demonstrate that this rise wasn’t limited to Armagh or CET here are additional linear regressions for some of the oldest data sets in the world-all show the same slight warming trend over centuries.
http://i47.tinypic.com/2zgt4ly.jpg
http://i45.tinypic.com/125rs3m.jpg
Our datasets demonstrate that rather than warming, we are becoming ‘less cold’ as we move away from severe LIA winters which depressed overall mean temperatures by 1 or 2 degrees C in some years and the increae of night temperatures in particular is a well known UHI trait.
This link here demonstrates the abeyance of severe winters (graph 3)
http://mclean.ch/climate/England_Scotland.htm
This one here demonstrates the relative constancy of summers compared to winters.
http://climate4you.com/CentralEnglandTemperatureSince1659.htm
This all suggests to me that CO2 is a very weak climate driver that is overwhelmed by natural variability. It also suggests to me that we have become fixated on the 1880 records and not made enough effort to find out what has gone on prior to this date. I think it is little known generally that the world was warming (albeit in fits and starts) 200 years prior to the time James Hansen commenced his records.
To me the really interesting question is what caused these short sharp and severe LIA interludes (which by no means occurred every year) which were interspersed with periods nearly as warm as today? Could the circumstances recurr? Are we now so fixated on CAGW that we couldn’t cope with substantial cooling?
Tonyb

kfg
August 29, 2010 10:23 am

Willis Eschenbach says: “. . .my work here is not peer-reviewed in the ordinary sense . . .”
An ordinary sense which has become a wrong sense, which is what has made it so easy to twist it, but then you seem to be aware of that. Slashdot, Digg and Kuro5hin all point to ways in the which the process might be better handled by an online journal; although it’s worth noting that wikis point to reasons for the genesis of the current system. It at least started out with intentions similar to your own, but things that are not refreshed grow stale; and in the long term may even begin to rot.

ed t
August 29, 2010 10:27 am

Maybe it would make sense to think in terms of urban heat “bubbles” rather than “islands”. Warm air generated by urban areas might exhibit the character of a bubble which can be blown by winds. If this is the case, it might shift such bubbles to periodically influence areas outside the urban areas, enough to raise average temperatures.

JPeden
August 29, 2010 10:54 am

John Ballam says:
August 29, 2010 at 2:56 am
Anthony,
[Willis] Clearly your analysis is different to the original, in that you compare against sea temperature rather than surrounding rural temperature, but it is interesting none the less. My question is this – when sound arguments like this can be made, backed up with hard data, why do they seem to only get published in blogs?

But why is this kind of analysis not in Coughlin and Butler’s own paper to begin with? Are Climate Scientists not aware that areas in Ireland are going to be affected by the Oceanic/Marine climate zones, just as Willis’s comparison has now indicated?
Trying to disprove your own hypothesis or at least consider all important factors possibly affecting or further revealing features of what you are studying is an important part of the Scientific Method, one which you ignore at your own peril.
And why didn’t the esteemed Peer Reviewers of the Publication think of the comparison Willis made qua the “rural” sst’s?

Theo Goodwin
August 29, 2010 11:05 am

Pardon me for making again a common sense point that others have made, but the trees at the Armagh site could very well create a heat island effect. In this part of the world, there is always a wind or a breeze, the clouds are low flying and always moving, and there is rain or mist at several times during the day. The angle of the rain is somethimes 90 degrees (slight exaggeration). The growth of those young, landscaped trees could very well have blocked Armagh from the ordinary effects of the climate. Someone asked if this could be happening all over Europe. Yes, it could. Europe has become steadily wealthier for decades and landscaped trees are considered quite a luxury. My main point is that photos dating back twenty years are needed as part of the evidence.

dearieme
August 29, 2010 11:19 am

@Barry: “A few changes, such as … AC in the area would be obvious culprits”. Indeed, but we have almost never used AC in these temperate isles EXCEPT in the last few decades when we’ve had computer rooms to keep cool. Worth a look?

Anachronda
August 29, 2010 11:33 am

Henry Pool: I am puzzled that I see the same or similar upward trend at between 1940 and 1950. What could have been the cause of that?
WWII? Perhaps there was some staging there during the war that caused a UHI?

Anachronda
August 29, 2010 11:41 am
BarryW
August 29, 2010 11:48 am

Theo Goodwin says:
August 29, 2010 at 11:05 am
Point well taken. Warren Brooks the economist pointed out, during the Luddite hysteria over acid rain, that areas of New England where ponds had become more acidic were surrounded by trees. Previously these had been surrounded by plowed fields. Since the area was no longer being used as farmland the trees returned. The leaves from the trees created a bed of leaves that were acidic. Rain draining through the trees created acidic runoff that caused the ponds to become acidic., their natural state before the area was farmed. Yes, I know acid rain is a problem in specific areas downwind of industrial sites. The thing was that problems were attributed to acid rain regardless of the circumstances, much like CO2 climate change is today.

Chris S
August 29, 2010 11:52 am

Armagh may have spread in several directions, including to the north and east, but it’s hardly what I’d describe as urban. To call it a town is misleading (although it is one).
If you look at the satellite photo on Google maps, then consider the frequent, prevailing south westerly winds, I wouldn’t have expected there to be any measurable UHI effect in the first place.

Doug in Dunedin
August 29, 2010 12:52 pm

Willis Eschenbach says: August 29, 2010 at 10:01 am
pwl says:
August 29, 2010 at 1:56 am ‘it seems important to get your analysis published as a peer reviewed paper.’ Keep at it.
Yes, I know I should publish in the journals. However:
Finally, I am pushing for a change in the scientific method, from a journal-based method to a more transparent, open, rapid, interactive web-based method. I can best do so from here.
———————————————————————————-
Willis, I love your writing – your style is invigorating, informative, comprehensible clear, concise, entertaining, amusing. I always seem to understand your articles here – which is more than I can say for some others!
As always, your reasoning is compelling – but in a scientific journal these qualities would be vaporised and your influence diminished.
So I’m glad that you are sticking to WUWT and pushing for a change in the scientific communications method!
Cheers and thanks
Doug

gino
August 29, 2010 1:04 pm

Anachronda says:
August 29, 2010 at 11:41 am
Hmm. Probably not WWII.
======================================
remember….wikipedia is NOT your friend 🙂
http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/yourplaceandmine/armagh/
http://www.history.army.mil/reference/ireland/nistat.htm
Probably not enough of a presence, but you never know just how many tanks were driving around upwind of the observatory, or where temporary housing was placed.

Mooloo
August 29, 2010 1:23 pm

I wouldn’t have expected there to be any measurable UHI effect in the first place.
A bit slow this morning, are we?
The warmists scant UHI, because they don’t think it can be that powerful. Just like you.
The measured effects, however, appear to be real.
Show how the analysis above is incorrect, and you will get some kudos. Saying “it’s wrong because I don’t believe it can be right” is just plain silly.

John Finn
August 29, 2010 2:08 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

John Finn says:
August 29, 2010 at 6:29 am
Willis
I think you may have jumped to conclusions a bit too quickly. Your analysis seems to be:
Armagh temperatures tracked ocean temperatures fpr several decades until ~1980 when Armagh Obs temperatures began to diverge. Conclusion: UH caused the divergence.
Maybe or maybe not. You need to be aware that temperatures at stations right across the “British Isles” (apologies to the Irish) have risen since ~1980 at a similar rate to those at Armagh. These are in many diverse locations both urban and rural. Have they all undergone urban heating – by the same amount? …


Well, in short … no. First, I have not said definitively that it was UHI, because glitches in the sea temperatures need to be considered in the differential diagnosis.
Second, I kept waiting for you to provide a citation or a graph or something, anything, that shows that stations across the UK and Ireland are all warming in the same fashion as Armagh, that is to say, moving in very close sync with the ocean for 85 years, and then warming since then. Please get back to us with something to support your assertions, because up ’til now you are speaking from a data-free zone …

Willis
First, I’d like to apologise if I appeared dismissive of your post. The tone of my original comment was in response to the reaction from other posters rather than to your comments. If you check back you’ll probably find about half the posters on this thread think you’ve debunked the C&B paper – even though I doubt that is what you are saying.
I generally find your posts interesting and informative – and that includes this one. That said I am not convinced that the trend at Armagh is significantly influenced by UH. Let’s just consider the Coughlin & Butler paper. In the Conclusions section they state

However, recent research into the historical temperature records and comparisons with present day data from rural weather stations indicate that any temperature differences which existed between the Observatory site and the countryside 20-30 years ago have not increased over the intervening years

If the temperature differences between the Observatory and rural stations have not increased in 20-30 years, it suggests that the rural temperature trends are at least as great – if not greater – than the Armagh trends. Another poster provided a link to a comparsion of Armagh v CET at the Junkscience site, See
http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/CETvsArmagh_long.html
There are a number of UK/Irish stations in the GISS database which all exhibit a strong post-1980 warming trend but the one which is possibly of most interest is the Valentia Observatory which is located off the SW coast of Ireland (Atlantic side). The location of the observatory has been relatively unchanged over the years. (http://www.met.ie/about/valentiaobservatory/default.asp ). The Valentia ‘climate’ will be heavily influenced by the Atlnatic ocean. The GISS plot is here
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=621039530005&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1
Warming since 1980 is ~0.95 deg, i.e. similar to Armagh & CET. Interestingly Valentia even has the same dip in 2010 as that seen in the UK stations.

Willis Eschenbach
August 29, 2010 2:17 pm

I have posted updated versions of Figs. 1 and 3. They are the same as the previous versions with the addition of the 2005—July 2010 data.
My thanks to all who have commented. Hey, the data is there. Someone above said that all of Ireland had warmed like that post 1980 … is that true?
I’ll keep you posted on any further sites I analyse in this fashion … that is, if I do some more analyses on this topic before my monkey mind gets distracted by … oooh, shiny, look over there …
w.
w.

Dr A Burns
August 29, 2010 2:35 pm

Overlaying a plot of man’s global CO2 emissions is worthwhile. This shows a 1200% increase after WW2. There is no corresponding increase in temperatures after 1945.

August 29, 2010 3:08 pm

Juraj V. says:
August 29, 2010 at 4:23 am
Looks like SSTs in the region were about the same as now a century ago or more.
Of course there are problems with historical SST measurement.
Thanks for the link.

Vinceo
August 29, 2010 3:44 pm

The Gough military barracks in Armagh had increased activity in both World Wars, particularly in WW2 when the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States army was there before the invasion of Italy. I’m not sure where the barracks actually were but Barrack Street is within about 1 km from the Observatory. These increased military activities could have been the source of “UHI” in the two periods and would support Willis’s hypothesis about recent urbanization.

Pat Frank
August 29, 2010 4:51 pm

John Finn statistical argument: correlation; physical argument: causation. Willis is talking physics. Your argument is weaker.

A C of Adelaide
August 29, 2010 6:03 pm

I’m looking at the relative peak between 1998 and 2010 and wondering just how much faith to have in your graph given the latest posting on Hansens recent fiddling. If the data is coming from the met office what have they done to it?
At least the 0.5 degree drop between 1940 and 1980 hasnt been disappeared but this 2005 onwards looks suspicious to me UHI or no UHI. “Raw” data just doesnt seem to be what it used to be.

John Finn
August 29, 2010 6:18 pm

Pat Frank says:
August 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm
John Finn statistical argument: correlation; physical argument: causation. Willis is talking physics. Your argument is weaker.

Willis’ argument is valid but, in my view, it’s not supported by the facts. To put it another way, he’s put forward a well-reasoned argument without necessarily considering all aspects.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We all do that all the time. The problem is that a number of posters have seen this as a debunking of the Coughlin & Butler study. I’ m far from convinced that this is the case. The C&B study suggests that the the Observatory trend is similar to the nearby rural station trends. You cannot simply claim that the Armagh trend is due to urbanisation without considering the reasons for the rural station trends.
Let me make it clear: I’ve got no problem with the post. I like to see ideas freely expressed (WUWT is outstanding in this respect) . I do, though, have a problem with the reaction of a number of posters who have made a snap decision on the validity of the C&B study.

Julian Flood
August 29, 2010 9:58 pm

gino says:
“Anachronda says:
Hmm. Probably not WWII.”
[]
Probably not enough of a presence, but you never know just how many tanks were driving around upwind of the observatory, or where temporary housing was placed.
unquote
Perhaps you (and others) are making the same mistake that Professor Wigley and others made about the ‘blip’ during WWII. Their reaction to a temperature excursion they did not understand was to explain it away rather than explain it. They adjust the data to fit their ideas, rather than take the data at face value and use it as it is.
The data divergence for Armagh is there and UHI is a defensible explanation: the WWII excursion is a very different matter.
Comparing the Valentia graph with Hadcrut is very interesting — especially when you remember that Valentia has avoided the (rather dubious) bucket correction which so pollutes Hadcrut’s SST data. There is a fascinating project available to a skilled researcher with land sites which are strongly influenced by local sea temperatures, islands etc being used to compare the corrections and adjustments of Hadcrut against reality.
Cloud data needs to be assessed at the same time.
JF

Nic
August 29, 2010 11:18 pm

Henry@Willis
I am puzzled that I see the same or similar upward trend at between 1940 and 1950. What could have been the cause of that?
*******
Was there a WWII military base nearby that was decommissioned after the war? That might have been a bit of a heat island.

Baa Humbug
August 30, 2010 12:53 am

Does urban development affect surface temperatures?
I was watching the Belgian Grand Prix last night. The weather graphic displayed…
Air temperature 20DegC
Track temperature 26DegC

Editor
August 30, 2010 1:39 am

Willis
Another reason could be the actions of GS Callendar (yes that one) he ran an active programme to disperse fog and used huge quantities of oil as it involved burning it in special containers next to runways.
Tonyb

Editor
August 30, 2010 1:43 am

Willis
I also meant to say that oil was spread on waves to reduce wave heights particularly during exercises etc. All in all a lot of oil was released, some burning some not.
I have no idea how that would affect the situation you describe
tonyb

John Finn
August 30, 2010 1:52 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 29, 2010 at 8:27 pm

John Finn says:
August 29, 2010 at 6:18 pm


C&B claim that there is no UHI at Armagh, based on the fact that they find no spurious warming in the last 20—30 years w.r.t. rural records.
I find a clear signal of recent spurious warming in that exact timespan.
Does that mean C&B are wrong? By no means. It does raise serious questions about their results, however.
There are a number of ways that C&B could be wrong. Unfortunately, they compare Armagh to three “rural” stations which are not part of the GHCN dataset. Nor are they part of the ECA dataset. In fact, I can’t find any data on them. So I can’t find out if their results are valid, or not. We don’t know if their argument is “supported by the facts” as you put it.

Fair enough – but I did provide links to other UK/Irish station data which also show the same post-1980 warming trend.

August 30, 2010 1:59 am

polistra says: August 29, 2010 at 9:06 am
Here’s a quick-n-dirty fit of the Armagh ‘Storminess’ graph with a sunspot graph for
the same period:
http://ockhamsbungalow.com/blog23/armagh-storm-plus-sun.jpg
As you say, fit not good before 1850… but afterwards, excellent… this is surely worth exploring, maybe doing an article, because it looks as if it could be a significant fine-tuner to UHI correction. Plus, another support for the solar connection – and could it be an amplifying factor, something that helps amplify the apparently-too-weak changes in TSI????
???? Willis? anyone?

Mark_K
August 30, 2010 6:26 am

My wife went dress shopping, came home and exclaimed, “I found one and it was in the last place I looked”. (No kidding, you stopped looking after you found it.)
This is the flaw that most research has when it sets out to find evidence of global warming. If the observed first order effect supports AGW, the researchers declare they’ve found evidence of AGW and quit. It’s only when the first order effect fails to support AGW that they continue to pursue alternative explanations.

Joe Spencer
August 30, 2010 7:03 am

It is perhaps interesting to note how the slight warming trend appears to continue through the last decade, in a record that hasn’t been continually tinkered with.
Unlike the various global trends which have tended to show flattening over the last 10 to 15 years . Could that apparenting flatening in the global records, in fact be more of an artefact of earlier ‘tinkering’ to accentuate ‘current’ warming over the past ~10-15 years, in these global temps, which is now hiding a slow but nevertheless continuing warming, with an artificial cooling trend ?
For anyone who knew the past 5-15 years say, contained exagerations, it would be easier to dismiss of the apparent early 21 st century cooling, knowing that such tinkering had now hidden a steady warming trend ?
Could that be what’s meant when they say , there have been errors, but the overall trend/conclusions remain unaffected ? (ie Trust Us becuase we actually know better than the official record is now suggesting). ?

Feet2theFire
August 30, 2010 7:44 am

@ Tenuc says August 29, 2010 at 2:38 am:
[/blockquote]We know UHI exists. We know the town of Armagh has spread in several directions, including to the north and east, past the Observatory site.[/blockquote]
Although I’d like to find reasons for a UHI in this case, I would dispute urbanized development north and east of the Observatory could have much of a bearing on the data, whether now or in the past.
@Phillip Bratby says August 29, 2010 at 2:31 am:
[blockquote][Willis…]“I reasoned that for an island on the edge of the North Atlantic, the SST would determine the land temperature. ” Anyone who lives in these fair isles knows that to be the case. And the further west, the more the climate is dominated by the Atlantic. The further east, the more the continental effects become apparent.[blockquote]
I’ve had reason to look at European weather systems in the past, and the prevailing winds patterns are out of the northwest to southwest. If this is in fact the case, then development east and north would likely have little to no effect on the Observatory, since it is essentially “upwind” of the developments.
I think some other explanation is needed. I don’t think development down wind of the Observatory has any effect to speak of.

Feet2theFire
August 30, 2010 8:10 am

@ David says August 29, 2010 at 2:42 am:

Why on earth isn’t it in the GHCN data set?

I could not agree with you more.
To look at GHCN data, lately I have been going to
http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/climatedata.aspx?Dataset=GHCNTemp
All stations are listed with start and stop dates. Even stations that were only included for a few years are listed.
So if Armagh is one of the longest continuously running stations in the entire world – and at a UK observatory, no less – it is not only surprising that it is not in the GHCN database, it is UNBELIEVABLE that it has evidently NEVER been included.
WTF????

Pascvaks
August 30, 2010 8:11 am

It’s the Fishin’! Around Armagh the fishin’ still OK. In the Western Pacific, Central Pacific, Eastern Pacific, Indian Ocean, South Atlantic, Northwest Atlantic, it’s terrible! If we didn’t fish so much, things would cool off fast. And all those supertankers, they’re at fault too ya’ know! The more life we have in the oceans and the less supertankers we have on the oceans means cooler oceans and, of course, that means more snow and ice for everyone. But, it is too late I fear. The oceans of the world have become cesspools and Mother Nature’s about ready to flush the toilet, again.

August 30, 2010 9:59 am

I have seen some records which indicated U.S. Army Second Infantry Division used Armagh area for a staging area. The US 654 tank Destroyer battalion and US Fifth Army also used this area. Having seen numerous military staging areas, it could be expected that much of the countryside was trampled, flattenned, turned from grass into mud/dirt parking aprons to support a huge influx of tanks, truck, etc. It would necessarily make sense that vegetation would take some time to be restored following end of hostilities and drawdown.

Feet2theFire
August 30, 2010 10:04 am

@ Lucy Skywalker says August 30, 2010 at 1:59 am:

polistra says: August 29, 2010 at 9:06 am
Here’s a quick-n-dirty fit of the Armagh ‘Storminess’ graph with a sunspot graph for
the same period:
http://ockhamsbungalow.com/blog23/armagh-storm-plus-sun.jpg
As you say, fit not good before 1850… but afterwards, excellent… this is surely worth exploring, maybe doing an article, because it looks as if it could be a significant fine-tuner to UHI correction. Plus, another support for the solar connection – and could it be an amplifying factor, something that helps amplify the apparently-too-weak changes in TSI????
???? Willis? anyone?

Very interesting graphs. Thanks, polistra!
A possible explanation for the pre-1850 mis-match:
With that being the Maunder Minimum/Little Ice Age, almost ANY gales would have had little sunspot activity to compare to. With 1798 being the start of the graph, and the curve declining right after that start, one wonders what the numbers would be before that.
That is actually informative, in that Atlantic storms were still active – and actually at a relatively HIGH level during the LIA. Among other things, this correlation of low sunspots with high gale activity would argue against the “warm climate = more storms” hypothesis. It would argue that there is no connection at all, given the data as shown. It argues that some other factors are important, not temperature as we currently evaluate it.

Feet2theFire
August 30, 2010 10:08 am

@ Joe Spencer says August 30, 2010 at 7:03 am:

It is perhaps interesting to note how the slight warming trend appears to continue through the last decade, in a record that hasn’t been continually tinkered with.

The global trend will never be reflected in EVERY locality. Some will be warmer and trend against the overall. The overall is an average, after all, meaning nearly half are above the curve and nearly half are below the curve. (A few ill match the curve.)

Julian Flood
August 30, 2010 10:26 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 30, 2010 at 1:09 am
quote
My guess (and it is just a guess) for the reason for the World War II (WWII) decoupling of the air and sea temperatures is the huge amount of oil released from sinking ships. Hundreds of ships were sunk in the English Channel and the North Atlantic, each with thousands of gallons of fuel.
The interposition of this layer between ocean and air would tend to physically decouple the two. The effect of oil in preventing waves from breaking is legendary. Oil is deliberately released in sea rescues to calm the waves.
The breaking of wave-created bubbles and the lofting and evaporation of sea spray from breaking waves both transfers heat and creates cloud nuclei. Anything interfering with this process would slow the energy transfer between ocean and atmosphere, allowing the temperatures to decouple.
unquote
Well, anyone interested could google “the Kriegesmarine hypothesis” and see a fuller exposition. Here and at other blogs, and at my website, I have developed a totally original hypothesis of global warming. With the addition of silica run-off it even explains the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery and the supposed light isotope signature in the atmosphere.
quote
But that’s just my guess.
unquote
Up to a point, dear boy, up to a point.
JF

August 30, 2010 11:02 am

I think what you are observing as possible UHI is more likely an artifact of comparing measured point land surface air temperatures with modelled area SSTs. I compared the monthly average Armagh data (from 1948 to 2002) with the Reanalysis monthly averages of surface atmospheric temperatures at 55N 7W for the same time range. When the annual cycles are factored out, the slopes from 1985 are practically identical at 0.0611 and 0.0609 degrees per year. Since the Reanalysis values are calculated from multiple surface stations and satalite data for a mostly rural area, the UHI effect looks statistically insignificant.

August 30, 2010 11:40 am

Change “satalite” to satellite in my previous. I suggest you do further analysis before submitting for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

Feet2theFire
August 30, 2010 12:28 pm

@ John Finn says August 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm:

If the temperature differences between the Observatory and rural stations have not increased in 20-30 years, it suggests that the rural temperature trends are at least as great – if not greater – than the Armagh trends. Another poster provided a link to a comparsion of Armagh v CET at the Junkscience site, See
http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/CETvsArmagh_long.html
There are a number of UK/Irish stations in the GISS database which all exhibit a strong post-1980 warming trend but the one which is possibly of most interest is the Valentia Observatory which is located off the SW coast of Ireland (Atlantic side). The location of the observatory has been relatively unchanged over the years. (http://www.met.ie/about/valentiaobservatory/default.asp ). The Valentia ‘climate’ will be heavily influenced by the Atlnatic ocean. The GISS plot is here
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=621039530005&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1
Warming since 1980 is ~0.95 deg, i.e. similar to Armagh & CET. Interestingly Valentia even has the same dip in 2010 as that seen in the UK stations.

Malin Head station at the farthest north peninsula in Ireland from 1980 to 2006 seems to agree for the most part with your point here, indicating the ocean itself was going through the increase seen at Armagh. Interestingly Armagh and Valentia Observatory the last 2 years have dropped like a rock, while Malin Head has dropped significantly the last 3 years.
Quoting again:
@Phillip Bratby says August 29, 2010 at 2:31 am:

[Willis…]“I reasoned that for an island on the edge of the North Atlantic, the SST would determine the land temperature. ” Anyone who lives in these fair isles knows that to be the case. And the further west, the more the climate is dominated by the Atlantic.

Armagh seems to be tracking well with Venetia and Malin Head, both essentially ocean-dominated. That would seem to suggest the post-1980 rise is not UHI, but just a blip in the Armagh trend line.

Feet2theFire
August 30, 2010 1:28 pm

Oops! In that last comment, the last paragraph should read
Armagh seems to be tracking well with Venetia and Malin Head, both essentially ocean-dominated. That would seem to suggest the post-1980 rise is not UHI, but just a blip in the Armagh-NEAtlantic*-Malin Head-Venetia trend line, which shows up in that Armagh trace above, as it does in the others. The closest Scottish station, Tirree also agrees. UHI is not needed to explain it.
@ Fred H. Haynie at 11:02 am says the 55N/07W Atlantic grid (very close to Malin Head) tracks well, too. (However, 55N/07W is actually over land… I assume the grid is 5° and mostly water?)
All in all, it looks pretty consistent in that area: a rise above the long term trend in the region after 1980, which seems to be trending back down recently.

George E. Smith
August 30, 2010 4:18 pm

“”” http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/climate/yeardisp.php?wfo=mtr&year=2010&span=Calendar%20Year&stn=KSJC “””
This link gets you a graph of the San jose Temperatures since the dawn of creation; including the two days of all time record high temperature for Monday and Tuesday of last week.
As is plainly clear from the graph; those two days of record high temperatures were not even worthy of a mention in the general scheme of all time record high temperatures; just a couple of ho-hum routine all time high temperatures for those dates; and as the graph indicates; the rest of 2010 has been generally lower than the normal.
So much for the weather is not climate file.

August 30, 2010 5:44 pm

Willis,
Thanks for your suggestion. I ground truthed the Reanalysis model with three other Northern Ireland rural sites and came to the same conclusions. The model is apparently doing a pretty good job in that area or it is picking up UHI at those sites too.

John Finn
August 31, 2010 1:10 am

Feet2theFire says:
August 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm
Oops! In that last comment, the last paragraph should read
Armagh seems to be tracking well with Venetia and Malin Head, both essentially ocean-dominated. That would seem to suggest the post-1980 rise is not UHI, but just a blip in the Armagh-NEAtlantic*-Malin Head-Venetia trend line, which shows up in that Armagh trace above, as it does in the others. The closest Scottish station, Tirree also agrees. UHI is not needed to explain it.
@ Fred H. Haynie at 11:02 am says the 55N/07W Atlantic grid (very close to Malin Head) tracks well, too. (However, 55N/07W is actually over land… I assume the grid is 5° and mostly water?)
All in all, it looks pretty consistent in that area: a rise above the long term trend in the region after 1980, which seems to be trending back down recently.

Armagh is in pretty close agreement with all stations right across the UK and Ireland – including my home town (in the middle of England and the the CET record. The pattern is the same, i.e. strong warming from ~1980 and then a sharp drop in 2009/2010. I doubt there’s a significant UH influence.

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