GAO report on the poor quality of the US climate monitoring network

Senator Inhofe’s EPW office issued a press release today on the subject of USHCN Climate Monitoring stations along with links to this report from the General Accounting Office (GAO)

…the report notes, “NOAA does not centrally track whether USHCN stations adhere to siting standards…nor does it have an agency-wide policy regarding stations that don’t meet standards.” The report continues, “Many of the USHCN stations have incomplete temperature records; very few have complete records. 24 of the 1,218 stations (about 2 percent) have complete data from the time they were established.” GAO goes on to state that most stations with long temperature records are likely to have undergone multiple changes in measurement conditions.

The report  shows by their methodology that 42% of the network in 2010 failed to meet siting standards and they have recommendations to NOAA for solving this problem. This number is of course much lower than what we have found in the surfacestations.org survey, but bear in mind that NOAA has been slowly and systematically following my lead and reports and closing the worst stations or removing them from USHCN duty. For example I pointed out that the famous Marysville station (see An old friend put out to pasture: Marysville is no longer a USHCN climate station of record) that started all this was closed just a few months after I reported issues with its atrocious siting. Recent discoveries of closures include Armore (shown below) and Durant OK. This may account for a portion the lower 42% figure for “active stations” the GAO found. Another reason might be that they tended towards using a less exacting rating system than we did.

Recently, while resurveying stations that I previously surveyed in Oklahoma, I discovered that NOAA has been quietly removing the temperature sensors from some of the USHCN stations we cited as the worst (CRN4, 5) offenders of siting quality. For example, here are before and after photographs of the USHCN temperature station in Ardmore, OK, within a few feet of the traffic intersection at City Hall:

Ardmore USHCN station , MMTS temperature sensor, January 2009

Ardmore USHCN station , MMTS temperature sensor removed, March 2011

While NCDC has gone to great lengths to defend the quality of the USHCN network, their actions of closing them speak far louder than written words and peer reviewed publications.

I don’t have time today to go into detail, but will follow up at another time. Here is the GAO summary:

Climate Monitoring: NOAA Can Improve Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network

GAO-11-800 August 31, 2011

Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 47 pages)   Accessible Text   Recommendations (HTML)

Summary

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains a network of weather-monitoring stations known as the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), which monitors the nation’s climate and analyzes long-term surface temperature trends. Recent reports have shown that some stations in the USHCN are not sited in accordance with NOAA’s standards, which state that temperature instruments should be located away from extensive paved surfaces or obstructions such as buildings and trees. GAO was asked to examine (1) how NOAA chose stations for the USHCN, (2) the extent to which these stations meet siting standards and other requirements, and (3) the extent to which NOAA tracks USHCN stations’ adherence to siting standards and other requirements and has established a policy for addressing nonadherence to siting standards. GAO reviewed data and documents, interviewed key NOAA officials, surveyed the 116 NOAA weather forecast offices responsible for managing stations in the USHCN, and visited 8 forecast offices.

In choosing USHCN stations from a larger set of existing weather-monitoring stations, NOAA placed a high priority on achieving a relatively uniform geographic distribution of stations across the contiguous 48 states. NOAA balanced geographic distribution with other factors, including a desire for a long history of temperature records, limited periods of missing data, and stability of a station’s location and other measurement conditions, since changes in such conditions can cause temperature shifts unrelated to climate trends. NOAA had to make certain exceptions, such as including many stations that had incomplete temperature records. In general, the extent to which the stations met NOAA’s siting standards played a limited role in the designation process, in part because NOAA officials considered other factors, such as geographic distribution and a long history of records, to be more important. USHCN stations meet NOAA’s siting standards and management requirements to varying degrees. According to GAO’s survey of weather forecast offices, about 42 percent of the active stations in 2010 did not meet one or more of the siting standards.

With regard to management requirements, GAO found that the weather forecast offices had generally but not always met the requirements to conduct annual station inspections and to update station records. NOAA officials told GAO that it is important to annually visit stations and keep records up to date, including siting conditions, so that NOAA and other users of the data know the conditions under which they were recorded. NOAA officials identified a variety of challenges that contribute to some stations not adhering to siting standards and management requirements, including the use of temperature-measuring equipment that is connected by a cable to an indoor readout device–which can require installing equipment closer to buildings than specified in the siting standards. NOAA does not centrally track whether USHCN stations adhere to siting standards and the requirement to update station records, and it does not have an agencywide policy regarding stations that do not meet its siting standards. Performance management guidelines call for using performance information to assess program results. NOAA’s information systems, however, are not designed to centrally track whether stations in the USHCN meet its siting standards or the requirement to update station records. Without centrally available information, NOAA cannot easily measure the performance of the USHCN in meeting siting standards and management requirements.

Furthermore, federal internal control standards call for agencies to document their policies and procedures to help managers achieve desired results. NOAA has not developed an agencywide policy, however, that clarifies for agency staff whether stations that do not adhere to siting standards should remain open because the continuity of the data is important, or should be moved or closed. As a result, weather forecast offices do not have a basis for making consistent decisions to address stations that do not meet the siting standards. GAO recommends that NOAA enhance its information systems to centrally capture information useful in managing the USHCN and develop a policy on how to address stations that do not meet its siting standards. NOAA agreed with GAO’s recommendations.

Recommendations

Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from “In process” to “Open,” “Closed – implemented,” or “Closed – not implemented” based on our follow up work.

Director: Anu K. Mittal
Team: Government Accountability Office: Natural Resources and Environment
Phone: (202) 512-9846

Recommendations for Executive Action

Recommendation: To improve the National Weather Service’s (NWS) ability to manage the USHCN in accordance with performance management guidelines and federal internal control standards, as well as to strengthen congressional and public confidence in the data the network provides, the Acting Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to enhance NWS’s information system to centrally capture information that would be useful in managing stations in the USHCN, including (1) more complete data on siting conditions (including when siting conditions change), which would allow the agency to assess the extent to which the stations meet its siting standards, and (2) existing data on when station records were last updated to monitor whether the records are being updated at least once every 5 years as NWS requires.

Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

Status: In process

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.


Recommendation: To improve the National Weather Service’s (NWS) ability to manage the USHCN in accordance with performance management guidelines and federal internal control standards, as well as to strengthen congressional and public confidence in the data the network provides, the Acting Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to develop an NWS agencywide policy, in consultation with the National Climatic Data Center, on the actions weather forecast offices should take to address stations that do not meet siting standards.

Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

Status: In process

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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RockyRoad

So it isn’t Climate Disruption we’re facing–it’s Climate Monitoring station Disruption that’s causing the problem. I really think containing CO2 will have no impact at all–they just simply need to adhere to their own siting standards.
The CAGW crowd is gonna be disappointed!

Resourceguy

What, no activist crowd to camp out and protect the faulty station siting? I guess they did not get the call to action memo in time. Or they were at the Wall Street event instead.

Pat Frank

Honestly, I think Tom Karl has been less than competent in his job. One would have thought, given the claimed extreme importance of the surface temperature record, that his highest priority would have been to evaluate the accuracy of the record by distributing calibration experiments at selected climate stations all around the US, and by validating or up-grading the quality of all the USHCN stations. And this should have begun 20 years ago, when all the AGW dust was originally raised.
But he did none of that. Instead he was just was buddy-buddy with all the AGW folks and published papers that forwarded the status quo.

Jason Calley

The cynic in me predicts that they will be found to have removed, closed or (possibly) upgraded station without keeping records of which stations were egregiously in error. This will make it impossible to know which stations have data so bad that they should be thrown out.

Ted

Was any of this information incorporated into the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature analysis? It was mentioned at Climate etc. that a few papers were about to be submitted. From the AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts, it would appear that the sensitivity of the overall signal to these issues really isn’t that big. The details should be interesting!
ABSTRACT FINAL ID: GC43B-0908
“Further, we automate the process of assessing station reliability to allow data of unknown reliability to be included in the analysis”

“Applying the Berkeley Earth techniques, we broadly confirm the temperature histories presented by prior groups. However, the improved methodology allows the uncertainties to be reduced (often by 50%) and also has allowed the instrumental temperature record to be extended back to 1800.”
ABSTRACT FINAL ID: GC44B-01
“We calculate the effect of poor station quality, as documented in the US by the team led by Anthony Watts by estimating the temperature trends based solely on the stations ranked good (1,2 or 1,2,3 in the NOAA ranking scheme). We avoid issues of homogenization bias by using raw data; at times when the records are discontinuous (e.g. due to station moves) we break the record into smaller segments and analyze those, rather than attempt to correct the discontinuity.

“The results we obtain are compared to those published by the groups at NOAA, NASA-GISS, and Hadley-CRU in the UK”

Martin_Lack

You guys are like fish out of water, thrashing around while rapidly asphyxiating. Once-upon-a-time, people like Ian Strangeways might have had a legit[i]mate point to make about the heat island effect (which may well be why this particular station has been re-sited). However, if you think that this – or our supposed inability to measure average su[r]face temperatures because we are land based creatures, or whatever is the plat du jour – casts doubt on the reality of AGW, then you are badly mistaken.
All research methods are not equally good; and all opinions are not equally valid. In life, there are winners and losers; there are right and wrong answers; bad decisions have consequences; and poor judgement could be very expensive in the long run.
You will no doubt say, rightly, that in science nothing is ever certain but, in seeking to perpetuate a debate that should have been over 150 years ago, you are just making this problem much much harder for us to ultimately solve. It would be a start, but nowhere near enough, if you could at least admit that we are causing the problem – as Tim Worstall has done very clearly on my blog today.

John Atkinson

Say it aint so Jason

David

I love this site, so don’t misinterpret my skepticism or anything, but… taking a page from your video analysis, here. Why are there buds on the tree in January, but none in March???

Steven Kopits

Once again, testimony to the power of individual initiative and the internet. A government bureaucracy changed its procedures because someone cared enough to look and hold the institution to account.

pablo an ex pat

Did members of Al Gore’s science experiment production team take thes two pictures at Ardmore ? The date stamp says that they are taken more than two years apart, however.
1) The same white car is in the same parking space in both pictures.
2) The Church in the background has moved many feet to the left in the lower photo.
3) The pedestrian crossing on the left side of the upper picture has disappeared in the lower one.
Sorry couldn’t resist : )

phizzics

At some point they’re going to have to admit that there is no reliable US temperature record. That’s a great photo of the Ardmore station. I wonder how many people have parked on that street and tried to put a quarter in it?

More Soylent Green!

Jason Calley says:
September 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm
The cynic in me predicts that they will be found to have removed, closed or (possibly) upgraded station without keeping records of which stations were egregiously in error. This will make it impossible to know which stations have data so bad that they should be thrown out.

No need to throw out those stations, just average the results. You know, like when pharmaceutical companies test new drugs and half the patients get dry mouth and half die, they just record the results as “mild discomfort.”
/sarc

Bob Kutz

I think I understand the problem now.
You have this station site, as the community around it grows, the ambient temperature increases.
Eventually they re-site the station. Because they move the site to a place with lower population density, the ambient temperature drops. They add an ‘adjustment’ to make the site’s measured temps roughly equal to the old site.
The population continues to expand, creating more local warming.
Repeat ad infinitum. How do you measure anything other than perpetually warmer temps with this system?
This is worse than if you left the site in it’s original place, UHI tops out at a certain point. If you just keep moving the site to the outskirts of town and adding adjustments, the AGW gravy train never has to end.
Too bad (for the Climate Gravy Train Scientists) satellite data will eventually curtail the need to depend on these stations.

Anthony, thanks for getting this posted so quickly, seeing as Inhofe’s staff released this item just this afternoon.
My concern is that the USHCN is now less well populated with any kind of stations, and as it now exists, leaves many more gaps in coverage. As well, the other concern would be if they have removed the monitors, but left the data, or terminated current use of the stations, but again have left old data in such a manner that it effectively contaminates the trend analyses, etc. Gaps in data (of varying quality) and poor data left in the system are not likely to be of any help to anyone.

Martin_Lack

Assuming that you will publish my comment (including URLs) submitted 25 minutes ago, please note that para. 1, sentence 2 should read… “However, if you think that this – or our supposed inability to measure average suface temperatures because we are land based creatures, or whatever is the plat du jour – casts doubt on the reality of AGW, then you are badly mistaken.” …If you should chose to edit it and then delete this, even better.
[Fixed, no charge. Robt]

jorgekafkazar

Remember the joke that starts: “Men, I have some good news and some bad news…?”
In general, the extent to which the stations met NOAA’s siting standards played a limited role in the designation process, in part because NOAA officials considered other factors, such as geographic distribution and a long history of records, to be more important.
The bad news: Half our data is buffalo chips.
The good news: There’s plenty of ’em.

Gail Combs

Congratulations Anthony and the surface station crew. Looks like you have had a major impact. I very much doubt that you would be writing about this report or that Senator Inhofe would know about the problem with out you and the crew.

KnR

The trouble is all the rubbish data poor station provided will clog in the systems for years to come , and we will still have policy and research based on it unless there is some serious data cleansing , and can anyone see that happening ?
Bottom line this station was never designed to be used in the way it has become, particularly airport based stations as they where intended to provided the aircraft coming in and out with very local weather data not to have their results smeared across many miles.

Stephen Pruett

It’s not just the station siting that is a concern. How reliable are the data records? Is there any QC (e.g., having a second person check any data that are entered manually)? Is there careful annotation when stations are moved? Are any “adjustments” in station data carefully explained and the algorithm used for the adjustments shown and justified?

@ Martin Lack — you say:
“All research methods are not equally good; and all opinions are not equally valid. In life, there are winners and losers; there are right and wrong answers; bad decisions have consequences; and poor judgement could be very expensive in the long run.”
This is correct. Unfortunately, jumping to judgement also has consequences, both monetary and in real terms. There are finite resources, so taking action on something today for which “proof” today is limited to theories and hypotheses, and where observations do not fully support said theories and hypotheses will impose costs (real and monetary) on the community. Once those costs are imposed, and resources expended, they are not there for anything else.
As well, science advances best from such discoveries as Tyndall’s of 150 years ago (relatively “abstract” laboratory experimental results at the time; as opposed to real-world implications as you imply) by informed discourse within the broad scientific community, well-designed and executed studies, cooperative research endeavors and the like. We (society) are not yet there in many areas, and harsh words by politicians and advocates seeking to still discourse — including that from those who are not yet convinced of a solid scientific foundation for the issue du jour — does not help advance science. Instead, it may be merely delay tactics in the advocates’ hopes for “action now” even though science may one day prove the action was a waste of resources or, worse, so fundamentally flawed that those “actions to save ____” were actually more problematic than the original concern. In the end, such “action now” campaigns may be bad decisions; making such decisions in a void or without all viewpoints considered risks imposing significant costs on our descendants too.

More Soylent Green!

I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls, but…

Martin_Lack says:
September 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm
…All research methods are not equally good; and all opinions are not equally valid

Next!

Martin Lack,
You lack blog traffic, so you advertise here for free. How about making a donation?
If you had read the article you would see that it supports Anthony’s Surface Stations paper. Sorry you’re unhappy about that, but the fact is the USHCN stations are in a shambles. The data is completely untrustworthy when comparing a 0.7° temperature rise over 160 years, when the USHCN station errors are 5°C – or more. See here.
You say: “you are just making this problem much much harder for us to ultimately solve.”
Pure psychological projection and self-important puffery. You’re not solving anything, because the “problem” exists only in your head. The climate alarmist contingent completely ignores the scientific method, rejects transparency, hides out from real debates, and continues to sound a false alarm.
The alarmist crowd cannot admit that nothing unusual is happening; they have no understanding of the null hypothesis. There is zero evidence of any global damage from the rise in CO2, and their convoluted, contorted arguments trying to explain away the failure of the planet to heat up over the past fourteen years, as endlessly predicted by jokers like James Hansen, are getting plainly ridiculous.
CO2 [“carbon” to the scientifically illiterate] is a harmless and beneficial trace gas at current and projected concentrations. More is demonstrably better for the biosphere. Falsify that hypothesis, if you can. Show us all that global damage CO2 is causing.

Gail Combs

More Soylent Green! says:
September 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm
“….No need to throw out those stations, just average the results. You know, like when pharmaceutical companies test new drugs and half the patients get dry mouth and half die, they just record the results as “mild discomfort.” /sarc “
_________________________________________________________________
Yes I am sure they use the Drug Co.s methods. Hire someone to make up the stuff out of whole cloth.
“….The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning pharmaceutical companies that they may have to take a second look at any drugs tested by Cetero Research, since it was recently discovered that the research firm was faking test results.
Two independent investigations in 2010 corroborated “significant instances of misconduct and violations” ….”
http://www.miamipersonalinjuryattorneysblog.com/2011/08/false-results-for-certain-drugs-drug-testing-firm-faked-documents-says-fda.shtml
http://www.myfalseworld.com/2011/05/fda-approved-drugs-with-no-scientific.html
Science is getting a real black eye from all these unethical “scientists” and deservedly so

RockyRoad

Martin_Lack says:
September 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm


You will no doubt say, rightly, that in science nothing is ever certain but, in seeking to perpetuate a debate that should have been over 150 years ago, you are just making this problem much much harder for us to ultimately solve.

So you’re saying your great-great-great grandparents didn’t want the earth to warm 1 degree over all those bygone years? Are you saying the crop failures they endured were wonderful to endure? Are you really serious?
I think not; epic fail on so many aspects, Martin. Call us fish out of water if you have to, but you are clueless about what man could do to “solve” this natural phenomenon that is creating a far more beneficial world–to both plants and animals, and that includes humans, too! I’m saddened you’re so gullible. I’m surprised you’ve just taken the CAGW’s talking points at face value.

sharper00

@Gene L.
“In the end, such “action now” campaigns may be bad decisions; making such decisions in a void or without all viewpoints considered risks imposing significant costs on our descendants too.”
We are already taking action – we’re burning fossil fuels and dumping enormous amounts of C02 into the atmosphere. This is not a situation we’re currently doing nothing and advocates of two different courses of action (“burn fossil fuels”, “use non-fossil fuels”) are trying to convince society to act according to their preferences. We’re already performing one of those actions and the best scientific evidence available strongly suggests that action will produce consequences most consider undesirable.
It’s necessary to consider the impact of new information in relation to existing conclusions. We already know the warming that’s been detected is not an artefact of the monitoring network. We have the analysis published by both Menne and Mr Watts which show that warming trends are not caused by site quality. We know that the trends produced by ground station network are similar to the satellite one.
Consequently if someone suggests that a report like this has any impact on the decision as to whether we should change how we act in relation to fossil fuels then that person is grossly misrepresenting its importance.
Better data is always good, a better monitoring network is always good (although I don’t recall the reaction here being favourable when NOAA requested more funds for precisely that) however it should not be permissible that people be able to use unrealistic requests for perfect data as a shield to prevent action.

Gail Combs

sharper00 says: @ September 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm
“….Better data is always good, a better monitoring network is always good (although I don’t recall the reaction here being favourable when NOAA requested more funds for precisely that) however it should not be permissible that people be able to use unrealistic requests for perfect data as a shield to prevent action.”
________________________________________________________________________
And people like Al Gore and Maurice Strong (senior advisor to the World Bank) and Robert B. Zoellick (World Bank President) should be in jail for what they have done to Friday Mukamperezida and the people of Africa in the name of “Global Warming” Cap and Trade made me angry but the planting of eucalptus in Africa and S. America, effectively condemning the poor of both areas to starvation really puts me in a red rage. That coupled with the 1995 WTO agreement on Ag. garrantees dead by famine for millions
If you ever bothered to look at what is DONE and not what they SAY you would see that this has been a money making scam from the start. The Danish text, a secret draft agreement at Copenhagen, giving effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank should have been a really big clue.
So I take it from your statement you are in favor of the actions of the World Bank, Al Gore and Maurice Strong???

Smokey. CRN5 does not mean that the station errors are 5C. This been explained over 4 years ago by the researcher who developed the scale. If CRN5 were consistently and reliably 5C warmer or cooler than the CRN1, then Anthony’s study would have found a large difference between the two types of sites. It did not. He found no difference in mean. Errors in Tmax were offset by errors in Tmin. CRN5 actually refers to variance, not bias. This was established by experiement.

pablo an ex pat says: September 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm
…1) The same white car is in the same parking space in both pictures.
2) The Church in the background has moved many feet to the left in the lower photo.
3) The pedestrian crossing on the left side of the upper picture has disappeared in the lower one.

(1) Yes. (2) Not correct. (3) Not correct.
Look very closely. Take this exercise as a parable of the improvement in observational skills that Climate Science needs. Or perhaps you did look closely, and are testing us??

sharper00

@ Gail Combs
“And people like Al Gore and Maurice Strong (senior advisor to the World Bank) and Robert B. Zoellick (World Bank President)[…]”
We’re talking about temperature station data and the relevance of this report. Al Gore and other pet topics are not relevant.

Is it troll feeding time?
Martin_Lack says:
September 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm
“However, if you think that this – or our supposed inability to measure average suface temperatures because we are land based creatures, or whatever is the plat du jour – casts doubt on the reality of AGW, then you are badly mistaken.”

It certainlly casts doubt on whether we are obtaining accurate data on the surface stations.
If you don’t know what change is happening in the temperature, how can you assess whether anything is happening?
Moreover, while this doesn’t change whether some form of AGW may be happening, the poor siting and lack of accurate data does not support the possibility that the AGW will be catastrophic.

R.S.Brown

Sadly, even with the GAO report in hand, NOAA can’t possibly approach
Congress for funding a program to replace and resite the now-defunct stations
or to add more properly sited stations to fill in coverage in particular areas.
For NOAA to do such program funding requests would be to openly
and publically admit systematinc station siting problems, which inherently
entails the collection of spurious weather data. Admitting that problem means
admitting the information those “bad” stations generate has to be teased or
tortured (commonly called “adjusted”) into conformity with previous “good”
data from the same station.
The current political climate and the fiscal status of federal government here
in the US contraindicates NOAA pointing out systemic flaws in our fundemental
weather data collection and to one extent or another, all summaries and computer
models using that data. It would amount to organizational suicide.
Polically, the “Greens” wouldn’t allow NOAA to make such an admission of a
problem, and the “Right” would jump and howl and have a feeding frenzy in
naming villians and bootstrapping more funding cuts all over the place.
For now NOAA is left with an ad hoc steath program of station retirement and
maybe, if there’s some spare change in the kitty, replacing a few stations here
and there.
For now, we’re left with a Federal government that will toss $5 billion in
loans today (Sept. 30th) to the solar industry just because the program officially
closed at the end of the month. Meanwhile, we can’t invest several million dollars
to accrue more well placed weather reporting stations.

AdderW

David says:
September 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm
I love this site, so don’t misinterpret my skepticism or anything, but… taking a page from your video analysis, here. Why are there buds on the tree in January, but none in March???

Different years ? could that be it ?

u.k.(us)

David says:
September 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm
I love this site, so don’t misinterpret my skepticism or anything, but… taking a page from your video analysis, here. Why are there buds on the tree in January, but none in March???
=======
The shadows thrown by the fire hydrant seem to confirm the seasons 🙂

Martin_Lack says: September 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm
You guys are like fish out of water…
….

Immediate thought: this guy is new, has really not looked closely at WUWT and doesn’t have a clue.
Martin, this whole blog soared to its current fame because professional meteorologist Roger Pielke alerted professional meteorologist Anthony Watts to issues with the surface stations, and when Anthony went to look, he was so horrified with the breaches of standards he found, that he determined to start a huge project, to check every single USHCN station. And did. With outstandingly professional help from unpaid volunteers. And wrote a firstclass paper that was duly published and peer-reviewed. We’ve all been following this epic narrative, because it touches important issues of integrity that official Science has currently lost.
Martin, you couldn’t have been more mistaken. Take care when accusing, for almost always the accusing finger points backwards to oneself. If you are really interested in the truth, read more carefully before posting next time. If you need a primer on Climate Science, click my name. Most of us were once warmists who did U-turns when we examined the evidence more carefully.

sharper00

@R.S.Brown
“NOAA can’t possibly approach
Congress for funding a program to replace and resite the now-defunct stations
or to add more properly sited stations to fill in coverage in particular areas.”

You’re more than a year late on that one see
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/21/noaancdc-ushcn-is-broken-please-send-100-million-dollars/
Compare and contrast the comments there concerning spending money to improve the network versus thus here and elsewhere about how the network just isn’t good enough and we’d best ignore it all until it gets better.

Pat Frank

Steve MosherErrors in Tmax were offset by errors in Tmin. CRN5 actually refers to variance, not bias. This was established by experiement.
That variance would have to be invariably Gaussian — or at least invariably symmetrical about zero — to transmit no uncertainty into the record.
I’d be interested to read the experimental work, Steve. Can you post a citation? Thanks.

These are the same people whose claim to be able to count fish populations in the seas of the world – computer modeling, anyone? – is routinely taken at face value to justify the reorganization of one of man’s oldest and proudest industries, fishing, and the allocation of fishing rights to friends. Is there no reason to be skeptical?

Philip Bradley

Martin_Lack,
I followed the link you provided to your blog.
In order to save others time, I’d summarize it as conspiracist nonsense.

If you go to Google Earth,
goto
Ardmore, OK Washington and 1st Ave SW
Then go into Street view, Look about N 15 W.
From the view in the intersection,
The temperature station is just visible
Look for it in the SHADE under the southern most, closest TREE.
I don’t know how to get the meta data for the street view, but shadows Appear to be summer time, afternoon. The same white car is there. It’s the police station.

Legatus

Are they replacing these closed stations with new stations, properly sited, or are there now less and less stations around? How many stations are too few to accuratly report national and especially global weather?
I suggest that, being government bureaucrats, they are most interested in other things, like their own pensions, saleries, pensions, benefits, pensions, opulent offices buildings and grounds (with ugly but expensive statues), and did I mention pensions? Those are the things they want to reserve the money for. Plus, actually going out into the field and properly siting a station is, you know, work. Work is for peons, they have all got seniority now, that sort of thing is benieth them, who wants to leave your comfortable office, the seat of your bureaucratic power? Too many chiefs, not enough indians.
I mean, look at the cover of yesterdays USA Today, what does it say, how about that little peice about how federal salaries, pensions, and benefits are, to use their words, exploding? More and more of your tax dollars simply goes to pay (one way or another) a hord of bureaucrats, even the mainstream press is catching on. There simply is not enough money left over to, you know, actually DO anything.
When they finally get around to closing the last station, why, then, they will get to keep ALL the money for themselves. besides, who needs that stuff, they have computer models.

On the Google Earth Street View,
Walk about 20 feet north of the crosswalk on Washington.
Turn West. The Temperature station is clearly visible, with the white car and parking lot behind it.
There is a “2009 Google” watermark visible around the “Washington” Street sign over the intersection.

tokyoboy

This is a re-posting of my comment at a somewhat OT (Greenland) thread.
Recently I found that the temperature trend graph of Reno, Nevada, at surfacestations.org:
(1) http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=33587
has been morphed into this (at GISS site):
(2) http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=425724880000&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1
Anthony’s graph (1) exhibits a +4 degC rise over a 50-year period, while the “new” graph (2) shows only a +2 degC rise over the same period; and the direction of “adjustment”, if any, appears to be “past years drastically upward”, as opposed to their “tradition”.
WUWT??

R.S.Brown

Sharperoo at 3:45 pm above:
Excellent link to part of the backstory on the GAO’s report.
However you’ll notice the letter your link leads to is from the
Inspector General to various members of Congress. It reports the IG’s
conclusion that NOAA needs funding to replace the busted or
poorly sited USHCN stations.
This isn’t the same thing politically as NOAA or the Department of
Commerce approaching Congress with a “plan” in writing and asking for
funding
for a specific program allocation.
In the business world, the replacement of old equipment is commonplace
and the cost of doing so falls under “depreciation” of the orginal investment
value. Physical facilities are often relocated to maximize exposure, customer
flow, or trim storage or transportation costs.
To the best of my knowledge, NOAA never used the IG’s report to officially
request funding for a continuing upgrade of USHCN stations.
In a less politically charged era, say twenty years ago, such a request by NOAA
would have been considered the cost of doing “business”. Now, such a request
would die due to suspicions the moneys would be diverted to support an
AGW “climate change” agenda…
Such suspicions would probably be justified.

Doug Proctor

Previously Hansen et al said that regardless of the siting issues, the anomaly values were good as UHIE was taken into account. The Urban vs Rural cross-check seemed to bear this out, unless the rural corrections were based on the urban records, of course (they were, weren’t they?).
Dropping a lot of stations didn’t seem to change the trends and amounts that Hansen claimed was happening. Will the admission that many required replacement change the outcome significantly?
If NOAA says all their corrections fixed the siting problems, than this means nothing in getting Hansen’s temperature records reduced as per HadCruT.

Power Grab

As an Oklahoman, I thought I would try to address the question about the presence/absence of tree buds in the two photos.
According to NOAA, from looking at the daily records for Lawton (about 100 miles west of Ardmore, but about as close as you can get with the records on the web site), there was more unseasonably cold weather in the month before the March 2011 photo than in the month before the January 2009 photo. It was very dry both years during these times I’m talking about, but I’ve seen the trees respond more to temperature increases (even temporary ones) than wet/dry conditions.
The weather varies a lot here. Some winters we get next-to-no snow/ice. Other years, we have a blizzard or two. Most of the snow is here today, gone tomorrow. Most townspeople don’t have snow tires. I do remember a time when we didn’t have snowplows, but nowadays the towns often rig up a plow on the front of a heavy truck and make that work. We don’t use as much salt as states farther north, but we can use lots of sand some years.

Philip Bradley

The key question is, at which stations can we be reasonably confident any climate signal exceeds all other signals So that any trend can reasonably be assumed to be a climate trend.
IMO hardly any surface stations would meet this criteria.
It seems every few days something comes to light that is likely to affect surface station temperature measurement. This week it was more CO2 causing taller trees, hence less near ground wind and air turbulence. Which would retain heat near the ground. Thus biasing temperatures upward at the measured height.
I’ve argued in the past that the whole approach is wrong and we should be looking for stations in the most pristine locations we can find and just using them. Lighthouses and remote islands are likely candidates. 50 to 100 locations would be sufficient to show whatever global climate trend exists.

Ted

The important question is how these quality issues contribute to the uncertainty in the broader signal. The anecdotal discussions of selected stations are good motivation to do that, but don’t mean much individually. The BEST project is addressing this issue to an extensive degree.
Have people here identified benchmarks, against which, for example, the BEST signal can
be evaluated? How much difference between an all-station signal and a high-quality-station-only signal would be considered “big”? Or between BEST, Hadley, GISS and NCDC? Now would be the time to do that, so as to remain objective when it comes out.

Pat Frank says:
September 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Steve Mosher“Errors in Tmax were offset by errors in Tmin. CRN5 actually refers to variance, not bias. This was established by experiement.”
That variance would have to be invariably Gaussian — or at least invariably symmetrical about zero — to transmit no uncertainty into the record.
I’d be interested to read the experimental work, Steve. Can you post a citation? Thanks.
###
There were two concerns with siting.
1. The bias concern. The bias concern has been expressed repeatedly as a concern that there
would be a warming bias. Had there been a warming bias to Tave ( Tmax+Tmin)/2, then it would
have shown up in the comparisions between CRN1 and CRN5. From the very start this is the test
that I have done. from the early days on CA where we only had 300 stations. What we could see was a bias of about .1 to .2 C. That work lay dormant until all the station data was released.
In the meantime of course a few of us have had the opportunity to converse with the team
that made up the LeRoy scale of CRN 1-5. They indicated that in their field experiments they found small biases ( around 0.1C– all warming) but that the biggest issue was the added variance that you saw in measures. Simply, on days when conditions were right you could see
daily mins and daily maxs that were +-3C ( for CRN3 ) away from the control. That made sense
especially when you looked at the effects of wind and clouds and other factors that modulate
the temperature. So, they basically saw in their limited test an increase in variance.
+2 to -2, was described as CRN2. and so forth. That is just how the numbering system
came into being. A very simple field experiment.
2. My concern over increased variance and consequently decreased confidence in the numbers.
With all the stations completed it should be possible to test. When I talked with Muller about this he seemed to express some interest in the test. Dont know if he completed it. Personally, I’m working on other things and am not pre disposed to play fetch it unless somebody has a real hypothesis to test and is willing to change their views as a result of the test. Now that I have hourly data from CRN ( with three redundant sensors ) I have a pretty good idea of what to look for in the USHCN data when I get around to that.. and with daily wind and cloud and precip data for the stations, all lot more will be evident.
Again, what I am trying to clarify for people is how the CRN1-5 numbering system came into being. That is a history question not a science question. The history is that the team set up a field experiment. Very limited. They constructed 4 types of stations with different siting issues ( they never made a CRN5 ) they then measured the temps at these prototypical stations. They found that as you worsened the siting, the spread of data increased. That’s just what they found and how they assigned numbers to the codes. If you search the relevant threads at CA and Lucia’s you will find the scientist. And if you speak French you’ll have an easier time. But dont expect very much in the way of documentation or data. Again, its just history on how the numbering system got established.
So, I am not surprised to find no bias in Tave. in fact, it’s what we would expect given the small bias we found with 300 or so stations. If the bias was huge and pervasive you’d see it easily.
you’d see a huge disconnect between the land record and the UHA record, you’d see it in the Modis LST product.

juanslayton

pablo an ex pat says:
1) The same white car is in the same parking space in both pictures.
It is amazing how many times a particular car appears in surfacestations pictures:
http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=76669
http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=82632
http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=79734
http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=70854
http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=70854
http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=70854
Any idea how that might happen, Pablo? : > )
How about a friendly wager as to whether the car you are commenting on has California plates…

Steven Mosher says:
“But dont expect very much in the way of documentation or data.”
Well then, we should just accept your word.
That’s how all the alarmist arguments end up.