Backstory on the new surfacestations paper

I’m a bit burnt out, so this is a just a few notes to quench some speculations about Steve McIntyre’s role and to help everyone understand what this week has been like.

  1. Evan and I have been working on this since June 2011, complete redo of all station ratings…huge amount of work. Evan deserves a huge a amount of credit. After Muller could not find strong signal that we knew must be there by physics of heat sinks…and neither could we in Fall et al 2011, we went looking, and discovered the new Leroy 2010 classification system and WMO ISO approval. We knew it would take a lot of work to get old metadatabase into shape. And so it began.
  2. Started on paper in Spring 2012, but some of the team of people onboard  had no vested interest, and with their academic burdens and no budget to pay them anything they could only devote small bits of time for reviews and writings. No fault of theirs, but like herding cats when there’s no funding and all is pro bono.
  3. Evan and I decided to go ahead anyways and I started writing, steep learning curve as this was my first stint as lead author.
  4. About a week ago I learned Muller was going to release and do the media blitz, thought he’d be at EPW Senate hearing on August 1st too. (turns out he was passed over, John Christy will be there though.). IPCC deadline coming up too. Added anxiety.
  5. Tried to get stats guy to the stars Matt Briggs onboard early last week (he was on list of original authors)  to help with significance tests, last big hurdle. Most graphs and analysis was done.
  6. Turns out Briggs was on vacation camping, no fault of his, it is summer…so I figured only way I was going to get this done was to shut down WUWT and stay home from short vacation with wife and kids in Yellowstone.  They went on with grandparents and I went on authoring blitz with Evan and with Dr. Pielke Sr. helping edits. Christy provided support too and I helped him craft his EPW section on this.
  7. So made announcement Friday. Figured on Sunday at noon so WUWT could provide peer review, and dumped my plane tickets in trash.  Admittedly I was a bit overwrought when I wrote it. I’m truly sorry if anyone was mislead. Dialed it back. Went on crash self taught stats diet…not my thing, but capable of learning. and being a broadcaster, deadline pressure is a huge motivator. You learn to get it done. On-air waits for nobody. Careers die when you miss deadlines.
  8. In his post Friday, Steve McIntyre truly didn’t know what this was about. He was out of the loop.
  9. Steve McIntyre, being the classic gentleman he is, emailed me and said “anything I can do to help, I’m here”. I took him up on the offer and he did all the stats tests from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, then polished last bit of text/graphs early Sunday morning. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He is a true gentleman and a scholar.
  10. Joe D’Aleo and Willis helped with editing/proofing too. Gary Boden solved an Excel map issue for us. Evan came up with powerpoints and helped editing. He was a machine. Pielke Sr. helped with edits and citations. Bob Phelan helped with some PR language. Thanks to all.
  11. And the result is what you see in the press release today.
  12. Finally got to take a shower today about 2PM. Prior to that, Kenji was offended.
  13. Now on to final polish thanks to WUWT peer review and submission.

Thanks everyone for your support and patience! – Anthony


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Cut the abstract as I suggested.

Stephanie Carroll

You have done brilliant.I hope you can take a little break for yourself and wait for the barage of commentary you will get. Congratulations on your first paper where you are lead author, what a great effort.

Amr marzouk

A grand effort

Ally E.

You did it perfectly, Anthony. All of you. A HUGE effort and HUGELY important. I think you’ve torpedoed CAGW (that’s my opinion, anyway). 🙂


I was at Yellowstone this weekend, weather was great. Hope your kids made it to west Yellowstone to feed the grizzlies.
Kept checking here all the way back to SLC this AM.
REPLY: “Hope your kids made it to west Yellowstone to feed the grizzlies.” Not sure what to make of that – Anthony


Fantastic! You named names and thanked them, now can the other side (paid) do the same?

Well done, everyone. Citizen science surely succeeds.


There is a Grizzly Bear research center just outside the park, they let kids in to hide food for the captive bears to find. Mine loved it.

val majkus

You’re a star Anthony and so is each member of your team
Can you keep the press release post as a top sticky for a week or so please

S. Geiger

“After Muller could not find strong signal that we knew must be there by physics of heat sinks…and neither could we in Fall et al 2011, we went looking, and discovered the new Leroy 2010 classification system and WMO ISO approval.”
Red flag, IMO. Researchers looking for a signal that “we know must be there” makes things ripe for confirmation bias. I truly hope that all involved live up to the standards that us skeptics so commonly cite when reviewing the works of others….namely to look to shoot holes in your own work; try to find areas where your own bias may be affecting results…etc.
Aside from all that, kudos for the seemingly very comprehensive work….and continuation of the unique crowd-sourcing methods.
Any word on where this will be submitted for publishing?
REPLY: Understood, but please think about the physics of heat sinks, specifically when it comes to Tmin and I think you’ll see where we were coming from. Confirmation bias is a huge problem in AGW science, and if this new ratings system had not revealed the solution, I would have had to accede there was no effect. Persistence paid off. – Anthony


Let the reviewing begin!….. What are the other sites saying about the findings of the paper?

Well Done Anthony and all your team of citizens scientist. Thanks for acknowledging our contribution to the data collection phase of the surface stations project.


IPCC & co will try to avoid a paper like yours under any pretext; the first cop out would be that yours is not accepted for publication “in a respected journal” (pal review).
How are you dealing with that one?


Fantastic effort from all of you, and thank you for the explanation. It makes a lot of sense now. The paper will stand on its merits, let us hope that it will be treated with the respect that it deserves, and gets quality reviews. Any scientist truly worth their salt will look at it and evaluate its implications, outside of politics, because when the story of CAGW is told in the future, they will want their contribution to be a credit to science.

garret seinen

Again, thanks to you and your team for doing something constructive to make the world a better place despite the best efforts of those many misguided and human-hating zealots to enslave us all.


Man years of labor boiled down to a few graphs and charts, Pure gold Anthony Watts…Another solid factual whack to the warmers.


Man, I can’t express in words how impressed that I am with AW and the team … just awesome work !


Anthony, I was also at Yellowstone with my kids this weekend. You missed a fabulous time. I know something about scientific publishing and can imagine the great effort you have gone through (not that the effort is finished). I’m impressed with your dedication and energy. I have been following the station survey project for some years, and I am glad to see it come to fruition. I hope you will be able to catch up on vacation time with your kids soon.

Ann In L.A.

Bravo to all involved!!

Claude Harvey

I’m reminded of a James Brown performance. Old James would get himself so worked up toward the end of a tune that he’d leave his backup musicians behind and wondering what on earth had gotten into him as they improvised to keep up with his grand finale hyperactivity. At the end, James would fall to the stage floor in an exhausted heap while the other musicians fanned him with towels and feigned concern James might not make it off the set alive.
I do hope the substance in this case lives up to the theatrics.
REPLY: Oh please, read this is you want theatrics – Anthony

Steve (Paris)

Just the BEST!

Old Ranga from Oz

As one of your regular non-scientific lurkers, Anthony, the best way I can thank you is to fling some Oz dollars in your Tip Jar. What a fabulous job.

J.Hansford says:
July 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm
Let the reviewing begin!….. What are the other sites saying about the findings of the paper?

Steve Hayward on Powerline: “Watts’ conclusion is indeed a bombshell if it proves out: that the U.S. surface temperature rise has been overestimated by a factor of two…”
Climate Depot has a pageful of links to additional reactions: “Anthony Watts delivers devastating scientific blow to Muller’s claims: ‘New analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temp trends are spuriously doubled’.”
…and I started writing, steep learning curve as this was my first stint as lead author.
I’m guessing that *that’s* why the carpal tunnel popped up when it did.


Figure 23 may be important for follow up work.
Cat1+2 stations have (in mean) identical trends for tmin, tmax, tmean, while 3,4,5 stations have very different trends.
This could be turned around and used as a global station selection criteria.
-> Select only those stations globally, where tmin, tmax and tmean trends are very similar.

James Bull

Well done. You have put in a huge amount into this and I hope that you receive many good things for your efforts.
But I can see there will be many who would deny your results and say it is all due to big oil/coal etc.
Please take care and try to get some time with your family.God bless you.
James Bull


Anthony, many thanks to you, your co-authors, assistants and those who contributed to the surface stations project. Funds have been forwarded to assist with publication of this important paper.


Well done, Anthony, a HUGE achievement. Incredible dedication so heartfelt thanks to you and yours for the sacrifices made for what is a massively important project.

Dialed back expectations?? What could be better than what we got? Its way better than any more FOI type stuff. Everyone knows that their covering up. What we needed is a model to correct the surface data and now we have it. We can adjust the networks data and publish corrected set, ideally in real time, test for predicive value and prove them solidly wrong. Politician that have been wavering will now stand firm. Countries will scrap CO2 bans. Not in huge numbers but enough to matter. The IPCC will have to respond. The probabiltity of an insane rant is high and that will cost them votes. Good work Anthony and team.

P. Freeman

A minor point, but you might provide the expansion of the acronym CONUS prior to its first use in the paper. I guess its obvious to everyone who reads your blog, but it wasn’t to me and I had to search several pages to find out what it was.

Heh. AntonyIndia, it turns out the BEST papers haven’t been accepted for publication either. See which links back here 🙂


These last few days have been exciting, with waiting and guessing.
Any doubts anyone could have had, after reading the the “New… “, and it’s heaps and heaps of posts , have gone “caminito de Jerez”, as we say in Spain, with this commentary.
Giving thanks where thanks are due, is a sign of greatness.
Your children will be proud of you, and will forgive your missing Yellowstone .
May the gods stay and smile with you!

Congratulations to all.
Ok – confirmation bias might be a concern, but this confirms a huge amount of what I have been saying for years.
Not sure if anyone has actually carried out a data logging exercise, but around here, an adversely located concrete wall re-radiates in both directions and can take up to 7 months to cool down. Bit difficult to monitor concrete slabs and driveways.

An amazing job, Anthony and admirable dedication from you and your team.
I hope you get to go on holiday soon though.


No fault of theirs, but like herding cats when there’s no funding and all is pro bono.

So much for the “well funded denialist machine” they talk about. They must bite the bullet and understand that this is David V Goliath. (Volunteers taking photos of thermometers around the US). What if Anthony (like say Mann on other research?) received 1/2 million US Dollars for the project?

Re: S. Geiger: Red flag, IMO. Researchers looking for a signal that “we know must be there” makes things ripe for confirmation bias.
While you have a point, it is a weak one. Almost every experiment is setup to to record a signal of a type that “we expect to find.” This is true science: hypothesis, set-up, test, and analyze.
Where people go wrong is when then they use improper selection of the results to filter down to data that shows the signal.
When an experiment fails to support or refute a hypothesis, then the hypothesis needs to be altered and the conditions of the experiment altered. In the Michelson-Morley experiments, failure to find the aether signal, the experimenters tried multiple times with different and more sensitive apparatus, but they didn’t invent a signal that wasn’t there to find. After Fall 2011, the researchers checked to see whether the NOAA station Classification was sufficient criteria to segment the data. The Leroy 2010 not only gave them an approved alternative method of station classification, but confirmation that someone else asked the question. The results of Watt’s 2012 are not confirmation bias but an example of finding the coherency of the signal in the data.

Matt Bailey

So, while these new results include input from Richard Muller of Berkeley and BEST, what are we to make of the Google Science News story just posted regarding a new study from Muller et al.?
Climate-change skeptic has ‘turnaround’
Published: July 30, 2012 at 2:18 AM
BERKELEY, Calif., July 30 (UPI) — Global warming is real and is caused “almost entirely” by people, a University of California physicist and “converted” climate change skeptic says.
The “converted” skeptic is Muller.

Congratulations to Anthony and all the people who helped to make this happen, including the many volunteers who made the base for the siting problems! This is a huge result and I hope that it may reduce the “man-made-global-warming” scare to more normal proportions…

And the Guardian runs with Muller, yesterday’s Hickman column, no comments allowed.
They do quote Judith Curry, but there’s this:
“Prof Michael Mann, the Penn State palaeoclimatologist who has faced hostility from climate sceptics for his famous “hockey stick” graph showing a rapid rise in temperatures during the 20th century, said he welcomed the Best results as they “demonstrated once again what scientists have known with some degree of certainty for nearly two decades”. He added: “I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions. They are certain to be attacked by the professional climate change denial crowd for their findings.”
Seems a little different from what he said elsewhere…..

son of mulder

Impressive work.


“After Muller could not find strong signal that we knew must be there by physics of heat sinks…”
Could you please explicit ? What is the “physics of heat sinks” ?
Constant temperature bias does not modify trends: I understand well that a poorly sitted station with a lot of heat sources would be biased (physics of heat sinks ?), but if the bias is constant, there is no influence on decadal trend… If a modification of microsite environement produces discontinuity in the record (as knonw from “physics of heat sinks” ?), the discontinuity is corrected by the homgenization procedure… The surfacestation project is not aimed at detecting microsite environement changes.


What I wanted to say, before, and utterly failed to say is this:
Being old, I thought there were no gentlemen anywhere, any more.
My mistake!!!
Thank you and Thank Mc Intyre.

Wonderful, thank you very much to all concerned.


The faint sound you hear in the distance is Michael Mann working furiously to change the goalposts.

Leif Svalgaard says:
July 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm
Cut the abstract as I suggested.
Seconded…… plus, we need the numbers to do any real review.

Cold Englishman

I first came across WUWT when I was looking at Stephenson’s paint jobs, and you were carrying out an experiment on the screens. I was fascinated then by your natural curiosity, and how the experiment was designed.
It has now led to this piece of research, an example of outstanding citizen science.
Well done to all concerned. If only the professionals, would get out a bit, leave their computer models behind, and feel the wind in their faces, and take a temperature or two, they might benefit from the experience.
I for one have always been offended by those who adjust, homogenise, or just change data which has been collected by others in the past, so that it ‘fits’ the narrative, and then don’t show their methods.

Hector Pascal

We all owe a vote of thanks to your family and the Good Lady in particular for their understanding of a deep-alligator-situation.
I’d be inclined to put out for a nice meal and a very good bottle of something.
Please pass on my thanks.

Ally E.

Skeptik says:
July 30, 2012 at 1:07 am
The faint sound you hear in the distance is Michael Mann working furiously to change the goalposts.
LOL. I bet he won’t be the only one. 🙂

S. Geiger says:
Red flag, IMO. Researchers looking for a signal that “we know must be there” makes things ripe for confirmation bias.

I disagree. Most science works like this. You look for effects that theory predicts should be there (or not there sometimes).
The way to avoid confirmation bias is to to be rigorous in data collection/selection, ie no cherry picking.

“David Paper Kills Goliath-made Global Warming”
This really was a stone to the forehead of the giant, well-aimed. Well done. But now you have to remember that Saul got jealous of David because of the accolades (after having befriended him), and for the next few years, David was in hiding and on the run. But that was the time he wrote his psalms. IMHO.
You don’t have to be a believer to see the psychological keenness of that story. But like Evan Jones says “Nobody Beats the Rev” and you’re the one who has been “anointed”, Anthony. Sure you didn’t ask for it, that’s just the way the universe is happening.
Now what’s the contemporary and scientific equivalent of those psalms? The climate skeptics’ wiki I started and JustTheFacts here did sterling work for, but is currently sleeping? Just a thought. Heartland have a wiki too but in some respects (not all) my wiki has the edge. I would be very very happy to pass on the wiki torch and let its research side drop lower in priority.

David Ross

Warm wrote:
“Constant temperature bias does not modify trends”
True for a single weather station. But we are dealing with multiple biases introduced at different points in time collectively to a large collection of stations (as well as to individual stations). Collectively, the introduction of those biases can result in a trend and there are many reasons to expect that would be upwards.
Urbanization and economic growth are well established trends. Energy consumption has risen -more air-conditioners are put in place. Car ownership has risen -more asphalt laid for roads and parking lots. Etc.
“the discontinuity is corrected by the homgenization procedure”
Could you be explicit, how is it corrected?