The first press release announcement thread is getting big and unwieldy, and some commenters can’t finish loading the thread, so I’m providing this one with some updates.
1. Thanks to everyone who has provided widespread review of our draft paper. There have been hundreds of suggestions and corrections, and for that I am very grateful. That’s exactly what we hoped for, and can only make the paper better.
Edits are being made based on many of those suggestions. I’ll post up a revised draft in the next day.
2. Some valid criticisms have been made related to the issue of the TOBS data. This is a preliminary set of data, with corrections added for the “Time of Observation” which can in some cases result in double max-min readings being counted if not corrected for. It makes up a significant portion of adjustments prior to homogenization adjustments as seen below in this older USHCN1 graphic. TOBS is the black dotted line.
TOBS is a controversial adjustment. Proponents of the TOBS adjustment (Created by NCDC director Tom Karl) say that it is a necessary adjustment that fixes a known problem, others suggest that it is an overkill adjustment, that solves small problems but creates an even larger one. For example, from a recent post on Lucia’s by Zeke Hausfather, you can see how much adjustments go into the final product.
The question is: are these valid adjustments? Zeke seems to think so, but others do not. Personally I think TOBS is a sledgehammer used to pound in a tack. This looks like a good time to settle the question once and for all.
Steve McIntyre is working through the TOBS entanglement with the station siting issue, saying “There is a confounding interaction with TOBS that needs to be allowed for…”, which is what Judith Curry might describe as a “wicked problem”. Steve has an older post on it here which can be a primer for learning about it.
The TOBS issue is one that may or may not make a difference in the final outcome of the Watts et al 2012 draft paper and it’s conclusions, but we asked for input, and that was one of the issues that stood out as a valid concern. We have to work through it to find out for sure. Dr. John Christy dealt with TOBS issues in his paper covered on WUWT: Christy on irrigation and regional temperature effects
A two-year study of San Joaquin Valley nights found that summer nighttime low temperatures in six counties of California’s Central Valley climbed about 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 3.0 C) between 1910 and 2003. The study’s results will be published in the “Journal of Climate.”
Most interestingly, John Christy tells me that he had quite a time with having to “de-bias” data for his study, requiring looking at original observer reports and hand keying in data.
We have some other ideas. And of course new ideas on the TOBS issue are welcome too.
In other news, Dr. John Christy will be presenting at the Senate EPW hearing tomorrow, for which we hope to provide a live feed. Word is that Dr. Richard Muller will not be presenting.
Again, my thanks to everyone for all the ideas, help, and support!
UPDATE: elevated from a comment I made on the thread – Anthony
Why I don’t think much of TOBS adjustments
Nick Stoke’s explanation follows the official explanation, but from my travels to COOP stations, I met a lot of volunteers who mentioned that with the advent of MMTS, which has a memory, they tended not to worry much about the reading time as being at the station at a specific time every day was often inconvenient.. With the advent of the successor display to the MMTS unit, the LCD display based Nimbus, which has memory for up to 35 days (see spec sheet here http://www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/dad/coop/nimbus-spec.pdf) they stopped worrying about daily readings and simply filled them in at the end of the month by stepping through the display.
From the manual http://www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/dad/coop/nimbusmanual.pdf
Daily maximum and minimum temperatures:
· Memory switch and [Max/Min Recall] button give daily
highs and lows and their times
The Nimbus thermometer remembers the highs and lows for
the last 35 days and also records the times they occurred. This
information is retrieved sequentially day by day. The reading
of the 35 daily max/min values and the times of occurrence (as
opposed to the “global” max/min) are initiated by moving the
[Memory] switch to the left [On].
So, people being people, rather than being tied to the device, they tend to do it at their leisure if given the opportunity. One fellow told me (who had a Winneabago parked in is driveway) when I asked if he traveled much, he said he “travels a lot more now”. He had both the CRS and MMTS/Nimbus in his back yard. He said he traveled more now thanks to the memory on the Nimbus unit. I asked what he did before that, when all he had was the CRS and he said that “I’d get the temperatures out of the newspaper for each day”.
Granted, not all COOP volunteers were like this, and some were pretty tight lipped. Many were dedicated to the job. But human nature being what it is, what would you rather do? Stay at home and wait for temperature readings or take the car/Winnebago and visit the grand-kids? Who needs the MMTS ball and chain now that it has a memory?
I also noticed many observers now with consumer grade weather stations, with indoor readouts. A few of them put the weather station sensors on the CRS or very near it. Why go out in the rain/cold/snow to read the mercury thermometer when the memory of the weather station can do it for you.
My point is that actual times of observation may very well be all over the map. There’s no incentive for the COOP observer to do it at exactly the same time every day when they can just as easily do it however they want. They aren’t paid, and often don’t get any support from the local NWS office for months or years at a time. One woman begged me to talk to the local NWS office to see about getting a new thermometer mount for her max/min thermometer, since it wouldn’t lock into position properly and often would screw up the daily readings when it spun loose and reset the little iron pegs in the capillary tube.
Some local NWS personnel I talked to called the MMTS the “Mickey Mouse Temperature System” obviously a term of derision. Wonder why?
So my point in all this is that NWS/NOAA/NCDC is getting exactly what they paid for. And my view of the network is that it is filled with such randomness.
Nick Stokes and people like him who preach to us from on high, never leaving their government office to actually get out and talk to people doing the measurements, seem to think the algorithms devised and implemented from behind a desk overcome human urges to sleep in, visit the grand-kids, go out to dinner and get the reading later, or take a trip.
Reality is far different. I didn’t record these things on my survey forms when I did many of the surveys in 2007/2008/2009 because I didn’t want to embarrass observers. We already had NOAA going behind me and closing stations that were obscenely sited that appeared on WUWT, and the NCDC had already shut down the MMS database once citing “privacy concerns” which I ripped them a new one on when I pointed out they published pictures of observers at their homes standing in front of their stations, with their names on it. For example: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/newsletters/07may-coop.pdf
So I think the USHCN network is a mess, and TOBS adjustments are a big hammer that misses the mark based on human behavior for filling out forms and times they can’t predict. There’s no “enforcer” that will show up from NOAA/NWS if you fudge the form. None of these people at NCDC get out in the field, but prefer to create algorithms from behind the desk. My view is that you can’t model reality if you don’t experience it, and they have no hands on experience nor clue in my view.
More to come…