How not to measure temperature, part 93: the hottest weather station in the UK cited by the BBC has some interesting exposure

Over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop, moderator Tim Channon wondered about this regularly hot station reported in the news:

An often appearing name in the BBC news as the hottest place in the country is Gravesend but the true location of the Met Office thermometer is a mystery. By chance I followed up today and discovered a new snippet of information.

From the BBC – 2003: Britain swelters in record heat

Britain has recorded its hottest day ever as the temperature soared to 38.1C (100.6F) in Gravesend, Kent.

The record has actually been broken twice today. The first place to beat the previous record of 37.1C (98.8F), set in Cheltenham in 1990, was Heathrow Airport where the temperature earlier today registered 37.9C (100.2F).

Then an even higher temperature was recorded in Kent, making today the hottest day since records began about 130 years ago in 1875.

Here’s another example: Gravesend sizzles in late September sun

It’s definitely time to get that sun screen out as Gravesend is officially one of the hottest places in the UK today.Temperatures reached 28.6C this afternoon, making it Kent’s warmest September 30 ever!

Clearly, it is a leading hot spot.

So what does the Met office say about how official weather stations should be sited? They have it right here:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/science/first-steps/observations/weather-stations

And what does the officially hottest station in the UK at Gravesend look like?

Broadness Radar. Swanscombe, Kent, Great Britain. This is the shipping radar station at broadness helping keep river traffic safe Date: 4 September 2005. Photo by Glyn Baker via Wikimedia Commons and Geograph. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broadness_Radar_-_geograph.org.uk_-_48941.jpg

Maybe the Met office should add air conditioners to the list? The brick building and sidewalk leading up to the station make nice heat sinks don’t you think?

The process of discovery of this station was a long one, aided by a global discussion at Tallbloke’s Talkshop. This Bing Maps aerial view I found and posted at TB’s confirmed to me that there was in fact a Stevenson Screen there:

Source: http://binged.it/RqV8Cv

And that lead commenter “Caz” to make the discovery of the photo:

Caz says:

The Bing Link cracked it for me. It was obvious looking at the shadows that the weather station, transmitter and radar tower were sat on a level depression protected on three sides by banking ie they had their own micro climate.

I then selected Ordnance survey mapping and confirmed that this was indeed a place with a micro climate as the banks are clearly marked on the OS map. But it gave one other vital piece information, the location is Broadness Salt Marsh.

Just a few steps later and a Google of Broadness Salt Marsh and I had the picture and all the information required to see that this weather station is a dud. Note the banking, brick power building with ventilation equipment and the weather station.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broadness_Radar_-_geograph.org.uk_-_48941.jpg

The Met Office should hang their heads in shame and also the BBC for reporting the temperatures recorded by this station. Well done chaps I hope you can get the message out to the wider world. If anyone lives in that area the site looks easily accessible.

Getting the message out to the wider world is what we do here at WUWT, happy to help.

Now here’s the interesting thing about this station, it has a trifecta of siting issues, and not just from the air conditioner and brick building. Look at the location located by Tim Channon:

graves-1

That spit of land juts into the Thames. What is nearby? Channon writes:

This is east of London, is the tidal lower Thames close to the estuary. It is going to be permanently humid, including any effect from the elevation of the temperature of the Thames, heat from London.

Industrial activity is obvious as is close dense residential.

Go towards London (left) and within 5 km is the non-motorway section of the M25 London orbital “motorway”, blue on the map. This is 8 lanes all told with queues a lot of the time, is a toll road. Queen Elizabeth bridge southbound and the Dartford tunnel northbound. Both expel heat into the air, a bridge and ventilated tunnel. South side to the left of that see the bright circles? Heavy oil storage tanks, river pontoon for fuel delivery tankers. Next across is the RWE Littlebrook power station. Being oil is probably not run continuously, about 1.4GW output and has additional gas turbine generator sets. This will eject circa 2GW of waste heat, up prevailing wind. RWE web page on station, head photo is looking east toward bridge and weather station.

Next to the left is a wee and poo plant, also tends to be warm stuff. I expect the sludge is tankered into the outer estuary for disposal. (used to be the case)

Little Reach Sewage Treatment plant, run by Thames Water. Photo looking west, can see the edge of the power station.

Is that all?

broad-3Figure 3

Just off the right of the previous image, north side of the river is… another power station. Top of image here is the electricity output site.

RWE Tilbury Power station, coal fired, hence the pontoon for delivery and black stuff but the RWE web page says the site is being converted. Looks like another 2 to 3GW of waste heat, east winter winds or blocking highs have this one upwind. I notice the RWE photo doesn’t want to show much.

Converting to biomass? I bet the conversion efficiency is lower than conventional fuels, therefore even more waste heat.

There are other power stations a little further away, at least two major ones to the east. (there because of the river, coal delivery)

All this sparkery, I’ve not reached the end yet.

broad-4Figure 4

So what is that? Met site is top right. Four piles at the base, is a large power grid pylon, can look bizarre from an aircraft (these are aerial photos, not satellite).

Electricity transmission is not 100% efficient, the lines get hot, are a compromise. Actual lines are aluminium with a steel core. The alignment, this is a river crossing.

Other side are several sites

broad-5

I pointed out that:

It may be that the station is affected by heated water discharge from the power plant and the sewage plant into the river. Being on that spit of land it has water on three sides.

Only some water temperature measurements will tell for sure.

But another commenter pointed out:

Scute says:

Following up on Anthony’s comments, I have been digging a little, using Tim’s links. The Littlebrook power station just to the west of the QE Bridge does discharge warm water from its condenser into the Thames. The intake and outflow are the two circles in the Thames, visible in the Bing ariel view if you scroll left. The PDF document on the site that Tim linked says:

“The condensate is pumped back to the boiler for reuse and the cooling water [i.e. now warm water] is returned to the river.”

This must be several hundred megawatts at least, given the fact that it is cooling something approaching 800kg of condensate per second at full operating capacity. This would be in addition to the heat lost up the chimney during oil combustion which may or may not drift over the station in question. What is certain is that a large portion of the condenser outflow ends up bathing the station on three sides. Even if there is some convective/turbulent mixing, the mixed water will retain this heat energy quite well at or near the surface albeit as lower grade heat. Since water has a specific heat capacity four times that of air and the mass of air directly above the Thames is much less than the now-mixed surface layer, it means that the water surface can heat the air above it to the same temperature without dropping in temperature itself, or at least by a negligible amount. This amounts to a very reliable, permanently elevated heating source, one which is likely to be elevated further when the power station cranks up in the evening….I noticed that Thursdays temperature graph for Gravesend showed an anomalous rise at 6PM. I was waiting for today’s 6PM update to see if it happened again but as of starting this comment it hadn’t come through. It might warrant monitoring over the next few weeks or months- though tides will dull or enhance the effect I should think.

Speaking of tides:

tchannon says:

Scute,

Hundreds of MW, probably upper, however, oil is an unusual fuel so I suspect this is peak times only. They mention gas plant but seem to casually throw this in without detail. Presumably a similar power and the thermal efficiency is a little better.

More subtly, I mentioned this is lower reaches, the Thames is a small river with low flow: it is tidal.

For this reason any cooling outfall from the station nominally downstream will flow back upstream… and cooling upstream will stagnate in a pool of water.

Goodness knows the effect, for all I know, none.

So, I decided to have a look at that tidal issue. Again Bing aerial view is our friend:

Source: http://binged.it/NblzVn

Note the exposed dark mudflats. What sort of natural surface has the lowest albedo, and thus absorbs the greatest amount of solar radiation?

Dark and wet…like a mudflat on two sides of the station as seen in the Bing aerial view.

The new “hottest ever” record set in the UK was on August 1o, 2003.

I downloaded the tide data for the outlet of the Thames, Sheerness for that day from the UK National Oceanography center. Times are local to the station, +1 GMT.

21217) 2003/08/10 00:00:00       4.356       0.081

21218) 2003/08/10 00:15:00       4.101       0.063

21219) 2003/08/10 00:30:00       3.840       0.048

21220) 2003/08/10 00:45:00       3.581       0.038

21221) 2003/08/10 01:00:00       3.325       0.032

21222) 2003/08/10 01:15:00       3.065       0.018

21223) 2003/08/10 01:30:00       2.825       0.018

21224) 2003/08/10 01:45:00       2.592       0.015

21225) 2003/08/10 02:00:00       2.372       0.013

21226) 2003/08/10 02:15:00       2.168       0.013

21227) 2003/08/10 02:30:00       1.983       0.014

21228) 2003/08/10 02:45:00       1.824       0.022

21229) 2003/08/10 03:00:00       1.690       0.035

21230) 2003/08/10 03:15:00       1.567       0.040

21231) 2003/08/10 03:30:00       1.469       0.051

21232) 2003/08/10 03:45:00       1.385       0.057

21233) 2003/08/10 04:00:00       1.308       0.053

21234) 2003/08/10 04:15:00       1.245       0.044

21235) 2003/08/10 04:30:00       1.196       0.029

21236) 2003/08/10 04:45:00       1.173       0.016

21237) 2003/08/10 05:00:00       1.186       0.011

21238) 2003/08/10 05:15:00       1.235       0.010

21239) 2003/08/10 05:30:00       1.325       0.015

21240) 2003/08/10 05:45:00       1.458       0.028

21241) 2003/08/10 06:00:00       1.610       0.025

21242) 2003/08/10 06:15:00       1.805       0.037

21243) 2003/08/10 06:30:00       2.011       0.038

21244) 2003/08/10 06:45:00       2.228       0.037

21245) 2003/08/10 07:00:00       2.461       0.046

21246) 2003/08/10 07:15:00       2.686       0.046

21247) 2003/08/10 07:30:00       2.909       0.047

21248) 2003/08/10 07:45:00       3.134       0.053

21249) 2003/08/10 08:00:00       3.350       0.054

21250) 2003/08/10 08:15:00       3.577       0.067

21251) 2003/08/10 08:30:00       3.791       0.068

21252) 2003/08/10 08:45:00       4.011       0.075

21253) 2003/08/10 09:00:00       4.226       0.079

21254) 2003/08/10 09:15:00       4.436       0.082

21255) 2003/08/10 09:30:00       4.645       0.095

21256) 2003/08/10 09:45:00       4.842       0.110

21257) 2003/08/10 10:00:00       5.019       0.127

21258) 2003/08/10 10:15:00       5.171       0.149

21259) 2003/08/10 10:30:00       5.290       0.173

21260) 2003/08/10 10:45:00       5.365       0.196

21261) 2003/08/10 11:00:00       5.387       0.212

21262) 2003/08/10 11:15:00       5.358       0.226

21263) 2003/08/10 11:30:00       5.272       0.230

21264) 2003/08/10 11:45:00       5.125       0.218

21265) 2003/08/10 12:00:00       4.942       0.207

21266) 2003/08/10 12:15:00       4.718       0.187

21267) 2003/08/10 12:30:00       4.475       0.171

21268) 2003/08/10 12:45:00       4.213       0.153

21269) 2003/08/10 13:00:00       3.937       0.133

21270) 2003/08/10 13:15:00       3.670       0.128

21271) 2003/08/10 13:30:00       3.404       0.127

21272) 2003/08/10 13:45:00       3.140       0.126

21273) 2003/08/10 14:00:00       2.882       0.126

21274) 2003/08/10 14:15:00       2.630       0.122

21275) 2003/08/10 14:30:00       2.394       0.121

21276) 2003/08/10 14:45:00       2.172       0.116

21277) 2003/08/10 15:00:00       1.969       0.110

21278) 2003/08/10 15:15:00       1.791       0.107

21279) 2003/08/10 15:30:00       1.628       0.097

21280) 2003/08/10 15:45:00       1.508       0.109

21281) 2003/08/10 16:00:00       1.397       0.112

21282) 2003/08/10 16:15:00       1.302       0.114

21283) 2003/08/10 16:30:00       1.223       0.116

21284) 2003/08/10 16:45:00       1.156       0.113

21285) 2003/08/10 17:00:00       1.110       0.112

21286) 2003/08/10 17:15:00       1.084       0.108

21287) 2003/08/10 17:30:00       1.094       0.111

21288) 2003/08/10 17:45:00       1.141       0.116

21289) 2003/08/10 18:00:00       1.231       0.126

21290) 2003/08/10 18:15:00       1.360       0.135

21291) 2003/08/10 18:30:00       1.528       0.147

21292) 2003/08/10 18:45:00       1.720       0.151

21293) 2003/08/10 19:00:00       1.946       0.164

21294) 2003/08/10 19:15:00       2.187       0.177

21295) 2003/08/10 19:30:00       2.436       0.189

21296) 2003/08/10 19:45:00       2.684       0.197

21297) 2003/08/10 20:00:00       2.928       0.201

21298) 2003/08/10 20:15:00       3.180       0.213

21299) 2003/08/10 20:30:00       3.433       0.225

21300) 2003/08/10 20:45:00       3.685       0.235

21301) 2003/08/10 21:00:00       3.930       0.236

21302) 2003/08/10 21:15:00       4.178       0.237

21303) 2003/08/10 21:30:00       4.425       0.237

21304) 2003/08/10 21:45:00       4.670       0.238

21305) 2003/08/10 22:00:00       4.902       0.236

21306) 2003/08/10 22:15:00       5.133       0.250

21307) 2003/08/10 22:30:00       5.337       0.261

21308) 2003/08/10 22:45:00       5.507       0.273

21309) 2003/08/10 23:00:00       5.637       0.287

21310) 2003/08/10 23:15:00       5.715       0.299

21311) 2003/08/10 23:30:00       5.741       0.313

21312) 2003/08/10 23:45:00       5.695       0.310

As you can see from the data, the low tide was about 1.08 meter at 5:15PM local time.

I looked for historical data for Gravesend, which has a tide gauge according to the London Port authority, but I couldn’t find any actual data. So I had to rely on a  tide prediction program. Given that Gravesend is well upstream from Sheerness. one would expect the tide to be lower, since it has an higher elevation difference, which is why the Thames flows east. I downloaded the wxtide32 program since it had a location for Tilbury dock, not too far away from Gravesend.

The tide prediction for Tilbury Dock for 8/10/2003:

Tilbury Dock, Thames Rvr

Sheerness, England - READ flaterco.com/pol.html

  + Corrections: High(+0:20 +1.50) Low(+0:20 -1.00)

Units are meters, initial timezone is CUT

August 2003 low is 0.2m, high is 6.2m, range is 6.0m.

Predicted historical low is -2.1m, high is 8.4m, range is 10.6m.

  Sunday     Monday    Tuesday   Wednesday   Thursday   Friday     Saturday

   07-27      07-28   New 07-29     07-30      07-31      08-01      08-02  

L0523  1.0 H0001  5.7 H0043  5.9 H0123  6.0 H0203  6.1 H0245  6.2 H0327  6.2

H1140  5.6 L0606  0.9 L0646  0.8 L0726  0.7 L0808  0.7 L0852  0.6 L0934  0.7

L1753  0.9 H1220  5.8 H1258  5.9 H1335  6.0 H1413  6.1 H1453  6.2 H1533  6.2

           L1837  0.7 L1918  0.5 L2000  0.4 L2043  0.3 L2126  0.3 L2207  0.3

   08-03      08-04   FQtr 08-05    08-06      08-07      08-08      08-09  

H0409  6.1 H0452  6.0 H0537  5.8 L0014  0.7 L0111  0.8 L0221  1.0 L0344  1.0

L1014  0.8 L1054  0.9 L1136  1.0 H0629  5.6 H0735  5.4 H0856  5.4 H1010  5.6

H1614  6.1 H1656  6.0 H1743  5.9 L1228  1.1 L1333  1.2 L1452  1.2 L1622  1.0

L2248  0.4 L2328  0.5            H1840  5.7 H1959  5.5 H2129  5.6 H2241  5.8

   08-10      08-11   Full 08-12    08-13      08-14      08-15      08-16  

L0500  0.9 L0600  0.8 H0034  6.2 H0121  6.2 H0204  6.2 H0244  6.1 H0321  6.0

H1112  5.8 H1206  6.0 L0648  0.7 L0730  0.7 L0809  0.8 L0844  0.8 L0918  0.8

L1734  0.7 L1830  0.4 H1253  6.1 H1336  6.1 H1415  6.1 H1451  6.1 H1524  6.0

H2341  6.0            L1918  0.3 L2001  0.2 L2041  0.2 L2119  0.3 L2153  0.4

The plot for Sunday 8-10-2003:

The low tide of 0.7m was reached late in the afternoon, about 5:34PM.

Here is what an aerial view of the station and the point looks like at low tide of similar magnitude:

As you can see (if you click image for the closeup) the boatyard to the SW is completely dry. Mudflats are around the station every direction except SE.

So, depending on wind direction that day, combined with the low tide, the station may have picked up some heated air from the mud flats. Unfortunately the station does not record wind data. Given the nearby stations (such as London City) show a shift of wind direction to northerly after about 5PM local time on that date, it is quite possible though:

All news reports I read said the high temperature in Gravesend occurred in late afternoon on Sunday August 10th.  The historical data available from the Met Office is rather slim. So if somebody knows where to find the exact time the high temperature was recorded, that would help solve this mystery.

One final thing, this IR map shows that area of Kent near Gravesend to be one of the warmer places around London, warmer even than the cityscape of London itself:

Image from Geology.com click to enlarge

So to summarize the surroundings of this station:

  • City UHI nearby
  • Industrial area surrounding it
  • River with heated water from power plant and sewage plant dumped into it nearby
  • Surrounded by water on three sides
  • Surrounded by low albedo (high solar absorbing) mudflats nearby with low tide near time of Tmax
  • Sited at a radar station with waste heat exhaust systems clearly visible
  • Sited directly next to a sidewalk

No wonder it is consistently a high temperature record breaker! On that day August 10 2003, it was warmer than Heathrow Airport where the temperature earlier registered 37.9C (100.2F).

UK residents: Feel free to add any information you can find that will help. Still looking for the high temperature time on 8-10-2003 at Gravesend.

UPDATE: I’ve located this photo also. What looked to be a sidewalk turned out to be a big chunk of concrete. Heat sink anyone?

This photo is from a Royal Meteorological Society publication, they apparently didn’t want the world to see the other nearby issues related to the radar station.

More on that publication, and how I’ve caught the Met Office in a lie, coming soon.

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LJHills

Thank you! British friends are unconvinced when I point out the variable quality of data on which so much hinges, citing your project, but this is their backyard, they’ve driven the toll road many times…a thing of beauty this post! I shall have to forward it over and over.

David, UK

Meh. This is just more of that impartial (“ho-ho!”) reporting from the BBC. So what else is new?

AndyG55

Have you ever felt how much heat those towers can give off on a hot day?
and how darn cold they get on a cold day !!!

polistra

Well, the site actually obeys the guidelines as written and punctuated.
“No trees; buildings, or steep ground nearby that might influence the measurement.”
In other words, there should be no trees, but there should be buildings or steep ground.
Trees nearby? Nope. Buildings nearby? Check! Just right.

AndyG55

A bit off topic, but here is a calculation I’ve been looking at.. to do with average temp calculations.
Calculation of rural/urban average temperatures
Suppose in a region of size 20000 sq miles there are 3 urban areas of size 250, 500, and 250 sq miles. In this region there are 5 weather stations , one in each of the urban areas and 2 rural stations.
Now, over the past 30 years these stations have seen the following trends:
Uurban1 = 2.1°C, Urban 2 = 2.0°C, Urban3 = 1.5°C, Rural1 = 0.1°C, Rural2 = -0.3°C
If we want to calculate the Average temperature change, and we just apply equal areas to each station, and we get an average rise of 1.08°C.
If, however, we apply the urban stations ONLY to their respective urban areas, and split the rural area equally, we get an average temperature rise of .. ZERO !!!!

Phil Clarke

Oh, I think the presence nearby of a large and moving body of water is bound to be a cooling influence. …
REPLY: One can always count on Phil Clarke to come to the opposite conclusion while discarding all other evidence. It is his mission here. – Anthony

Steve C

Good work Scute pointing out the nearby Littlebrook power station. As a “responsible adult” (hah!), accompanying school trips around a power station not far from my home (UK Midlands), I was mildly surprised to learn that every day this one station puts about 20,000 gallons less warm water back into the river than the cold water they take from it. Anywhere near a power station you have (literally) industrial quantities of energy flowing around, not necessarily predictably. Not the place to put a thermometer!

Rosco

Given the size and population density of the UK about the only weather stations unaffected by UHI effect are likely to be in Scotland.
Is there any information about weather stations in the former Soviet Union – did the collapse of the Soviet Union result in a lot of weather stations no longer reporting ? Just a thought that could have a major impact – remove a significant number of the coolest weather stations from the record suddenly in 1991 and that is bound to create a hockey stick some 9 years later.
I find it inconceivable that weather records continued to be available in the chaos following the split – hell, they had trouble tracking nukes !

Vostok1

Compared to many airport sites, this is not a bad siting. Being surrounded by water on three sides and experiencing the shadow of the tower falling on the instrument shelter at some point during the day would be negative feedback as fas as extreme heat is concerned. Compare this site to many airport sites where the instrument shelter is surrounded by runways and access roads in close proximity and you will see that the airport sites, which make up a good chunk of the longer period climate reporting sites, are even more likely to be contaminated by artificially high temperatures.
REPLY: The tower is to the NW of the shelter, so little if any shadow chances. – Anthony

I’m no expert, but being so close to a radar source must heat the platinum thermometer the UK Met Office uses.

tcvaughn

There is another possible source of local heating. The microwave emission from the radar antenna could directly heat up the water molecules in the air in its immediate vicinity. The amount of heating would depend on the power and frequency of the radar, but I suspect it could be substantial in the immediate vicinity of the antenna. Depending on the directional characteristics of the radar antenna, it could also cause heating of metals nearby. Think of a really high power microwave oven…
REPLY:I thought of that, having worked on radar system in the past. Your premise is theoretically possible, but any radar operating in that spectrum wouldn’t have much range due to atmospheric attenuation. Most marine radars are x-band or s-band which don’t get attenuated by significant water molecule absorptions. Microwave ovens operate at a frequency of about 915 MHz—wavelength 328 millimetres. S-band is 2-4Ghz (2000-4000 MHz) and X band is 8-12 GHz (8000 – 12,000 MHz) – Anthony

View from the Solent

It’s a few decades ago now but I grew up in that area, in a town called Dartford which is a few miles upstream from Gravesend. As kids we used to get around a lot on our (push)bikes. And naturally, mudflats and water in general were a major attraction. Tim’s analysis fits what I remember.

Latitude: 51° 27’ 51.70”
Longitude: 0° 18’ 40.86”

RonPE

I will leave others to discuss the surrounding terrain and local UHI.
The two vertical blue boxes on the side of the radar equipment building are probably Liebert process coolers rated for 5-tons(17 kW) cooling / air economizer each. At full load, the heat rejection to the outside would be about 85,000 BTU/H or 25 kW each. Both coolers might be near full load because an additional 1-ton(3.4 kW) condensing unit is also visible on the outside wall. If this is a 24/7 radar installation, the process coolers switch to air economizer/exhaust during cooler seasons. Local prevailing winds could blow this plume of heat toward the temperature sensor. I’ve spec’d many of these units for remote cell/radio transmitters.
BTW, these ‘How not to Measure Temperature’ features are what introduced me to WUWT about 4.5 years ago.

Gunga Din

Not sure if this info applies but it is common for large wastewater plants to have anaerobic sludge digesters. These generate methane gas which is often burnt off to the atmosphere. Something to look into for this site.

Maus

A couple quickies:
(1) Which bands were used for the false color image? I assume 5,4,1 but I truly have no idea otherwise. Without such knowledge it is impossible to understand just what the satellite image is showing.
(2) While the macroscopic issues of geography, tides, and industry are all roughly understandable I’m more interested in the heat pump on the brick building at the site, and the brick building itself. What is the order of influence that we should expect from these items, at distance to the station, while ignoring all other factors? A rough notion of the error would be highly informative to include in the text.

Alan S. Blue

Actually most concerned about the 5-10 foot berm.
Does that go all the way around? I looks like it is two sides at a minimum. Any thoughts on the other two sides?
A shallow depression of that sort tends to (IMNSHO) have -amazingly- stagnant air.

AndyG55

@Steve C says:
Usually they have cooling ponds somewhere.. which leak warm water into the ground.
That’s ok, won’t make any diff to the temp. 😉

Entropic man

In the UK we have our fair share of badly sited stations. I live near one in a frost hollow, which regularly give the lowest winter night temperatures in the whole region.

The depth and temperature of ground water under that site would also be very interesting.

AndyG55

lol.. Just wondering what sort of reading that set-up would give in say Melbourne or Adelaide in the Australia summer !!! What does the thermometer go up to ???

James

There’s only one reason that Gardeners go to the trouble and expense of creating a walled garden and that is to protect and warm up their crops within the walls.
What we have here is a walled garden and the Stevenson screen is right in the middle of it, protected from direct solar radiation by its white paint but influenced by local climatic heat build up due to the bunding on three sides and a brick building on the fourth.
Mud flats and salt flats are extremely warm places anyway when subjected to direct sun and zero wind.

AndyG55

Alan S. Blue says:
” have -amazingly- stagnant air.”
And Humid , off the mud flats too.. I can smell it from here !!!
YUCK !!

M Carpenter

The UK Met Office have the hottest ever recorded temperature as recorded at “Brogdale” near Faversham Kent, which I think is a bit more rural. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/q/r/Temperature_Record_-_10_August_2003.pdf

William McClenney

You know, when you see such a “thing of beauty” as LJHills says, then reflect on ALL the surface stations facts that Anthony et al have painstakingly brought to the world’s attention, and then consider the impenetrability of so many minds to the absurdity of it all (think Chris Mooney et al), it just makes you sad. Sad that this is far as we’ve made it as a species, that so many of us could actually be tricked with such nonsense.
I query the Warmista: Drop ~75% of the surface stations since 1990, most of those being high latitude, high altitude and rural stations, leaving us with such as Gravesend. MatheMANNically stitch that up with a very few, very special trees, maybe even process it with upside-down Tiljander ALGOREithms only to end up with model predicted anthropogenic “signals” woefully below any normal climate noise. Virtually inconspicuous in the demonstrated abrupt climate extremes that are so typical at a normal end extreme interglacial. Should I be scared? Really?
But the final act in this Theater Of The Absurd has yet to play out. Strong, much stronger than anything yet predicted, thermal pulses (the minimum maybe 1 at the end of MIS-11) always attend the ends of the extremes. They were from a few years to centuries long. But they always dropped off, over years to centuries, into yet another glacial. In consideration of the vaunted “Precautionary Principle” I find it most humorous that the Warmistas are literally “boxed-in” by their very own arguments. Consider for a moment the argument that CO2 actually is the heathen devil gas it is made out to be. Consider further that you, personally, actually have the CO2 thermostat in your control. You have heard, if you were listening, the complete lack of consensus there is on just how much longer the Holocene has to run.
So, if it was ALL up to you, what would you do? Strip the hated climate security blanket from the possibly late Holocene atmosphere because, somehow, you know that this eccentricity minima extreme interglacial will “go long” like MIS-11 did? MIS-19, the only other post-MPT eccentricity minima interglacial, didn’t “go long”. At best it may have run 10kyrs, or 1,715 years less than the Holocene has so far. So 50/50 odds on that bet. Or would you turn a blind eye while mankind “stacks the ‘climate’ deck” with the blatantly obvious security blanket CO2? You know, just in case you are right…….
Best of luck with that!

Brezentski

Wow! Placing a temperature monitoring station right above a black roof!!! Brilliant bunch of lads.

Rational Db8

Anthony, I wonder if you don’t have enough readers here to actually put together surface stations project for other nations? Bet there are some real doozies out there.

John Trigge

If this is a max/min thermometer setup, how do they know the time of day that the max/min was reached? Does this station have an automatic system installed in a Stevenson screen?
REPLY: yes autologging now – Anthony

AndyG55
Gunga Din

Gunga Din says:
August 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm
Not sure if this info applies but it is common for large wastewater plants to have anaerobic sludge digesters. These generate methane gas which is often burnt off to the atmosphere. Something to look into for this site.
====================================
Just to clarify since GHGs are so often mentioned here, I don’t mean that the methane may be forming a “mini-green house” but thatthe methane, if is is generated and burnt off here, can make a flame many yards high. (Think as high as a house.) That’s a lot of heat.

David Ross

Apparently, the Met office has already fessed up to some of the problems at the Gravesend station.

Weather changes: so should the forecasts of doom
Philip Stott The Times
Scientific Alliance 26th September 2003
http://web.archive.org/web/20040123082555/http://www.scientific-alliance.org/news_archives/climate/weatherchangesso.htm
[…]
“But what of that Gravesend temperature record of 38.1C on August 10?” you hotly contest. Unfortunately, there are even problems with that. As a spokesman from the Met Office said: “The reason that Gravesend is the hottest place in the country is to do with the soil and the heat it radiates from the ground.”
Indeed, the Gravesend site is on sandy clay, sheltered by an embankment, and surrounded for miles by massive exposures of white chalk, mainly gouged out for the new Ebbsfleet railway station. In addition, modern temperature instruments react quickly and record more extreme transitory highs, so we have no idea how to compare these recent temperatures with older highs, such as the 36.1C recorded at Camden Square, London, in 1911.
[…]

Further discussion can be found here
http://www.ukweatherworld.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/47722-is-gravesend-an-official-station/
‘Even warmer than first thought’
However, according ti the BBC “The Met office later admitted the highest-ever temperature was recorded not in Gravesend, but in nearby Brogdale, near Faversham, also in Kent, where the temperature reached 38.5C (101.3F)”, as some commenters on this thread have already pointed out.

Temperature record changes hands
30 September, 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/3153532.stm
The hottest day ever in the UK was actually even warmer than first thought – and peaked a few miles away from the town given the accolade.
Gravesend in Kent recorded a high of 38.1C (100.6F) on 10 August, which had been acknowledged as a new UK record.
But it emerged on Tuesday that a temperature of 38.5C (101.3F) was recorded elsewhere in Kent on the same day – in Brogdale, near Faversham.
The Met Office said the new record had only been announced seven weeks later because results from Brogdale were only checked monthly.
Sunniest September on record
A spokeswoman said: “Gravesend is a real time observation station so we get their results every day, hence why we could announce it was the hottest place.
“In Faversham, the results come in every month.
“We had to go and verify the information at Faversham to check the equipment and check it was running correctly.
“That weather station is not run by the Met Office but by a volunteer so we had to check it ourselves and release the result now.”
[…]

The new record holder is located at an orchard called Brogdale Farm.

Brogdale Farm
http://www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/UserFiles/ASK8/File/Primary_Science/Primary_Science_Home_Page/brogdalefarm_0508.pdf
Brogdale Farm is the home of the National Fruit Collections, the largest collection of fruit trees and plants in the world.
[…]
At Brogdale we have been working with FACE (Farming Countryside Education) and have created a programme, which links into the national curriculum, key stage 2. The programme incorporates a series of ‘hands on’ education activities with specific links to the science and geography curriculum whilst supporting sustainable development and healthy living.
[…]
Facilities On-Site … Weather Station

This may be it.
http://binged.it/R9frSO
If it is, there don’t seem to be major siting issues other than the high hedges (but I’m no expert on this).
The BBC reported that the Met Office went “to check the equipment and check it was running correctly” but didn’t report them issuing a new screen for the station.

On the day Brogdale was given the acclaim of being officially the warmest spot in the UK at 38.5C I was due to give a talk no more than about a kilometre away from the site. So I arrived early and it is indeed the home of the National Fruit Collection and they kindly showed me over the now famous Weather station. I managed to photograph it for Weather eye in quite good weather conditions before rain began by 16.30hrs. In fact the approaching front with cirrostratus giving a halo then thickening to altostratus was text book and was perfect for my talk. At the Centre’s office as I chatted to the lady in charge of the station a large parcel was delivered addressed from the Met Office- a new screen for them.
The site is quite good surrounded by fruit trees but they are not too close. The current screen is in quite good decorative order and there was a Campbell Stokes sunshine recorder. The anemometer was not the correct height and its readings are not sent to the Met Office. The weather station though seems to be undermined by rabbit holes and I have a vision one day of the Screen disappearing out of sight. Anyway Brogdale made it a very enjoyable visit and I shall be back there in a few weeks time with an apple from an old tree in my garden that I want them to identify.
It is a short distance from Faversham and is clearly marked on OS maps.
http://www.weather-banter.co.uk/uk-sci-weather-uk-weather/1758-what-coincidence.html
Ian Currie–Coulsdon
Editor of Weather eye Mag.

However, I came across several references to a peer reviewed paper by Stephen Burt and Philip Eden, apparently detailing some problems with the Brogdale station, but I didn’t find this online.

Thanks for giving Tim’s post wider exposure Anthony, and for your input as the thread developed.
Just to answer a couple of points raised:
Brogdale college station is not a MET station. Calibration? Dunno.
The berm skirts around the inland side of the station covering around 240 degrees.
The tidal stretch is such that during low summer flow, the water can travel 17km downstream and come back 14 on the rising tide.

Sleepalot

You’re telling me that’s the hottest place in England? I don’t believe you.
There’re clearly lots of things to keep the minumum temperature up, but to be hot, it’s got be low(check), dry (cross)and low albedo (Hmmm – it could be worse).
I suspect either the thermometer is reading high, or it’s catching the vented heat from the radar building.

Bill Parsons

Sorry for your discomfort.
Meanwhile, temps in the Grand Canyon, AZ, are in the cool 80’s daytime, and 50’s at night – they’ll remain so for the next several days as nice cool showers blanket the area during the day.
Go figure.
This in a place that is usually a 106 F. oven (average daytime highs) in August. (A nephew hiking in to camp with his geology class.) Lucky bugger.

John Finn

Look, I don’t like to piut a dampener on all this but I can’t quite see wgahty the point is.
If Gravesend, say, has recently recorded a record temperature then that is that . It’s irrelevant whether Gravesend is in a rural location or if it is located in central London. It hasn’t suddenly moved from a rural location to an urban location, it’s always been wherever it is currently located.
We know that some stations record higher temperatures than others because of “siting issues”. But that’s always been the case. Urban stations tend to record higher temepratures than rural stations – particularly during hot summer days or cold winter days.
If Gravesend has recorded the highest UK temperature in 2003, say – then it is reasonable to report that fact. Gravesend must have been warmer on that day in 2003 than it was on any day in the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s ….. The chances are that several other places (including rural ones) also recorded their highest temperatures.

clipe
AndyG55

And some more about the Brogdale site, from climate Audit
Chris Manuell
Posted Jun 7, 2007 at 5:02 AM | Permalink | Reply
I think the situation is even worse than is shown because many of the country
sites are surrounded by trees.
I surveyed the Brogdale Site at Faversham in England: Google Earth 51
17’49.20″N 0 52’40.30″E. This is the site that recorded the highest
temperature ever recorded in England.
The site is in Orchard land crossed by windbreaks with a conifer windbreak on
the prevailing wind side 13 metres from the Stevenson Cabinet. If you google
in “Micro climate in Orchards” you will find a lot of research has been done
to increase crop yields by raising the micro climate temperature because of
less air movement, raising the temperature by “several degrees” both during
the day and night. The night temperature is raised because the higher day
temperatures warm the soil more, which then radiates upwards as the air
temperature cools. Paradoxically it can also cause frost problems because the
cold air near dawn gets trapped within the windbreak area being heavier air
than that surrounding it, unless it can drain away down a slope.

Sleepalot

Or maybe the radar maintenance guy chucked his coat over it.

David Ross

Alan S. Blue wrote:
“Actually most concerned about the 5-10 foot berm. Does that go all the way around? I looks like it is two sides at a minimum. Any thoughts on the other two sides?”
These may be the remains of defensive earthworks at what is a commanding position on the Thames. For comparison, look at the bottom left of figure 3. Any military historians want to comment?

James

Err no John Finn.
If we are talking about always then it’s obvious that always does not include a triangulation mast, a radar mast, a brick building housing the electronics for these an air conditioning unit discharging its waste heat over the temeperature sensing station.
Then there is the small matter of earth bunding on three sides of the site and a brick building screening the fourth.
This official Met office site breaks all the Met office siting rules because its results can not be relied on, It really is that simple.

AJB

Anthony, are you aware of this Met Office beta site?
http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/tabulardata?&siteID=12010
Won’t let you go back to 2003 unfortunately but has about a year’s worth of data if you want to analyse against with tide times, etc. Click Home for map showing all stations.

Now let us see a night time, night-lights satelite image so we can adjust for UHI, per GISS.
Let’s see. 51°27’51.95″N 0°18’40.97″E
River on 3 sides for >2500 ft. Power substation. Boat Dock. Lawn for 1000 feet to SW,S,SE
using a MOD500 500m pixel, this doesn’t look “built” to me. It might very well be classified as rural. A 1 km night-light — i don’t know. A black spot in a field of light.
See also Chiefio “Golden Juarez”, Nov 1, 2010
Here is an idea for some research on this site.
the power plant needs to be down for multi-day stretches for maintenance.
If we can get the temperature records from the site, then stratify the data as to whether the power station was running that day, we might see a signifant difference large enough to quantify.

William Abbott

The galvanized steel towers located on the site have several tons of steel close to ground level. I’m sure on hot sunny summer days they would be very hot to the touch. The embedded foundations would also absorb heat and then radiate it out. They are heat sinks of consequence located near the instruments. Their contribution would be small but cumulative to all the other problems with this site.

John Finn says:
August 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm
Look, I don’t like to piut a dampener on all this but I can’t quite see wgahty the point is.
…..
If Gravesend has recorded the highest UK temperature in 2003, say – then it is reasonable to report that fact. Gravesend must have been warmer on that day in 2003 than it was on any day in the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s ….. The chances are that several other places (including rural ones) also recorded their highest temperatures.

Well John, piut it this way. As the BBC said, it was the highest max temp recorded since records began in 1875.
But the BBC was being economical with the actualite.
Wgahty if I was to tell you there was no station there until 1995? Such a location just downwind from the capital next to a couple of power stations and some cooling system exhausts was likely to produce a very high max temp.
If I was being cynical I might think maybe that’s why the MET set up a station there.

David Ross

Phil Clarke wrote:
“Oh, I think the presence nearby of a large and moving body of water is bound to be a cooling influence.”
“Thermal pollution” of waterways by discharges from power stations was a hot environmental topic in the late 60s to early 70s. The power companies conceded that their plants raised the temperature of the water courses. Regulations were apparently introduced even though the environmentalists failed to prove any significant harm. Indeed the rise in temperature was often beneficial for some species of aquatic life.
Thermal Pollution Stirs Big Debate
The Miami News – Jul 9, 1970
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ygxgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4ekFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5580,4230170&dq=thermal-pollution&hl=en
Thermal Pollution Damage Termed ‘Overestimated’
St. Petersburg Times – Jan 11, 1971
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JQhSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=s3UDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4890,266774&dq=thermal-pollution&hl=en
Once Hot Issue Cools Off As 2 Attend Hearing
The Milwaukee Sentinel – Sep 14, 1976
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=zXhQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4hEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4378,2204995&dq=thermal-pollution&hl=en

Phil Clarke says:
August 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm
Oh, I think the presence nearby of a large and moving body of water is bound to be a cooling influence. …
The Thames is a slow moving river winding through a flat landscape for many miles. I swam in it as a youngster way upstream at Lechlade one sunny afternoon in the mid seventies. The water was warm.
Near the station in question the low tide Thames is wide, comparatively shallow and slow moving. Plenty of time to soak up the Sun all morning until the high reading at the hottest point of the day at 14.30 We’ll track down some temperature reading for the river at low tide at that time of year during a warm spell to get some idea.

If you go onto this site http://www.old-maps.co.uk/maps.html
you can get maps from the 19th century until the late 1990s of the area.
From what I can see, this area was called the Broadness salt marsh until the 1960s, and it is marked as being \”saltings\”, and it indicates rushes on the maps, and in fact the earliest map (1869-75) shows the whole of the isthmus as being boggy land. The inlet, which in the 19th and early 20th century was much longer, almost bisecting the isthmus in half has shortened over the period since 1960.
The first mention of a structure in the area is on the 1970s map when there is a radar station. (It is not on the previous 1966 map). The sewerage plant, which is south of the station is there much earlier – from the 1938 map onwards – though the pond that looks like it is associated with it was much bigger in the earlier maps.

Post author at the Talkshop comments…
Bemused and a bit embarrassed.
Anthony has done some additional work I’d never have considered and put things into a form better understood. Never mind, a long rule of life is never try and second guess the future.
What is so nice is how others have added unexpected snippets and resources, thank you. Photographs particularly are very telling, as is “I know the area”.
The radar site photographer Glyn Baker has more work http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/1601 and I think it is good for everyone that usage is allowed.
The concept of the geograph site is interesting, a photo for each Ordinance Survey (official maps) grid square. Personal views of real England. Perhaps here be indexed gems.
The Brogdale photo came as a shock although after a moment’s thought perhaps it is a well orchestrated place, although yesterday I’d never heard of it.

The Met office did an investigation of the Brogdale record temp and concluded it was anomalously warm by 2C, but they couldn’t determine why.
http://www.weather-banter.co.uk/uk-sci-weather-uk-weather/121618-brogdale.html
scroll down to the last post