NOAA’s impersonation of the two faced god Janus just proved my point about station siting issues with their actions that speak louder than words.
While there’s all this caterwauling about my PBS News hour interview, and my statements were apparently so threatening that NOAA itself asked PBS to publish a rebuttal in their apologetic story about having my interview, in the real world, NOAA is actually taking my concerns seriously and funding a research project to study my concern. But NOAA of course wouldn’t own up to that on PBS, instead they wrote essentially “all is well, nothing to see here, move along”.
Here’s Spencer Michels commentary and NOAA’s statement as published at the PBS website yesterday:
Let’s start on the question of whether temperature data is flawed. That was raised by Watts, and his views on that are being heavily criticized on the web today.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote a response to us and stands by its record on temperature data. Here is what NOAA sent:
The American public can be confident in NOAA’s long-standing surface temperature record, one of the world’s most comprehensive, accurate and trusted data sets. This record has been constructed through many innovative methods to test the robustness of the climate data record developed and made openly available for all to inspect by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Numerous peer-reviewed studies conclusively show that U.S. temperatures have risen and continue to rise with recent widespread record-setting temperatures in the USA. There is no doubt that NOAA’s temperature record is scientifically sound and reliable. To ensure accuracy of the record, scientists use peer-reviewed methods to account for all potential inaccuracies in the temperature readings such as changes in station location, instrumentation and replacement and urban heat effects.
Specifically, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center published a scientific peer-reviewed paper (Menne, et al., 2010) that compared trends from stations that were considered well-sited and stations that received lower ratings on siting conditions, which found that the U.S. average temperature trend is not inflated by poor station siting. A subsequent research study led by university and private sector scientists reached the same conclusion (Fall et al. 2011). Additionally, the Department of Commerce Inspector General reviewed the US Historical Climatology Network dataset in July 2010 and concluded that “the respondents to our inquiries about the use of and adjustments to the USHCN data generally expressed confidence in the [USHCN] Version 2 dataset.”
Looking ahead to the next century, NOAA has implemented the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) – with 114 stations across the contiguous United States located in pristine, well-sited areas. Comparing several years of trends from the well-sited USCRN stations with USHCN shows that the temperature trends closely correspond – again validating the accuracy of the USHCN U.S. temperature record.
Now, while NOAA is claiming at PBS that the surface temperature record is “accurate” and “The American public can be confident in NOAA’s long-standing surface temperature record…” they quietly fund a new project to look into EXACTLY the questions I’ve been raising. It’s a Janus moment for NOAA.
From the USCRN Annual Report: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/uscrn/publications/annual_reports/FY11_USCRN_Annual_Report.pdf
5.1.3 Planning for Thermal Impacts Experiment
Initial funding was provided this year by the USRCRN Program for a multi-year experiment to better understand the thermal impacts of buildings with parking lots on air temperature measurements. A site near the offices of ATDD will be instrumented to measure accurately the air temperature and other variables at multiple distances from the potential thermal heat source, corresponding to the distances from thermal sources used in classifying USCRN stations (Figure 7).
This study will have several applied and practical outcomes. Determining the downwind range of influence of a typical building will be important for understanding built environment impacts on surface air temperature measurements. Other measurements of radiation and heat fluxes will help illuminate the physical processes responsible for any detected heat transfers. Finally, this information will help influence future USCRN/USRCRN siting decisions. Additional insight is being sought by collaborating with National Weather Service (NWS) and National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) on extensions of the basic project. This effort promises to be greatly useful to understanding climate quality temperature measurements and how they can be influenced by the station site environment.
So why would NOAA say “all is well” with the surface temperature record, on one hand to PBS, while on the other hand fund a project to examine exactly my issues that they say “don’t matter”? It seems they took Spencer Michels and PBS for a ride with their Janus duplicity.
I predict that unless they figure in surface area of heat sinks/sources as well as distance, the experiment will show no significant effects. Of course, given what we’ve seen, that may be the goal.
We’ve already learned about what happens when you figure in distance AND surface area of biasing elements around climate monitoring stations and published about it here in my announcement of Watts et al 2012. Not looking at the surface area issue is why Menne et al 2010 and Fall et al 2011 found no significant effects. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has endorsed this as the new standard for station siting analysis:
World Meteorological Organization Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation, Fifteenth session, (CIMO-XV, 2010) WMO publication Number 1064, available online at: http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/CIMO/CIMO15-WMO1064/1064_en.pdf
See Michel Leroy’s study listed in there. When we applied Leroy’s surface area metrics to the siting bias equation, bingo, station siting effects popped right out:
Our new reanalysis (taking into account the TOBS issue raised) says the siting related heat sink/source effect is real and affects not only the absolute temperatures (for record highs/lows) but also the trend of temperatures. NOAA compounds the issue by making adjustments that mask the problem, and make it worse.
I’ll have more in a future post. (h/t to Steve Mosher)