New Study: US Weather Stations Not Biased Toward Warming

Former TV weatherman Anthony Watts has been engaged in an ongoing attack on the reliability of the US network of surface weather stations, claiming that poor placement of the stations has resulted in data that’s biased toward the warm side. Watts set up the website SurfaceStations.org to coordinate photographic evidence of problem stations, and many climatologists have applauded Watts for demonstrating the need to improve the nation’s weather monitoring system.

Typical problems identified at surfacestations.org include stations situated near the exhaust of air conditioning units, in asphalt parking lots, and on hot rooftops.

But is Watts correct when he claims that problems with the stations caused a warm bias? Jeff Masters of Wunder Blog reports on a new study from the National Climatic Data Center concluding that the problems identified by Watts and his investigators are real, all right — but that the badly situated stations tend to have a bias toward cooler temperatures: Poorly sited U.S. temperature instruments not responsible for artificial warming.

While Watts’ publication by the Heartland Institute is a valuable source of information on siting problems of the U.S. network of weather stations, the publication did not undergo peer-review—the process whereby three anonymous scientists who are experts in the field review a manuscript submitted for publication, and offer criticisms on the scientific validity of the results, resulting in revisions to the original paper or outright rejection. The Heartland Institute is an advocacy organization that accepts money from corporate benefactors such as the tobacco industry and fossil fuel industry, and publishes non-peer reviewed science that inevitably supports the interests of the groups paying for the studies. Watts did not actually analyze the data to see if taking out the poorly sited surface stations would have a significant impact on the observed 1.1°F increase in U.S. temperatures over the past century. His study would never have been publishable in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Fortunately, a proper analysis of the impact of these poorly-sited surface stations on the U.S. historical temperature record has now been done by Dr. Matthew Menne and co-authors at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). In a talk at last week’s 90th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, Dr. Menne reported the results of their new paper just accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research titled, On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record [PDF]. Dr. Menne’s study split the U.S. surface stations into two categories: good (rating 1 or 2) and bad (ratings 3, 4 or 5). They performed the analysis using both the rating provided by surfacestations.org, and from an independent rating provided by NOAA personnel. In general, the NOAA-provided ratings coincided with the ratings given by surfacestations.org. Of the NOAA-rated stations, only 71 stations fell into the “good” siting category, while 454 fell into the “bad” category. According to the authors, though, “the sites with good exposure, though small in number, are reasonably well distributed across the country and, as shown by Vose and Menne [2004], are of sufficient density to obtain a robust estimate of the CONUS average”. Dr. Menne’s study computed the average daily minimum and maximum temperatures from the good sites and poor sites. The results were surprising. While the poor sites had a slightly warmer average minimum temperature than the good sites (by 0.03°C), the average maximum temperature measured at the poor sites was significantly cooler (by 0.14°C) than the good sites. As a result, overall average temperatures measured at the poor sites were cooler than the good sites. This is the opposite of the conclusion reached by Anthony Watts in his 2009 Heartland Institute publication.

Figure 2. Annual average maximum and minimum unadjusted temperature change calculated using (c) maximum and (d) minimum temperatures from good and poor exposure sites (Menne 2010). Poor sites showed a cooler maximum temperature compared to good sites. For minimum temperature, the poor sites were slightly warmer. The net effect was a cool bias in poorly sited stations. The dashed lines are for stations ranked by NOAA, while the solid lines are for the stations ranked by surfacestations.org.

Andrew Revkin has more, including comments from Anthony Watts: On Weather Stations and Climate Trends.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Donate with
PayPal
Square Cash Shop at amazon
as an LGF Associate!
Recent PagesClick to refresh
Genuine Counterfeit Fake News UpdatesAn unknown source intimately acquainted with an alleged deep-cover WH shill confirms that there are four non-negotiable conditions for weeDonnieJohnnie to appear in person before the Special Counsel. weeDonnieJohnnie must be allowed to: bring his favourite Binky® Classic bring his ...
Möbiustripped
15 hours, 17 minutes ago
Views: 110 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Yes, Scarlett Johansson Was Calling Out James Franco in Her Women’s March Speech Addressing the 500,000 Women’s March attendees gathered in downtown Los Angeles Saturday and even more onlookers livestreaming it at home, Scarlett Johansson began her speech with a pointed barb aimed squarely at James Franco. “How could a person publicly ...
Thanos
20 hours, 37 minutes ago
Views: 169 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Russian Networks Pushing #ReleaseTheMemo Meme WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations are pushing a conservative meme related to the investigation of Russian election interference, researchers say. The purported Russian activity involves the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo, a reference to a secret congressional ...
Thanos
2 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 161 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Shout Out Louds - ‘Jumbo Jet’ (Live at WFUV)wfuv.org • Follow @wfuv: ow.ly Shout Out Louds perform "Jumbo Jet" live in Studio A. Recorded 11.1.17. Host: Alisa AliAudio: Brian CullenCameras: Brian Gallagher, Dan Tuozzoli, Tyler Newfell, and Alexandra ReillyEditor: Tyler Newfell & Brian Gallagher
Thanos
2 days, 14 hours ago
Views: 168 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Improving the World of Sportsblog.timesunion.com Billy Joel once said, “The good old days weren’t always good, tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.” From one native Long Islander to another let me just say, “Billy, you may be on to something.” I’m not one ...
rhoffman
4 days, 3 hours ago
Views: 333 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
First Footage From the New Kodak Super 8 Film Camera Can't wait to get my hands on one. Probably gonna rent 'cause $2500 or more. But what a great look. One of Kodak’s goals is to make this new Kodak Super 8 camera “as easy to use as any ...
Unshaken Defiance
5 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 570 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Grandparents Say ‘God Called’ on Perris Couple to Have So Many Children The couple accused of shackling their 13 children in filthy conditions in a Perris home were deeply religious and believed God had called on them to have so many kids, according to the grandparents of the children.David and Louise ...
Thanos
6 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 646 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
How Russia Says It Swatted Down a Drone Swarm in Syria On the night of January 5, a swarm of explosives-laden small drones, apparently controlled by Syrian rebels, attacked two Russian bases in western Syria, the Kremlin confirmed on Thursday. Authorities claim that Russian defenses destroyed or disabled all of ...
Thanos
1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 929 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 4 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Woman at Center of Greitens Story Asks for Privacy; Greitens Asks Lawmakers for Forgiveness The woman’s plea for privacy came as Greitens was contacting state lawmakers to apologize for the scandal, which has stalled action in the Legislature and upended Missouri’s political world. Five Republican lawmakers told the Post-Dispatch that they received calls ...
Thanos
1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 885 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Hawaii Missile False Alarm Triggers Shock, Blame and Apologies Residents and visitors in Hawaii have been recalling the shock of a false missile alarm, with many saying they thought they were going to die. The alert of an incoming ballistic missile was sent wrongly on Saturday morning by ...
Thanos
1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 808 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0