TwitterFacebook

New Study: US Weather Stations Not Biased Toward Warming

Environment • Views: 1,869

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.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
Take advantage of our yearly subscription, and save 50% off the normal subscription price! One-year ad-free subscriptions are just $59.95. Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing now and save!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This 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: 2015-03-17 11:42 am PDT

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
Thanos
Anti-Science Parents’ Group Files Appeal in Fight Against Kansas Public Schools Curriculum
An organization that claims a statewide teaching plan will instill a "a non-theistic religious Worldview" in Kansas public school students has taken its fight to an appeals court. Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) is asking the 10th U.S. ...

5 hours, 27 minutes ago
Views: 248 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 19 • Rating: 1
EiMitch
Cracked: 8 Things Vietnam War Movies Leave Out (By an Enemy Soldier)
cracked.com Once the fighting started, a lot of people died, well over a million on our side alone. For the war to continue, a constant stream of new fighters had to join up, and they didn't have the benefit of ...

19 hours, 9 minutes ago
Views: 258 • Comments: 4
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
Romantic Heretic
The Lavender Scare
Here is an interesting article on one of Tail Gunner Joe's sick witch hunts that has, unfortunately, been forgotten. I try not to feel schadenfreude of the fate of McCarthy's side kick, Ray Cohn, but I never succeed.

1 day, 2 hours ago
Views: 256 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
FemNaziBitch
Should Women ‘Man Up’ at the Office, or Does Office Culture Need to ‘Man Down’?
About the Graphic How should a woman try to get ahead in a male-dominated workplace? Perhaps the answer lies less on women "manning up" and more in how businesses value their employees. Many women confront this tension as they ...

2 days, 4 hours ago
Views: 328 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
William Barnett-Lewis
Orthopraxy Pt 2
If we accept the idea of Orthopraxy over Orthodoxy, then what does evangelism look like? What is the Witness of those who try to follow the Way of Christ Jesus? To evangelize is to spread the good news that we ...

2 days, 16 hours ago
Views: 357 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 4
thecommodore
Eric Alterman: A Wake-Up Call for US Liberals
A short column in The Nation that is a must read. The primary difference between liberalism and conservatism, at least in theory, is that the latter is an ideology and the former isn't. Conservatism, as Milton Friedman argued, posits that ...

3 days ago
Views: 560 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 5
Great White Snark
The NSA Has Taken Over the Internet Backbone. We’re Suing to Get It Back.
Blow off Snowden all you like, but what was revealed to be true is still true. The NSA lacks oversight with power. FISA is already too much and now they casually exceed even that generous provision. The world first learned ...

4 days, 23 hours ago
Views: 620 • Comments: 9
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
Lumberhead
Lead Prosecutor Apologizes, Admits Mistakes in Glenn Ford Case
This is a powerful admission of culpability and I applaud his courage in making it. It really should be read in its entirety. Glenn Ford should be completely compensated to every extent possible because of the flaws of a system ...

1 week ago
Views: 775 • Comments: 4
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 8
Dark_Falcon
Sarah Vine of the DM gets it wrong on teaching about rape.
Sarah Vine of the DM gets it wrong: SARAH VINE: Teaching 11-year-olds about rape is a form of child abuse The problem with this country, I've come to realise, is that it treats adults like children and children like adults. ...

2 weeks, 1 day ago
Views: 1,197 • Comments: 6
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 9
Fred72
Obama, Reagan, treaties, and agreements
So sayeth Conservative Reason: This was a deal. Not an agreement. Not a treaty. A treaty lasts months, years, or decades. This was a short-term project to solve an immediate crisis. Were laws broken? Sure. But there was no violation ...

2 weeks, 6 days ago
Views: 1,308 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
 Frank says:

They're serving burgers in the back!