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
When the Air Becomes the EnemyIn March we barely knew how COVID-19 spread. We ran with a number of assumptions. And we got spanked. By the virus. What we humans got right or wrong is for another Page. As I write this the United States ...
Rightwingconspirator
6 hours, 3 minutes ago
Views: 76 • Comments: 3 • Rating: 3
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Perfect Way to Die (Behind the Scenes) Behind the scenes footage from my ‘Perfect Way to Die’ video. This song is SO powerful and means so much in this time right now. While I am a mother, I could NEVER understand what it’s like to lose ...
Thanos
1 day, 9 hours ago
Views: 227 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall — Bryan Ferry (Live 1977)
Thanos
2 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 331 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction Subscribe to The Best Of for more classic music history, videos and playlists: bit.ly "Eve of Destruction" is a protest song written by P. F. Sloan. Barry McGuire recorded the track in July 1965. It was released by Dunhill ...
Thanos
2 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 315 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
#Thegreatpoolpondconversion - 200705It was a good, non exhausting day's work, even though it was 98 degrees when we started. The end of the first game in the series is in sight. We can see the finish line.So everything we do now is ...
Welcome to The Imbleachment (dangerman)
3 days, 5 hours ago
Views: 384 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 8
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live) #TheMorriconeDuel #FilmMusicLive #DNSOWant to experience The Danish National Symphony Orchestra live? bit.ly The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Composed by Ennio MorriconeVarious flutes: Hans Ulrik, Russell ItaniVocals: Tuva Semmingsen & Christine Nonbo Andersen In January 2018, The Danish ...
Thanos
4 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 584 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Charlie Puth - Girlfriend [Official Audio] "Girlfriend" Out Now - charlieputh.lnk.to Text me:[no phone numbers allowed] Subscribe for more official content from Charlie Puth: charlieputh.lnk.to Follow Charliecharlieputh.com facebook.com@charlieputh instagram.comtiktok.comSoundCloud Lyrics: Yeah, tired of this conversationWe didn’t come all this wayTo touch a little, kiss a ...
Thanos
1 week ago
Views: 738 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Paul Weller - Village - Radio 2 BreakfastPaul Weller performs Village live from his Black Barn studio for the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show
Thanos
1 week ago
Views: 802 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Crowded House - Fall at Your Feet (Live From Home, 2020) In the spirit of musical comradeship through isolation, us fellas in Crowded House have created a live version of Fall At Your Feet, captured here in the making at our respective home set ups. Some of the sentiment in ...
Thanos
1 week ago
Views: 792 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
#Thegreatpoolpondconversion - 200628after the rototilling we tossed several bags of wild flower seeds. thousands and thousands. we'll see what happens with them. we also bought four trees for our anniversary.all natives, good for birds and butterflies. there's a slash pine, a beautyberry ...
Welcome to The Imbleachment (dangerman)
1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 705 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 5
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook