Watts on the US temperature record

Anthony Watts of Watts Up with That contributed to Climate Change with a chapter “Creating a False Warming Signal in the US Temperature Record.”

Several groups around the world track the global temperature using various methods, all of which involve adjustments to the raw data. Some massaging can be justified but Watts notes that most tend to exaggerate the urban heat island effect rather than correcting for it.

If this were forensic science such polluted and corrupted data would be tossed out as being unsuitable for the purpose of making a legal decision. Yet entire economies and national policies are being modified, based on the trends seen in this data.

The author traces the long and winding path from the thermometers in the field through many stages of processing, filing, converting, adjusting, to the final product that is released to the public. The system started with human beings making daily max and min readings, writing the numbers on pieces of paper and sending by snail mail to Head Office. Over the decades the process evolved with computerization and thermometers which record the temperature continuously so readings can be captured at any interval.

There is a discussion of the vexed topic of homogenization of data which will also came up in some of the other chapters.

He provided some graphic examples of the way the data are misleading. The Chicago O’Hare International Airport became the busiest port in the world in 2014, a big change from the time it was the Orchard Place/Douglas Field. The initials ORD persist as the International Civil Aviation Organization identifier. It was surrounded by farmlands for miles until over the decades it morphed into suburban megacomplex of concrete and tarmac. The average annual temperature increased by 2.35C per century from 1961 to 2013 but the method of measurement did not change while the immediate surrounds of the weather station changed out of recognition.

The extent of the potential for bias in that situation is revealed by the data from the McCarran Airport at Las Vegas. Between 1940 and 2013 the average temperature increased substantially – indeed by 4 degrees F in the last four decades that was a period of very rapid population growth. But the average conceals a very different story that is told by the average for the daily minimum and the daily maximum over the same period. The minimum has gone up but the daily maximum is as flat as a tack (or as flat as a zig zag horizontal line can be). Indeed the record high temperature set in July 1942 has not been beaten. So it seems that the urban heat island effect at that location makes a big difference at the lower end of the scale during the night (and hence lifts the average for the day) but not at the upper end during the day. Presumably it is routinely so hot during the day that the heat island effect makes no difference.

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13 Responses to Watts on the US temperature record

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    My favourite is this one:

    NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center caught cooling the past – modern processed records don’t match paper records

    The state-by-state climate summary for the U.S. in February 1934. It may be hard to read, but the average temperature for the state of Arizona is listed as 52.0°F From Monthly Weather Review.

    However, if we look at the current NCDC temperature analysis (which runs from 1895-present) we see that for Arizona in February 1934 they have a state average of 48.9°F, not the 52.0°F that was originally published

    So the custodians cooled the past by a full 3.1 F, which is more than twice the global temperature rise that CO2 is supposed to have caused. Then they’re sprung because someone found an original paper copy which shows just how much they distorted the data. Ouch!

    Weathermen in the 1930’s could read a thermometer quite well and very accurately. To think otherwise is the height of hubris…or something else.

    Amazing how much money is floating around in the climate space these days. Shame if something happened to it.

  2. Tha sad thing is that all of this is well documented and understood, and known when it comes to blogs, but no one in the MSM is interested in the slightest when it comes to publicising these facts. I shouldn’t say ‘not interested’, the MSM simply doesn’t want the general public to know the truth.

  3. stackja

    Sydney Observatory once surrounded by greenery now buildings. Like Chicago. MSM aren’t interested in truth. Only gullible believe MSM.

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    If the true figures don’t suit the agenda change the figures who is to know and the Funding will keep flowing into our bank accounts .

  5. W Hogg

    The proxy for all of Greenland is the Nuuk airport weather station.

    I caught a massive fraud a couple of years ago. A massive +ve anomaly covered Ethiopia. Addis Ababa was hotter than Riyadh. Despite it being the southern winter. At midnight. At 11,000 feet. In fact, it was a solid month of temps higher than had EVER been recorded in mid summer!

    The hottest evah year was completely fabricated because they never thought anyone would look.

  6. duncanm

    Sydney Observatory once surrounded by greenery now buildings.

    its even worse than that – they built a fricken 8-lane steel, stone and concrete bridge next to the Observatory, and dug a circular on-ramp around it.

    Then – they chose to use 1s periods for min and max rather than the longer-term averages previously used.

    ‘hottest year evah!’

  7. duncanm

    Jo Novaa has a good couple of exposes on the Sydney observatory.. such as this one

    just as an example, the thermometers were moved in 1917.

    Check out this graph from the BOM and tell me it had no effect.

  8. Death Giraffe

    My first summer in Melbourne included a week where the temperature reached the low to mid 40’s on three days.
    I remember this very clearly.
    I was doing maintainance work on the hydraulics in the back of garbage trucks.
    You remember that.
    The records now show no such temperatures for that year.

  9. Death Giraffe

    Climate change is utter horseshit.
    I’m over 50.
    The damn temperature is no different.
    If anything, the parts of NZ I grew up in are bloody colder.
    Last time I went back, there was snow down to places I never saw it when growing up.
    Yeah, I know, its one blokes memory of one small part of the world.
    But given the molestation of the records, that is all we have now.
    WUWT doesn’t seem to do much on the temp tecords anymore.
    Also, Steve McIntyre is off on some tangent.
    A shame, because there are always new people coming on who need the whole story retold.

  10. cohenite

    Alarmists don’t believe in UHI, or solar influences or any natural influence; it’s all CO2, not just any CO2, only human CO2.

  11. Peter Campion

    A shame, because there are always new people coming on who need the whole story retold.

    Never stop re-telling it, Arky. I was only red-pilled in 2012.

  12. Iggie

    ‘Sydney just had its warmest pair of July days on record.’

    Oh dear, let’s panic.
    Except it’s BS. The two recent days were recorded as 24.8C and 25.3C.

    In 1975, two consecutive days in July were recorded as 25.4C and 24.7C. Do the maths – they average out the same. Totally misleading and incorrect headline.

    http://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/record-july-warmth-in-sydney/528123

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