Follies in Measuring Global Warming IV: Competence

Kristen Byrnes, Wednesday 05 September 2007 - 01:00:00

Follies in Measuring Global Warming IV: Competence

26 “high quality” United States Historical Climate Network (NOAA & NCDC) temperature stations were photographed by KBSF Volunteers for Anthony Watts at We also photographed a few other stations used by everyone from NASA to the State of Maine to the media. To date, none of the stations we photographed are in compliance with siting guidelines.

Some of these stations are so poorly sited that one has to wonder about the competence of the people who monitor climate and install the equipment.

Most people who have followed the global warming debate have seen this picture of Lewiston, Maine. But let’s look a little closer. The Lewiston Maine temperature station is probably the worst station in the country. It violates EVERY NWS siting guideline.

It is within 100 feet of pavement.
The distance to trees and buildings are less than 4 times their height.
There are two artificial heat sources (barbecue and air conditioner).
It is on a slope.
It is next to a body of water.
It is the incorrect height.

But if you think that’s bad, look at the rain gage to the left of the temperature station in the picture below.

It’s under a tree.

Now let’s look at another USHCN station, one that doesn’t look nearly as bad as many others, it’s too close to the gravel driveway and the house and tree are too close. But remember that the “H” in USHCN stands for “historical.” That’s because historical stations must have been in existence for at least 50 years to ensure long-term trends.

This is USHCN station Houlton 5N and its “begin date” was 1985.

Common sense tells us that a temperature station should not be put in a paved driveway because cars have hot motors and the blacktop heats up more than grassy areas. But in Millinocket, Maine the temperature station (both USHCN and NASA GISS) that was located in the parking lot shows another reason why parking lots are a bad location.

The red arrow shows where the MMTS thermometer used to be mounted before an automobile destroyed it. In order to protect the new temperature station from being run into by a car, they moved it to the back of the parking lot and mounted it next to the roof of the metal garage (picture below).

The next temperature station is located in Eastport, Maine and is especially mind-boggling. This is a state of the art meteorological station that has the thermometer two feet downwind from the air conditioner condenser. Thanks to Anthony Watts, the arrows in the picture show how the little fan inside the thermometer housing draws air into the sensor.

Finally we get to Durham New Hampshire where an interesting study was done that compared the temperature station with a nearby reference station. The study found that the Durham MMTS (in the photo below) was about 1.5 degrees warmer in the summer only. It was slightly cooler during the winter and no difference during spring or fall. The study concluded that the problem must be a malfunction in the equipment. Obviously they never actually went to the location to figure out the problem.

One of my volunteers had a conversation with an NWS manager about this study. The NWS Manager said the difference in summer temperatures probably had to do with the location of the reference station. After my volunteer suggested that the prevailing winds blew across the top of the building then created “an eddy” that took heated air from the air conditioner directly into the temperature station, the NWS Manager added that the NWS was considering deactivating the station anyways.

So what’s the problem here?

© Kristen Byrnes and Ponder the Maunder - All Rights Reserved. Reprinted on with Permission.


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