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NOAA Deception Over Record Temperatures

February 14, 2013

By Paul Homewood

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http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2012/13/supplemental/page-6

It seems that NOAA’s State of the Climate Report for 2012 is turning into a real campaign of disinformation. We have seen already their attempts to sell the year as the second “most extreme” on record, with blatantly misleading maps, a rigged “Climate Extremes Index” and deception over the number of days over 100F.

Not happy with that lot, they have also written a section regarding “all time temperature records” that have been broken, (i.e. not records for that particular day of the year, but the highest ever recorded at a particular station).

They claim:-

Many stations broke or tied all-time records during heat waves of 2012. The state of South Carolina also observed its warmest temperature on record, at any station, in late June. The following tables present the all-time records known to have been tied or broken during the year, for stations with at least a 30-year period of record.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2012/13/supplemental/page-6

The table contains 362 such records, leaving a clear message – the weather must be getting hotter. But just how meaningful are these records, and do they support the argument that summertime temperatures are higher, and heatwaves worse,  than before?

First some background. Although the year as a whole was the warmest on record, the summer was not as hot as 2011. Moreover, only two states, Colorado and Wyoming had record breaking summers. It was largely a case of nearly all of the country being above average, that pushed the overall rating up so high.

http://climvis.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/cag3/state-map-display.pl

It is also worth pointing out that NOAA, themselves, keep an official list of climate extreme records for each state (see here.) For all time maximum temperature records, out of 59 state records (incl ties), only 2 have been set since 2000, including one last year in South Carolina.

Kansas

To assess just how meaningful NOAA’s “All Time Records Chart” is, I am going to take a closer look at Kansas, which is in the heart of the “Much Above Normal” area, and next door to record breaking Colorado. This should give a fairly representative picture. This logic is given further validity by the fact that, out of the 362 national records quoted above, 22 are in Kansas, or 6%, so it seems a reasonable sample, and above what the national average would be.

Perhaps the first thing to point out is that the highest temperature ever recorded in Kansas was 121F. This was recorded at two separate stations, Fredonia and Alton , on two different days in July 1936. (See here). Two years earlier, in 1934, a top temperature of 119F was recorded in Lincoln. By contrast, the highest temperature in 2012 was 118F at Norton Dam.

Although there were 22 new records set last year, these actually only represent 12 stations, as some tie or break their own record set a day or so earlier. I have analysed these 12 stations, using NOAA’s “Station Metadata” along with their “State Climatological Data Reports” , (available here and here.). The full list of stations is in Appendix A, and the analysis shows:-

  • Only two stations have been recording temperatures since before 1940, Tribune and Oakley.
  • Of these two, only one, Tribune sets a new record. Oakley ties with 1936.
  • Only one station is an official USHCN station, Smith Center. This station only started keeping temperature records around 1960.

(Remember that USHCN is “a high quality data set of daily and monthly records of basic meteorological variables from 1218 observing stations across the 48 contiguous United States. “ There is no assurance that other stations keep to such a high quality.)

Suddenly, one new record and one tie don’t sound quite so impressive!

USHCN Stations

To get a proper perspective, we need to look at the full list of USHCN sites in Kansas, (listed in Appendix B). Altogether, there are 31 of these, of which 28 have records back to 1930.

Analysis of these shows:-

  • Only one station has set a new record, Lakin with 112F.
  • Two others, Ashland and Scott City, tie with 1934 and 1936.
  • With most of the others, the highest temperatures set in 2012 are several degrees lower than their 1934 and 1936 counterparts.
  • Both Lakin and Tribune are in the extreme west part of the State, close to Colorado, where the heatwave last year was most intense.

Conclusions

Out of 28 stations, 25 recorded higher temperatures in the 1930’s than 2012, with 2 others tying. Most of the state, except for the western fringe, at its peak was much cooler than both 1934 and 1936. NOAA’s list of “all time records” clearly does not reconcile with these facts. Indeed, it is positively misleading, so why was it presented in this way?

There is no doubt that NOAA have a clear agenda in mind, when they present these record temperatures. Hence, the reaction I got from one commenter, who said:

“If the 1930s were so damn hot, then why did so many places break records (in 2012)?”

If NOAA really wanted to present an objective and informative analysis of record temperatures, they would do what I have done with Kansas, on a national basis. Analyse all USHCN stations, with data back to at least 1930, and compare the proportion of records set in recent years, with those in earlier decades.

They won’t do this because the results won’t give the message they wish to promote.

APPENDIX A – NOAA All Time Records

Station First Year of Operation USHCN
Tribune 1888
Norton Dam 1962
Colby 1950
Oakley 1892
Cedar 1949
Dodge 1942
Brewster 1988
Smith Center 1959 Y
Garden City 1950
Wallace  * No Metadata
Richfield 1967
John Redmond Lake 1960

*Wallace was not listed in either the 1934 or 1936 Reports. No metadata suggests it is not even an official station.

APPENDIX B – USHCN Stations – Kansas

Highest Temperature Recorded 1934 1936 2012
Anthony 113 115 108
Ashland 113 111 113
Atchinson 109 108 105
Coldwater 111 114 109
Columbus 111 114 106
Council Grove 111 115 108
El Dorado 111 117 107
Ellsworth 115 117 110
Ft Scott 111 118 103
Hays 117 116 114
Horton 111 111 106
Independence 112 111 110
Jetmore 114 113 113
Lakin 109 110 112
Larned 114 112 112
Lawrence 111 113 107
Leavenworth 110 109 105
Liberal 109 110 109
Manhattan 115 115 107
McPherson 116 117 108
Medicine Lodge 113 115 110
Minneapolis 116 117 111
Norton 114 116 113
Oberlin 113 114 111
Olathe n/a
Ottawa 112 114 108
St Francis 107 111 110
Scott City 110 110 110
Sedan 115 118 109
Smith Center n/a n/a
Wakeeney n/a

http://cdiac.ornl.gov/epubs/ndp/ushcn/ushcn_map_interface.html

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2013 12:05 am

    Reblogged this on Real Science.

  2. Eric Barnes permalink
    February 15, 2013 12:19 am

    Excellent Paul. Thanks!

  3. gregole permalink
    February 15, 2013 1:32 am

    Paul,

    Great work. I follow what you do and appreciate the time and effort you put into keeping it all in perspective.

  4. February 15, 2013 1:55 am

    Reblogged this on USA Partisan.

  5. Bob Koss permalink
    February 15, 2013 4:13 am

    I posted these graphics over at Goddard’s site and figured I’d also put them here.

    Here is a graphic I created from NOAA data which shows established state records by decade. Only 18 high temperature records have been set or tied since 1951. While 24 low temperature records have been set or tied over the same length of time. Hell will freeze over before NOAA will put up a graphic showing this distribution.

    Here are a couple graphics I made of the NOAA data a few years ago which shows state records for individual months. Last year shown is 2008.

    US highs http://i40.tinypic.com/2qcdf.gif
    US lows http://i41.tinypic.com/mk7ih.gif

    Since I only show the most recent record in the case of ties, many of the records shown were actually first established early in the 20th century. e.g. The year 2000 shows 17 high records, but 12 of those records were first established prior to that year.

  6. Andy DC permalink
    February 16, 2013 1:09 am

    Thanks, Paul for putting the 1930’s in their proper prospective and once again demonstrating that NOAA is totally agenda driven.

  7. Dale Chatham permalink
    July 2, 2013 7:22 pm

    My son was stationed in Yuma, AZ several years back. He’d tell me that the temp was 130+ and I’d remark that the highest temperature reported on the weather was 116 degrees. He then told me that Any temps over 116 are reported as 116. I’m guessing here, but I’ll bet that if true, it is a policy put in place in the 1970s when the lies were to keep alive the global cooling theories.

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