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January 15, 2015

By Paul Homewood


San Diego International Airport


San Diego International Airport, also known as Lindbergh Field, is the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the United States, and the second-busiest single-use runway in the world after London Gatwick with about 465 scheduled operations carrying 48,000 passengers each day; a total of 17,710,241 passengers in 2013. 

It is also only 3 miles from downtown San Diego, and is now surrounded on three sides by the ever expanding city. In other words, just the sort of place where you would not want to monitor long term temperature trends.

Right? Well, not according to GISS and GHCN. The temperature record there is one of their prized long term sites, dating back to 1929, just after the airport was dedicated.



Station metadata shows there has been no change in location since 1929, which is now within yards of a large car parking area and jets taxiing. The main runway is about 100 yards away.





Still, you say, surely GISS will have made allowance for the enormous UHI effect here.

And they sure have. The only trouble is their homogenisation adjustment has INCREASED the warming trend by, you’ve guessed it, cooling the past.




The graph below shows the step changes made.




Apart from a small change made in 1954, the major changes took effect from 1992 onwards, and were staggered every year or so. As a result, 1990 annual temperatures, which at 17.99C were 0.44C higher than 2013, now show as 0.56C lower.


There is no question that the airport has expanded massively over the last few decades. For instance, the new East Terminal was opened in 1967 to address increased traffic, followed by the West Terminal 12 years later. This was then expanded in 1998.


In theory, GISS adjust urban sites so as to match the trends of rural stations. However, according to GISS, the only rural station within 250km of San Diego is Cuyamaca, which, as we mysteriously discovered yesterday, has had its actual temperature record, showing effectively no trend, turned into a fast warming one.






It is often claimed that these adjustments are just solitary examples, having next to no effect in the wider view of things. Yet, here we have an example where the temperature record of a  large chunk of southern California is based around a massively adjusted rural site, which USHCN have already recognised as one of their highest quality sites, and an urban site, which, despite being heavily affected by UHI issues over the years, has inexplicably had its warming trend artificially increased.

If San Diego’s temperatures have been adjusted up because of a spurious warming trend at Cuyamaca, how many other nearby urban sites have been affected in the same way?

It is hard to escape the conclusion that what we have been told about the climate in this region bears no resemblance to what has actually been going on. 

  1. January 15, 2015 6:24 pm

    The adjustments make no sense. They are cooling the temperatures when there was no urban heat effect.

  2. A C Osborn permalink
    January 15, 2015 6:25 pm

    Situation Normal for GISS.
    Garbage Is Stifling Science.

  3. Kon Dealer permalink
    January 15, 2015 6:52 pm

    Lies, lies and damned statistics.

  4. E. Martin permalink
    January 15, 2015 7:04 pm

    This example of data fiddling is similar to those shown by Steve Goddard. Reporting on it is very good but what can actually be done about it? Can someone consolidate all such available examples and write a paper? And if no journal will print it, it could be published in all the skeptical blogs and disseminated to congressmen and senators together with a demand to investigate.

    • Dr. Roland LeBel permalink
      January 16, 2015 6:00 pm

      Your comment is very worthwhile and should indeed be pursued. One has to wonder how these people can get away with it! Can our system of laws intervene in this matter?This fraud has been going for too long!

  5. Jimbo permalink
    January 15, 2015 7:48 pm

    Maybe they cool the past because the satellites are watching.

  6. mkelly permalink
    January 15, 2015 8:15 pm

    There also a naval airfield on Coronado Island. It has been there since before WWII. The trend there should match Lindberg.

    • January 15, 2015 10:52 pm

      I think that’s the North Island Airfield, which on GISS records finishes in 2003

  7. catweazle666 permalink
    January 15, 2015 9:24 pm

    Funny thing, in 2009 NASA were well aware of both the existence and the magnitude of UHI.

    When examining cities in arid and semi-arid regions – such as North Africa and the American Southwest — scientists found that they are only slightly warmer than surrounding areas in summer and sometimes cooler than surrounding areas in winter. In the U.S., the summertime urban heat island (UHI) for desert cities like Las Vegas was 0.46°C lower than surrounding areas, compared to 10°C higher for cities like Baltimore. Globally, the differences were not as large, with a summertime UHI of -0.21°C for desert cities compared to +3.8°C for cities in forested regions.

  8. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 15, 2015 9:36 pm

    Looking at aerial photos from the 40’s the site was already pretty well contaminated. Jet engines will have made a difference though.

  9. January 15, 2015 11:21 pm

    I am starting to wonder whether meteorological people are so stupid that they have the sign wrong.

    If there is an UHI factor it must be subtracted from current data not added so that there is equivalence across time.

    With 42239 dataset their own data starts 1899.

    As it turns out the data is scruffy and evidence of a sloppy regime because there are many missing periods with what is supposed to be daily data.

    “Hu McCulloch
    Posted Feb 24, 2008 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    RE original post, I don’t see a 1926 move for Cuyamaca (coop 42239) in the site record. MMS only goes back to 1/1/31, and indicates a move of a few seconds in 1/23/98, plus two changes in elevation, in 1954 (from 4672′ to 4652′) and 1972 (to the present 4640′). The Surfacestations survey includes a Commerce dept form saying the station goes back to 8/10/1887, but it doesn’t mention any moves. (Tobs has been 0800 since 1/1/0000, so there should be no TOB adjustment).

    There must have been a move when the dam was built, but maybe that was 1931? There was also a Cuyamaca Rancho station (42241) at the Paso Picacho Ranger Station, 1987-2003, but that should be a separate record.”

    If you drop this into Google Earth 32°59’21.99″N, 116°35’15.04″W
    And then drop to Street View you can see the thing.

    San Diego?

    “For decades, many stations were set up on top of tall buildings where they would be, theoretically, removed from interference. Meteorologists then decided that putting the stations at ground level, away from obstructions, would provide a better gauge of temperature and precipitation. San Diego’s weather station was on a building at Lindbergh Field from 1969 to 1994.”

    On looking at records here, Inido US Date Garden turns up on the same WMO site reference and one I had not seen before, a zillion site suffix. (I note there is an airfield close to the date area)

    Okay, ouch. Looks like I have many San Diego datasets including Linb. from 1851, some of these you have never seen. (story there)
    I suppose I could dig stuff out but would it achieve anything given the vague nature of locations?

    WMO stations often have suffix stations which are not the primary station. This is hidden in most of the published climate style info. WMO = 722900
    No suffix might be -0 but in this case goes as high as -30 but doesn’t mean there are 30.

    • January 16, 2015 10:40 am

      Interesting article, Tim.

      Just thinking aloud, would not moving from the top of a building to the ground add a warming bias?

  10. January 15, 2015 11:29 pm

    Gets good, photo of the station and more history

    “In 1996, that problem was eliminated when the National Weather Service’s Automated Surface Observing System, or ASOS, went in at its current site just off the runway. Noel Isla, the observing program leader at the National Weather Service’s office in Rancho Bernardo, said there was a three-year overlap with the old station before the new one was designated San Diego’s official site in 1999.”

    “That’s why San Diego, even with its 12 station moves, can claim a record, at least in terms of rainfall, that goes back to 1849.”

  11. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 16, 2015 2:16 am

    Google Earth shows the blue square with the 1 in it next to an airplane. The area appears as all concrete. The weather station is 248 m. away from the center of that plane:
    32.735097, -117.185549
    This is seen on the photo in the link by ‘tchannon’ @ 11:29.
    If you look 1,389 meters to the left of the plane, coordinates . . .
    32.736452, -117.197376
    . . . you can see what looks like a weather station site. Two things there. Don’t know what they are.

  12. January 16, 2015 3:04 am

    Try that on

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      January 16, 2015 4:52 am

      Bird’s eye view shows it well. Thanks.

  13. January 16, 2015 3:27 am

    In 1933 links to some amazing stuff.

    Lots of photos, look at building rooftops for met equipment and anything else

    What we need are newspaper archives. Might be some PR pictures.

  14. Andy DC permalink
    January 17, 2015 12:36 am

    Probably some of the greatest outrages are right here in the Washington, DC area.
    Dulles Airport was rural in the 1960’s and now is part of a very dense suburban sprawl. Of course, National Airport has always quite urbanized.

    If you look at the long term average high temperatures for both locations, there is no more than a one degree difference between the sites. Now National is always 3-5 degrees warmer than Dulles during daytime. Why should the spread be going in that direction when Dulles has become substantially more urban over the years?

    Also I live about 12 miles from National and with no fronts in the area and a homogenious airmass on a sunny day, my car themometer reads at least 5 degrees colder than National and the spread has been as much as 9 degrees. I have had the same car for 9 years, up until the last couple of years, there never anywhere close to that much of a spread.
    I have no doubt that National’s readings are easily 3 degrees too warm.


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