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UHI In South Korea Ignored By GISS

February 14, 2015

By Paul Homewood  





I ran a post on this study concerning UHI in South Korea a couple of years ago, and thought it worth updating.


Quantitative estimates of warming by urbanization in South Korea over the past 55 years (1954–2008)

Kim and Kim



The quantitative values of the urban warming effect over city stations in the Korean peninsula were estimated by using the warming mode of Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis of 55 years of temperature data, from 1954 to 2008. The estimated amount of urban warming was verified by applying the multiple linear regression equation with two independent variables: the rate of population growth and the total population.

Through the multiple linear regression equation, we obtained a significance level of 0.05% and a coefficient of determination of 0.60. This means that it is somewhat liable to the estimated effects of urbanization, in spite of the settings of some supposition. The cities that show great warming due to urbanization are Daegu, Pohang, Seoul, and Incheon, which show values of about 1.35, 1.17, 1.16, and 1.10 °C, respectively. The areas that showed urban warming less than 0.2 °C are Chupungnyeong and Mokpo. On average, the total temperature increase over South Korea was about 1.37 °C; the amount of increase caused by the greenhouse effect is approximately 0.60 °C, and the amount caused by urban warming is approximately 0.77 °C.


Warming due to urbanisation since 1954 of more than a degree should really surprise nobody, given the massive expansion and development of South Korean cities. But it raises the question of how much GISS allow for UHI there.

The results will surprise you! These are the currently operational city sites, listed by GISS as having 50,000+ populations. 





Just to be clear here, to allow for UHI, past temperatures should be increased (GISS leave current ones unaltered). This is the opposite of what has happened at cities like Chunchon, where 1954 temperatures have been adjusted down.

Even at Pohang, which has the greatest UHI allowance of 0.8C, this is still well below the figure of 1.17C, which the study finds. A crude average of the above adjustments is –0.05C, so, in net terms, no allowance has been made at all for UHI.


It is sometimes claimed that these negative adjustments are caused by moving of stations from city centres, out to cooler airport sites. But this does not apply in South Korea, as, according GISS, the only airport sites is at Chunchon.

For instance, the station at Inchon is smack in the middle of the city:




It is also worth noting that there are no genuinely rural stations operational in South Korea.




It is little wonder then that GISS find that Korea has warmed up by a degree or more since the 1950’s. 


We are constantly told to trust the “scientists” and their algorithms. But every time we look in detail, we seem to open another can of worms.

This is a story that won’t go away.  

  1. February 14, 2015 1:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Real Science.

  2. February 14, 2015 1:58 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten.

  3. February 14, 2015 3:55 pm

    I am rather surprised they have cooled Seoul (-0.30) considering the massive turnaround post the Korean war with the explosion in population, economic growth and skyscrapers/high rise to house people migrating to urban areas.

    In 1949 the population was 1,446,000, although since 2000’s urban population has declined with expansion of the suburbs (that’s why the pop. is quoted at ~24m). There was also a rapid rise in population in the post war period as refugees fled from the North although I doubt GISS were adjusting for that.

  4. February 14, 2015 3:56 pm

    Reblogged this on the WeatherAction News Blog.

  5. A C Osborn permalink
    February 14, 2015 6:45 pm

    Paul, further to my email. Take a look at BEST UHI adjustments for the Seoul Station here
    and then compare that to what they present to the Public here

    Note the same uplift in the data presented to the public that is not in their UHI adjusted Station, it is just like London and Heathrow.

    • February 14, 2015 7:34 pm

      The latter one says N Korea, nearest city Seoul. Is that connected?

  6. February 15, 2015 2:45 pm

    I have lived in Korea off and on over the past 22 years. I have been able to watch the change in urbanization first hand. When I first visited Seoul in 1993, the city was distinct from neighboring cities to the west and south. There were farms separating Seoul from Bucheon and Bucheon from Incheon. Going south on the Kyungbu Expressway, there was a separation of urban Seoul from the city of Suwon, although there was a cluster of development around the Samsung Electronics fabs at Kiheung. One should note that Korea is a mountainous country which limits development in certain areas. The mountains have channeled urban development throughout Korea. This is particularly true in Seoul where urbanization has been to the west, southwest and south. During my most recent trip to Korea, I found that Seoul, Bucheon, Incheon, Ansan and Suwon were essentially one megapolis.

    The urbanization of Seoul reached a pivot point in 1988 when the summer Olympic Games took place in Songpa Gu in the southeast of Seoul on the southern bank of the Han river. Prior to 1988, most of Seoul’s development was north of the Han river. Today, the southern bank of the Han river is fully developed up to the mountains that form the southern boundary of Seoul City. In the early 1990’s, Kimpo Airport was in the midst of rice fields. Today, urbanization surrounds Kimpo.

    Of the cities that I have known since the early 1990’s, the city with the most substantial urbanization is Suwon. Over the last 2 decades, Suwon has grown from a small city to a large city. The Berkeley raw data does show a significant anomaly. The anomaly increase in Suwon is close to 2° C. This is almost twice the temperature anomaly for the period in Seoul. Both The UHI has had a much more dramatic impact on Suwon’s temperatures than it has on Seoul over the past 40 years. This UHI impact is significantly larger than the adjustments would indicate.

    Click to access 156449-TAVG-Raw.pdf

    This example shows that the quality of station data is effected by the history of the local area surrounding that station or stations. This is common sense, however there is a belief that one can determine which stations are and are not impacted by urbanization from the use of computer algorithms. I do not share this belief. I agree with what Andrew Watts has been doing to evaluate individual stations. Even rural stations can be impacted by heat sinks or heat sources.

  7. February 15, 2015 11:31 pm

    Reblogged this on Globalcooler's Weblog.


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