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The Latest Climate Kerfuffle | RealClearPolicy

August 21, 2015

The Latest Climate Kerfuffle
By Patrick Michaels

Are political considerations superseding scientific ones at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?

When confronted with an obviously broken weather station that was reading way too hot, they replaced the faulty sensor — but refused to adjust the bad readings it had already taken. And when dealing with “the pause” in global surface temperatures that is in its 19th year, the agency threw away satellite-sensed sea-surface temperatures, substituting questionable data that showed no pause.

The latest kerfuffle is local, not global, but happens to involve probably the most politically important weather station in the nation, the one at Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

I’ll take credit for this one. I casually noticed that the monthly average temperatures at National were departing from their 1981-2010 averages a couple of degrees relative to those at Dulles — in the warm direction.
The average monthly difference for January 2014 through July 2015 is 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is huge when talking about things like record temperatures. For example, National’s all-time record last May was only 0.2 degrees above the previous record.

Earlier this month, I sent my findings to Jason Samenow, a terrific forecaster who runs the Washington Post’s weather blog, Capital Weather Gang. He and his crew verified what I found and wrote up their version, giving due credit and adding other evidence that something was very wrong at National. And, in remarkably quick action for a government agency, the National Weather Service swapped out the sensor within a week and found that the old one was reading 1.7 degrees too high. Close enough to 2.1, the observed difference.

But the National Weather Service told the Capital Weather Gang that there will be no corrections, despite the fact that the disparity suddenly began 19 months ago and varied little once it began. It said correcting for the error wouldn’t be “scientifically defensible.” Therefore, people can and will cite the May record as evidence for dreaded global warming with impunity. Only a few weather nerds will know the truth. Over a third of this year’s 37 90-degree-plus days, which gives us a remote chance of breaking the all time record, should also be eliminated, putting this summer rightly back into normal territory.

It is really politically unwise not to do a simple adjustment on these obviously-too-hot data. With all of the claims that federal science is being biased in service of the president’s global-warming agenda, the agency should bend over backwards to expunge erroneous record-high readings.

In July, by contrast, NOAA had no problem adjusting the global temperature history. In that case, the method they used guaranteed that a growing warming trend would substitute for “the pause.” They reported in Science that they had replaced the pause (which shows up in every analysis of satellite and weather balloon data) with a significant warming trend.

Normative science says a trend is “statistically significant” if there’s less than a 5 percent probability that it would happen by chance. NOAA claimed significance at the 10 percent level, something no graduate student could ever get away with. There were several other major problems with the paper. As Judy Curry, a noted climate scientist at Georgia Tech, wrote, “color me ‘unconvinced.'”

Unfortunately, following this with the kerfuffle over the Reagan temperature records is only going to “convince” even more people that our government is blowing hot air on global warming.

As Pat points out, NOAA continually claim that their one way adjustments are made to “correct” errors, yet they refuse to adjust or withdraw this clear error.

How many other such faulty sensors are there out there?

  1. Joe Public permalink
    August 21, 2015 12:33 pm

    C’mon Patrick, that weather station was sited at an airport.

    In their reply to my query of 23:46 on 7th July about the claimed London Heathrow maximum temp, the UK’s Met Office specifically claimed:

    ” … turbulence generated by passing aircraft would help mix the air close to the ground and so, is more likely to lower the air temperature rather than raise it.”

    Despite repeatedly being asked, the Met Office has ignored the request for an explanation of the physics & thermodynamics of their claim.


    The upside of the National Weather Service refusing to ‘correct’ the inaccurate high readings, is that cooling can now be irrefutably demonstrated at that site.

    Maybe there’s been an increase in passing aircraft? 😉

    • roy andrews permalink
      August 21, 2015 12:46 pm

      Yep…..i’ve often noticed how cool it feels when standing behind a 747!

  2. August 21, 2015 12:35 pm

    So there is only one sensor at that site and no check thermometer – this is outrageous! Even an amateur like myself runs a traditional Maximum Mercury-in-glass thermometer at my station And, even then I check COL sites and ogimet official sites to ensure everything looks ok

  3. August 21, 2015 12:56 pm

    Don’t get lost here. We are not dealing with science, but politics which must be “correct” even when science has been turned on its head to achieve the “greater good”.

  4. Ben Vorlich permalink
    August 21, 2015 1:26 pm

    So no one at the National Weather Service noticed that a sensor had developed at fault for 19 months? Not only that it was not a gradual drift but a step change.

    Does anyone know if they have data on their sensors such as MTBF?

  5. Peter MacFarlane permalink
    August 21, 2015 2:48 pm

    I take it this is why the Telegraph claims today that July was the hottest month ever in the history of the universe, or something? (Despite it being the COLDEST on record in quite a few places)…

  6. John F. Hultquist permalink
    August 21, 2015 5:21 pm

    It is well known, at least in the USA and around the UN, that Iranian inspectors are the most trustworthy to be found. When they are not writing reports titled “We are not making a bomb” perhaps they could spare a few days and examine the world’s temperature records.

  7. Edward Silha permalink
    August 21, 2015 8:19 pm

    Patrick Michaels wrote <<>>

    Mr. Michaels is either unfamiliar with climate variability (30 years of measurements required to identify a trend), unfamiliar with statistics (cherry picking an unusual data point for the analysis), or is deliberately misleading the reader. Regardless of the reason, he destroyed his credibility with this false claim.

    Even the denier favorite source (UAH) shows no pause.

    And the NOAA measurements show 2014 to be on the 40 year trend line.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      August 21, 2015 8:41 pm

      If you knew anything about climate patterns and what they mean, you wouldn’t post such statistically moronic nonsense. You have just destroyed any credibility of your thought process in one stupid post. You are now marked as a propaganda monkey.

      There has actually been NO CO2 forced warming in the whole of the satellite record. The only warming was the 1997-2001 solar forced EL Nino, which added a step of about 0.26C

      The ONLY way you can show any trend in the RSS satellite data is to stupidly and un-scientifically use that El Nino step to create the trend, KNOWING that it was nothing to do with anthropogenic forcing

      Apart from El Nino , using the warmista run RSS, the slight warming trend before the El Nino has now been cancelled by the slight cooling trend since.


    • August 21, 2015 9:28 pm

      Your phoney graph starts in 1979.

      Nobody denies that there was warming from 1979 to 1998.

      Since then there has been no warming at all on RSS or UAH, indeed cooling since 2001.

      I presume that you are either mentally challenged or are deliberately trying to mislead people.

      • AndyG55 permalink
        August 21, 2015 9:38 pm

        Paul, even from 1979 to the start of the El Nino in 1997 there was actually not a lot of warming.

        Nearly all the warming in the RSS satellite record comes from that one major step. of about 0.26C

        You can see that the slight warming from the strong solar cycles in the latter part of last century has been cancelled by the cooling since 2001 as the drop-off in solar activity starts to take affect.

      • AndyG55 permalink
        August 21, 2015 9:50 pm

        “I presume that you are mentally challenged AND are deliberately trying to mislead people.”

        Fixed you last sentence Paul 😉

        I mean, his first line “Mr. Michaels is either unfamiliar with climate variability ”

        …is just moronically stupid…

        and then he follows it with a straight line through major climate events.

        DOH !!!

    • AndyG55 permalink
      August 21, 2015 9:35 pm

      And NOAA.. seriously..

      Those guys are adjusting the crap into their data.

      They have given up all pretence, and are just making up the data to fit the warming agenda in the lead up to the Paris global control jaunt.

      Its past a FARCE into being serious FRAUD !

      Oh wait.. don’t all the models say that the atmosphere should warm faster than the surface.

      I guess Gavin et al have been given different instructions. 😉

    • AndyG55 permalink
      August 21, 2015 9:46 pm

      Edward, You really should read …

      plus the couple of previous threads to realise just how much NOAA are bending the data…

      …. and basically LYING THROUGH THEIR TEETH !!!

    • AndyG55 permalink
      August 21, 2015 10:34 pm

      It should also be noted that since 2005 when USCRN was established it has also shown COOLING, and the trend of that COOLING has been pretty close to the trend of ClimDiv, and to UAH USA48, thus verifying the UAH and because they are very similar, also the RSS data gathering systems, (within very slight but expected variations.)

      There is NO DOUBT AT ALL that the NOAA/GISS temperature data shows ZERO resemblance to reality.

      • AndyG55 permalink
        August 21, 2015 11:02 pm

        Actually, just checked..

        since 2005 UAH USA48 cools at a slightly slower trend than USCRN and ClimDiv.

        UAH USA48….. -0.11F/decade

    • catweazle666 permalink
      August 22, 2015 12:45 am

      “(30 years of measurements required to identify a trend)”

      Actually, when dealing with cycles such as the NAO with a period of ~60 years, 30 years is absolutely not the best time period to choose to display trends.

      In any case, as there are very few or no linear functions in natural processes, I have never understood the preoccupation of climate “scientists” to set so much store by them, polynomials are var more descriptive of real-world processes.

      However, they don’t lend themselves to the climate “science” trick of cherry-picking a suitable part of a clearly periodic function, using a linear regression to extrapolate it to Armageddon and running round hooting and screeching that the sky is falling.

  8. Windsong permalink
    August 22, 2015 12:10 am

    A similar long running problem occurred at Seattle-Tacoma Intl Airport recently. Sea-Tac is used by the NWS to report “Seattle” temps, even though it is well south of the city of Seattle. And, since the thermometer is sited between runways, more appropriately it reflects temps along taxiway “Tango,” not Seattle. No adjustments at Sea-Tac that I am aware of, either.

  9. August 22, 2015 12:05 pm

    I wonder if anyone has checked the sensor at Heathrow recently?

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