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Arstechnica Defends Junk Science (Or Tampering In California)

January 24, 2016

By Paul Homewood    




There’s a long winded piece out on something called arstechnica (whatever that is), which attempts to defend the thoroughly discredited surface temperature datasets. It looks as if it might as well have been written by Gavin and his cronies.

It is full of errors and falsehoods, like:

  • Sceptics say temperatures should never be adjusted – nobody I know argues this. What they do query are adjustments that cannot be explained by NOAA etc, and fly in the face of factual evidence.
  • Ignoring the fact that NOAA, GISS and HADCRUT have all been adjusted in stages in recent years, with each miraculously adding to the warming trend
  • Claiming that UHI has been proven not to affect global temperature trends, when there are many studies that show it does exist and is not being properly accounted for.
  • Rubbishing satellite data.
  • Ignoring the vast areas of the world not covered by measurements





But they show one interesting graph, apparently from BEST. Whilst showing the effect of TOBS, it also shows another chunk being added on for “homogenisation”, (the difference between the blue and green curves).




The only justification they can offer for this is:


Some weather station changes are pretty straight-forward. The desire for weather information at new airports around the 1940s led to station moves. Some of these stations had been set up on the roofs of post office buildings and later found themselves in an open environment on the edge of town. Looking at the temperature records, you might see a sudden and consistent drop in temperatures by a couple of degrees.


It is true that the homogenisation process will pick this up, because it is a step change. However, what gets ignored is the fact that, over the decades, the new airport site goes from being little more than a grass field to a busy, tarmac covered airport, with jets flying in and out, and an urbanised environment with car parks, airport buildings etc. All of this will add to a growing UHI trend.

By the time this lot is accounted for, it is likely that the UHI effect is more than it was in the city seventy years ago. In the meantime, the original station move is adjusted for, but the UHI effect at the airport is not.

In reality, of course, the above graph does not show any big adjustments in the 1940’s and 50’s, when most station moves to airports took place. Instead, they seem to suddenly take off around the 1990’s.


San Diego’s International Airport, Lindbergh Field, is a case in point, which shows that homogenisation is failing to account for UHI. It is the busiest single runway commercial airport in the US, handling 18 million passengers a year. Lindbergh Field was actually built in 1929, and the station metadata shows that the temperature station has been pretty much in the same spot ever since.




It does not really take a genius to work out that the UHI effect will have grown substantially there over the years.


Yet when we check GHCN we find that, far from allowing for UHI, they have actually done the opposite and cooled the past! (The top, red graph is unadjusted, and yellow adjusted. The bottom graph shows the actual adjustments).




The cooling adjustments kick in in 1941, since when 0.9C has been effectively added to current temperatures (or deducted from old ones). This clearly is a nonsense.

So, what has this been based on? When we look at some of the surrounding stations, we find that matters get even worse.

When we check the GISS list of GHCN stations near to San Diego, the only rural site with up to date records (in fact, 2014) is Cuyamaca. If you are going to homogenise, it should only be done against reliable, high quality rural sites.




Incredibly, when we check out Cuyamaca, we find that it has been even more heavily adjusted up than San Diego.




On what basis, therefore, have Cuyamaca and San Diego been adjusted up? The clue lies in that GISS list.

All of the other rural sites disappeared years ago, and current temperature measurements are dominated by Los Angeles sites.

Like the International Airport there:








Or in the heart of the city of Pasadena.






As more and more rural stations disappear, the few good stations left will be homogenised up to the UHI affected city and airport sites, rather than the other way around.

There is actually no secret about any of this. The fact that “scientists” can publish such garbage, and get away with it, is a disgrace.

  1. January 24, 2016 2:53 pm

    Nice post. I did a similar analysis of GISS for the CRN1 stations in the surface stations project. All but one of the suburban and rural ‘pristine’ stations had been warmed by GISS homogenization. Plainly importing microsite and UHI problems from bad stations. Guest posted at WUWT last year.

  2. knutesea permalink
    January 24, 2016 2:56 pm

    Why hasnt climate science been able to establish a standard method for temperature adjustment/reporting ?

    Not having one that clearly articulates what is acceptable should be embarrassing for the profession.

    The fact that there is very little embarrassment doesnt reflect well on the integrity of the field.

    Instead of poo pooing the ability of the public to understand complexities that only they understand, they should focus on fixing the above issue. People would trust them more.

  3. R2Dtoo permalink
    January 24, 2016 2:58 pm

    The governments’ choices of which stations to use is their ultimate downfall. I’m not sure why the UHI issue hasn’t run its course, but the US investigation that is ongoing needs the station classification info soon. One would think that this would have been completed long ago. Most folks are familiar with the changes in temperature that occur driving into and out of urban areas, and would identify the major impact of urbanization on homogenized values. I would guess that the folks still hear every day the weather reports that say “cooler in the suburbs” and note the often significant differences in daily highs and lows over relatively short differences. This will strike home when the “warmest evah” mantra is based on hundredths of a degree.

  4. Ian Magness permalink
    January 24, 2016 3:33 pm

    Great analysis. Incredible that an important matter (influencing government policy globally) is not debated in the public and mainstream media.
    As for that report: Arse-technica is about right.

  5. songhees permalink
    January 24, 2016 3:45 pm

    Latest book and documentary.
    ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.

    Debate between Dr Tim Ball and Elizabeth May
    Scroll down to Ian Jessop part 1

  6. spetzer86 permalink
    January 24, 2016 4:22 pm

    I’d like to bring in a different data set for comment: This is a USA only site, so global conditions can’t be assessed. However, the USA is one of the most heavily covered areas in the world, so global changes should have at least some impact.

    The values in this database for Pasenda are fairly similar to those shown here. However, bring up temperatures from a rural state in the American mid-west (Iowa, for example) and pick a random monitoring site (Fort Dodge in the NW of the state) and mean monthly temperatures are showing even or potentially down over the 1900 to 2015 timeframe. Other sites chosen for similarly rural areas in Iowa and surrounding states yield similar results.

  7. NeilC permalink
    January 24, 2016 5:19 pm

    Good post Paul.

    If the public and politicians only knew how much “homogenisation” took place they would be appalled.

    Why can’t raw data sets be available for anyone who wants to analise them and draw their own conclusions about the validity of aspects such as UHI.

    When ever I drive into a town or city from the countryside the thermometer in the car always goes up by 2 or 3 degrees C. I know they are not calibrated but it does show that perhaps climatologists level of UHI homogenisation is much too low.

    Just think, if UHI really was over 1 deg C, anthropogenic global warming would be dead in the water.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      January 24, 2016 9:17 pm

      … the thermometer in the car always goes up by 2 or 3 degrees C.

      This is known as an anomaly and thus the “calibration” is not an issue. Folks should, but never do, report these as C. degrees, not degrees C. (3 C° not 3° C) I think I am the only one that cares.

    • knutesea permalink
      January 24, 2016 11:34 pm

      I don’t know how it is in Britain but in the US if the data is collected with public money then is public record.

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 24, 2016 8:59 pm

    Sceptics say temperatures should never be adjusted
    These types just make stuff up and/or they are not very bright.
    That is the tell (noun) to quit reading.
    Some people do ask for raw/original data. Not at all the same thing.

    [Lindbergh Field’s weather sensors appear to be about 100 m. west (and a bit south) of the tail section of the yellow plane. The blue symbol with the ‘1’ is in a marked 2-lane “road” for vehicles. This is only off by about 0.001 longitude. It provides information pilots need but not for climate science.]

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 24, 2016 10:36 pm

      Indeed: zooming in the anemometer can be seen behind the sections of concrete wall alongside the taxiway – the concrete and tarmac shows tyre markings that indicate a fairly high level of traffic for aircraft transiting between what appears to be a freight zone and one end of the runway: jet exhausts will be making some impact as they pass close by. Shades of that Heathrow temperature record last year, perhaps?

  9. January 25, 2016 5:58 am

    O/T Paul you need to listen to Paul Hudson Weather Show. In this Jan 23rd edition PH is now completely ‘on message’ and features Betts at min 28:00, also talk of flood mitigation etc.
    I made some quick notes over on BH Unthreaded (Jan 25, 2016 at 5:33 AM)

    • January 25, 2016 6:50 am

      On that Paul H show : min 33:08 to 34:45

      PH “with El Nino in full flight I’d think 2016 will probably beat 2015 ..that matters not ..” ‘but ..what about the difference with satellite records ?’

      Betts answers by blathering on about surface then adds
      “Satellite data …There’s a lot of assumptions that go into that errrr And those assumptions lead to VERY LARGE UNCERTAINTIES in the satellite record.
      (bit garbled speech now) So it’s important not to hang your hat on particular one data set..Especially with the satellite data being MORE UNCERTAIN than the land ..and err well there’s land and ocean surface temperature.
      So if you are cherry picking ONE particular data set that is not a good thing really
      We are not always recognising the UNCERTAINTIES in our FAVOURITE data set if we are trying to make a particular point “

  10. January 25, 2016 7:58 am

    “arstechnica (whatever that is)”
    Yes alarmists have pointed me at it before just like they refer to SkS

    “Latin-derived for the “art of technology”) is a technology news and information website created by Ken Fisher and Jon Stokes in 1998. Then it was sold to the Wired mag Group

    “Ken is on leave from a Ph. D. program at Harvard University, where he has completed two Masters degrees relating to Western philosophy and religion in antiquity.” (a billionaire has the same name)
    He wrote a policy against what they call “climate trolls”, but criticised Scientific American, Popular Science for banning comments altogether.

    They get very excited about green gadgets like Tesla cars …I bet their ad revenue comes from such biz.

    One writer Timothy Lee there tho also works at the Cato Institute the libertarian thinktank (formerly called the Charles Koch Foundation )

    But the writer of today’s article Scott K. Johnson Twitter is a climate warrior.
    You know when NOAA refused to give emails congress had subpoenaed he chose the headline “Suspecting climate change conspiracy, Judicial Watch sues NOAA for scientists’ e-mails”
    A 97%er, he’s averaged about 3 stories/week since 2011 and occasionally ONE of them is not about climate. (He did have a 2008 article on ocean acidification)

  11. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 25, 2016 11:56 am

    Does San Diego airport operate at night? If it does not, and most of the area is in darkness, then the satellite images used to measure urban encroachment will be fooled into believing that it is a rural area. Gavin’s computer programmes will then operate as they are intended to and create warming where there was none before.

    • January 25, 2016 7:58 pm

      This is a big problem in places like Africa, but in this case it is a night time one, with a Brightness Index of 105 (max is 256)

  12. January 25, 2016 2:27 pm

    I question how many times one pieces of data needs to be adjusted. Once should be sufficient.

  13. JabbaTheCat permalink
    January 26, 2016 2:23 am

    This site is being smeared in the ratings at Web Of Trust essential browser protection service, so please go do your own rating and comment refuting the ecomentalists, then spread the word around…

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