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How not to measure temperature
June 19, 2007 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Measuring global temperature is all about location, location.
posted by tadellin (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
*huff puff wheeze*

Is this the thread where non-climate scientists think they know more than professionals? I got here as soon as I could.
posted by DU at 8:31 AM on June 19, 2007 [8 favorites]


"surfacestations.org is currently offline due to excessive traffic, it will return once server is relocated to a new higher bandwidth location on Wednesday

please bookmark and try again in 24 hours

In the meantime some pictures are available on my blog here http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/weather_stations/"


Both links from the same guy. Neat.
posted by rtha at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2007


Excessive traffic? I bet the server overheated.
posted by trondant at 8:35 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Haha, that first link is pretty amusing. A temperature sensor next to an a/c unit and huge span of blacktop. Yeah that won't get hot.
posted by ninjew at 8:36 AM on June 19, 2007


Second link is kind of borked already.
First one is interesting in of itself in a "this is what people do when they don't think about what they do", kind of a repetitive blog post, you could just as easily have an entry, "this is HOW to measure temperature". Not entirely sure if the use of "global" in the post description is suppose to broaden these isolated incidents into more than what they represent.
posted by edgeways at 8:38 AM on June 19, 2007


Hey, I just thought it was interesting. Feel free to snark away at it though. I have been known to do the same in other posts, and I can take it as well as I can dish it out. :)
posted by tadellin at 8:41 AM on June 19, 2007


Too bad this isn't just an enthusiast (or even a professional telling you how to set up your temperature sensors.

Let's get some perspective here. The blogger is an ex-TV weatherman now running for public office. He's gone to look at 10 of over 1000 temperature stations, and done nothing but complain. He's not offered up advice as to where to put the devices, nor has he done any scientific work to determin if, in fact, the complaints he is lodging actually do make a difference in temperature reads.

He also appears to have an agenda of disproving global warming - and his random rhetoric without any scientific basis, this time about whether stations, goes hand-in-hand with those still in denial.

What better way to cast tin-foil-hat-wearing doubt on global climate change than to start a blog questioning the temperature sensors? Forget logic, forget undeniable trends in the increase in temperature from professional and amature climate watchers from around the globe.

Here comes a weatherman to set us all on the right path!
posted by Muddler at 8:44 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


How not to measure the validity of science: by someone's blog photos.
posted by Tehanu at 8:45 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And in conclusion, this blog post proves that global warming is not real. The end.
posted by jefbla at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And in conclusion, this blog post proves that global warming is not real. The end.

Kind of redundant at this point, anyway. Didn't you hear about that blizzard they had in Denver last winter?
posted by crackingdes at 8:54 AM on June 19, 2007


Oh @$!##@!

I first heard this argument in 2001 or so. It's been roundly debunked. Meta studies have been done to control for thermometer placement, and even gone so far as to just run the numbers using stations in remote locations.
posted by phrontist at 8:58 AM on June 19, 2007


With the rate that we are developing the surface of the earth, those sensors won't have to be moved. I guess when there isn't one neutral bare patch remaining you could put the sensors on the moon so global warming doesn't skew the data.
posted by lazymonster at 9:01 AM on June 19, 2007


How to talk to a climate skeptic. I believe this one addresses the blogger's argument.

Did you know that climate scientists measure carbon dioxide on an island that is a volcano??! But that's because it allows them to sample the troposphere. No AC and blacktop up there.

Personally, I'm waiting for the blog that shows videos of climate scientists secretly heating their thermometers on lamps before their moms come home to check on how warm the planet is really getting.
posted by Tehanu at 9:17 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are we to believe that people putting thermometers in stupid places is a recent trend? Or is it possible that a certain percentage have always been in dumb places, thus demonstrating no upward trend?
posted by waldo at 9:35 AM on June 19, 2007


Isn't it all about trends anyway?

If you put the thermometer at the local airport, it may show a 5 degree difference from the shady park two miles away, but the thermometer at the aiport is still going to give you interesting information: in Year 1, the average temp was X degrees; in year 2, the average temp was X+n degrees; and so on. Historical trend data is useful and important - it would be more disturbing if they moved all the thermometers every year.
posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are we to believe that people putting thermometers in stupid places is a recent trend? Or is it possible that a certain percentage have always been in dumb places, thus demonstrating no upward trend?
There is surely a trend towards increasing the percentage of the planet that is covered with blacktop and concrete, and the number of air-conditioning units and engines and power converters venting heat, so there will be fewer places where weather-stations can be placed that are away from such stuff. If weather-stations were randomly planted there would indeed be a trend of them being in stupid places with increasing frequency. However, they are not randomly placed and I would guess that there has always been a tendency to put them on a bit of grass between a building and a parking lot. It becomes impossible to guess whether there would be a trend that influences the results of climate change studies.
So perhaps this blogger is correct that weather-station placement - now and throughout the 20th century - needs analysis.
posted by nowonmai at 9:52 AM on June 19, 2007


The reason that so many weather stations are at airports is because weather information at airports is extremely important for flight operations. These weather stations are a joint project of the FAA and the NWS. Surface weather stations are only a small part of weather data collection systems- so yes, measuring global temperature is dependent on location- which is why there are also data collection systems on the oceans and weather satellites orbiting the planet. But anyone with any sense already figured that out, right?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:45 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with a lot of what has been said above. Here is a link to a pdf that discusses data acquisition and analysis not only for the GISTEMP dataset but also for several other global datasets.

I also want to say that global datasets of surface temperature and which come from several different sources (in situ, meteo stations, balloons, satellites, my grandma's backyard thermometer) are weighted according to the quality of the measurement and the relative bias to other data at the same point. Eventually they are averaged over a 200km (approximately) wide grid and monthly. Such averaging reduces significantly the errors from sources like those described in the blogs.

In the end, as rtha says, it is the trend that counts, where the systematic errors such as misplacement of a thermometer cancel out. In the global temperature from meteo station data figure (3rd figure down, click to enlarge) you can see how small the uncertainties (blue vertical lines) are compared to the overall temperature trend. Biases between different observational datasets are of same small magnitude.
posted by carmina at 11:13 AM on June 19, 2007


Wonder how those farmers are measuring the drought?

Does it really matter what the data says or how it’s collected or what not if your crops are turning to dust?
Sure it might be cyclical or it might be global warming or it might be voodoo, but that doesn’t put bread on your table or anyone else’s.
Kinda funny that some people are asshats who put temperature gauges in the wrong places.
But that doesn’t change the fact that 1/3 of the U.S. is hot and thirsty and plants are withering in the fields and anyone who has their family fortune tied to that land is going under.
But y’know, let ‘em know it’s definitely not global warming, and all kinds of people are measuring temperature all wrong. I’m sure it’ll be a big relief.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:10 PM on June 19, 2007


/still amazed people crap and piss into potable water
posted by Smedleyman at 1:12 PM on June 19, 2007


... when it makes perfect sense to have your bathroom sink drain into your toilet tank.

/derail
posted by oneirodynia at 3:05 PM on June 19, 2007


If you value your blood pressure, don't read the comments on the blog (first link). I don't value my blood pressure, so I was able to discover that my favorite comment was this:
Eric,

Fundamentalists do not like to accept evidence that the earth is older than the Bible would seem to indicate, either.

As their faith is supposedly scientifically-based, Global Warmists should be prepared to accept that non-conformists are going evaluate their claims and the means used to arrive at these claims, as well as the extrapolations drawn from these claims.

I find it interesting that "Doubters" have taken on the role of Galileo, whilst Al Gore & Heidi Cullen play the Vatican hierarchy.

Frank
Hey look everybody! I'm in agreement with the Vatican!

Good times, I tell ya. Good times.

hey Frank - you don't need to put a hyphen between "scientifically" and "based". /peeve
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on June 19, 2007


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