Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pielke and Surface Stations: What Is The Connection?

Anthony Watts is a retired meteorologist and climate change skeptic who maintains a blog here. He is also the man behind the Surface Stations project, an attempt to provide physical site survey data for the entire United States Historical Climatological Network (USHCN). Or, to put it less sympathetically, a cheap stunt to stir up muck and provide ammo to the forces of the Climate Change Denial movement.

In any case, last week Dick Little from the Paradise Post wrote as follows re the Surface Stations project:

[Watts is] challenging allegations from NOAA that temperatures are rising. He reports a number of weather stations he checked had thermometers in places that would record higher temperatures than the actual ground temperature. He has a Web site with pictures to back up his research.

Working with Penn State climatologist Dr. Michael Mann, Watts found most of the problems were in urban areas where temperatures are allegedly on the rise. He said rural temperatures appear to be about the same as in past years.

The first thing to note here is that, while Watts cast the goals of his project in neutral terms on his website, every right-wing columnist that comes within 100 feet of him (Hannity and Limbaugh, for example) winds up reporting that Watts is "challenging" the science behind global warming, and pretty darned effectively too.

The second thing to note is the claim in the second paragraph that Watts is collaborating with Michael Mann. I alerted Mr. Watts to this clearly erroneous statement about a week ago, and today Dick Little issued a correction:

One thing more: In my article last week on climate change I wrongfully attributed Anthony Watts working with Professor Michael Mann of Ohio University. He is working with Prof. Roger Pielke of Colorado State.

I e-mailed an apology to Professor Mann who graciously accepted it.

However, the correction itself raises a couple of issues, because although Roger Pielke Sr. has expressed his support for the Surface Stations project, he is a legitimate scientist, a respected climatologist who is probably uninterested in seeing his reputation suffer by being observed in close proximity to what seems to be fast becoming a Climate Denialist tar-baby.

So lets examine the claim Mr. Watts has put forward "working" with Dr. Pielke: temperatures are only rising at problematic "urban" stations, while "rural temperatures appear to be about the same as in past years. "

I wonder if Dr. Pielke would like to through his weight behind these claims, especially in light of the criticism raised against them here and here.

PS. It occurs to me that columnist Dick Little's name will appear in the Paradise, CA phonebook as "Little, Richard" or, even worse, "Little, Dick". But I guess we all have our cross to bear.


Ti-Guy said...

Retired scientist=Full dotage.

bigcitylib said...

Anon 12:18,

Funny, I thought I'd checked that.

Anonymous said...



bigcitylib said...

A tar-baby "something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself.”

Ti-Guy said...

It's more like a problem from which the effort of extrication gets one further entangled in it.

Anony-tards think it's "racist" because they're ignorant.

Unknown said...

Well, if you are qualified enough to impugn the work of surfacestations.org, perhaps you can link to a credible study of the micro-site effects on USHCN stations that you do accept.

After all, surely the scientists who are part of the "consensus" on global warming are competent enough to have thought of this, studied the issue, and satisfied themselves that air temperature data gathered from weather stations located on asphalt in urban heat traps is completely reliable.

I look forward to your link.

BTW, I notice that Pielke's group blog contains a post on the matter. I haven't read the blog in its entirety, but, given your desire for objectivity in this matter, I thought I would draw this to your attention. Perhaps Pielke is more supportive of this effort than you suspect. Why else would he publish info on it?

bigcitylib said...


There is this one by Peterson which deals with the effects of Station placement


bigcitylib said...

And, Watcher, I think Pielke PROBLEM is that he is supportive of this project. I am interested in how far he accepts Watts working hypothesis re urban vs. rural stations, given that they have "worked" together.

Ti-Guy said...

he pulled a parallel stunt over at Climate Audit and got spanked, spanked hard.

Is it all the right-tards who envision "spanking" all the time, or is it just a minority of them?

Anyway, it's creepy. I think a boot up the ass would cure them of any dreamy thoughts they have about spanking, no?

Anonymous said...

Here is what Peterson says in his article bigcitylib:

Page 8

==". . . even stations that
do not, upon visual inspection, appear to be spatially representative can, with proper homogeneity adjustments, produce> time series that are indeed representative of the climate variability and change
in the region."==

He is stating that visual inspection of a site is necessary before homogeneity adjustments can be applied.

This not being done is the issue.

Ti-Guy said...

So? Do it yourself, 'nonny.

Combat bad science with more science, eh?

Anonymous said...

ti-guy said: "Do it yourself, 'nonny."

Why would I do that? Already paid the climate professionals to do the job. Now we'll make sure they did it right.

Ti-Guy said...

"Now we'll make sure..."

Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...


Your ignorance and lack of comprehension are mind-boggling. You don't even understand the main issue at surfacestations.org. It is primarily concerned with measuring site quality issues, not urban/rural issues. The site quality problems can just as easily appear (as Watts has already demonstrated) at rural stations as at urban stations.

If a temperature measurement device is located next to an air conditioner's exhaust, an asphalt parking lot, and/or a brick wall -- as many of these are -- that can corrupt the measurement of a rural station just as easily as an urban station. In any case, these are in gross violation of the express standards of the network, which were written for a reason.

Why are you so threatened by a project seeking to audit and document the quality of these measurements? Why is this a "right-wing tarbaby"? If it is a right-wing cause to insist on accurate measurements, the cornerstone of any science, then same on the left wing!

Why do you think that Pielke, who has been writing about these types of issues for years, would have any interest in dissociating himself from the project? He is a respected scientist precisely because he believes in the scientific method, including accurate measurements.

If you had bothered to inform yourself about the issues you post on, you would have noticed that Watts' project was fundamentally inspired by Pielke's survey of some problematic Colorado sites.

Did you happen to notice Pielke's quote shown on surfacestations' main page:

"This is a very important need for the climate science community, and you are encouraged to obtain this photographic documentation if you can, and also share with the new website under development by Anthony Watts"
- Roger Pielke Sr., University of Colorado, June 1st, 2007

(Of course, Michael Mann of hockey stick infamy would not want himself associated with any project concerning accurate measurements...)

And the criticisms of Rabett/Halpern et al that you cite approvingly are simply hilarious -- "We can adjust for these effects without even knowing what they are." They have been challenged for years to disclose their adjustment rules, and have steadfastly refused to do so. The adjustments look completely ad hoc, with no a priori standards. If big Pharma companies were doing this in their clinical drug trials, you on the left would be screaming bloody murder!

bigcitylib said...


But the kinds of microsite "problems" at issue are far more likely to manifest themselves in an urban setting, simply because there is more tarmac and fewer open fields in an urban setting (among other things). And in any case I am just repeating what Watts has already said (the problems appear at Urban stations).

A prediction: Pielke WILL disassociate himself from the Surface Stations Project. The only question is whether he does it before he damages his own reputation.

Anonymous said...

Ed: You said "are in gross violation of the express standards of the network, which were written for a reason."

This is not correct. The standards call for no new sites to be created with the problems that you refer to, but the existing sites can be left as is.

John Cross