WUWT breaks NOAA record

Anthony Watts has done it again and given the big boys a bloody nose – this time over the US temperature record.

NOAA announced today:

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.

Anthony had always wondered why NOAA didn’t provide data from the brand-spanking-new United States Climate Reference Network (USCRN). So he did it himself.

The difference is startling.

Using the old network, NOAA says the USA Average Temperature for July 2012 is: 77.6°F

Using the new NOAA USCRN data, the USA Average Temperature for July 2012 is: 75.5°F

The modern USCRN is 2.1°F cooler than the old problematic network.

It was no high record at all. To finish, Anthony delivers a funny, blistering rebuke.

NOAA never mentions this new pristine USCRN network in any press releases on climate records or trends, nor do they calculate and display a CONUS value for it. Now we know why. The new “pristine” data it produces is just way too cool for them.

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9 Thoughts on “WUWT breaks NOAA record

  1. Stanley on 10/08/2012 at 12:45 am said:

    Well, that puts paid to any argument that the old traditional USHCN provided accurate measures of average temps within the continental USA.

    NOAA runs two networks:

    The old US Historical Climate Network consists of weather stations with so many flaws and faults that it has been sharply criticised in a 2011 report by the US Government Accountability Office. It needs to be adjusted and gridded by in-house analysts.

    The new US Climate Reference Network consists of 114 evenly-spaced rural climate stations recently built to the highest standards to deliver accurate readings of climate changes. It requires no adjustments or gridding.

    The NOAA knows precisely how inaccurate its adjusted records are. They are over-warm by 1.2°C. No other country knows precisely how inaccurate its adjusted temperature records are, but they all use similar methods.

    Translating the US results to New Zealand the current average temperature would be 11.4°C rather than NIWA’s best guess of 12.6°C. That would indicate a substantial cooling since 12.1°C was recorded (without adjustments) for the 1880-1920 period.

  2. PeterM on 10/08/2012 at 7:44 am said:

    Does NZ have a high quality reference station as described in Anthony’s article?

    • There’s no network, but we might have the odd high-quality weather station.

    • Andy on 10/08/2012 at 8:33 am said:

      There’s actually a weather station at my son’s school, Mackenzie College
      I need to find out about it – it is well sited and a long way from coastal influences

  3. Simon on 10/08/2012 at 2:01 pm said:

    The two sets of weather stations are in different places.Therefore the averages are different. I see that somebody in the comments section calculated the average altitude of the two sets and the historical network set was on average 178m higher. The NOAA report the historic set average so that it is directly comparable with previous years. I’m sure Watts is well aware of this and is just being deliberately disingenuous.

    • Nice point, Simon. Wikipedia gives the ICAO environmental lapse rate (ELR), or rate of temperature decrease with altitude in the stationary atmosphere at a given time and location, as 6.49 K(°C)/1,000 m up to 11 km (36,000 ft). The presence of wind or water vapour will alter that. So a typical reduction in temperature over the commenter’s 178 m altitude increase would be 6.49 × 0.178 = 1.16 °C, or 2.09 °F. So that (admittedly theoretical) figure precisely matches Anthony’s 2.1 °F.

      But the question of NOAA’s motivation needs answering: why install an expensive network specifically to measure climatic changes only to ignore it when giving climate information? You suppose they want compatibility with the earlier series, but that begs the question, doesn’t it?

    • Simon on 10/08/2012 at 4:12 pm said:

      I posted the above on wattsupwiththat and the moderator deleted the last sentence and told me that I will be banned if I do that again.

    • Well, there’s no mention of your being banned, actually, Simon, unless it was in a private email. But you ignore diplomacy at your own risk! Even though the point of fact seems a good one, your assumption that Anthony knew it when he wrote the article is a hostile allegation. Anyway, moderators are often less forgiving than their principal. Anthony might not care.

      I should clarify, too, that when I applauded your point, I excepted your allegation of deliberate disingenuousness. Keeping the conversation polite is worth the effort. We try to do that here, as you’ve seen.

      You assert: “The two sets of weather stations are in different places.Therefore the averages are different.”

      Strictly speaking, that’s an unsupported guess. I’d agree that they could be different. If we get confirmation of that altitude difference, still, the temperature difference, as I said, is only theoretical.

      That’s a great project for you, Simon: get the altitude records of the two networks and work it out! 🙂

      What about the question of why NOAA installed the new network yet doesn’t use the data?


      UPDATE: I’ve had a closer look at WUWT and seen the discussion of Nick Stokes’s altitude calculation. There’s a lot more to the matter than mentioned here. I tend to agree with Anthony when he asks for NOAA’s calculations. Just as we asked for NIWA’s, it’s a reasonable request.

    • Stanley on 12/08/2012 at 12:25 pm said:

      NOAA reckoned the average temps of these 114 stations to be an adequate proxy for the average temps of the continental USA as a whole.

      They also regard the average temps measured by the old network (1000+stations) to be an adequate proxy for the same area. The unders and overs balance out.

      So, if A=C and B=C, then A=B. But the problem here is that the B team measures 1.2°C too high. The B team includes UHI and other interference whilst the A team does not. The inferences are very clear.

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