Thursday, August 09, 2007


There is an air pollution control monitor at the intersection of Almond and East Adams Sts. in downtown Syracuse. This is one of the busiest intersections in the entire County and the sensor reflects that assessment as it measures CO (carbon monoxide) emissions produced by automobile engines. Of course all the State sponsored construction on Rt. 81 and hospital construction, parking garage construction over the years has affected traffic patterns and caused periods of long waits at this intersections traffic lights, thus affecting CO monitoring. But the State uses that data to determine measures needed to reduce atmospheric pollutants.

My point is this, there are other factors that can affect monitoring activities that may or not be taken into account by the agencies who report on the activities of these measuring devices.

Is there a bias in sampling the worst area in the County? No, I don't think so. You want to know how bad the pollution is in any given area so you'd expect that a sensor at the point of high concentration of CO makes sense. But what about other measurements?

As a young man, I used to ride my motorcycle pretty much non-stop from April through mid November (until the snow got bad). One of the environmental variables you are very sensitive to while riding a motorcycle is temperature. At night I would ride my 1968 BMW R60 from visiting friends out in the country to my apartment in the city. As soon as I got near the city line I could feel the air warm up significantly. Why was this?

The answer is simple. In any city there are many more structures and materials that act as heat banks, storing up the sun's energy during the day and releasing it at night. Concrete and asphalt are very good at this and the more roads and large buildings the city has, the more heat energy is stored and then released once the sun goes down.

Coyoteblog has a post on global warming that linked to this effort to inspect the sites where the feds measure temperatures across the country. Looking at some sites through the critical eyes of coyote blog, we can find problems in their positioning. The monitors are near buildings and air conditioning units that emit heat. Look at the following photos. The white finned canisters are United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) temperature monitoring devices.

This is a USHCN climate station in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. The sensor is situated near several large air conditioner heat exchangers. These heat exchangers were moved from the roof of a nearby building and placed on the ground.
Heat exchangers cool off the refrigerant in an a/c unit by blowing air through cooling ducts that circulate the refrigerant. These units give off a tremendous amount of heat. To get an idea of the heat transfer from the refrigerant to the atmosphere, just put your hand behind a 5,000 BTU window A/C unit. The units in the picture are many times more powerful.

The proximity of the A/C units must affect the nearby temperature sensor. Of course the sensor showed a giant spike once the a/c units started blowing hot air toward it as displayed in the graph. Poof! Instant global warming!
Next, Coyoteblog covers this USHCN monitor located in Tucson, AZ. Notice how the sensor is situated right next to a building and on top of an asphalt parking lot.

In Tucson the temperature can reach over 110F in the summer. This building and the asphalt will radiate heat all night long even as the area's overall temperature cools.
But even better, look what is situated directly across from the sensor on the other side of the parking lot.
These are very large heat exchangers blowing their discharge at the sensor from only about 25-30 feet away.

The USHCN might as well have stuffed the damn thing in a pizza oven.

The National Weather Service has field operations manuals that provide instruction on site preparation and reporting. Here is an excerpt.

Metadata is an essential part of climate information. This ‘data about data’ covers simple things like units of temperature to more complicated descriptions of site characteristics. Objective measures of any conditions that can bias instrument measurements must be consistently and readily made and reported.

Nope, no bias here, just move along now, nohing to see.

But there is more. The NASA/GISS database of national temperature readings has been revised. The claims by Al Gore that this decade produced historic temperature increases is now official kaka. The ten hottest years in the US have been changed to 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939.

Three of the top 10 are in the last decade. Four of the top ten are in the 1930's, before either the IPCC or the GISS really think man had any discernible impact on temperatures. Here is the chart for all the years in the data base:

Pay close attention to the period between 1920 and 1940. Why isn't Gore and the rest of his hysterical acolytes screaming about these years?

There are still almost 1,000 USHCN temperature monitoring sites that need to be inspected by people who do not worship at the altar of global warming. has a list of all the USHCN monitoring stations across the country (here). Perhaps some readers who know how to interpret the coordinates can give it a play and document some nearby site characteristics for evidence of bias. I read the chart and couldn't make much sense of it. I learned to use coordinates from GIS pin mapping s/w which uses an eight digit coordinate system. Sorry, no addresses, but Map Quest has a lat/long function that will help you locate where the sensor is. Good luck.

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