Sunday, June 16, 2024

Hidden Behind Climate Policies, Data From Nonexistent Temperature Stations – Watts Up With That?

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Hundreds of ‘ghost’ climate stations are no longer operational; instead they are assigned temperatures from surrounding stations.

This article in the Epoch Times is behind half a pay wall depending on whether or not you’ve used up your free subscription. It is a summation of issues we’ve talked about on this site for years.

“Earth’s issuing a distress call,” said United Nations secretary-general António Guterres on March 19. “The latest State of the Global Climate report shows a planet on the brink.

“Fossil fuel pollution is sending climate chaos off the charts. Sirens are blaring across all major indicators: Last year saw record heat, record sea levels, and record ocean surface temperatures. … Some records aren’t just chart-topping, they’re chart-busting.”

President Joe Biden called the climate “an existential threat” in his 2023 State of the Union address. “Let’s face reality. The climate crisis doesn’t care if you’re in a red or a blue state.”

In his 2024 address he said, “I don’t think any of you think there’s no longer a climate crisis. At least, I hope you don’t.”

When recalling past temperatures to make comparisons to the present, and, more importantly, inform future climate policy, officials such as Mr. Guterres and President Biden rely in part on temperature readings from the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN).


The problem, say experts, is that an increasing number of USHCN’s stations don’t exist anymore.

Shewchuk goes on to describe the problem.

“NOAA fabricates temperature data for more than 30 percent of the 1,218 USHCN reporting stations that no longer exist.”

He calls them “ghost” stations.

Mr. Shewchuck said USHCN stations reached a maximum of 1,218 stations in 1957, but after 1990 the number of active stations began declining due to aging equipment and personnel retirements.

NOAA still records data from these ghost stations by taking the temperature readings from surrounding stations, and recording their average for the ghost station, followed by an “E,” for estimate.

The addition of the ghost station data means NOAA’s “monthly and yearly reports are not representative of reality,” said Anthony Watts, a meteorologist and senior fellow for environment and climate at the Heartland Institute.

“If this kind of process were used in a court of law, then the evidence would be thrown out as being polluted.”

Mr. Shewchuk said the USHCN data is the only long-term historical temperature data the United States has.

“In these days of apparent ‘climate crisis,’ you would think that maintaining actual temperature reporting stations would be a top priority—but they instead manufacture data for hundreds of non-existent stations. This is a bizarre way of monitoring a climate claimed to be an existential threat,” he said.

Emphasis mine in the following quotes from the article.

“For various reasons, NOAA feels the need to alter this data instead of fixing equipment problems they think exist,” Mr. Shewchuk said.

“Fixing temperature reporting stations is not rocket science. If we can go up to space to fix the Hubble telescope, we can surely come down to earth to fix a few thermometers.”

NOAA’s use of ghost temperature stations isn’t a recent phenomenon. In 2014, Mr. Watts raised the issue of ghost stations and bad data with NOAA’s chief scientist at the National Climatic Data Center, Tom Peterson, and Texas’ state climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon, who confirmed there was an issue.

“Anthony – I just did a check of all Texas USHCN stations. Thirteen had estimates in place of apparently good data,” Mr. Nielsen-Gammon wrote in an email to Mr. Watts, according to a report on the latter’s website.

“It’s a bug, a big one. And as Zeke [Hausfather] did a cursory analysis Thursday night, he discovered it was systemic to the entire record, and up to 10 percent of stations have ‘estimated’ data spanning over a century.”

At the time, Mr. Watts reported on his climate website, “Watts Up With That,” that NOAA was taking the issue seriously and expected them to issue a fix shortly.

That fix never materialized. “They’re still doing it, and it’s even worse” he said.

Anthony is quoted further in the article.

NOAA’s Cooperative Observer Program, which includes the USHCN stations, is a network of daily weather observations taken by more than 8,500 volunteers, its webpage states.

Mr. Watts said the process for volunteers is “labor intensive.”

(L–R) Philippe Papin, hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, and Richard Pasch, senior hurricane specialist, work on tracking unsettled weather over the eastern Gulf of Mexico in Miami on May 31, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“It requires people to record high and low temperature, rainfall, the temperature at the time of observation, and do it at a very specific time, every day. And this has to then be recorded and sent to the National Climatic Data Center in Nashville, now known as the National Center for Environmental Information,” he said.

“Some of it’s still done on paper, some of it’s still done with touchtone over the telephone. It requires a lot of dedication and effort on the part of the observer. It’s a thankless job. And as a result, observers have been disappearing. A lot of them have left due to attrition by death. And then there’s no one to take on that job.”

Mr. Watts explained that when that happens, instead of subtracting the unmanned station from the overall number of USHCN stations, NOAA creates a number from surrounding stations.

“As a result, we end up with this milkshake of data that is basically a hot mess, and isn’t real in most cases,” Mr. Watts said.

And further down.

The Bigger Issue

According to Mr. Watts, ghost stations are problematic but are only part of a much bigger problem.

He explained that several different entities—such as the European Commission’s Copernicus, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), Berkeley’s Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST), and NOAA—publish monthly and yearly climate data and advertise themselves as having “independent data.”

“That is a lie,” Mr. Watts said about the independent data claim.

“The USHCN data set and the [new] nClimDiv climate division data set [which uses the same stations and has the same problems] comes from the Cooperative Observer [Program] in the United States.

“Similarly, in the rest of the world, there is a Cooperative Observer [Program] that suffers from the same problems of attrition and incompetence. And it’s called the GHCN; the Global Historical Climatology Network.

“All these different entities out there, like NOAA, GISS, BEST, all the entities I listed, use the same data from GHCN. And they all apply their own set of ’special sauce’ adjustments to create what they believe is true.

“It’s almost like each of these entities is creating their version of the real, true God. You know, it’s like a religion. They’re using different mathematical and statistical techniques to produce their version of climate reality.

“And it all goes back to the same original, badly-sited, badly-maintained ghost station dataset around the world. USHCN and GHCN are the same stuff. So, there is no independent temperature dataset. It’s bogus that anyone claims this.”


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