A new paper comparing NCDC rural and urban US surface temperature data

A new paper comparing NCDC rural and urban US surface temperature data“. Anthony Watts reports that the denialist “think tank” Science and Public Policy has “published a paper” by retired NASA “advanced materials” physicist and self-described extremely conservative blogger Dr. Edward Long. “Published” in the sense of printed, just like Anthony’s own discredited Science and Public Policy pamphletSurface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception?” (tellingly admired by Dr. Long). Actually, this feels like a do-over of Anthony’s idea with a Ph.D. stuck on top and the really dumb bits left out.

Contiguous U.S. Temperature Trends Using NCDC Raw and Adjusted Data for One-Per-State Rural and Urban Station Sets concludes that the NCDC (National Climatic Data Center) has “taken liberty to alter the actual rural measured values.” Why? Because two 48 station subsets (“rural” and “urban”) have the same trend after the NCDC’s adjustments have been made. Which means that some nefarious trick has forced them to match. Dr. Long selected his stations “on the assumption that within a certain latitude band stations along an East-West line experience the same climate and that within a grid unit the set of stations are somehow related“. That’s a rather off-hand justification for what I suspect is a pretty careful cherry-picking operation. There have been objective re-examinations of the US surface temperature data (Menne et al, 2010), but no significant errors have been uncovered.

Dr. Long also tries to wave away the temperature trend by suggesting that it reflects population growth around the weather stations. Somehow population growth intensifies the UHI effect. I’m not a climate scientist but I would expect the same UHI effect to occur more widely with population growth, not show up as ever “hotter” readings. After all, UHI is effectively a landscape factor, something Anthony himself has been fixated on for sometime on his surfacestations.org project. Should someone whisper maybe it’s global warming?

One thought on “A new paper comparing NCDC rural and urban US surface temperature data

  1. Pingback: Contribution of USHNC and GISS bias in long-term temperature records for a well-sited rural weather station « Wott's Up With That?

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