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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Watching the weather for 84 years and the petty peeves of Anthony Watts

Sou | 11:57 AM Go to the first of 24 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has an article about Richard G. Hendrickson, who is being honoured by the NOAA for watching the weather for 84 years. That's a very long time. Richard Hendrickson is now 101 years of age. He's been reporting weather at Bridgehampton, New York for the USA COOP network since he was just a lad of 18.

Congratulations, Richard. That's a long time of continuous service.

Richard Hendrickson is aware of global warming

The reason I'm writing this, apart from congratulating Richard Hendrickson, is because WUWT readers might be interested in the fact that he is concerned about global warming. He (or the journalist) might confuse the stratosphere with the troposphere, but he did say in a 2008 interview with the local paper:
We have polluted the stratosphere and because of that we have had warmer weather in the summer and milder weather in the winter and the potential of having heavy precipitation in the summer time increases– if not more rains, maybe they will be a little heavier than they have been in the past – you’ll notice your basement floods a little easier, your roof might leak a bit.
We are in a period in the cycle of global warming. We have polluted our stratosphere with our big factories and it will happen.

Adjusting data for time of observation

Anthony is determined to spoil Richard's celebration by complaining about how the weather station is not ideally sited and blames NOAA. Then he complains about data being adjusted. His headline (archived here, latest update here) was:
I wonder how this dedicated weather observer feels about having his readings adjusted by NCDC?

Anthony leaves that question for readers to wonder. He doesn't say that whether or not the readings have in fact been adjusted.  Apparently it's sufficient to ask the question.

Anyway, I checked some of the records from NOAA. For the Bridgehampton weather station, the time of observation wasn't recorded until the late 1940s. Then up until May 2008, the observations were taken at 8:00 pm. From then till now they were taken at 8:00 am. So I think that Richard Hendrickson would be quite comfortable with the data being adjusted to allow for the change in time of observation, if nothing else.

Anthony Watts' petty peeve

One more thing. Anthony is most irate that the Director of NASA's GISS, Dr Gavin Schmidt, doesn't spend all his days and nights sitting at a computer terminal entering data for individual US weather stations in the NOAA's COOP network. I wonder does he know the scope of NASA's work? Does he know, for example, that NASA gets data from NOAA? If he is concerned about the GHCNV3 data, why does he complain about NASA and not about NOAA?
…NASA GISS run by Gavin Schmidt, can’t seem to find the time to get their data set current for Bridgehampton, as seen here, only going to 2012. You’d think Gavin could tear himself away from Twitter long enough to at least get the data updated, especially since this man is so dedicated to the task.

This is from the NASA web page:
Q. Does GISS deal directly with raw (observed) data?
A. No. GISS has neither the personnel nor the funding to visit weather stations or deal directly with data observations from weather stations. GISS relies on data collected by other organizations, specifically, NOAA/NCDC's Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) v3 adjusted monthly mean data as augmented by Antarctic data collated by UK Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and also NOAA/NCDC's Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature (ERSST) v3b data. 

Does Anthony Watts, weather station watcher extraordinaire, not know that little fact? Apparently not. Anthony Watts isn't just a spoilsport and wet blanket, he is an ignorant spoilsport and wet blanket. He doesn't hold a candle to Richard G. Hendrickson or Gavin Schmidt.

Update: From the WUWT comments

Anthony has pledged "More on all this in a later post." Will this be another broken promise? A couple of people pointed out to Anthony Watts that GISS uses NOAA data.

I also see that in addition to the change in time of observation, there has been a station move. Nick Stokes says, quoting Jim:
July 23, 2014 at 9:17 pm
jim says: July 23, 2014 at 9:08 pm “Absent any location or observer specific reasons for the GHCN adjustment of the recorded data from this observation site, the GHCN adjustments are just destruction of observation data.”
Why not try to find out, then?
The first thing you’ll find is that data is undestroyed. In fact, it is graphed in the page you refer to, which shows what is on the unadjusted file. And as the head post indicates, you can get the original docs on line.
But in fact if you look at the adjustment history, there is just one sustained change in the early 1980′s. And sure enough, the metadata tells you there was a station move around that time.

Added by Sou at around 3:30 pm AEST 24 July 14

Latest WUWT archive here, in which HW is quoted (paraphrased) :) 10:42 pm AEST 24 July 14


  1. Empirical Observed Data IS Evidence.

    So called adjusted data, is no more than speculation, colored by some persons biased view on what SHOULD have been measured, so as to fit ion to THEIR world view. Such "adjusted data" is NOT evidence, no matter which side of the debate that might support.


    1. Yes, Alex, you'll have noticed the evidence I provided that the time of observation changed.

      The raw data is just that. The next step is to interpret it.

      I can measure your height and mark it on a wall. Run the tape measure to the floor and decide you are 175 cm tall.

      Then I'll do it again.

      This time I'll get you to step off the box you're standing on and mark your height on the wall. I'll run the tape measure to the floor and decide you've shrunk. Now you are only 165 cm tall.

      Both are raw data. I used the same tape measure from the mark on the wall. The only thing different was I removed the box you were standing on.

      You can decide whether I should adjust the raw data to allow for the box or not.

      Now if you always stood on the box and your height as measured went up at 5 cm a year, then it would be around the same if you didn't stand on the box. But it couldn't be combined properly with your twin sister, who wasn't standing on a box, to get an average height of the two of you.

      Just like when I removed the box, when collating and analysing that raw data, allowance has to be made for station moves for example, and different times of observation and other things. That's allows estimation of regional and global trends in surface temperature.

      Oh, why would I bother trying to explain data and how it's used to someone who makes a comment like Alex's?

    2. Hi Alex,

      It turns out that for global-scale averages, the adjustments largely cancel each other out. So if you are looking for an excuse to deny global-warming, your silly complaints about data adjustments just won't cut it.

      Now you might ask, how do I know that the adjustments largely cancel each other out?

      Well, because I've crunched the raw and adjusted data myself.

      I was able to generate my own global temperature results, results that closely track the official NASA results, via a not-very-sophisticated algorithm that I could teach 1st-year programming students to code up.

      Here's a pic of my raw and adjusted results (using all GHCN stations) vs the official NASA results:

      My raw results: green
      My adjusted results: blue
      Official NASA results: red

      Note the small warm bias my raw results have prior to about 1940. That bias is largely due to mid-20th-century station moves from city centers to outlying areas like airports. And here's a plot generated from only stations currently *not* at airports that helps confirm that:

      Again, my raw=green, my adjusted=blue, official NASA=red.

      Note how the pre-1940 "warm bias" is greatly reduced. That's because I eliminated temperature stations currently located at airports from the processing -- that, of course, eliminates stations that were originally not at airports but were moved out to airports some time in their history.

      So you see, Alex, the adjustments weren't made to exaggerate warming. If scientists were trying to manipulate data to exaggerate warming, they went to an awful lot of trouble and effort with not much to show for it all.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Just so you know, paranoid conspiracy theories usually end up in the HotWhoppery, Alex.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. Is there any difference between "reconcile A with B" and "reconcile B with A"?

      I do not think so. There is no precedence in the two things being reconciled. Unless you are desperately searching for something to criticise starting from a conspiriatorial and slightly paranoic starting point.

  3. It never fails to surprise me what lengths deniers will go to, and how low they will stoop to prove a mythical point in their pathetic imaginations that they have as a world view. If some old fart said that the world was cooling because his pigs needed more blankets to stay inside his hut in comfort on those bleak cold nights it would prove that global warming was a myth!

    When another old fart says the opposite with real continuous temperature readings for more than eighty years these same morons including Alex will claim the evidence has been 'adjusted'.

    It is a waste of time arguing with these morons. Bert

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This is a response to Marcel, whose comment has also been moved to the HotWhoppery for reasons that should be obvious.

      Alex twisted a snippet from a web page to insinuate that Gavin Schmidt was doing something nefarious with data. He implied that evidence is adjusted for nefarious purposes. That's why his comments were shifted to the HotWhoppery. Marcel did the same, so his comment joined those of Alex.

      Alex's quote used the word "reconcile" and in no way does this suggest that data was fudged in the way Marcel and Alex insinuated. Paleoclimate data is reconciled with instrumental data. Gavin Schmidt works on climate models and has done research reconciling paleoclimate data with climate models. It's science.

      Neither Alex nor Marcel had the courtesy to provide a link to Gavin Schmidt's impressive CV.

    2. The above link was to Gavin Schmidt's research interests. He does a lot more besides. Here is a link to his profile page at NASA:

  5. Bert from ElthamJuly 24, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Stick to walking against the wind Marcel. It is as futile as it is ridiculous.


  6. 'Anyway, I checked some of the records from NOAA. For the Bridgehampton weather station, the time of observation wasn't recorded until the late 1940s. Then up until May 2008, the observations were taken at 8:00 pm. From then till now they were taken at 8:00 am.'

    'The year was 1930 and twice a day every day since then the Bridgehampton farmer has chronicled the nation's climate history at his coop station in Bridgehampton, Long Island.'

    So what times was he reporting again?

    1. So what times was he reporting again?

      lee, you already quoted what I found in regard to the time of day the observations were taken. The link to the records is in the main article.

      Why do you want me to repeat it? Isn't twice enough for you?

    2. But according to he was recording twice a day. Did they disregard one? Did they waste his time?

    3. Lee, the point is that the time of observation changed.

      Do pay attention.

      I've put a link in the main article which describes why time of observation is important and why it is necessary, when temperature records are aggregated to determine trends, the data needs to be adjusted to allow for that.

      Here is the link again:

      Victor Venema explains why time of observation is important.

    4. Yes time of observation is important. He was observing, chronicling twice per day. The records say he was observing, chronicling once per day. So if he was observing /chronicling twice per day what times was he already doing that? Was there any difference?

    5. All I can report is what the records show. That is, the record shows he was observing at an unknown time till the late 1940s, then up until May 2008, the observations were reported for a time of observation at 8:00 pm. From then till now the time of observation was reported for the morning - as at 8:00 am.

      Whether he actually took readings once or twice a day is immaterial. It's what is the time of observation that's important because if it was in the afternoon and then shifted to morning, that affects the min/max readings as described in Dr Venema's article.

      It's not so hard to understand is it?

    6. BTW - I'm sorry, lee, if I sound curt or harsh. Today HotWhopper comments have been infested with people who are wanting to defame scientists and science communicators and it's made me cross and a bit impatient. I'm not referring to you.

      And I shouldn't take it out on you either. So I apologise.

    7. "The year was 1930 and twice a day every day since then the Bridgehampton farmer has chronicled the nation's climate history at his coop station in Bridgehampton, Long Island."

      It does not say that he recorded **temperature** twice a day. I am not familiar with the historical protocol but here is a copy of his original recording form for October 1947 in his own handwriting. (Sou - They only maintain these links for 24 hrs.)

      Look for yourself - "Hour of Observation : If Once Daily" - sure enough he records 8pm. You also can see on the form that he was also recording precipitation at different times.

      Or this form from June 1942 where he was recording temp at 5pm

      All his original recording forms have been digitised and can be accessed here

      Did they waste his time? No but you wasted mine - you could have checked yourself but like all fake "skeptics", it is jump to the conspiracy theory first, then demand the data and then it is usually run away when it is pointed out that it exists.

    8. Thanks, Mike. I've made a permanent link to the pdf for the record.

    9. Sorry to hear that you've had a bit of a bad day of it today Sou. If it's any consolation, it's beginning to get quite hot and crowded with denialists here at the Hot Whoppery and the Hot Woppings are taking a toll on some.

    10. If the information on the time of observation is not right for that early period, that is a good illustration that such metadata (data about data) is never perfect. That is one of the reasons why you also need to compare a station to its neighbours and look for gradual or abrupt changes in the difference between these two stations (statistical homogenization). There you can find the non-climatic changes that were not listed in the metadata.

      For America, NOAA has shown that if you do not correct explicitly for the changes in the time of observation bias, the statistical homogenization will find these changes and the result is almost the same in the end (averaged over America.)

  7. Sociologist Bruno Latour explains this denier phenomenon quite well:

    "If meteorologists and later climate scientists have been able to obtain a “global” view, it is because they managed to build more and more powerful models able to recalibrate data points elicited from more and more stations or documents —satellites, tree rings, logbooks of navigators dead long ago, ice cores, and so on.
    Interestingly enough, this is exactly what leads the climate-deniers to their
    denials: they find this knowledge too indirect, too mediated, too far from
    immediate access (yes, those epistemological doubting Thomases apparently
    believe only in unmediated knowledge). They are incensed to see that no data point
    in itself has any sense, that those data all need to be recalculated and reformatted.
    Exactly as the negationists do about the crimes of the past, climate deniers use, for future crimes, a positivistic touchstone to poke holes into what is an extraordinary puzzle of crisscrossing interpretations of data. Not a house of cards, but a tapestry, probably one of the most beautiful, sturdy and complex ever assembled. Of course there are a lot of holes in it, having holes is what weaving knots and nodes is about. But this tapestry is amazingly resilient because of the way it is woven--allowing data to be recalibrated by models and vice versa. It appears that the history of the anthropocene (climate sciences are by definition a set of historical disciplines) is the best documented event we have ever had. Paul Edwards even argues at the end of his book that we will never know more about the present global warming trend since our action modifies the baseline so much, year after year, that we will no longer have any baseline to calculate the deviation from the mean… What a perversity: to witness the human race erasing its deeds by deviating so much that its further deviations can no longer be traced.
    The reason it is so important to stress this slow, tapestry-weaving process of
    calibration, modelling and reinterpretation is because it shows that even for the
    climate scientists there is no way to measure up directly with the Earth. Thanks to
    the slow calibrating processes of many standardizing institutions, what they do is
    to carefully watch a local model from the tiny locus of a laboratory. So there is one
    disconnect we don't have to share: we don't have on one side the scientists
    benefitting from a globally complete view of the globe and, on the other, the poor
    ordinary citizen with a “limited local” view. There are only local views. However,
    some of us look at connected scale models based on data that has been reformatted by more and more powerful programs run through more and more respected institutions."


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