Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anthony Watts visits Greenland and finds Airport UHI disease!

Sou | 2:42 AM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment

Update: There is another sequel :)

Update: See the follow up to this - it's almost as funny :)

I found this funny.  You know how Anthony Watts hates to read reports of heat records.  It's more than a pet peeve, it's an obsession.  About the only time Anthony writes a blog article himself, if it's not about a tweet from Michael Mann you can bet it's about a weather station.

Today he excelled himself (archived here).  He says he's been working on this for an entire week.  It's probably almost two weeks, because that's when the record temperature at Maniitsoq in Greenland was first reported by the Danish Meteorological Institute.

Anthony's article is inordinately long compared to the subject matter.  The long and the short of it is that Anthony decided the reported temperature has to be wrong because the weather station is at an airport.  Not that it's recently been moved to the airport.  It's been there all along.  For some reason Anthony thinks that on July 30th it suddenly caught "Airport UHI" Disease.  Why it hasn't ever been afflicted with "Airport UHI" Disease in the past is anyone's guess.  It hasn't ever reported a temperature as high as this before, but just the same Anthony diagnoses a sudden outbreak of "Airport UHI" Disease.

Anthony's hunch

This is what Anthony wrote:
Any time I read about new record temperatures in the Arctic or Antarctic, I tend to think of this simple truth: In near polar settlements, temperature is measured close to that small human island of warmth , and since most such towns are completely dependent on aviation, the measurement is often done at the airport, since weather there is a go/no go factor of primary importance.
It turns out I was correct. What was surprising was just how correct my hunch turned out to be.
He even showed a picture from Google Earth to prove just how appalling is the site of the weather station.  I took my own grab.  Here it is:

Well, it's okay as far as being a distance from buildings goes but look at all that dark asphalt.  No wonder that the weather station eventually succumbed to "Airport UHI" Disease.   But Anthony isn't happy.  I've noted some of the several points he makes, in particular:

  1. The weather station is surrounded by the airport runway and tarmac, which is unnatural ground cover. Note how dark it is in the tourist video.
  2. The dark albedo there is enough to melt snow in the winter, in fact they count on it to help keep the airport open. Just like I showed in Svalbard, they have to keep the runway open even after snowfall, and it becomes an albedo anomaly surrounded by snow.
  3. The local siting effects likely added to the temperature record on July 30th because the easterly wind would also have picked up some of the heat from the terminal building and tarmac and transported it to the weather station.

Yep, at 25.9 degrees outside.  The "Airport UHI" demon is irrepressible.  It took a huge deep breath and blew all the hot air from the building twenty meters or more, right into the Stevenson screen and bulls eye - it hit the thermometer.  

Why it happened that day when it's never happened before in the history of the airport one can only guess.  Maybe if we ask Anthony nicely he will let us in on the secret.

My hunch

I had my own hunch as soon as I read Anthony's article.  I figured that Greenland is a mite rocky.  I had a hunch that the "natural groundcover" in the surrounding area would have even "darker albedo".  It turns out my hunch was correct as well.  But just for the sake of it and to help Anthony out, let's rally around Anthony and select a better site for the weather station.  One that is out of town in a nice meadow where the grass is kept mown and there's no chance of catching "Airport UHI".

I've put some suggestions below as an animated GIF.  Take your pick - Site A, Site B and Site C are all up for grabs.

Or maybe you can find a better spot in the broader scheme of things:

From what I can see, the asphalt at the airport is about the lightest coloured ground in the whole region!

PS Anthony says that DMI retracted the recorded record.  Here is the amended  press release, which probably won't give Anthony much comfort:
Tuesday saw the highest temperature measured by an official Greenlandic airport weather station - records dating back to 1958.
On 30 July 2013 at 16 o'clock in the afternoon measured the official Greenland airport station Maniitsoq / Sugar Loaf 25.9 ° C. Maniitsoq is located a few hundred kilometers north of Nuuk, Greenland's southwest coast....
...The same effect could occur at Sisimiut north of Maniitsoq, which measured 21.4 ° C at the same time, while the effect does not apply, for example. Kangerlussuaq 70 km inland. Here was measured 'only' 20.4 ° C, are normally measured high temperatures in a foehn situation when the air mass from the southern directions passed over the ice cap at Sugar Loaf. This phenomenon is also called a isarms-foehn. 
...The unusual temperature and the weather conditions that created it can not be regarded as 'unnatural', but on the other hand, there is an indisputable gradual increase in temperature in Greenland. Along the way, any 'warm event' thus have a higher probability of being slightly warmer than the previous one. 
 © DMI, 31 July 2013, the text adjusted 2 August.

You've got to wonder how the demon was all over Greenland that day.  As you can see from the press release, Maniitsoq wasn't the only place there that got a bit warmer than usual.

From the fake sceptics at WUWT

Everyone just takes Anthony at his word.  Who would dare question the surface station king of UHI?

hunter says (comments archived here):
August 10, 2013 at 9:13 am  Yet another AGW evidence of doom that fails to hold up under reasonable scrutiny. The list is long and seems to consist of every bit of evidence offered by the AGW promotion industry.

Andy F. doesn't notice that DMI already amended their news report (see above) and says:
August 10, 2013 at 7:54 am  You can’t find the rescinding announcement, because it isn’t there. What DMI usually do, is make a report, with an alarming headline. At the end of the report they write that it may not be so, and then nothing more. No new report, or news. on the topic. The only thing you find in their archive is the original report. If you need to know the truth, you need to dig through the data yourself. Most people don’t. That’s how DMI keeps the global warming myth alive.

LearDog is suitably impressed and says:
August 10, 2013 at 7:40 am  It is amazing and instructive to see how you marshall all of these data into an irrefutable post. You are an impressive dude, dude. :-D

RACookPE1978 seems to think the weather station is contaminated by sunshine!
August 10, 2013 at 10:54 am  Best I can tell (by interpolation) is that the airport is at 65 north latitude. The runway is going from the southeast to the northwest, right next to the sea, and Google Maps – for what that is worth – says the weather station is next to the runway, a few feet on the land side. This means that the weather station is – as noted above – completely exposed to sunlight reflecting “up” from the open water and flat runways to the south and west of the weather station box for all hours from from just before noon until the sun sets.

From the probably non-fake sceptics at WUWT 

Tom Trevor is bemused by Anthony's obsession:
August 10, 2013 at 9:45 am  When I can’t sleep, I paint or draw. You must be the only person who when he can’t sleep goes hunting for pictures of weather stations at obscure airports.

Village Idiot says (I added the hyperlink):
August 10, 2013 at 11:09 am  Great work, Tony. Brilliant. Who needs professional meteorologists? Let us hear the reply when you write to John Cappelen (the article’s author – above link)
Could you please now debunk the recent ‘record’ temps in Austria and Shanghai?

MaxL says (maybe Anthony's next job is to investigate Canadian trees for UHI Disease):
August 10, 2013 at 10:55 am  There have been a number of comments about the temperature at Kugluktuk. I do weather forecasting for the Northwest Territories in Canada. It has been extremely hot there for the past couple of weeks, and through most of the summer in fact. Many highs near 30C and above. Just a few days ago Fort MacPherson, not too far south of the Arctic coastline in the west NWT was 33C and a location just southeast of Norman Wells, (near Great Bear Lake) was also 33C. Quite a few record highs have been set in the last few days. A lot of these sites are at forestry stations well away from any airports.


  1. *facepalm*

    It's amazing how they spend hours (or two weeks!) getting into all the little details, playing investigator or something and completely miss the big picture.

    How's Anthony's paper coming on? Wouldn't the time be better spent working on that?

    Or hasn't he found the result he wants yet.

    1. From today, the usual misplaced gripe, no hint as to whether his offsider has managed to come up with the results he wants yet (I think he's got someone called Evan Jones doing all the work and is using the royal "we"):

      Anthony Watts says:August 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm
      REPLY: to Sedron L Happy to provide an update. We’ve retooled it entirely, and to deal with the TOBs issue, it required going over the metadata and paper records of over 1200 stations, all done in free time, with no funding. If this was a University enterprise, a grant could have been applied for and a handful of grad students put on the job.

      We have redone the dataset and the analysis, and have been rewriting the paper. Such things take time. My reality, is one far different from funded institutional science – Anthony

      Anthony has a skewed view of academic research.

    2. Getting lost in the details is how they distract themselves from the big picture, which is the point of the exercise. This is the 8% huddled in the bunker talking themselves up while they wait for the Ice Age to rescue them - because it is coming! It is it is it is!

      Watts has become his downfall parody. I wonder if there's a curse involved? Some kind of Dorian Grey thing but in reverse. Whatever, it's still hilarious.

    3. He could have made it a lot easier on himself if he had just accepted that in addition to TOBS, other adjustments are necessary to homogenize the data. It is not like these issues haven't been studied for a century and a half (IIRC, the first paper I could find on TOBS [Thanks, Victor for setting me on the path] was around 1848). But accepting the necessity of the entire homogenization process will certainly not give Tony the answer he wants.

      BTW, Evan is just as incompetent as Tony, so he's no help.

  2. He's got an update now, and it's a doozy, but then maybe he doesn't know what a foehn is, because in CA they call 'em Santa Ana winds.

  3. Heh heh - nice catch!

    And you're right about them deliberately losing themselves in the detail. If they can keep the debate at this level they don't have to think about the overwhelming mountain of global data that keeps getting more-and-more insurmountable.

    I've never been able to sort out how conscious the level of self-delusion regarding station-siting issues is. It must actually be quite difficult not to think 'but hang on, that weather-station's always been sited there, and we're looking at temperature changes, so...'

    And yet they return to it over and over.

    1. "I've never been able to sort out how conscious the level of self-delusion regarding station-siting issues is. It must actually be quite difficult not to think 'but hang on, that weather-station's always been sited there, and we're looking at temperature changes, so...'"

      How about this hypothesis:

      You are simply more intelligent than them, at least in this particular way of thinking. Your brain springs these ideas into existence without you having to try much, which is why you imagine it must be that way for others. And so when others do not spot what you think is obvious, you are confused. But what's really happening is those others, they don't get that spark you do, they'd have to sit there for a while or be directed to get it. Even then it might not sink in.

      I know such a hypothesis is uncomfortable because it seems to be conveniently flattering and also violates modesty, but the cold hard fact is this hypothesis fits the observations better than any other I can think of.

      I am sure there is some denial too going on at WUWT that acts as a barrier but yeah I think we overestimate their intelligence sometimes. They can get into the details and go all accountant on us, but they show little evidence of being able to tie things together in the big picture.

      Perhaps a lot of what we might attribute to them as being denial might be us failing to understand the limits of their abilities.

  4. Willard Tony wrote of his concern about "record cold" in the Arctic and the fact that ice melt season may be ending early this year.
    Someone posted comments that linked to weather stations reporting temperatures above 30C along the Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf. Also posted was a map that showed that temperatures in the Beaufort Sea and CAA were anomalously high by as much as 14C.
    Besides the links, the actual temps in degrees F were posted in the comments.

    One of the illiterati countered with this comment which is deserving of the Dim Bulb of the Week Award.

    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:.

    Around “almost all of the coast” would be temperature readings at settlements. If it’s colder than usual, then there will be more heating inside and vehicles left idling than usual, etc, thus increased UHI-type temperature measurement contamination.

    Lawrence Martin

  5. Wow! This makes nine (9) comments! (Even less, when duplicate posters like "bob" are counted.) How do you handle all this blog traffic?

    You mouth breathers are so fixated on WattsUpWithThat.com that I bet you forget you're posting from your mom's basement. This blog is like a flea biting an elephant's butt, and about as legit as your fictional "consensus".

    And "Sou", Watts is a published, peer-reviewed author, just like Michael Mann. How about YOU? ...didn't think so.

    C'mon, make it ten whole blog comments, "bob & sou". heh

    The elephant won't even notice. Neither will I, because this one click is all you're ever getting from me.


    1. "And "Sou", Watts is a published, peer-reviewed author, just like Michael Mann."

      This is true.
      This is the article coauthored by Watts, published in JGR (a good journal) :
      "Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends"

      Now let's look at the conclusion of this article :
      "The opposite-signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications."

      So the initial statement is true. But it's also totally ironic. I love that.


    2. I expect Anthony will be tickled pink to know that his followers look on him as being "just like Michael Mann".

      There are a few differences. Anthony found that there was no significant difference between poorly sited weather stations and 'good' weather stations in the USA when it came to mean temperature trends. (He hasn't stopped looking.) Professor Mann found a hockey stick.

      Professor Mann has Bachelor degrees from UCal Berkeley and a Masters and PhD from Yale and has won numerous academic awards. Anthony has none. Mann has published 160+ peer-reviewed and edited publications. Anthony has one? Mann is a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. Anthony is just a fellow!

      Mann has written books about climate science and helped start a blog providing information about climate science. Anthony hasn't written any books but he does write a blog providing disinformation about climate science.

  6. What you don't mention is that they admitted that the station was NOT placed in accordance with standards, and is therefore not considered reliable.

    1. Oh my! Another person getting their knickers in a twist.

      The reading itself is valid according to DMI. With regards to what I mention or don't mention, see the update as linked at the top of this article - which you seem to have missed, anonymous:(

      Deniers really are quirky sometimes. The things that upset them. Anthony still hasn't said where he'd put the weather station. Maybe he wants to shift it onto one of the black rocks above the township - or maybe he'd suggest locating it in the middle of Davis Strait.

    2. Sou, it is YOU who is getting your knickers in a twist. Know how I know? 'Cuz you never gave us your own CV! So you're just a blogger with a layman's 'Algore'-formed opinion. Funny thing is, Planet Earth has been busy debunking your runaway global warming belief system: http://tiny.cc/d49p1w

      So who should we believe? You, sou? Or our Planet Earth? Because you and the planet can't both be right. One of you is flat wrong. Which one?

      From your comment, you crave Anthony Watts' attention. But he's not listening to your inexpert comments, is he? He could have you eating out of his hand by acknowledging your existence. But he probably doesn't know, or even care if you exist. Ouch!

      The peer reviewed, published climate author A. Watts has already forced the USHCN to change its methodology. How about that? [And BTW, Mann also had to change his own methodology after his Hokey Stick chart was debunked.]

      Face it, the world is just not doing what the alarmist crowd incessantly predicted it would do: go into runaway global warming. They got the co2 question wrong too: http://tiny.cc/cdaq1w

      In fact they have gotten everything wrong! That must really suck. No wonder Watts has more than a hundred million unique page views, and more than a million rteader comments. That's because he's got the science right. You don't.

      A final question for "bob": why do you always leave the extra 'o' out of your screen name?

    3. Can you repeat that please? Especially the bit about runaways?

  7. “About the only time Anthony writes a blog article himself, if it's not about a tweet from Michael Mann you can bet it's about a weather station.”

    As an analogy, if it’s not a tweet from [“climate war denier goes here”] you can bet Michael Mann is waxing rhapsodic about, “Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science.” All “climate war” researchers know consensus drives science – theories and laws are for the weak and “deniers.”

    “He says he's been working on this for an entire week. It's probably almost two weeks, because that's when the record temperature at Maniitsoq in Greenland was first reported by the Danish Meteorological Institute.”

    So, you know Watts is likely incorrect even on the time he reports he spent reviewing the record-setting high reported for Maniitsoq? Omniscience is a precious gift; use it cautiously with wisdom and humility as guides.

    “Anthony's article is inordinately long compared to the subject matter.”

    This is a matter of opinion because it has taken HotWhopper two (2) posts to counter Watts’ alleged errors. But godly editorial skills in addition to omniscience are assuredly a blessed combination.

    “Yep, at 25.9 degrees outside. The ‘Airport UHI’ demon is irrepressible. It took a huge deep breath and blew all the hot air from the building twenty meters or more, right into the Stevenson screen and bulls eye - it hit the thermometer.”

    At 78.6 deg F, I suspect the warming was noticeable. Even DMI has acknowledged, “…[T]his sensor is placed so influence from the surroundings can have affected the reading in a way, so the reading maybe will have to be rejected.” But why report this… distraction in your post, given that you have concluded (humorously, mind you) that siting was NOT an issue.

    “Why it happened that day when it's never happened before in the history of the airport one can only guess.” On the chance you and not Watts may have erred (perish the thought, I know), DMI has referenced improper siting as a possible concern and continues to review the legitimacy of the record, but I’m sure your omniscience knows otherwise; so, let’s follow it instead. Consensus drives science, after all!

    As an outside observer, you have the appearance of being decidedly fixated on Watts to the point where it may be impacting your quality of life. In the words of the “Tequila Sunrise” character Carlos Escalante, “You go to a good deal of trouble to explain an inconsequential event, [Sou].”

    1. You go to a good deal of trouble to explain an inconsequential event, [Sou].

      Funny! I didn't stew over this "inconsequential" for a week or more before finally managing to finish and publish the article - the longest article he's managed to put together all by himself (presumably) in months :D

    2. Whether Watts took a week or a month is immaterial to the discussion. That's his prerogative to dwell on the possible record high for an extended time period. It's also the prerogative of WaPO - and many other media outlets (some seemingly joyous) to report the possible record high.

      Now, your postings (and vigorous defense of the same) detailing Watts' coverage are... excessive for an inconsequential event (i.e., one data point out of thousands collected daily). To make the argument deliciously circular, let's just label your postings as confirmation bias rather than an unhealthy fixation on all things WUWT, shall we?

  8. I wish you people would discredit deniers with data and not with insults. The deniers I'm forced to live with are too smart for that and you guys leave me with exactly zero arguments. Not complaining, though. You are doing your best, I'm sure. Just wishing.

    1. Skeptical Science is there to help you.
      In the case you are not a concern troll.


    2. There is plenty of data on HotWhopper if you care to read the articles. That's what it's here for, to replace non-sense with science - as well as to point out the logical flaws and double standards of climate science deniers.

      In this particular case there is logic and reason as well as hard data by way of photographs. Logic and reason are very rare commodities on climate science denying blogs. (Anyone who demonstrates it at WUWT is banned quick smart.)

      Insults are in the mind of the reader. If the hat fits and all that.

      And as someone with rare insight (for WUWT) once parroted "ridicule is both powerful and satisfying


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