Monday, June 15, 2015

Anthony Watts has discovered pristine US temperature (and MS Excel)

Sou | 7:47 AM Go to the first of 34 comments. Add a comment
Today, after having no opinion on whether or not greenhouse gases work, Anthony Watts has decided to get an opinion. In his opinion the US temperature record maintained by NOAA is pristine. That is, the NOAA Climate Reference Network is pristine. Just how long he'll think it will remain pristine is the question. He wrote an article (archived here) with the headline: "Despite attempts to erase it globally, “the pause” still exists in pristine US surface temperature data"

This time Anthony had nothing but praise for the scientists who work at NOAA. (He did sneak in some snide comments verging on the defamatory by implication. He's got to keep his disreputable reputation intact.) His praise was only because he liked what he saw or he would have hidden it from his readers. He saw a temperature chart from 2005 to 2014 and figured that was good enough for his purposes. Anthony wrote:
But, what if there were a dataset of temperature that was so well done, so scientifically accurate, and so completely free of bias that by its design, there would never be any need nor justification for any adjustments to the data?
Such a temperature record exists, it is called the U.S. Climate Reference Network, (USCRN) and it is also operated by NOAA/NCDC’s (NCEI) head administrator,Tom Karl:

Given that Anthony has been busy for years trying to prove that the record isn't pristine, this is a bit of an about face. Is he admitting defeat? You might think so, mightn't you. Let's come back in five years time, and see if Anthony still says the data is pristine.

Data source: NOAA

Here is a comparison of the pristine with the non-pristine, on an annual basis. I'll let you spot the difference:

Data source: NOAA

OMG. Anthony Watts is right. The USA temperature has paused! Ooh, it's worse than that - it's cooling!

Let's just see how much the USA has cooled over the past 120 years. If you read WUWT you'll probably think the USA is practically in an ice age.

What you won't see at WUWT

Deniers are in denial. That's not hard to figure out. That's why they are called deniers after all. Have another look at the chart up top. Notice anything? There are two months in the past five years where it wasn't just hot, it was extraordinarily hot. More than 7 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1981-2010 mean.

Here is something else - Anthony Watts won't show you the chart over the longer term, will he. It's not the climate reference network because that only goes from 2005. It's derived from the thousands of other weather stations in the USA. You can see from the chart above how little difference there was between the climate reference network and the other two over the period they overlapped, so it should be reasonably good:

Data source: NOAA

Rather than cooling or pausing, it looks more as if the USA is well and truly out of any cold spell. The zero line is the 1981-2010 mean - and it's barely touched it in the past few years. It's been getting hot in the USA lately, hasn't it.

And did he say one word about the amazingly hot year in the USA, in the middle of his pause the average temperature shot up to more than 2F above the average for 1981-2010. I mean we're not talking the twentieth century average - that's above an average that was itself quite a bit hotter. It must be an odd sort of pause, wouldn't you say?

Here it is again, in case you missed it. This time charted as an anomaly from the twentieth century mean - 2012 was more than 3F above the twentieth century mean.

Data source: NOAA


The chart above didn't register with everyone, so here's a decadal chart of US temperatures. The decade from 2005 to 2014 was the hottest on record.

Data source: NOAA

 Added by Sou 15 June 5:54 pm.

And Anthony Watts doesn't seem to have noticed, but it's been getting mighty warm in the west lately. This is something you'll probably never ever see at WUWT:

Data source: NOAA

How's that for warming. Almost four degrees Fahrenheit above the twentieth century mean last year. No wonder the Californian drought is so bad.

More than 70% of Anthony's home state is in extreme drought and almost 50% in exceptional drought.

Source: US Drought Monitor

Anthony Watts says he can use MS Excel

Anthony was very proud of the fact that he's learnt how to use Microsoft Excel. He wrote:
NOAA helpfully provides that data in a comma separated values (CSV) file, which I have converted into Excel: USCRN-CONUS-time-series.

He couldn't figure out how to plot the trend in Excel though. He said he had to go to another program to do that. He wrote:
Plotting that USCRN data, provides a duplicate of the above plot from NOAA/NCDC/NCEI, but also allows for plotting the trend. I’ve done so using the actual data from NOAA/NCDC/NCEI they provided at the source link above, using the DPlot program: 

Next he'll be telling us he finally understands what an anomaly is :)

From the WUWT comments

kramer is such a wit, isn't he:
June 14, 2015 at 9:57 am
Excellent report Anthony.
I wonder if it’s going to result in this data getting adjusted and/or harder to locate? /sarc

Charlie wants to see weather stations that haven't been touched by science:
June 14, 2015 at 10:03 am
It would be nice if there are as a thorough global independent ground data set. I don’t know if such a thing exists. I have heard of independant sea level assessments but not ground data. 

Alan Robertson is learning, if oh so slowly:
June 14, 2015 at 10:10 am
Please allow me to mimic a response from the Climate Fearosphere: “Oh, but the US isn’t the world”.
Did I get that about right?

AndyE warns Anthony:
June 14, 2015 at 10:22 am
You wait, they will accuse you of cherry-picking that 10 years results, Anthony!!!!

Anthony Watts pleads his case, arguing that he made sure there was no other data he could plot. Or not in the CRN network:
June 14, 2015 at 10:27 am
They can’t (at least not honestly). I plotted the entire dataset available. No choice was made of any kind. 

As I say, let's come back in a few years and see if he still regards his data set as "pristine". In the meantime, his interpretative skills leave quite a lot to be desired.

J has come up with a conspiracy theory. These are never far away at WUWT:
June 14, 2015 at 10:36 am
Archive that data, and make sure there are no changes to past data !
This trend should be publicized far and wide.
Yea, the USA is only 4% of the world, but it is suspicious that all the warming (in the adjusted data sets) is alleged to be in far off hard to get to places (like the arctic).

Peter Sable has a solution for the conspiracy theorists:
June 14, 2015 at 10:46 am (excerpt)
Anthony, when are you going to set up a mirror to archive all this data before it gets adjusted? 

Chuck Wiese claims to be a meteorologist. If he ever was then I'd say he was woeful at his job. He wrote:
June 14, 2015 at 11:00 am
Anthony: Good work here. The fact that this lack of warming exists over a large land continent like the whole USA, presents a severe problem to NOAA in the contradiction of getting a warming result when including the oceans. The physics of that doesn’t make sense. The specific heats of the continent are LOWER than that of the oceans, so if CO2 warming was real, the anomaly must emerge in this data set FIRST.
The fact that it doesn’t and the satellite record conforms to the land USA zero trend and slight cooling indicates a flawed and suspect manipulation of the NOAA treatment. If these guys wer doing science, they should have realized this as soon as they obtained the result that they did.
Taxpayers have a right to expect that the billions being spent on NOAA per year should be the promotion and reservation of the true ideas of atmospheric science and meteorology, not this asinine power grab that appears to have happened through the Obama administration that is just politicizing every agency it seems to be able to get it’s hands on and further the gross fraud that is CO2 AGW through abusing these agencies and soliciting their agents to help them.
Chuck Wiese

One of these days let's hope disinformers like Anthony Watts and his fans are held accountable for their defamation of scientists. cheshirered, in this case:
June 14, 2015 at 1:03 pm
Let’s call a spade a spade: Karl set out to achieve exactly the desired outcome he and his pals wanted: to obliterate the pause. To slice and dice measured, observed and established evidence in the way he did to the extent he did represents deliberate climate fraud. Nothing more or less. Simple as that.

Further reading from HotWhopper


  1. So the new meme is "no warming since 2015, but only in the US"? Those goalposts must get heavy after a bit.

  2. I do not know how you can repeatedly face looking into that cesspool at wuwt and its denizens Sou. This must be the cherry pick of cherry picks but made legitimate by MX Excel? The morons who cheer Anthony from their seats behind their screens must be his only motivation for doing this meaningless analysis.

    I have done an 'adjustment' for the weight of the information coming out of denier blogs compared to peer reviewed science for reproducibility and veracity. It turns out that the denier blogs have a factor of close to zero. This can be explained by the noise in their signal as it often contradicts itself so it fluctuates slightly around zero. Bert

  3. What a coincidence. NOAA just published an article comparing the US climate reference network to the COOP network, which is used for the historical US temperature series. That article is somehow not mentioned. One of the authors wrote a guest post about it this week at my place.

    The 10 years is a rather short to interpret trends; the year to year variability for a small region is even higher than for the global temperature. For the comparison that is not much of a problem, both networks measure almost the same weather, the same year to year variability. So personally I would not have emphasised the very inaccurate 10-year trend, but rather the close correspondence between the two networks. That does not leave much room for problems due to urbanization or micro-siting (Watts et al., unpublished 2012) in the historical network.

    1. It's pretty amazing how well the homogenization procedures work, isn't it?

    2. Another thing is that the NOAA seems to have used 1981-2010 as the baseline for all the datasets, including the Climate Reference Network which starts in 2005. Anthony glossed over that bit. It means that it's been aligned along the way with what Anthony would undoubtedly regard as a non-pristine set of data.

      I think that's kinda funny. A joke against Anthony Watts :)

    3. That is what I thought too - the USCRN uses a baseline from another dataset because the USCRN has not run for 30 years yet.

    4. It's pretty amazing how well the homogenization procedures work, isn't it?

    5. Sou wrote, " It means that it's been aligned along the way with what Anthony would undoubtedly regard as a non-pristine set of data."

      You have misunderstood the meaning of the word anomaly. The data from NOAA's Climate Reference Network could be "aligned with" the price of tea in China and it would be no less pristine. The average from which the anomaly is calculated does not affect the relative difference between data points or the slope of the curve they make.

      NOAA's Climate Reference Network is a network of very carefully designed and sited weather stations. I doubt that Watts ever accused the data from those stations of being biased. They were built specifically to avoid localized sources of artificial heating or cooling and they are very carefully calibrated and serviced.

      Your claim that Watt's doesn't show the long term datasets like GISS is absurd. Those data sets have been posted and discussed many, many times at WUWT. Often to make the point that the keepers of those records have consistently cooled the past, presumably to make the present look hotter than it otherwise would.

    6. Not so, anonymous. It's you who are missing the point. Think about it. (Though since you're a WUWT fan and believe that climate science is a scam, there's really not much point in my suggestion.)

    7. Correction: point s/be points. Anon got multiple things wrong. Almost everything she (or he) wrote was wrong or a strawman. Confirmation bias maybe?

    8. Anonymous.

      "Often to make the point that the keepers of those records have consistently cooled the past, presumably to make the present look hotter than it otherwise would."

      Umm, actually no. You are just making an accusation of professional misconduct with no evidence.

      The reason they "cooled the past" is they put in a correction to remove a warm bias.

    9. Thing is, the past was warmed, it wasn't cooled.

      Scientists corrected the earlier sea surface temperatures with the result being the slope is less steep. Otherwise the warming would have looked greater than it is.

    10. I don't think climate science is a scam! But it is a fact that updates of both GISS and NOAA surface temperature records show the past being cooler so that the slope of the warming line is increased. Karl may have warmed the sea surface in the past to make it look like there is no pause in warming but the word "possible" is, rightfully, in the title of that paper. It's also possible the moon is made of green cheese covered by a thin layer of moon dust : ) In any case, there is a long pause evident in the temperature of the lower troposphere as measured from satellites—the most accurate temperature record we have—so it's very unlikely that Karl got it right. I think there is little doubt that the global temperature has stalled and that nearly all the models don't reflect reality since they don't show the pause.

    11. Anon, quit contradicting yourself. Either you think climate science is a hoax or you don't. Make up your mind (about your moondust).

      (BTW HotWhopper isn't WUWT. It's not for posting random and wrong opinions. And your opinions have no influence on facts.).

      I've already linked to where the corrections to sea surface temperature meant the early records of global temperature are higher, reducing the slope. Nothing to do with any "pause". You are probably getting confused with the time of observation adjustments in the USA, not globally. This necessary adjustment is well covered elsewhere.

      Just because you think you know better than the experts doesn't mean that you do. (See Dunning and Kruger)

    12. "the most accurate temperature record we have"

      Please explain why you believe the satellite temperature record is the most accurate. It is quite something to claim that a record that is derived from a *proxy* for temperature, and which requires loads of math to extract what may be the temperature in a certain subsection of the earth's atmosphere, is "the most accurate" !

      And if t is so accurate, can you explain why Spencer & Christy are already up to version 6 (beta), where all changes in version have changed this supposedly so accurate record?

    13. "I think there is little doubt..."


    14. I don't see a problem with Anonymous' claim about choice of climatology not having an impact on trends; it's merely an offset difference. But most else is rather false. Global adjustments to raw data actually warm the past, not cool it, though the story is different in the US where there is a known and large time of observation bias.

      "Skeptics" have a very peculiar relationship with raw data. They love the idea of raw data (but don't understand how it often hurts their position), but apparently don't have a problem with the satellite records applying large corrections to their own raw data (which, as it were, also hurts their position since the raw data is cooler IIRC). The corrections made by NOAA or NASA or HadCRUT? Fraudulent. The corrections made by UAH? Why it's difficult to even get an independent analysis of those in the first place, but anything and everything that comes out from UAH is simply golden by "skeptic" standards so long as it shows what they want it to, which is lower trends than surface measurements.

      On that note too, statements like these: "as measured from satellites—the most accurate temperature record we have" are demagogic. We don't have a good idea what all of the problems with the satellite data are, and since we actually don't know what the real temperature is (why indeed would we bother with satellites if we did?) it is very, very difficult to say that one method is "more accurate" than the other. We know for instance that the satellite records are very heavily influenced by ENSO, whereas the surface records are not so much. Is one correct, and the other wrong? In fact, maybe neither! Maybe both are "wrong".

      Carl Mears actually has an interesting position himself on his RSS dataset (and satellite data in general), commenting how the larger long term difference between RSS/UAH indicates larger "structural uncertainty" than in the surface records, which match each other much more closely. As people paying attention recently will note, since RSS now shows the lower short term trend between it and UAH, RSS is being held up by "skeptics" as the "correct" dataset. Ask the leading researcher though and it seems that's not a shared opinion.


  4. For kicks, I produced a 95% confidence interval on the slope of the USCRN dataset, and got -0.145 - 0.080 degrees Fahrenheit per year. This is wide enough that it's hard to say anything about the rate of temperature change, but it's entirely consistent with the long term rate 0.0127 shown in the graph above, and it could be consistent with much greater rates of warming.

  5. But... but..... in your graphs I see cooling for the past 10 years. How can this be?? I keep hearing in the news that 2013 was the hottest ever.. then 2014 was the hottest ever.. .and now 2015 is on pace to be the hottest ever yet. Something don't jive... who is lieing to me?

    1. You just have the mistaken impression that the US = the world. Resolve that (I know this is difficult for many Americans. I don't even mean that as a joke, on my travels there I was surprised to meet many Americans who don't fathom that the world is a LOT bigger than the US), and you understand what is going on.

    2. What Marco said - see here and here.

      Also, take care with what you think you see. In the USA 2012 was the hottest year on record by a long shot, and the past ten years were the hottest on record in the USA, too.

    3. The USCRN does indeed show cooling on average (I am ignoring the error interval).

      But it is not statistically significant cooling (as was calculated by another commenter) - the "cooling" trend may just be appearing in the data by chance, not as part of any long-term trend.

    4. Tamino did the maths a while back.


  6. Can we all spare a thought for poor old CET? Watts told her he loved her. She meant the world to him. And now he casts her aside telling her she is 'no longer cool', and he has found another temperature series who understands him.

    1. CET was getting too old. Anthony likes them young, 30 or less.

  7. Presumably the poorly-sited stations as identified by the surfacestations project show a bogus warming trend in the US over the same period? I am sure Evan could tell us.

    Or it will be in the SI for Watts et al 2012/2013/2014/2015. No doubt.

  8. Chuck Wiese is one of our local deniers here in Oregon. He does have a bachelors degree in meteorology from Oregon State University and was a weatherman on the local TV stations for a while. I've engaged with him several times over the years. He does have the problem of thinking conditions in the US and even locally in the Pacific Northwest are representative of the whole world.

    1. You mean that Chuck thinks it's getting an awful lot hotter and that wildfires are a lot worse everywhere in the world? :D

  9. I don't see how unadjusted USCRN data can be used like this. For instance:

    "There are two USCRN stations in Hawaii and deployment of a network of 29 stations in Alaska continues ... ... Deployment of a complete 29-station USCRN network in Alaska began in 2009."


    Is that right? If so, isn't any 'trend' using raw data going to contain an artefact due to different geographic locations being added?

    1. That is why you use anomalies. Then you can average over regions with different mean temperatures without worrying about new stations coming in biasing the mean.

      (The uncertainty in the US mean will go down with more stations and you get more regional detail and more data to study extreme weather, which is often local.)

    2. Thanks Victor. If I can try your patience a bit more, how are they calculating the anomaly from '1981-2010 mean' at a station that didn't exist until 2009 or later?

    3. Ah sorry, that last question is answered in the comments further up.


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