Anthony Watts, the scientifically-illiterate host of Watts Up With That, has been running a silly initiative called the Surface Stations Project through which he is trying to invalidate recent historical temperature records in the US to prove that global warming is a HOAX. His belief is that these surface stations are too often located close to airport runways, city parking lots, air condioners, and other manmade constructions that raise localized temperatures a degree or two. On a larger scale, a similar phenomenon makes cities much warmer than the surrounding countryside in the Urban Heat Island Effect, and Watts believes that this siting of surface stations invalidates the entire temperature record compiled by
the pinko socialists at NOAA.
Watts is a former weatherman and an ideologue, and in any other sphere of comment, he would be considered a buffoon. He should have no more credibility than a conspiracy buff who thinks the moon landing was faked. An old math teacher often used to say that you don’t know enough to know that you don’t know.
If the issue wasn’t so serious, I would take no pleasure in belittling his lack of education. Anthony Watts doesn’t have a science degree, but that doesn’t stop him — and his loyal minions — from libeling better men and women of climate science at every opportunty. It’s preposterous, really. He doesn’t even understand the science he’s attempting to refute. (See here, and here, for instance).
It’s true that many weather stations were established before global warming became an issue, so some of them might not have been ideally situated. But Anthony Watts parades around like he’s got something over on the scientists, like he’s thought of a very important detail that they hadn’t considered with all their fancy PhDs and Ivy League educations. But the simple truth is that anything he could think of as a layman has already been considered and accounted for a very long time ago. And thats why temperature records are accurate, and why we know the planet is warming dangerously. We also have the thousands of empirical studies which support the temperature record.
Watts doesn’t even understand how ridiculous he sounds. He‘s a con man, a snake oil salesman.
Peter Sinclair, the incisive mind behind the Crock of the Week series, published this analysis of Watts’ surface station project last week, but Watts claimed copyright infringement, and it was removed until his claims could be examined and, of course, rejected. It’s 8 minutes long, and worth every minute.
In a similar vein, NOAA recently eviscerated Watts’ — and his misinformed minions — hard work at Surface Stations in an excellent Q&A.
Q. How has the poor exposure biased local temperatures trends?
A. At the present time (June 2009), to the best of our knowledge, there has only been one published peer-reviewed study that specifically quantified the potential bias in trends caused by poor station exposure (Peterson, 2006). The analysis examined only a small subset of stations –- all that had their exposure checked at that time -– and found no bias in long-term trends.
Q. Does a station with good exposure read warmer than a station with poor exposure?
A. Not necessarily. Many local factors influence the observed temperature: whether a station is in a valley with cold air drainage, whether the station is a liquid-in-glass thermometer in a standard wooden shelter or an electronic thermometer in the new smaller and more open plastic shelters, whether the station reads and resets its maximum and minimum thermometers in the coolest time of the day in early morning or in the warmest time of the day in the afternoon, etc. But for detecting climate change, the concern is not the absolute temperature -– whether a station is reading warmer or cooler than a nearby station over grass -– but how that temperature changes over time.
Q. Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?
A. None at all. Even if NOAA did not have weather observing stations across the length and breadth of the United States the impacts of the warming are unmistakable. For example, lake and river ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall. Plants are blooming earlier in the spring. Mountain glaciers are melting. Coastal temperatures are rising. And a multitude of species of birds, fish, mammals and plants are extending their ranges northward and, in mountainous areas, upward as well.
And here’s the killer graphic. Watts has assayed 71 percent of the 1,218 weather stations used by NOAA to compile their historical temperature record, and found that only 70 stations could be classified as good or better.
But this graph highlights what happens when you compare the difference between the Watts-approved stations and NOAA’s entire 1218.
Can you see the difference? Apparently, only conspiracy buffs can.