Editor’s Selection IconA while ago I wrote a post about an analysis of the US climate monitoring network led by Anthony Watts, who has a very popular climate skeptic blog.
The reason for that post was that Menne et al. 2010 had used some of Watts’ analysis to find that US surface temperature trends aren’t affected much by the station siting (and not in the way that Watts had thought – bad siting seemed to add a cold bias to the record).
Now, Watts has had his paper accepted for publication (although he’s not 1st author) and in a pretty decent journal (JGR). It’s nice to see people contributing to the field in a constructive way so congratulations are in order!
So what does the paper say?
It’s all relatively bland stuff. Here’s a quote from the abstract:
Temperature trend estimates vary according to site classification, with poor siting leading to an overestimate of minimum temperature trends and an underestimate of maximum temperature trends, resulting in particular in a substantial difference in estimates of the diurnal temperature range trends. 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.
Hmm. I can’t imagine many people getting fired up over that.
This seems quite different to the kind of thing Watts has been saying in the past about the surfacestations.org results. Deltoid has some examples.
Anyway, a couple of things strike me as interesting.
On May 8 Watts asked his readers to chip in to cover the publication costs of the paper ($2247), which he collected quite quickly. At the time I looked for the paper or abstract online but couldn’t find it. (I didn’t look too hard, only on WUWT, surfacestations.org and the JGR website and a did few searches – maybe it was out there but I thought it should’ve been linked to from a post like that.) Given how Watts had sold the surfacestations.org findings up to that point, if I’d have contributed to the costs I’d now be feeling a bit confused at how it turned out.
Also, maybe this is the end to questions as to whether surface temperature increases actually exist. With Fall et al. not really turning much up and the BEST project looking like it’ll confirm the previous surface temperature analyses, there can’t much mileage left in that argument, which was pretty much answered years ago. In that light I suppose it’ll be interesting to see what happens to surfacestations.org in the future and if Watts’ perspective changes. (It would also be really interesting to see how the Fall et al. paper changed as it went through review but I don’ suppose that’ll ever happen.)
Finally, I thought it would be worth noting that I do think it’s important to keep looking at the temperature record, how it stands up and how it can be improved. Watts has helped with that in some respect. But overstating conclusions is not helpful.
Souleymane Fall, Anthony Watts, John Nielsen-Gammon, Evan Jones, Dev Niyogi, John R. Christy, & Roger A. Pielke Sr. (2011). Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends Journal of Geophysical Research