Skip to comments.July 2012 not a record breaker according to data from the new NOAA/NCDC U.S. .....
Posted on 08/09/2012 7:38:24 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
I decided to do myself something that so far NOAA has refused to do: give a CONUS average temperature for the United States from the new state of the art United States Climate Reference Network (USCRN). After spending millions of dollars to put in this new network from 2002 to 2008, they are still giving us data from the old one when they report a U.S. national average temperature. As readers may recall, I have demonstrated that old COOP/USHCN network used to monitor U.S. climate is a mishmash of urban, semi-urban, rural, airport and non-airport stations, some of which are sited precariously in observers backyards, parking lots, near air conditioner vents, airport tarmac, and in urban heat islands. This is backed up by the 2011 GAO report spurred by my work.
Here is todays press release from NOAA, State of the Climate for July 2012 where they say:
The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.
OK, that average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July is easy to replicate and calculate using NOAAs USCRN network of stations, shown below:
In case you arent familiar with his network and why it exists, let me cite NOAA/NCDCs reasoning for its creation. From the USCRN overview page:
The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) consists of 114 stations developed, deployed, managed, and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the continental United States for the express purpose of detecting the national signal of climate change. The vision of the USCRN program is to maintain a sustainable high-quality climate observation network that 50 years from now can with the highest degree of confidence answer the question: How has the climate of the nation changed over the past 50 years? These stations were designed with climate science in mind. Three independent measurements of temperature and precipitation are made at each station, insuring continuity of record and maintenance of well-calibrated and highly accurate observations. The stations are placed in pristine environments expected to be free of development for many decades. Stations are monitored and maintained to high standards, and are calibrated on an annual basis. In addition to temperature and precipitation, these stations also measure solar radiation, surface skin temperature, and surface winds, and are being expanded to include triplicate measurements of soil moisture and soil temperature at five depths, as well as atmospheric relative humidity. Experimental stations have been located in Alaska since 2002 and Hawaii since 2005, providing network experience in polar and tropical regions. Deployment of a complete 29 station USCRN network into Alaska began in 2009. This project is managed by NOAAs National Climatic Data Center and operated in partnership with NOAAs Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division.
So clearly, USCRN is an official effort, sanctioned, endorsed, and accepted by NOAA, and is of the highest quality possible. Here is what a typical USCRN station looks like:
A few other points about the USCRN:
So this means that:
Knowing this, I wondered why NOAA has never offered a CONUS monthly temperature from this new network. So, I decided that Id calculate one myself.
The procedure for a CONUS monthly average temperature from USCRN:
USA Monthly Mean for July 2012: 75.72°F
USA Monthly Average for July 2012: 75.51°F
USA Monthly Mean for July 2012: 75.74°F
(114 stations, 3 w/ partial missing data, difference 0.02)
USA Monthly Average for July 2012: 75.55°F
(114 stations, 3 w/ partial missing data, difference 0.04)
Using the old network, NOAA says the USA Average Temperature for July 2012 is: 77.6°F
Using the NOAA USCRN data, the USA Average Temperature for July 2012 is: 75.5°F
The difference between the old problematic network and new USCRN is 2.1°F cooler.
This puts July 2012, according to the best official climate monitoring network in the USA at 1.9°F below the 77.4°F July 1936 USA average temperature in the NOAA press release today, not a record by any measure. Dr. Roy Spencer suggested earlier today that he didnt think so either, saying:
So, all things considered (including unresolved issues about urban heat island effects and other large corrections made to the USHCN data), I would say July was unusually warm. But the long-term integrity of the USHCN dataset depends upon so many uncertain factors, I would say its a stretch to to call July 2012 a record.
This result also strongly suggests, that a well sited network of stations, as the USCRN is designed from inception to be, is totally free of the errors, biases, adjustments, siting issues, equipment issues, and UHI effects that plague the older COOP USHCN network that is a mishmash of problems that the new USCRN was designed to solve.
It suggests Watts et al 2012 is on the right track when it comes to pointing out the temperature measurement differences between stations with and without such problems. I dont suggest that my method is a perfect comparison to the older COOP/USHCN network, but the fact that my numbers come close, within the bounds of the positive temperature bias errors noted in Leroy 1999, and that the more pristine USCRN network is cooler for absolute monthly temperatures (as would be expected) suggests my numbers arent an unreasonable comparison.
NOAA never mentions this new pristine USCRN network in any press releases on climate records or trends, nor do they calculate and display a CONUS value for it. Now we know why. The new pristine data it produces is just way too cool for them.
Look for a regular monthly feature using the USCRN data at WUWT. Perhaps NOAA will then be motivated to produce their own monthly CONUS Tavg values from this new network. Theyve had four years to do so since it was completed.
UPDATE: Some people questioned what is the difference between the mean and average temperature values. In the monthly data files from USCRN, there are these two values:
The mean is the monthly (max+min)/2, and the average is the average of all the daily averages.
UPDATE2: Ive just sent this letter to NCDC to email@example.com
I apologize for not providing a proper name in the salutation, but none was given on the contact section of the referring web page.
I am attempting to replicate the CONUS temperature average of 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit for July 2012, listed in the August 8th 2012, State of the Climate Report here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/
Pursuant to that, would you please provide the following:
1. The data source of the surface temperature record used.
2. The list of stations used from that surface temperature record, including any exclusions and reasons for exclusions.
3. The method used to determine the CONUS average temperature, such as simple area average, gridded average, altitude corrections, bias corrections, etc. Essentially what Im requesting is the method that can be used to replicate the resultant 77.6F CONUS average value.
4. A flowchart of the procedures in step 3 if available.
5. Any other information you deem relevant to the replication process.
Thank you sincerely for your consideration.
Below is the response I got to the email address provided in the SOTC release, some email addresses redacted to prevent spamming.
Title Modified due to character constraint......
That was the strangest part ~ there's a high planes quadrant, a SW quadrant, a SE quadrant and an Ohio Valley/St. Lawrence quadrant.
In one cycle the droughts will affect just one quadrant, and in others two, and maybe three, but rarely four.
He speculated the quadrant rules in both America and China were similar but since the droughts run about 21 years apart, he didn't have enough data to prove much.
The map you provided shows less coverage in the US in this drought than in 1934. That's because it affects only 2 quadrants, and not 3 like in 1934.
Think about that one a second ~ if 34 was the maximum we've experienced and that didn't hit all 4, then what is it like when there's a 4 banger?
I think we know ~ there was a great drought in what is now the United States that came to an end about 1611 or so. It'd been raging for 17 years in most of Virginia ~ which is why there are no 425 year old trees around here. Earlier there'd been a 70 year period of diminished rainfall.
If you ever wondered why the Spanish didn't do much with the Eastern Seaboard, there you have it.
That's a 4 banger ~ and everything dries up everywhere. Populations crash. Grasslands open up from the Gulf to the Great Lakes (DeSoto reported grasslands filled the interior ~ from the Gulf to the Great Lakes ~ not many trees ~ you could literally see everywhere for miles and miles. Efforts to settle in Texas in that period were total disasters.
Pearl Buck wrote about a similar phenomenon in China that she'd heard about. The drought was everywhere ~ not just a short term extension of the Gobi, but everything in Northern and Central China dried up.
I think that's 1813 or so ~ they lost hundreds of millions of people ~ all the way West in the far North to the Kola peninsula.
Good news today ~ it's raining in Indiana and Ohio and a Typhoon made it into Central China.
We will live another day.
I believe 1934 is the record hottest year at least in the upper Midwest. My Mother told of temperatures that summer well above 100 to as much as 115 degrees and the heat wave lasted well into the fall. We have only had a few days of 100+ temps this summer and certainly not like 1995 when we had weeks of temps above 100.
One of the big problems with the earlier, legacy climate monitoring stations is that they are poorly sited near artificial sources of heat or cold and they are located in urban heat islands where the temperature are artificially high due the heat absorption of concrete and blacktop pavement and the heat generated by burning fossil fuels and waste heat from electrical use, all in a concentrated area.
Many of these stations were originally located in rural areas when they were installed many decades ago, but have become increasingly surrounded by higher and higher density urban development.
This encroachment accounts for much of the observed temperature increase over time , as well as the gradual increase in measured temperature over time as the locations became increasingly surrounded by urban development and the corresponding increase in the urban heat island effect
You will see it often on the WUWT website.
And if they are gonna extrapolate the US average temperature onto the global trend of climate change, why not include Alaska ? Adding that size of a land mass could only make the average more accurate when extrapolating onto any global trend. Hawaii just does not have enough land mass to make much of a difference.
Can we really believe the so-called records anymore? I remember back in May 5, 1972 the temp in Tulsa, OK was 105 downtown.
Yet when I try to find this listed the records only show about 92 degrees.
Very interesting....gremlins at work I guess.
Here are some temp links. Bookmark them as they are very hard to find on the web page.
Fascinating and bookmarked Ernest—excellent post—we are reminded yet again-—facts are stubborn things.
The Govt will only report data when it is consistent with CAGW proponents’ claims.
Excellent information and good question for NOAA/NCDC.
Amazing man this Watts fellow