By guest writer
Arctic stations near heat sources show warming over the last century. Arctic stations that are isolated from manmade heat sources show no warming. The plots of “isolated stations” and “urban stations” below clearly illustrate the differences.
All the GISS temperature anomaly maps show the Arctic warming faster than the rest of the globe, especially northern Alaska and Siberia, but the satellite data shows a different pattern. See the 2 charts for 2009 that follow. The GISS surface map:
The baseline period selected for the GISS surface temperature chart is the 1933 to 1963 Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) warm period. This period more closely matches today’s temperatures than the default 1951 to 1980 cool period that GISS uses. The satellite data uses the average over the satellite period since 1979, the modern warm period.
The satellite data show cooling in central Siberia, similar to the surface anomaly map, and very little warming for most of Alaska. It also shows cooling for the Antarctic Peninsula, where the surface map shows warming. But there is a scattering of hot grid squares across the HISS surface station map for the Arctic. So what is going on?
I selected the stations that correspond to those warm grid squares, as well as other stations in the same latitudes. In this age of everyone carrying a camera posting all photos on the Internet, there is a lot of information available on these stations. For some I could locate the Stevenson screens, for most I’ve found pictures of the surroundings, while others have investigated many of these sites already, and so links to that research are included. I downloaded the raw temperature data from GISS for 24 stations closest to the North Pole, which are all classified as “rural”.
“Urban” Arctic Stations
Contrary to GISS claims, many of these stations are actually not “rural” with respect to their siting quality. Many are at airports associated with sizable towns or research stations with sizable staff and infrastructure. In the Arctic, any town of more than a few families can be a large heat source. In the case of many towns in Russian Siberia, “central heating” takes on a whole new meaning. These towns have a central power plant that provides electricity and steam heat to the whole town. Large pipes, both insulated and un-insulated, carry steam, water, and sewage, up and down the streets to and from each dwelling. These pipes cannot be buried because of the permafrost, so they are elevated, and at street crossings are elevated 4 or 5 meters. The temperature differential between these pipes and the surrounding air can be 140° C in winter, and even more for a pressurized system.
But GISS applies the same Urban Heat Island (UHI) criteria to all stations globally, regardless of the latitude or average temperature. They look at the satellite night brightness and population to judge whether urban or rural. By GISS criteria, all the stations in the high Arctic are rural; there are no corrections for UHI.
But let’s look at each of these “urban” locations. Each name is also a link to the GISS surface temperature raw data.
List of Urban Arctic Stations (see the annex at the end of this post for details on each station)
1. Kotzebue, Ral (66.9 N,162.6 W), Alaska
2. Barrow/W. Pos (71.3 N,156.8 W) Alaska
3. Inuvik (68.3N, 133.5W) Inuvik, Canada
4. Cambridge Bay (69.1 N,105.1 W) Nunavut, Canada
5. Eureka, N.W.T. (80.0 N,85.9 W), Canada
6. Nord Ads (81.6 N,16.7 W Northeast Greenland
7. Svalbard Luft (78.2 N,15.5 E), Norway
8. Isfjord Radio (78.1 N,13.6 E), Norway
9. Gmo Im.E.T.(80.6 N,58.0 E), Russia
10. Olenek (68.5 N,112.4 E), Russia
11. Verhojansk (67.5 N,133.4 E), Russia
12. Cokurdah (70.6 N,147.9 E), Russia
13. Zyrjanka (65.7 N, 150.9 E), Russia
14. Mys Smidta (68.9 N,179.4 W), Russia
15. Mys Uelen (66.2 N,169.8 W), Russia
The following graphic is a temperature chart for 10 of the above stations (5 of the shorter ones were left out to avoid over-crowding). All are warming, some faster than others. Barrow, for which we have the UHI study, is not the fastest warming.
Now let us look at the isolated stations, which are located at similar latitudes like the above “urban” stations. One important thing to note about these isolated stations – there is limited electrical power, and so incandescent light bulbs in the Stevenson screens is unlikely. Detailed descriptions of these stations are listed in the annex at the end of this report.
16. Alert,N.W.T.(82.5 N,62.3 W), Canada
17. Resolute,N.W. (74.7 N,95.0 W), Canada
18. Jan Mayen (70.9 N,8.7 W), Norway
19. Gmo Im.E. K. F (77.7 N, 104.3 E), Tamyr Peninsula, Russia
20. Ostrov Dikson (73.5 N,80.4 E, Russia
21. Ostrov Kotel’ (76.0 N,137.9 E), Russia
22. Mys Salaurova (73.2 N,143.2 E), Russia
23. Ostrov Chetyr (70.6 N,162.5 E), Russia
24. Ostrov Vrange (71.0 N,178.5 W) , Russia
Now here is the chart of the temperatures of these isolated stations, not subjected to manmade structures or heat sources.
Note that most of the trends are flat or decreasing. Only Resolute and Ostrov Vrange are increasing slightly. Both of those might be slightly influenced by UHI. The longest records clearly show warming in the late 1930’s and 40’s, and cooling in the 1960’s, and none show a hockey stick. The GISS data for Alert ends in 1991, though the weather station is still there, and still reporting. Data for Mys Salaurova and Ostrov Chetyr also ends at about that time, probably due to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Here is an average of all the isolated stations:
Note that the peak-to-peak trend is nearly zero. The linear trend is about 0.4°C/century, but the R2 value (the statistical significance for the trend) is very low, 0.023.
Here is a plot of the AMO versus the average temperature of the isolated stations.
The temperature as measured at stations isolated from any UHI is simply tracking the AMO.
Looks like an awfully good fit. There is very little, if any, global warming. We need to wait until the bottom of the next AMO cycle to get a decent reading of global temperature change. That will be in about 2050 if the AMO cycles as it has since 1850.
Annex – station descriptions
The “urban” stations, nos. 1-15
1. Kotzebue, Ral (66.9 N,162.6 W),
2. Barrow/W. Pos (71.3 N,156.8 W)
These towns are of similar size, and are growing at the same rate. In 1940, both towns had a population of 400. In 1980 both had just over 2000 population, and now they both have over 3000 people. Both have airports of sufficient size to handle multi-engine turboprop and small jet aircraft, and both are served daily by regional airlines. Kotzebue is on a peninsula and the airport is across the middle of the peninsula, somewhat restricting the growth of the town. Barrow has somewhat the same problem due to a series of small ponds around the town and the airport. Barrow was studied for UHI effects in 2003. That paper was in the International Journal of Climatology here. That paper describes the UHI average temperature increase in winter as 2.2°C compared to the surrounding hinterland. GISS data indicates that Barrow average temperature has increased over the years as population has increased. (See below, or click on link above.)
The Barrow NWS station (Stevenson Screen) is here. On the airport picture, it is at the base of the rotating beacon tower. Kotzebue NWS station is not visible in published pictures.
3. Inuvik (68.3N, 133.5W)
Inuvik is a relatively new town, begun in 1954. The population as of 2006 has grown to about 3500 people. Because it is a “planned” community in the arctic, built on permafrost, the water and sewage infrastructure is above ground in heated and insulated “utilidors”, like the heating systems in Siberia. The weather station, from weather reports, Google Earth and Google Street View, appears to be at the airport, in a compound just north of the entrance.
4. Cambridge Bay (69.1 N,105.1 W), Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada
There is a Wikipedia picture of Cambridge Bay here. The population has grown from just a few people in the 1940’s to about 1500 today. It also has an airport with daily regional airline service.
5. Eureka, N.W.T. (80.0 N,85.9 W), Eureka, N. W. T., Canada
There are the only four stations at or north of 80° latitude, Eureka, Alert, Nord and Krenkle (Gmo. I.M.ET). Only Eureka has an unbroken temperature record to the present date, and it begins in 1947. The population at Eureka has
never been high. In winter it has always been 4 or 5 men. In summer, the population increases to as high as 20. The station infrastructure though, has expanded through the years. Each year, some of those 20 workers add or expand buildings. In the beginning, it was one or two buildings, with water and sewage handled in tanks and barrels internal to the buildings. The Stevenson screen was originally placed where the blue New Main Complex building is now. When that was built, the Meteorological instruments were moved to the current location. Over time, the water supply, plumbing, and sewage treatment was upgraded and the outfall pipe installed. It, of course, must be heated to facilitate flow to the sewage lagoon. All the water pipes exposed to the outdoors must be heated to prevent freezing.
Image from a recent article by Anthony Watts on WUWT here.
6. Nord Ads (81.6 N,16.7 W, Northeast Greenland
Nord is the furthest north inhabited place on earth, on the Northeast coast of Greenland. It was built in the period from 1952 to 1956 as an emergency airfield for aircraft operating out of Thule. Access is impossible by sea because the sea ice never moves away from the coast there. Legend has it that “Blowtorch” Murphy, a mythic arctic construction worker, scraped the first runway, using a parachute dropped caterpillar tractor after he himself parachuted onto the site. His nickname came from his habit of wearing a lit blowtorch hanging from his waistband on a wire; a lit blowtorch being somewhat useful when working outside when it’s 40° below zero.
There are about 40 buildings at Nord. Not all of them are continuously heated, but those near the Stevenson Screen are. The winter population is 5 or 6 men. More pictures here.
8. Isfjord Radio (78.1 N,13.6 E)
These two stations are only 47 kilometers apart. But data for both is fragmentary for 1976 and 1977, and there is no overlap. Svalbard Luft (airport) has been discussed on WUWT here and here, so I won’t cover it in detail here. Warwick Hughes has an article on Isfjord Radio here that makes the case for warming of Isfjord Radio due to moving of sea ice away from the islands in summer since 1912. Neither station in Svalbard shows on the anomaly map because there was no common station in both the base period and the anomaly period. Here’s a map with 1998 to 2008 as the base period where Svalbard appears.
9. Gmo Im.E.T.(80.6 N,58.0 E)
This is the Krenkel meteorological station on Hayes Island, or Ostrov Kheysa in Russian, in the Franz Josef Land Archipelago, Russia. Link The station has been moved or re-built twice since it was established. It was moved from Hooker Island (article in German) in 1957/58. A fire destroyed the power station in 2000, and it was rebuilt in 2004 closer to the shoreline. The GISS record is from 1958 with a gap from 2001 to 2009. The population was as high as 200 during Soviet times, but is down to 4 or 5 now. The population and the temperature seem to track roughly during Soviet days, and the move in 2004 was to a warmer location. In the picture you can see the old buildings on the ridge in the distance. The red grid-square on the anomaly map above corresponds to this station.
10. Olenek (68.5 N,112.4 E)
This is the town of Ust’-Olenek, Russia.
Photo sources here and here.
The town doesn’t look like much, but notice the Tundra Buggies parked next to the Stevenson Screens. It is on the Laptev Sea, on the northern Siberia Coast, but on a peninsula on a south-facing beach. The buildings are right on the shore. The wide view above was taken from out on the ice. This is one of the few places in Russia that the Google Earth satellite view actually has enough resolution to see the Stevenson Screens. They are much too close to the heated building.
11. Verhojansk (67.5 N,133.4 E)
This is one of the “centrally heated” towns in Russian Siberia. The picture at the top of this article is of the Stevenson Screen. Verhojansk is called the “cold pole” of the earth, but the measurements are too warm by far. Look closely at the picture. Any photographer will note that the warm glow inside the Stevenson Screen is just the color temperature of an incandescent light bulb. If the steam heat in the town isn’t enough, or the cattle in the pole-barns in the distance, the heat from the light bulb will warm up the measurements. This site was covered on WUWT here and here. Anthony Watts notes that warm anomalies would appear and disappear in this part of Russia “as if a switch were thrown”. Could it be as simple as the switch on that light bulb?
12. Cokurdah (70.6 N,147.9 E)
Also spelled Chokurdakh. The population has been dropping in recent years, but was still over 2500 people in 2002. The town is sandwiched between the Indigirka River and the airport. There is no way to tell where the Stevenson Screen is located, but the infrastructure at the airport blends right into the town. See an aerial photo here.
13. Zyrjanka (65.7 N, 150.9 E) Also spelled Zyryanka, another steam-heated town in eastern Siberia, well inland. The airport is in this picture on the north edge of town, along the Kolyma riverbank. This airfield was built during WWII as a stop for aircraft being ferried to the Soviet Union from Alaska. A second airport 7 miles west of town was probably built during the cold war for the military. The town was established in 1931. The population is currently about 3500. During the Soviet Union it was up to 15,000.
14. Mys Smidta (68.9 N,179.4 W)
Or Cape Schmidt. John Daly wrote a bit about this location in 2000 (scroll way down in the article). The population was nearly 5000 in 1989, but has dropped since the fall of the Soviet Union. The population now is probably less than 1000. It is on the north coast of eastern Siberia, nearly at 180° longitude. The airbase there was built in 1954 as a staging base for any bombers headed for the U. S. It is still used by a regional airline.
15. Mys Uelen (66.2 N,169.8 W)
Or Cape Uelen. This is on the easternmost tip of Siberia, across Bering Strait from Kotzebue, Alaska. The current population is about 700 people. It is also centrally steam heated. The town is restricted by the geography, on a narrow spit sticking out into the sea, backed by a cliff on the landward side. The airport is a helipad. Cargo and fuel arrives by barge in the summer.
Below is a temperature chart for many of the above stations. All are warming, some faster than others. Barrow, for which we have the UHI study, is not the fastest warming.
16. Alert,N.W.T.(82.5 N,62.3 W), Alert, Canada
Alert, Canada has had a weather station since 1951. The population has never been more than 4 or 5 in the winter, with a higher population in the summer. I could not definitively locate the Stevenson screen, but there are two possibilities in this photo, both well away from the buildings.
THE ISOLATED STATIONS, NOS. 16-24
17. Resolute,N.W. (74.7 N,95.0 W)
The population of this Canadian station rose from zero prior to 1947, to 229 in 2006. There is an airport here, and the Stevenson Screen can be seen across the aircraft parking area from the airport terminal at the left edge of the photo.
18. Jan Mayen (70.9 N,8.7 W)
Pictures of the station are here, and a web site is here. The 18 people on the island live at Olonkinbyen, or Olonkin “City”. The meteorological station is 2.6 km away. The 4 people that work there live in Olonkin City. The Stevenson Screen appears to be well away from the station building, and the surroundings have probably not changed since the station was built.
19. Gmo Im.E. K. F (77.7 N, 104.3 E)
This is a Russian station on the Tamyr Peninsula at Cape Chelyuskin (Mys Chelyuskin). Nothing is visible at that location on the Google satellite view, but the resolution is very low. I found an article by Warwick Hughes dated September 2000 that speaks of cooling of the Tamyr Peninsula here. He also talks about “non-climate” warming of Verhojansk and Olenek.
This is Dickson Island in English. There is a town of Dikson 10 kilometers away on the mainland. The airport is on Dikson Island at the point called Ostrov Dikson on the map below. Pictures of the airport can be seen here. The town is pictured on this 1965 stamp.
21. Ostrov Kotel’ (76.0 N,137.9 E)
The full name is Ostrov Kotel’nyy. In English this is Kettle Island. The first documented explorer found a copper kettle, so obviously he was not the first person to find the island. A single building is barely visible on Google 3D mapsat the “settlement” known as Kalinina. This may be the meteorological station. No other signs of civilization can be seen on the whole island.
This also spelled Mys Shalaurova. The station is on the south-facing shore of an island and is visible on Google Earth here. There is a tide gauge, and the tide data is on that same page.
23. Ostrov Chetyr (70.6 N,162.5 E)
The full name is Ostrov Chetyrekhstolbovoy. This is a small island in the East Siberian Sea in the Medvezhy Island (Bear Island) group.
Map source here.
A description of the place is found: here. “A polar meteorological station and a radio station are situated on the shore of a small bay which indents the S side of the island.”
24. Ostrov Vrange (71.0 N,178.5 W)
This is otherwise known as Wrangle Island. It is about 125 kilometers off the Siberian coast on the 180th meridian. The weather station is at Ushakovskiy on a spit at Rogers Bay, at the right in this picture, well separated from the village. One building in the village is visible at the left. Link
The population in the village grew to as many as 180 people in the 1980’s, but when the Soviet Union dissolved, subsidies declined and the population moved to the mainland. The last villager was killed by a polar bear in 2003. The population at the weather station, when occupied, has always been 4 or 5.