Anthony Watts Drops A Big Bomb – That Makes A Little Bang

It’s a definite bang, but nothing like I was expecting. Let’s just say it was a little bang out here in Europe.

Anthony Watts shut down his popular WUWT website Friday because “something happened” and he needed time to prepare a “major announcement” that he was sure would “attract a broad global interest due to its controversial and unprecedented nature”. Because of “the magnitude of this event” he was even able to convince his wife that it was necessary to suspend vacation plans. Now that sounds big!

The press release excerpt:

A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward.

Other findings:

– Poorly sited station trends are adjusted sharply upward, and well sited stations are adjusted upward to match the already-adjusted poor stations.

· Well sited rural stations show a warming nearly three times greater after NOAA adjustment is applied.

· Urban sites warm more rapidly than semi-urban sites, which in turn warm more rapidly than rural sites.”

Admittedly, my expectations concerning the implications were surely too high. It’s nothing that we haven’t already suspected or known. But it is good that this issue has been examined scientifically, formally and published. It’s now certified that US temps have been massively overstated and that the NOAA needs to clean up its act.

In summary:

1. Major announcement? Yes, but nothing like it was made out to be.
2. It’s of global interest? Some, but in Europe it’ll be pretty much ignored – local issue that does not change anything globally.
3. Controversial? For temperature record keeping at the NOAA, yes. But little global impact.
4. Unprecedented? Not really. It confirms what everyone expected. Temperature data are botched everywhere, every day.

This paper will put the NOAA on the defensive of course, at least for a little while. I don’t expect any of the German mainstream media to report on this, though. But I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

The announcement is big, but not that big. Some things could have been spared in the run up to the announcement.

And so the great global warming debate continues…


29 responses to “Anthony Watts Drops A Big Bomb – That Makes A Little Bang”

  1. Joe Bastardi

    And that small warming can easily be explained by the warm PDO. Now we can easily test it though, since cooling back to where it was in the late 70s should occur, which already appears to be starting in the wake of the leveling off

    1. mwhite
  2. John Silver

    +0.032 C per deacde is a dramatically different result.
    Even if it’s only the US.

  3. Ulrich Elkmann

    It certainly looks small, and something of a bit of deformation professionelle on Anthony’s part, given the gargatuan efforts he put into sensor siting checks – but if the resulting downgraded temperature rise can indeed be explained by the PDO, it may make quite some difference in the long run: “There has been no AGW AT ALL in the last 30 years – here’s the proof”: how does that sound?

    1. Mindert Eiting

      Yes Ulrich, if this were known a few decades ago, AGW would not exist. The propaganda war may not be over, but the science is collapsing.

  4. Eduardo Ferreyra

    I still think that “adjustments” should be outlawed from temperature readings. It has opened the door to blatant corruption.

  5. pyromancer 76

    I think it is a little more than a little bang. Are Germany’s thermometers properly sited? Check Joanne Nova’s blog for a better take of the meaning of the announcement. How many “peer-reviewed papers” are no longer valid?

    Thanks for the fine work on your blog, P. Gosselin. Glad I found you at WUWT.

  6. Michael Limburg

    These findings prove again, that most of the US stations, considered before to be the very best maintained stations of the world (until Anthony´s volunteer projects show the opposite) exaggerated the amount of warming there by far.
    This was the first conclusion if one looks into the real situation on site after the publication of Anthony’s report in 2009.
    But this is not true for the US only but for all major countries like Germany also, as we proved several times too. What will the local media do?
    It is to be expected that mainstream media will treat this message as a local event, that will not change the whole picture. But we from EIKE, like you, will not allow them to do so.
    best regards
    [For readers here, Michael Limburg is the spokesman for the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) based in Germany. I’ll surely be relaying their reaction to this in English in the days ahead. -PG]

  7. Michael Limburg

    Congratulations Anthony, I never believed the work of Menne et al. If they would be right there would no reason to have any classification for the measurement conditions of any meteorological station.
    We at EIKE will take care for distribution in German speaking countries. Very well done Anthony and all the other fellows.

  8. RCS

    One of the most telling conclusions of Watts’ work is, to my mind, that his estimates are consistent with satellite temperaure measurements.

    When two radically different methods give roughly the same results, one is given confidence that they may be correct.

  9. Ulrich Elkmann

    Another thing: the fact, the sad and disturbing fact is that without the Internet and devoted people like Anthony Watts and Joanne Nova, there would be no scepticism, no dissent, outside of our kitchens – just as under communism. “You can’t fool all the people all the time” would no longer be true. It should be the object of journalism to question propaganda, get the truth out as best as it is humanly possible; it should be the object of science to test assumptions and theories endlessly to the utmost of possibilities; it should be the aim of politics to act on the best of available knowledge: in all three instances they have failed the public – the people – in short: everybody but themselves – like the worst lickspittles of petty tyrants. Those, at least, have an excuse because their heads will roll if they do not cringe.

    1. Mindert Eiting

      “You can’t fool all the people all the time” is true. Something true is always true. You can’t fool all the people all the time about the international conspiracy of the Jews. With the present means of communication we will have less victims than before. Be optimistic and go to bed. I will do the same.

  10. hro001

    Pierre, I think that initially we all had some great expectations based on Anthony’s initial announcement.

    However, in fairness he did “dial them down” via update to his own blog and via additional comments from Steve McIntyre and Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill).

    My guess is that Anthony became aware of the impending Op Ed by Richard Muller in the NYT (that while dated July 28, according to the URL was scheduled for publication on July 30:

    Considering Muller’s history of doing science by press release contra his own advice to others [see Will the real Richard Muller please stand up], I think I can understand Anthony’s perspective, and I for one am willing to forgive what might (in hindsight) have appeared to be somewhat over-hyped.

    But if one combines Watts et al 2012 with Judith Curry’s (very telling, IMHO) decision not to be listed as a co-author on Muller’s latest – along with her primary criticism:

    […] the scientific analyses that the BEST team has done with the new data set are controversial, including the impact of station quality on interpreting temperature trends and the urban heat island effect.

    [BEST’s] latest paper on the 250 year record concludes that the best explanation for the observed warming is greenhouse gas emissions. In my opinion, their analysis is way over simplistic and not at all convincing. […] the big question is how much of this warming can be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. I dont think this question can be answered by the simple curve fitting used in this paper, and I don’t see that their paper adds anything to our understanding of the causes of the recent warming.

    then, IMHO, this certainly calls into question Muller’s claim (in the NYT Op Ed) that:

    These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.

    So, all in all, I think that in the months ahead, Anthony’s weekend spent wrapping up this paper will prove to have some rather loud repercussions that might even justify the hype.

    Harold Ambler, btw, has two related posts that are well worth a read:


  11. Paul Deacon

    Dear Pierre – I do not share your disappointment. I think this is indeed a major announcement, because (a) it applies the WMO’s methodology (i.e. the UN’s) to undercut the IPCC (i.e. the UN); and (b) unless clearly refuted, the paper undercuts many scientific papers based on this data. A better headline might be:

    “Applying UN’s standard shows that half of US warming is spurious.”

    Bear in mind that the US climate network has hitherto been considered the highest quality in the world (my uinderstanding).

    All the best.

  12. archaeopteryx

    It documents something that had been discussed, so it is not without merit (never mind the promotion).

    The worrying part is the INCREASE of warming alarmism (and, surprise surprise) green energy hype in more mainstream media in the US, in the last 6 months. Nothing like hot weather to convince people the sky is falling.

  13. Rob Honeycutt

    Pierre… Anthony’s claims would be very interesting if they turn out to be true. Call me skeptical but being that there have already been so many efforts to test the same hypothesis only to come up with the conclusion that, no, surface station siting has very little effect on the temperature record, raises a big red flag for me. I’ve not read through the paper yet but some of the figures in the press release sound fantastically overstated. I would venture to guess they pressed hard to get this out and having already been provided with advance notice of the BEST results, were intent upon coming out with bigger news. In the process I think it’s more likely than not they missed something major in their figures, and once those figures are taken into account the data is going to show what everything else says about surface station siting.

    1. DirkH

      Hi Rob!

      How’s doubling down on renewables going?

  14. Robert of Ottawa

    Pierre Goselin (French Canadian?) you are correct this won’t be a big deal in Europe. They have other fish to fry. And, also, the Warmistas will spin this as “the US is only 2% … yadayayada” but it MUST bring into doubt the whole edifice of Global Warming as it is not clear even how much warming there is.

    OK, so Europeans are brain-dead, or running on idle, or more interested in more pressing issues. But, those same Europeans are being squeezed on the cost of energy because of these very numbers, which have been shown to be untrue.

  15. Bernd Felsche

    Looking over my thumb; half the alleged rise can now be traced back to erroneous adjustments and the other half can be accounted for largely by solar/albedo effects.

    “It’s the sun, stupid!”

    1. Mindert Eiting

      I woke up this morning with an optimistic thought. It is often seen in meta-analyses that claimed effects shrink as the quality of studies becomes better. It is a hall mark of fake effects that they disappear on better inspection. Better studies, better measurements, better coverage, and the warming becomes less. A fake effect does not need an explanation: the CO2 story can be stored in the attic among the old books.

  16. Ed Caryl

    While Watts et al. 2012 is a major step forward, it only looks at UWI effects from heat sources in the “viewshed”. There is another source of UWI effects, those sources in the “windshed”, that are up-wind out of view and may be diffuse and some distance away. If those are taken into account, ALL the warming may go away. I am struck by Watts et al determination that the SE US is cooling. This region is the warmest, and has the least seasonal and diurnal temperature swings. The warming regions, the NE and SW, have the highest seasonal and diurnal swings, with lower minimum temperatures. I suspect that viewshed and windshed effects are higher when temperatures are lower. My own articles on Mullers BEST work, and A Wind In Siberia here on this blog suggest as much.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      In my investigation of a local “extreme” reported by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (apparently no longer their core activity; to measure weather)
      I found a step-change in temperatures (+2°C in average minima) at a non-bureau weather station; one operated by the State’s Department of Agriculture.

      Turns out that a nearby water treatment plant was expanded in capacity to trial injection of treated waste water into the ground water table. Paving around a nearby gas hub distribution may have contributed, but I couldn’t pin down a time for when that work was done.

  17. Mike Haseler

    His announcement was very timely as it coincided with the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum’s start of our maildrop to Scottish politicians. Somehow, the details of his news release just seem to have fallen in all the envelopes!!

  18. thebiggreenlie

    Maybe we won’t have to watch any more fake documentaries from National Geo and Discovery Channels that show Global Warming as the biggest threat to our survival anywhere at any time!
    Of course one can turn off their TV or switch channels but what about the young ones who don’t know the truth and are literally brain washed for life by people like David Suzuki or Al Gore who are nothing but climate charlatans?

    1. DirkH

      They have the internet.

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