Here’s Watts theory:
I’ve been saying for years that surface temperature measurements (and long term trends) have been affected by encroachment of urbanization on the placement of weather stations used to measure surface air temperature, and track long term climate. In doing so we found some hilariously bad examples of climate science in action, such as the official USHCN climate monitoring station at the University of Arizona, Tucson:
Basically, Watts says that machines used to measure warming have been placed too close to areas that are urbanizing. These man-made structures artificially elevate local temperatures, and therefore the machine’s readings are not accurate.
Well, it’s not a theory anymore.
Now that NOAA has finally published their findings, Watts is taking a victory lap.
Like I’ve said all along (and been excoriated for saying so) they found exactly what we did.
Impacts of Small-Scale Urban Encroachment on Air Temperature Observations
Ronald D. Leeper, John Kochendorfer, Timothy Henderson, and Michael A. Palecki
Abstract (bold mine)
A field experiment was performed in Oak Ridge, TN, with four instrumented towers placed over grass at increasing distances (4, 30, 50, 124, and 300 m) from a built-up area. Stations were aligned in such a way to simulate the impact of small-scale encroachment on temperature observations. As expected, temperature observations were warmest for the site closest to the built environment with an average temperature difference of 0.31 and 0.24 °C for aspirated and unaspirated sensors respectively. Mean aspirated temperature differences were greater during the evening (0.47 °C) than day (0.16 °C). This was particularly true for evenings following greater daytime solar insolation (20+ MJDay−1) with surface winds from the direction of the built environment where mean differences exceeded 0.80 °C. The impact of the built environment on air temperature diminished with distance with a warm bias only detectable out to tower-B’ located 50 meters away.
The experimental findings were comparable to a known case of urban encroachment at a U. S. Climate Reference Network station in Kingston, RI. The experimental and operational results both lead to reductions in the diurnal temperature range of ~0.39 °C for fan aspirated sensors. Interestingly, the unaspirated sensor had a larger reduction in DTR of 0.48 °C. These results suggest that small-scale urban encroachment within 50 meters of a station can have important impacts on daily temperature extrema (maximum and minimum) with the magnitude of these differences dependent upon prevailing environmental conditions and sensing technology.
And, we’ve published at AGU on the effects of siting on 30 year temperature trends:
The quality of temperature station siting matters for temperature trends
What’s the point?
The point is that NOAA, a government department whose whole job is studying the atmosphere, just confirmed that a huge portion of the warming they’ve measured isn’t actually happening.