‘Hidden’ NOAA Temperature Data Reveals That 6 of the Last 9 Months Were Below Normal in the USA

By Anthony Watts – Re-Blogged From WUWT

A review of state-of-the-art climate data tells a different story than what NOAA tells the public.

While media outlets scream “hottest ever” for the world in June and July (it’s summer) and opportunistic climate crusaders use those headlines to push the idea of a “climate crisis” the reality is for USA is that so far most of 2019 has been below normal, temperature-wise.

Little known data from the state of the art U.S. Climate Reference Network (which never seems to make it into NOAA’s monthly “state of the climate” reports) show that for the past nine months, six of them were below normal, shown in bold below.

201810 -0.18°F
201811 -2.56°F
201812 2.39°F
201901 0.63°F
201902 -3.15°F
201903 -2.81°F
201904 1.55°F
201905 -1.13°F
201906 -0.14°F

Above: Table 1, U.S. average temperature anomaly from October 2018 to June 2019. Full data file here

Note the below average value for June, 2019 at -0.14°F

The data, taken directly from NOAA’s national climate data page, shows not only that much of 2019 was below average, but that the US Temperature average is actually cooler now for 2019 than we were in 2005, when the dataset started.

Figure 1, U.S. average temperature anomaly from January 2005 to June 2019. Source of graph, NOAA, available here

The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) was established to give the most accurate temperature readings compared to the old Cooperative Observer Network (COOP) which suffers from urban encroachment, siting problems, and a multitude of human induced inhomgeneities such as station moves, incomplete data, closed stations, and runway condition stations at airports that were never designed to report climate data.

Click for report

Readers here know of my work to highlight these problems, and as a result, there was a 2011 report by the GAO about the problems with the old COOP network. They investigated a subset of the larger COOP network (The USHCN) and said:

According to GAO’s survey of weather forecast offices, about 42 percent of the active stations in 2010 did not meet one or more of the siting standards. With regard to management requirements, GAO found that the weather forecast offices had generally but not always met the requirements to conduct annual station inspections and to update station records. NOAA officials told GAO that it is important to annually visit stations and keep records up to date, including siting conditions, so that NOAA and other users of the data know the conditions under which they were recorded. NOAA officials identified a variety of challenges that contribute to some stations not adhering to siting standards and management requirements, including the use of temperature measuring equipment that is connected by a cable to an indoor readout device— which can require installing equipment closer to buildings than specified in the siting standards.

NOAA does not centrally track whether USHCN stations adhere to siting standards and the requirement to update station records, and it does not have an agency wide policy regarding stations that do not meet its siting standards. Performance management guidelines call for using performance information to assess program results. NOAA’s information systems, however, are not designed to centrally track whether stations in the USHCN meet its siting standards or the requirement to update station records. Without centrally available information, NOAA cannot easily measure the performance of the USHCN in meeting siting standards and management requirements.

Source: GAO-11-800 August 31, 2011, Climate Monitoring: NOAA Can Improve Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network https://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11800high.pdf

NOAA’s response? Rather than fix it, they closed reporting the USHCN subset of COOP stations in 2012. They now say this on their climate data page:

National USHCN monthly temperature updates have been discontinued. The official CONUS temperature record is now based upon nClimDiv. USHCN data for January 1895 to August 2014 will remain available for historical comparison.

Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/national-temperature-index/time-series?datasets%5B%5D=uscrn&datasets%5B%5D=cmbushcn&parameter=anom-tavg&time_scale=p12&begyear=2004&endyear=2019&month=12

Yet, while the USHCN was closed, and the data from it are no longer reported in the monthly and yearly NOAA climate reports, the problems identified in the USHCN persist in the larger COOP Network, of which several thousand stations remain:

Distribution of U.S. Cooperative Observer Network stations in the CONUS. U.S. HCN version 2 sites are indicated as red triangles. Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ushcn/introduction

All NOAA did was treat the visible symptoms we identified (by excising them), while leaving the larger disease uncured, and continuing to use the majority of data in it, data with the same sort of problems and inhomgeneities discovered in the USHCN subset. The USHCN was 1218 station out of over 8700 COOP stations, and that remaining data is used to calculate the U.S. Climate Divisional Dataset used to report “official” temperature averages today. Basically all they did was sweep the problem under the rug, and report that they have algorithms to “fix” bad data.

In any other branch of science, in the stock market, or in criminal forensics, “bad” data would be thrown out as unreliable.

Meanwhile, perfectly good data gets ignored in favor of “fixed” bad data. NOAA says this about the new state-of-the-art Climate Reference Network network:

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.

Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/us-climate-reference-network-uscrn

The data from the rest of the world, as reported by NOAA’s Global Historical Climatology Network is largely composed of the same type of stations, with an equal to or even greater (due to lack of consistent quality control) set of data problems.

Unfortunately, NOAA doesn’t seem to think the data from this state-of-the-art US Climate Reference Network is worth reporting to the public. A scan of the last 5 years of yearly and monthly “State of the Climate” reports has not a single mention of this high quality data, preferring to cite the data from the old COOP network instead, now repackaged as the U.S. Climate Divisional Dataset.

In fact, for the June 2019 State of the Climate Report, NOAA is claiming that the US was 0.2F above average in June, when in fact the US Climate Reference Network reported the June data as below average at -0.14°F

The June contiguous U.S. temperature was 68.7°F, 0.2°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the middle third of the 125-year record.

Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/201906

So what is the correct US Temperature for June?

In May, 2019, there was also a disparity. USCRN reported the national average temperature as below average at -1.13°F

While NOAA’s “official” climate report said it was only about half that, reading warmer by 0.43°F:

For May, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 59.5°F, 0.7°F below the 20thcentury average and ranked in the bottom third of the 125-year record.

Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/201905

It seems NOAA can’t even agree on reporting what the actual temperature of the United States is on a monthly basis, using their own old and unreliable data, while neglecting to report the best data they have. Why?

That’s a travesty of government incompetence worth investigating.

One wonders if screaming headlines about “hottest ever” this month would even exist if the world had a global version of the U.S. Climate Reference Network where the data was quality controlled, and measurements taken far away from the human induced heat of urbanization.


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