Jones et al 1990, TR055 and GHCN

I have collated the Jones et al 1990 temperature data against annual average data from the TR055 data set, reviewing all 84 plots in the format shown below. Here is a plot for Shanghai. The Jones et al 1990 version was plotted first in black and the annual average from TR055 secondly in red. If the match is very close (as here), the second line overwrites the first line, which then doesn’t show. So I also plotted the Jones et al 1990 version with prominent points, emphasizing the identity of the two series in the area of overlap. The Jones et al version only goes from 1954-1983, while the TR055 is longer,beginning in the 19th century (not all of which is shown here) and continuing to 1990. Doug Keenan reports that the station history reports moves.

Black- Jones et al 1990 version; red TR055 annual average.

Here is another example from Qingdao, where the longer TR055 record shows a considerable temperature decrease from the early 1940s to the early 1950s, when Jones et al commenced their study – a change observable in other TR055 stations. The “trend” in this data is sensitive to choice of start and end points and, while I’m sure that there are “good” reasons for the period selected by Jones, it does seem a little opportunistic. Doug Keenan says that the station history is inconsistent.


Here is an example from Chengdu, again showing high values prior to the start of the Jones period; Doug Keenan reports that the station history indicates moves.


In only one case was there a material inconsistency between the TR055 version and Jones et al 1990: Wulumuqi, as shown below. It’s pretty hard to figure out what Jones is doing here. The Jones version (uniquely in this case) lowers the values, perhaps on the basis of an inhomogeneity around 1960. OK, but then their later values from 1973 are identical to the unadjusted values. If the values in the middle were adjusted for homogeneity, shouldn’t the later values be as well? Of course, that would pretty much eliminate the trend, and, as I recall, this was the station with the largest trend in the urban group. Ah, the Team!


I also browsed through comparisons of the TR055 version to the GHCN v2 version. What struck me immediately was just how stale the GHCN v2 data is. Many of the stations have not been updated since TR055 around 1990. Here’s a plot of one Jones station comparing the TR055 version to the version currently at GHCN v2. They are identical. If they aren’t updating this data, what is the money earmarked for updating being spent on?

Black- current GHCN v2 version; red – TR055

This is not to say that none of the series are updated. However, the updates in a quick pass often show an alarming lack of continuity. Here’s a typical example. To take an annual average, I required all 12 months to be available. Why would the record through the travails of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution be continuous, only to become erratic in the 1990s? Are there inhomogeneities lurking here?


Here’s another example in which later values in GHCN v2 are erratic and again, one wonders about homogeneity. The data on file does indicate relative warmth in the late 1930s-early 1940s, something that one sees in other places. Of course, this is pre-CRU adjustments.


A comment in the most recent CRU survey notes that undocumented homogeneity adjustments may exist in national data prior to CRU handling. If one ever wonders about the potential scale of adjustment, take a look at this spectacular example. So someone has to guess at how to adjust for this.


BTW the documentation for the NOAA gridded data says that they use the “raw” GHCN v2 data (which is what’s plotted here).

In conclusion, I guess what surprised me the most was how stale the data was in GHCN v2. In answer to Willis’ FOI request, the University of East Anglia said that all the Jones station data was available online at GHCN v2. If that’s the case, is CRU also using stale station data? With so much stale data, I wonder how many series are actually driving the temperature results in this area.


  1. John A
    Posted Apr 14, 2007 at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Funnily enough, the GISS website (prop: J. Hansen) also perform the same trick of starting in the cold 1950s and ending in the warm 1990s. For example here the “warm stations” are all shown from the same baseline from the 1950s onwards. The excuse given is purely scientific and nothing whatsoever to do with cherrypicking or global warming advocacy:

    Using 1951-1980 as a base period, we compute the fraction of the stations (in a given latitude band and globally) that fall in the “warm” category. The “warm” category is defined at each station location from the climatology for the period 1951-1980; the 10 warmest years (33%) in that 30-year period are categorized as “warm”, which is essentially the way that the National Weather Service defines the categories “warm”, “normal” or “average”, and “cool”. We choose 1951-1980 as the base period because that was the base period at the time that “global warming” began to be a public issue. Also it is the time that “baby boomers” grew up, so this choice for base period allows those people to relate today’s climate to that which they remember.

    Also its curious that the longest series in the GISS database also show the same anomalies as the Chinese series cited above (a warmer 1930s-early 1940s and a colder 1950s-1970s) even though they’re nearly half a world away from each other:

    Godthab/Nuuk (Greenland):

    Cape Town (South Africa)

    But then we’re dealing here with real temperature readings and not treerings so obviously there’s a problem of interpretation.

  2. Bob Koss
    Posted Apr 14, 2007 at 9:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I extrapolated the continuation of the Jones Dali series through 2006. It seems they made a reduction of about 1/2 a degree from the files I have. So I did the same.

    If the image doesn’t show up. It can be found here.

  3. TAC
    Posted Apr 15, 2007 at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM, this is fabulous! Your presentation is rich, balanced, fair, and devastating. While it obviously has important implications, the presentation is also highly entertaining. :-)

  4. Posted Apr 15, 2007 at 1:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Regarding the graph of temperatures at Station 57516, the discontinuity is of course due to a relocation of the station. According to the CAS-ORNL report, there was a relocation, beginning 1951, from 29°33′N,106°33′E to 29°35′N,106°28′E. The distance is about 9 km. There is a map showing the two locations at (inserting images/links seems to be not working). Interestingly, the terrain, etc., of the two locations is the same.

    The station relocation occurred before 1954, and so does not affect the papers of Jones et al. [Nature, 1990] or Wang et al. [GRL, 1990]. It nonetheless helps to illustrate how problematic relocations can be (and makes the possible undocumented homogeneity adjustments extra worrisome).

  5. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Apr 15, 2007 at 1:55 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Interestingly, the terrain, etc., of the two locations is the same

    It looks like (1) is sandwiched between a road and river, while (2) is near neither.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] 2007, following receipt of the data, I did a number of posts at CA on the Chinese network e.g. here here here here here, analysis that we now know that Jones was monitoring. One of the few mentions of [...]

  2. [...] Immediately on receipt of this information, I wrote some interesting posts on Chinese stations here here here . Doug Keenan followed up on this information as [...]

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