Minus 60 (deg C)?

One of the interesting by-products of the GISS screw-up in October was that we learned the names and locations of quite a few Siberian weather stations – that are glaring “hot spots” on temperature anomaly maps. However, most of these places are among the coldest places on earth.

One of them was Verhojansk, about which Anthony Watts had an interesting post last week; it was one of the screwed up NOAA-Hansen sites. It vies for the title of coldest place (in the Northern Hemisphere) with nearby Ojmjakon.

I’ve taken to occasionally checking on these sites to see how they’re doing and there’s something interesting to watch for over the next few days – the sort of thing that might appeal to people who liked following the summer ice melt. Daily weather information for Ojkjakon is online here

Anyway, in the GHCND history for Ojmjakon online here , there hasn’t been a minus 60 deg C day in December for 15 years and only one in the past 25 years. There has been only one December temperature at Ojmjakon below 62.5 in the GHCND archive (since 1943) – a reading of -62.8 in 1984.

But according to the forecasts here, a low of minus 60 is forecast tonight and minus 63 tomorrow.

The GHCND daily records are maintained consistently up to 2000, but archiving of daily data became very sporadic following the IPCC TAR report. Over the past week, GHCN-D has not managed to record temperatures that were readily available online.

196 Comments

  1. Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    Interesting, I just checked and the temperature and five hours ago it was -72 with a -76 forecast for Friday night. Station not reporting. It could be too cold to read.

  2. deadwood
    Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

    Why would you want to use real data when you can generate estimates so much easier? Or even use last month’s.

  3. deadwood
    Posted Dec 18, 2008 at 11:55 PM | Permalink

    Its forecast for Saturday night is -81F!

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:02 AM | Permalink

    folks, if you’re dealing in climate, you’d better get used to deg C. -60 C and -81F are the same thing.

    • Mike Upham
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#4), Close, anyway… -40F and -40C are the same, and every 10 degrees C is 18 degrees F. So -60C = -40 – 2(18) = -76F. The high for the week is like -40C. Ouch!

  5. Larry Huldén
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:24 AM | Permalink

    Yakutian temperatures are quite interesting because indigenous malaria was prevalent there during the the first half of 20th century. It was eradicated in Yakutia in the 1960’s. In Ojmjakon in January 1926 there was -71,2 C (northern hemisphere cold record) and in January in 1933 about -67 C. In these years there were 800 and 12,000 malaria cases respectively. About 5-10 % of the Yakutian population suffered from malaria. In northern Eurasia malaria occurred nearly everywhere and the main transmission season lasted from December to April. Malaria was spread by mosquitoes during the coldest season indoors. There were no adult mosquitoes during the summer. During the short summer the mosquitoes had to pass the larval stages as quickly as possible when there existed liquid water. The same parasite species (Plasmodium vivax) occurs for instance in Eritrea where malaria transmission season has temperatures from +30 to +38 C. So, malaria can exist within an amplitude of more than 100 C independently of what Al Gore tries to explain.

    • ukridge
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

      Re: Larry Huldén (#6), Do you know the exact mosquito species living there? How can it be that “There were no adult mosquitoes during the summer.”? Who laid then the larves? Do you have some sources for your claims? I would gladly dig a little on this.

  6. Nylo
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:13 AM | Permalink

    This means that the running average of the last 3 years of anomalies in GISS minus the same 5 years ago could finally reach 0.0. The last time this happened we were under the Pinatubo Volcanic Eruption influence. The previous time, we were under El Chinchón Volcanic Eruption effect. The previous time, under a huge negative ENSO 5y-average anomaly lasting several years. However now we don’t have any significant volcanic eruptions, and the ENSO 5y-averaged anomaly is still positive. Time to fear for incoming cold. Imagine a volcano together with ENSO, PDO and Solar negative influences…

  7. DJA
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    I wonder, can the local temperature sensors measure such low temperatures, or do the stop at say -50DegC. Which could be why they are always a high anomaly

  8. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:03 AM | Permalink

    It is hard to believe anyone would go out to take readings at those temperatures, and unlikely that Siberian stations have automatic recording. In some locations the boxes may even be covered in snow. No wonder Siberia is an anomaly.

    • stan
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:29 AM | Permalink

      Re: Craig Loehle (#10),

      “It is hard to believe anyone would go out to take readings at those temperatures,”

      It’s hard to believe any sensible person would make decisions representing trillions of dollars of expense on the basis of temperatures recorded under such circumstances.

    • EW
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

      Re: Craig Loehle (#10),

      When I searched the web about the Ojmjakon and Verchojansk, I found out here, that there are regulations about temperature concerning Yakutian schoolchildren. It says:
      At a temperature of -54C, the occasional car leaves a trace of thick condensing vapor. Small children don’t go to school in Yakutia when the temperature is below -48C, while high school students have lower limits of -50C and -52C.

      So, if little kiddies are able to brave -48C and teenagers are expected to face -50C, surely a meteorologist is expected to do his job at -60C?

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

      Re: Craig Loehle (#10),

      And just what do they use to take the temperatures? Obviously not Mercury since it freezes at -38C. I suppose it’s now some sort of electronics, but what did they use in the past? Bimetal strips are one possibility, though I can’t imagine they’re very accurate. Ethyl alcohol, I suppose. It melts at -117.

      Btw. I’d suggest an open shed and a small telescope to take the readings from indoors.

      • MartinGAtkins
        Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

        Re: Dave Dardinger (#14),

        And just what do they use to take the temperatures? Obviously not Mercury since it freezes at -38C.

        The longest cold month for that station was January 1949 when the temps averaged -54C. It’s known however that Vodka remains very much liquid and indeed tends flow unimpeded by such extremes.

  9. Reference
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    Weather Underground? Let’s ask the Russians
    Oymyakon

    • EW
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

      Re: Reference (#13),
      ROFL – the Russian page has clickable link where you can search for info on local plages… (obviously the link is universal and meant for tourist locations, but in this context it is especially out of place).

  10. EW
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

    plages= beaches, sorry…

  11. tty
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    In the colder parts of Sweden we have always used alcohol thermometers in the past, since mercury freezes at -38 C. I presume this is true for Russia as well. As for not being able to read the temperatures at 60 C below, I don’t see why this should be impossible, provided you are properly dressed. My own experience only goes to – 45.5 C (-50 F), but I do know it is perfectly possible to work outdoors for long periods at that temperature. All this is provided the air is more or less still, which it fortunately almost always is when it is extremely cold. I would not care to go outdoors at -60 in even a moderate breeze.

  12. paminator
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    tty- Do you know how accurate the alcohol thermometers were/are? My understanding is that they are not as accurate as mercury, and have a reduced temperature range at the high end.
    Thanks.

  13. Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    Re tty #18,

    In the colder parts of Sweden we have always used alcohol thermometers in the past, since mercury freezes at -38 C. I presume this is true for Russia as well.

    I learned from somewhere on Surfacestations.org last year that the traditional US Stephenson screen has two thermometers, one mercury for the max and one alcohol for the min, since very different mechanisms are required to automatically record max and min temperatures. So as long as the max is above -38°C, the readings should be OK, but below this the max readings would then be missing or wrong. (Unless I have the two thermometers mixed up.)

    If the Swedes use alcohol for both, how do they record the max with only once-daily observations?

    PS: To get ° to appear in WordPress, type ° . (The semicolon at the end is supposed to be required, but doesn’t seem to be really necessary.)

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    In a post a couple of years ago, I mentioned an interesting anecdote about mercury thermometers in the gulag years – on occasion, sleeping people would be stabbed with mercury thermometers in order to poison them. Perhaps it’s time for a SNL skit involving meteorologists with dueling thermometers.

  15. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    Dec 19 results: high -57; low (11pm) -59. So it didn’t quite get to -60. Dec 20 is forecast a little colder.

    Hourly observations are here: http://www.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/12/19/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA.

    We can also see how see how well GHCN-D does at collecting this stuff. Maybe there are some laid off auto workers that could figure out to get this information into the NOAA data base.

  16. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    OK, why can’t NOAA manage to incorporate Ojmjakon data into his GHCN daily set? This sort of mismanagement is really annoying. Weather Underground has online data for Ojmjakon and the daily max and minimum can be readily obtained.

    But NOAA has blanks. Their daily information set is at: ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ghcn/daily/all/RS000024688.dly. Weather Underground data (hourly) can be located at http://www.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/12/19/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA by varying the day in the UTL.

    December 2008 is the last three lines: TMA, TMIN and PREC. For Dec 1, 2008, NOAA has a minimum of -43.9 but -9999 for a maximum. Weather Undergroud shows a minimum of -44 and a maximum of -33. Why can’t NOAA find the maximum?

    For the next two weeks, Dec 10 is the only day in which NOAA records both a max and a min (and the rounded W Underground values match.)

    From Dec 15 on, including the cold Dec 19, NOAA has nothing.

    So what accounts for the latest screwup?

  17. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    For people that are interested, here is a simple script to directly download daily temperature data from WU (other data is in other columns):

    read_wu=function(station,year,month,day,url=”http://www.wunderground.com/history/station”,suffix=”DailyHistory.html?HideSpecis=1&format=1″){
    loc=file.path(url,station,year,month,day,suffix)
    read_wu=read.csv(loc)[,1:2]
    read_wu}

    Thus:

    read_wu(station=24688,2008,12,19)

    yields:

    TimeMAGT TemperatureC
    1 5:00 AM -58
    2 11:00 AM -58
    3 5:00 PM -57
    4 11:00 PM -59
    5 NA

    How hard would it be for someone at NOAA to scrape this information from public websites? It looks like W Underground uses METAR data (which I haven’t examined so far)? Why doesn’t NOAA use this source directly as well?

  18. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

    “Over the past week, GHCN-D has not managed to record temperatures that were readily available online.” … “So what accounts for the latest screwup?”

    I can think of a few things that cause this sort of thing in programming errors. Things such as looking for data at a set time every day and the complete data for that day may not be posted at the source yet compounded with not maintaining state and failing to check for past missing values when doing subsequent checks for current data.

    It wouldn’t be surprising to learn the problem is in how they get they actually collect the daily data. So if they simply look in some location once a day for that day’s data and nothing else, they are left with what is there at that moment. If they checked each time for not only the current day’s data but also re-checked for the previous day’s data if a value was missing, they might have better luck. Or even running a day behind and each day collecting the previous day’s data would work better. I don’t think a one-day lag would hurt anything. That is assuming, of course, that the sampling time is the cause of the error.

    But the question of “why can’t NOAA get data at least as complete as can Weather Underground” is a valid one and one I would be interested in answering. Maybe NOAA should turn the data collection over to Weather Underground, maybe even contract out the processing of it to them.

  19. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    “But the question of “why can’t NOAA get data at least as complete as can Weather Underground” is a valid one and one I would be interested in answering”

    Meant: “one I would be interested in seeing answered”.

  20. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Well, let’s see with the Dec 19 data. Ojmjakon is many hours ahead of Washington and Dec 19 is closed and all its data was recorded on time.

  21. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

    I notice at wunderground, if you select the monthly data set, at the bottom of the page is a link to pull the entire month of data in a comma delimited file. It would seem fairly obvious that this link is put there as a service to their users to make retrieving this information even easier than “scraping” html. It would be interesting if someone were to someday pull some of these files and insert data where NOAA’s is “missing” and then re-run the grid temperature maps and see if it makes any difference.

    • John S.
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

      Re: crosspatch (#29),

      But that would defeat the purpose of filling in data gaps with numbers of your own magical making! ;-)

    • Joseph
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

      Re: crosspatch (#29),

      I think that is exactly what someone needs to do, produce grid temperature maps with ALL of the data from ALL the stations so that we have a better idea of what is going on. Could W Underground do this? It sounds like they do have the data. I doubt that addressing this situation with NOAA will get anywhere.

      At first, I laughed at all this business of missing stations and incomplete data, but I’m not laughing anymore. There is a very real possibility of onerous and damaging public policy decisions being made on the basis of incorrect climate data. It is appalling that as taxpayers, we are paying to have this done to us.

      • John S.
        Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

        Re: Joseph (#40),

        One should be careful with the assumption that more data would lead necessarily to more accurate results. This would be true only with unbiased data. Outside the US, the great majority of stations are located in urban centers and the inclusion of their records would likely increase the already ample UHI bias and trend. One needs to screen station records to exclude those with the most egregious non-climatic features. This is by no means a simple task.

  22. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    Mathematica 7.0 has an online constantly updated database of world weather stations. For the area near verhojansk, the weather coverage is
    “WMO24266″ 1948 2008
    “WMO21931″ 1948 2008
    “WMO24143″ 1948 2008
    “WMO24671″ 1959 2008
    “WMO21921″ 1948 2008
    “WMO24343″ 1948 2008
    “WMO24382″ 1959 2008
    “WMO24652″ 1948 2008
    “WMO24656″ 1948 2008
    “UEST” 1933 2008
    “WMO24768″ 1948 2008
    “UEEE” 1931 2008
    “WMO24688″ 1948 2008
    “WMO21946″ 1955 2008
    “UESO” 2008 2008
    “WMO24641″ 1937 2008
    “WMO24856″ 1948 2008
    “WMO24962″ 1948 2008
    “WMO25400″ 1946 2008
    “WMO24966″ 1933 2008

    check of the data for the first 3 stations shows almost continuous data over the period. All of them are up to the latest hour.

  23. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    For Ojkjakon, data looks spotty from 1948 to 1957, but quite good after that except 1 year missing in 1972. If anyone wants to play where’s Waldo, send me a station id or lat long or nearest city.

    AND: what kind of excuse can be offered now for not updating the data going into the GISS and CRU?

    • Earle Williams
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

      Re: Craig Loehle (#32),

      I’m fairly certain that the excuse would be that the data provided by Mathematica does not meet the GISS rigorous data quality standards.
      ;-)

  24. Ссылка
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    Weather Forecasting Siberia

  25. John S.
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Yesterday, the average of four readings at Oimyakon (the way Russians transliterate from the Cyrillic) was -56.7°C or -70°F, with atmospheric conditions described as “diamond dust”–crystallized mist. Under such conditions only alcohol thermometers give proper readings. In researching the question of reliabilty of historic Siberian data, I have gotten conflicting answers regarding the date when alcohol thermometers were uniformly adopted. There are many reports from the distant past that thermometers froze in Siberia. One is left wondering to what extent the historical record at some stations may be biased by readings from improper instruments. Can any knowlegeable Russian scientist weigh on this matter?

    BTW, Russians scientists are much much more sceptical as a rule about AGW than American counterparts. Perhaps it’s more intimate acquaintance with their own data. And the GCM of their Institute for Apllied Mathematics is the only one from the IPCC set of models that produces anything resembling observations since the deployment of satellite MSUs.

  26. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    I don’t so much mind the use of C instead of F, but what really peeves me is the use of “,” instead of “.” when dealing with decimals. What if you have 1,537,899.309?

    • Mark T.
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff Alberts (#36), That’s a European standard I believe. It is contrary to the US standard, but a standard nonetheless.

      Mark

  27. Larry W
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    I’m not a scientist, however I work with data for a living.

    Based on this year’s data, is it fair to say that the Hockey theory that was so prevelent in former Vice President Gore’s movie has broken.

    Off course this can be explained as climate “change”. I have one question for the scientists, was there any scientific discussion of extreme climate changein the early part of this decade? Or is this an accomodation to data that is no longer supporting global warming?

  28. Billy Ruff'n
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

    Is the -60C before or after Mr. Hansen’s “adjustments”?

  29. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Dec 20: 5 am reading didn’t make minus 60 C. I guess we won’t know for 18 hours.
    TimeMAGT TemperatureC
    1 5:00 AM -58

  30. Jon
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    This may be just a coincidence, or maybe someone at BoingBoing reads CA.

    Links from BoingBoing to YouTube of a weatherman in Oymyakon.

  31. Steamboat McGoo
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    I never have understood why people are so hung up on sports and other such spectacles when there is Science! to be watched! CA and WUWT are fast becoming my favorite sites. Man, I get off on this stuff!

  32. Steamboat McGoo
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    (re #41) Maybe it’ll go lower tomorrow.

  33. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    Joseph:

    “I think that is exactly what someone needs to do, produce grid temperature maps with ALL of the data from ALL the stations”

    Apparently Steve M was able to create a gridded map some time fairly recently when the last data fiasco at NOAA happened so it doesn’t seem like it should be so difficult to do. It would be rather interesting to see someone develop a “competing” product to NOAA that uses NOAA’s own process but with a more complete data set. But one would have to see if the inclusion of those data make any real difference in the output. I would also be interested in recovering the “lost” stations and adding them back in to see what difference that makes, too. And actually I am quite surprised nobody has done that before just out of idle curiosity.

  34. Robinson
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    #37, as SM has pointed out in this blog, the current trend even if it’s cooling is not outside the scope of normal variation. At least that’s the impression I’m getting from reading many of the replies here (I confess I don’t understand the mathematics). I think perhaps the issue is the integrity of the data and analysis, regardless of the direction the trend actually takes.

  35. Hans Erren
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    I liked going to extremes very much, when reporter Nick Middleton of National Geogaphic television visited the coldest, warmest, wettest and driest places on earth. Oymyakon (the coldest) lies in a bowl shaped valley, in which during winter the cold air collects on the bottom. When he was walking uphill you saw the thermometer rising…

    http://www.yakutiatoday.com/travel/reviews_goingtoextremes.shtml

  36. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    Is it relevant that a block of dry ice has a surface temperature of -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit (-78.5 degrees C)? (Wiki). Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide.

    In the Antarctic, Vostok is recorded a a lowest -129°F (-89°C) on July 21, 1983.

    Also, are we sure that there is no “chill factor” applied for wind strength? We Aussies do not meet these concepts at home.

    • John S.
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

      Re: Geoff Sherrington (#47),

      Siberian chill factors are negated by ample supplies of vodka. Reported temperatures, as measured by alcohol thermometers, do not include any “correction” for wind. As an Aussie, you should fully appreciate the lack of sissified embellishments.

  37. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    “the current trend even if it’s cooling is not outside the scope of normal variation”

    I would agree with that. After all, we saw nearly 30 years of cooling between the 1940’s and the 1970’s. A slight cooling lasting 30 years or so would be expected if ENSO cycles have the impact on climate that many expect it has. It could be shorter or longer but around 30 years per phase seems about “normal”.

    As for the data, I personally wouldn’t have any notions of which way it would go, it would simply be interesting to see a plot of a more complete data set and see what it looks like. It could turn out that the difference is negligible or it could be significant but nobody will know until it is done. The most surprising thing is, as Steve pointed out, that the data appear to be readily available but for some reason no effort appears to be expended in collecting it. I wouldn’t assign any motive other than sloppiness and lack of attention to detail.

  38. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    John S:

    “Outside the US, the great majority of stations are located in urban centers”

    It is my understanding that the majority of ROW stations that were “lost” were rural leaving a greater proportion of urban stations outside of the US.

    • John S.
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

      Re: crosspatch (#49),

      That’s true–especially in China. But even “rural” records can be corrupted.

  39. Hans Erren
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    here is an old radiosonde graph, which shows the temperature inversion very clearly:

  40. JamesD
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    I clipped this from the Accuweather blog:
    “Not sure why the GISS data shows Siberia being warm. My survey of 6 temperature stations across Siberia (Anadyr,Khabarobsk, Krasnoyarsk, Surgut, Tynda & Yakutsk) showed an average -2.1 deg F drop from last years mean temperatures. These stations are well distributed across Siberia and usually give a very good correlation to NCDC results.”
    The GISS map for Nov. shows an anomaly of +6C for Siberia! Perhaps Mr. McIntyre can comment on the Siberia results. Are these temperatures suspect? Thanks

  41. Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Oddly, on the presumably corrected GISSTEMP map for last month, there is a hot spot right about where Ojmjakon is, that perhaps reflects its report. How could this vicinity go from +4°C to +8°C (or more) to almost (or maybe yet) record lows in just one month?

    For map with Ojmjakon, see Wikipedia article.

  42. Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    Re Geoff Sherrington, #47,

    Is it relevant that a block of dry ice has a surface temperature of -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit (-78.5 degrees C)? (Wiki). Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide.

    In the Antarctic, Vostok is recorded a a lowest -129°F (-89°C) on July 21, 1983.

    That bothered me too, since it would seem that it would snow CO2 on a cold day in Vostok, perhaps skewing the ice core CO2 readings.

    But in fact, the -78.5 °C temperature only applies when the partial pressure of CO2 is 1 atmosphere. When there is only .00028 or .00038 atmosphere of CO2, the freezing temperature is much, much lower.

    More interesting is the Wikipedia Vostok Station article report that certain gasses, notably O2 and CO2, are notably scarce relative to N2, somehow due to its unusual location near the S geomagnetic pole (not to be confused with the magnetic S pole). This would appear to mean that its ice core CO2 may not be representative of global CO2, Al Gore to the contrary notwithstanding. But that’s another topic…

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#55),
      More interesting is the Wikipedia Vostok Station article report that certain gasses, notably O2 and CO2, are notably scarce relative to N2, somehow due to its unusual location near the S geomagnetic pole (not to be confused with the magnetic S pole). This would appear to mean that its ice core CO2 may not be representative of global CO2,

      I think that this is a case where Wikipedia can’t be relied on, the atmospheric pressure at the S Pole is lower than elsewhere for any given altitude so yes partial pressures are lower, including N2. I know of no evidence of fractionation there, for example mixing ratio of CO2 is consistent with the ML values.
      Unfortunately many people misunderstand phase diagrams and don’t realize that the pressure is in fact the partial pressure (when in a mixture), for CO2 to condense out on this planet would take temperatures well below -100ºC.

      http://www.chemicalogic.com/download/co2_phase_diagram.pdf

  43. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    Hu McCulloch:

    “This would appear to mean that its ice core CO2 may not be representative of global CO2, Al Gore to the contrary notwithstanding. But that’s another topic…”

    Yes, I had always thought that comparing CO2 levels on a mountain in the middle of an ocean to those in the center of a polar continent might be apples/oranges.

    “How could this vicinity go from +4°C to +8°C (or more) to almost (or maybe yet) record lows in just one month?”

    Places can go from record high to record low in one day, a month isn’t a big deal.

  44. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    Phil,

    Interesting graphic. I am fascinated by this stuff even if it may be taking us somewhat OT. If I understand this correctly, if CO2 is above the sublimation/melting line, it is a solid. If it between the melting line and the saturation line, it is liquid. And if it is below the sublimation/saturation line, it is a vapor. What happens just beyond the critical point? It looks as though it becomes both liquid and vapor at the same time. Sounds like a trick for a magic show.

    Regarding the point you were making, the graphic appears to say CO2 freezes at 1 atmospheric pressure at about -78ºC. Do you have another graphic on mixed CO2 that would support your view that “for CO2 to condense out on this planet would take temperatures well below -100ºC?”

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

      Re: Ron Cram (#58),
      Interesting graphic. I am fascinated by this stuff even if it may be taking us somewhat OT. If I understand this correctly, if CO2 is above the sublimation/melting line, it is a solid. If it between the melting line and the saturation line, it is liquid. And if it is below the sublimation/saturation line, it is a vapor. What happens just beyond the critical point? It looks as though it becomes both liquid and vapor at the same time. Sounds like a trick for a magic show.

      But real nonetheless. ;) Above the critical point there is no distinction between the liquid and gas phases, there is much interest in using supercritical CO2 as a solvent, it has some very interesting properties.

      Regarding the point you were making, the graphic appears to say CO2 freezes at 1 atmospheric pressure at about -78ºC. Do you have another graphic on mixed CO2 that would support your view that “for CO2 to condense out on this planet would take temperatures well below -100ºC?”

      That’s the point I was trying to make and obviously failed. The pressure is the partial pressure of CO2 not the applied pressure, in the Earth’s atmosphere that would be less than 1mbar and therefore two orders of magnitude below the bottom of the phase diagram I referred to.

      • John M
        Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

        Re: Phil. (#61),

        Just for grits, assuming this Wiki page is right (not to mention my math), the CO2 “dew point” for air containing 385 ppm CO2 (PCO2 = 0.293 torr) is about -138 C (-217 F).

        Probably not worth sharing at that New Year’s eve party. ;)

  45. Rick
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

    -10 in Vancouver at this moment with a little snow. The rule here is when it snows it also warms up and turns to slush within 24 hours. Up until now, the rule has never been broken.

    This month we get Winnipeg weather. This global warming isn’t working out like I hoped.

  46. Harry Eagar
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

    So, I thought (from reading Pat Michaels and others) that what warming occurs would be at night in the winter at high latitudes.

    According to that interpretation, a steady temperature in Siberia would tend to debunk the idea of a globally-linked warming. Declining temperatures would appear to be even more problematical for AGW than even the absolute drop since they are going in the wrong direction even when they don’t move.

  47. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 19, 2008 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

    Phil:

    “I think that this is a case where Wikipedia can’t be relied on”

    Well, I wonder if the CO2 could “react” out of the atmosphere over Antarctica rather than condense out. I mean, consider that you have a continental land mass without a single tree, not a single blade of grass, nothing, for the most part very far from the shoreline. For most of the winter the circumpolar jet would keep the air fairly sequestered from the rest of the atmosphere. I am guessing that in winter, air is sinking over the pole from high altitude. That air might be CO2 depleted from having reacted with water vapor and had the CO2 washed out in the form of carbonic acid so the air bathing the pole is air that has been “processed” through thunderstorms, etc. And since there is no great mass of decaying biomass or herds of animals or practically anything else (short of a volcano or two) to produce much CO2 at ground level, wouldn’t it be possible for the air there to have a lower CO2 content?

    But rather than speculate I would rather see data. Anyone know if any atmospheric CO2 sampling is going on there?

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 1:02 AM | Permalink

      Re: crosspatch (#64),
      But rather than speculate I would rather see data. Anyone know if any atmospheric CO2 sampling is going on there?

      Yes, here’s some results that show your speculations are without foundation.

      http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/spo121e_thrudc04.pdf

      • Geoff Sherrington
        Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

        Re: Phil. (#65),

        Does this mean that Milankovitch cycles affect tropical areas more than the poles?

        Re: Phil. (#65),

        How do you imagine that those little annual wriggles in the Antarctic CO2 graph prserve their form and regularity when there are such violent winds and circumpolar movements that should smear all fine structure out of the wriggles supposedly made by CO2 vegetation respiration in the leafy Northern hemisphere? Do you believe that story?

        Re: Hu McCulloch (#57),

        Just testing, Hu. An old chemist having fun. I can envisage no mechanism that would greatly change the gas ratios of air. However, we are still having the problem of the age of air in ice bubbles at Vostok being up to 6,000 years different from the ago of the enclosing ice, based on isotope analysis. The Jonathan Drake observation remains an open case. Anyone had more thoughts?

        • Ting
          Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

          Re: Geoff Sherrington (#152), why would winds smear out the annual cycle in CO2? It mixes fully very quickly, and there is clearly a northern hemisphere dominance due to land fraction and population density. The data backs this up at all of the CO2-measuring stations, as far as I can tell…

          As for the problem with younger air in older ice, Antarctica (and other similar cold, continental regions) have such incredibly low accumulation rates that the firn (the comparatively fluffy snow on the surface) can be thousands of years old very close to the surface. Thus, when accumulating, that ice (from which the dates are obtained) is exposed to air which is thousands of years younger. This is pretty much straight from Wikipedia, and seems to have been studied in depth. I’m not sure there’s anything more to it… there’s some mention of ‘clathrate convection,’ but the firn exposure does seem to be the major process.

        • tty
          Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

          Re: Ting (#156),

          Firn isn’t “fluffy snow on the surface” it is hard, recrystallized snow at depth. And the question about the age of the enclosed air in the glacier ice is rather more complicated than you think. Firn turns to ice at a depth of about 100 meters. To accumulathe those 100 meters can take anything from a century to 10,000 years in Antarctica. This is easy enough to measure since there are annual layers in the snow that can be measured and counted. The problem is the “age” of the air that is enclosed in the ice. The ‘official’ version is that the “age” is zero at the time of enclosure, i e the air circulates freely through a hundred meters of increasingly dense firn, possibly with icy melt layers in it. To me this seems profoundly unlikely and most likely the enclosed air is actually a mixture of unknown proportions of air of different “ages” and therefore has an averaged composition that smears out any short-term variations in composition. This is supported by the fact that the other method for paleo-CO2 measurements, stomatal index (SI), while generally similar to ice measurements, is much more variable and usually also gives moderately higher CO2 values.

        • Ting
          Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

          Re: tty (#160), I think we’re in agreement on this. As I said, firn is relatively light (porous), and still definitely ‘snow’ rather than ‘ice’. Looking at the literature (e.g., here), it does not appear that there is really an official version of how it works, although the most common theme is that molecular diffusion is the dominant process, consistent with the evidence of significant age-mixing over depths of ~100m in the firn. Because the accumulation rate is so low, the diffusion length scale can extend down to the bottom of the firn layer, before it fully recrystallizes (the so-called ‘pore close-off’).

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Dec 25, 2008 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ting (#162),

          Ever tried to calculate the work involved in pushing gas bubbles or molecules through metres of cold ice? What provides the energy? What provides the gradient? What provides the need? Dark Enthalpy?

          Re: jeez (#178),

          A practical suggestion to improve your chances got snipped by Him, snarky from shovelling snow, because it mentioned bodily cooling instead of global warming. Migrate, Steve. Aussie beckons you.

          Re: steven mosher (#182),
          It WAS an equisite retort. Not everyone can claim the ab initio discovery of a new physical property, even if it does lie in the realm of imaginary numbers that most of us never understood. Like Jeez, troubled by the loss of a square root giving minus one.

          What is more, enthalpy is an anagram for “ah, plenty”.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ting (#156),

          I think you answered the question yourself. The gas is said by most to be well-mixed. One interpretation is that T at South Pole lags Mauna Loa by 2-3 years. This period of good mixing would perhaps even out the wriggles?

          Even the Albatross bird cannot cross the Equator and so stays in the SH.

          Re ice-gas difference in ages, I’ve had a lot of emails with Jonathan Drake and others. There are some problems with the Wiki explanations. (I don’t read Wiki any more, it was not of adequate quality, but I’ve seen some quotes). Overall, the problem seems unresolved, despite the patient and detailed explanations of people like Ferdinand Engelbeen.

  48. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 1:21 AM | Permalink

    Great! Thank you, Phil.

  49. joe
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

    I gathered up the data from noaa(http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO/GSOD_DESC.txt) and from METAR(via weather underground) and just did a quick average of the results from 6/20/04 to 12/1/2008…


    NOAA Statistics
    Daily Mean Max Min
    MIN -73.7 -70.2 -76.5
    MAX 72.9 90 56.1
    AVG 7.5 18.7 -6.0
    TOT 1622 1622 1619

    METAR Statistics
    Daily Mean Max Min
    MIN -74 -70 -76
    MAX 66 89 59
    AVG 4.2 17.1 -4.1
    TOT 1625 1626 1626

    Anyone have any ideas why the averages are so different? I double checked everything here. all the data corresponds. it’s definitely for the same time and place.

  50. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 3:13 AM | Permalink

    “Anyone have any ideas why the averages are so different? ”

    SWAG: An average of an incomplete data set is different from the average of a complete set?

    • joe
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

      Re: crosspatch (#69),

      The data set is only 4 numbers more in the case of the METAR data, hardly enough to the average off 3 degrees.

  51. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:01 AM | Permalink

    Ojmjakon stopped at -59 on Dec 20 (as it did on Dec 19). No -60 yet.
    TimeMAGT TemperatureC
    1 5:00 AM -58
    2 11:00 AM -59
    3 5:00 PM -57
    4 11:00 PM -57

  52. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

    This webpage http://www.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/12/21/MonthlyHistory.html shows a -60 yesterday for Ojmjakon, but that doesn’t look right. The csv version doesn’t match the html; the csv is in Fahrenheit.

    There have now been 2 consecutive lows of -59 – Dec 19 and Dec 20. Since 1984, there has been only one December minimum in the GHCN-D record Ojmjakon that is lower than -59.0.

    Taking the claim of Ojmjakon to be the coldest NH place at face value, this means that the last couple of nights have been the coldest two December nights since 1984.

    Siberian winter nights would be particularly affected by AGW. Yeah, yeah, I know that it’s just weather, but it’s odd that it would be SO cold.

  53. MattN
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    The average temperature for the entire month of November for Ojmjakon (According to weather underground) was -26F. Minus 26 F is 4-8 C ABOVE normal?!?! You can’t be serious…

    http://www.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/11/21/MonthlyHistory.html

    BTW, it’s -71F and snowing there now. Avg. temp this month so far is -54F. Tell me THAT’S above normal….

  54. MattN
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    The average temperature for the entire month of November for Ojmjakon (According to weather underground) was -26F. Minus 26 F is 4-8 C ABOVE normal?!?! You can’t be serious…

    http://www.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/11/21/MonthlyHistory.html

    BTW, it’s -71F and snowing there now. Avg. temp this month so far is -54F. Tell me THAT’S above normal….

  55. jae
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    I’m waiting for the spin from AP that says that the near-record low temperatures in Siberia are another result of Global Warming. Any time now…

  56. John M
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    Just for more riveting discussion,

    torr = mmHg, which is about 1.3328 mbar

  57. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Re Phil #65,
    Thanks for the link, but it shows CO2 at the rotational S Pole, not at Vostok, which supposedly has unusual O2 and CO2 concentrations because of its location at the S Geomagnetic Pole (not to be confused with the Magnetic S Pole). Can you find some data for Vostok per se?

    From Wikipedia S Mag Pole article–

    South Geomagnetic Pole

    The Earth’s geomagnetic field can be approximated by a tilted dipole (like a bar magnet) placed at the center of the Earth. The South Geomagnetic Pole is the point where the axis of this best-fitting tilted dipole intersects the Earth’s surface in the southern hemisphere. As of 2005 it was calculated to be located at 79°44′S 108°13′E / -79.74, 108.22 [4], near to Vostok Station. Because the field is not an exact dipole, the South Geomagnetic Pole does not coincide with the South Magnetic Pole. Furthermore, the South Geomagnetic Pole is wandering for the same reason its magnetic counterpart wanders.

    I have no clue why this would affect O2 or CO2 concentrations, but supposedly it does, according to the Wiki Vostok article. Thus, the O2 density is supposed to be like 5000 m at normal latitudes, even though it is only 3488 m high. If O2 could vary like this, CO2 could as well.

    • John M
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#77),

      Hu, I would have to agree with Phil. wrt caution regarding that particular Wiki article. If you read the discussion, there is some question as to the source of that information. It seems to have come from a translation of a single Russian abstract, the auther of which I was unable to find on Google Scholar.

      With regard to your specific quote pertaining to latitude and gas density, the magnitude cited in the Wiki article does not match other sources relating density to latitude. From the linked source:

      In the climbing literature on Mount McKinley (and apart from Mr. Moore’s work), the claim is made that breathing is more arduous for a given altitude because centrifugal force due to Earth’s rotation is less than for more temperately located mountains. The atmosphere is “whipped outwards” at the equator, expanding the air column with a resulting higher pressure for a given true altitude.

      A centrifugal effect indeed manifests itself by a change in the effective value of g, with g diminished slightly at the equator where the speed of rotation is greatest. g rises only 0.53% between equator and either pole; with 0.34% of this increase due to diminished centrifugal force with latitude. From Equation (1b) all pressure altitudes shift this small fraction as a result of Earth’s rotation – roughly one part in 300.

      For the summits of two 6,000 meter (19,700 foot) mountains, one at the equator and one at either pole, this fraction corresponds to a 20 meter (66 foot) pressure altitude difference. The pressure altitude correction is normally even smaller still since most mountains are not located exactly on the equator or in the polar regions.

      Thus the claim that Earth’s rotation is the cause of lower air pressure near the poles is false. Lower air temperature is the overwhelmingly important cause.

      Perhaps the author of the Wiki article inadvertedly combined temperature and latitude effects all into one, but nevertheless, I do not read the quote as implying that there is any change in the relative amounts of the atmospheric components.

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#77),

      Hu McCulloch:
      December 20th, 2008 at 10:51 am
      Re Phil #65,
      Thanks for the link, but it shows CO2 at the rotational S Pole, not at Vostok, which supposedly has unusual O2 and CO2 concentrations because of its location at the S Geomagnetic Pole (not to be confused with the Magnetic S Pole).

      The Geomagnetic pole is, as your link shows, a theoretical construct and has no physical significance, there are no unusual concentrations there.

      I have no clue why this would affect O2 or CO2 concentrations, but supposedly it does, according to the Wiki Vostok article. Thus, the O2 density is supposed to be like 5000 m at normal latitudes, even though it is only 3488 m high. If O2 could vary like this, CO2 could as well.

      The atmospheric pressure is lower at the geographical S pole (& N) because of the rotation of the earth and it effects all the components of the atmosphere. CO2 is reported as a volume fraction which is independent of the local atmospheric pressure.

  58. Bruce
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

    -19C in Nanaimo BC. Usually it is above 0 and raining just before Christmas.

    We’ve had over a foot of snow in the last week and more is on the way.

    If only there was such as thing as Global Warming.

  59. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    Chicago is so far something like the 4th coldest/snowiest winter in 120 years. we had 4Deg F temps in early Dec.

  60. Bigfoot
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know how accurate the temperature reading is, but the web cam at Two Medicine in Glacier National Park (Northern Montana) still has the image taken last Saturday (Dec 13) at 4:40 pm. Interestingly, the temperature recorded on the picture is -84.1F and -64.5 C.

    You can see the image yourself at:

    • TonyA
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

      Re: Bigfoot (#80),

      Just emailed NPS about this and got the following reply:

      I know…it’s really disappointing but the camera might be out of service
      for a while. The road is closed due to snow now so we can’t get in there to
      check on the problem. The power went out on the west side of the park last
      weekend, but when it came back online, the Two Medicine Camera did not. The
      power could still be out in that part of the park we just don’t know.

  61. Rod Smith
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    joe: “Anyone have any ideas why the averages are so different? I double checked everything here. all the data corresponds. it’s definitely for the same time and place.”

    Yes. METAR reports (from aerodromes) contain temperatures only to the nearest whole degree Celsius.

    • joe
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

      Re: Rod Smith (#81),

      even if the numbers are recorded in whole numbers or decimals, that can only amount for at most 1 degree of the difference.

      • Rod Smith
        Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

        Re: joe (#87),

        The METAR data set is not only composed of rounded numbers, but is a larger daily set.

        Metars are usually hourly — sometimes more often, and based on conditions. Synoptic obs are generally taken every 6 hours, but sometimes every 3 hours. We always called these Intermediate Synoptics.

        Synoptic observations are taken very close to ‘on the hour,’ but Metars are generally 10 or more minutes earlier.

        So not only are the data sets different sizes, but Metars cover times and intervals where the Synoptics are silent. The Synoptics and Metars may not even be taken at the same location or by the same observers with the same equipment.

        I would be surprised if the means matched very often.

  62. Rod Smith
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    A follow up?

    A quick look at what Weather Underground shows as “RAW METAR” is really a SYNOPTIC coded observation.

    Now the question is, does Ojmjakon also report from an airfield hourly in METAR as well as supply 6hr synoptics on WMO circuits? And why can’t a “weather site” label observations with the correct code?

  63. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    CraigLoehle:”Chicago is so far something like the 4th coldest/snowiest winter in 120 years. we had 4Deg F temps in early Dec.”

    I have been trying to understand the climate change debate for around two years now, with, I must say, very limited success. One thing I do know is that to alarmists a warm winter is a sure sign of climate change, and a cold winter proves nothing, it’s just weather.

  64. Rod Smith
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    Here is some 2003 info on these Siberian Stations supplied by NCDC from
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/documentlibrary/word/tddoc/td9806a.coc

    Temperature

    The types of thermometers in use at each station remained the same throughout the period of record. Minimum temperature was consistently measured with an alcohol thermometer, whereas hourly and maximum temperatures were each collected with separate mercury thermometers. When the air temperature approached the freezing point of mercury (‑38.9 C), either an alcohol thermometer, or in some cases a minimum thermometer alcohol column, was used in place of the mercury thermometer. Whether or not (much less when) the thermometers themselves were replaced at each station is not currently known.

  65. Rod Smith
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Whoops! The last three letters in the link I supplied above should be “doc” not “coc”.

  66. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Re John H #84,
    Thanks for the County Highpointers link! They at last provide a cogent explanation of the Vostok effect:

    Consider the effect of temperature upon pressure altitude. At lower temperature the entire air column is compressed, corresponding to the observation that colder air is denser. Thus a given isosurface (surface of equal pressure) will lie at a lower true altitude in a cold environment compared to a warmer one. In a hot environment the converse occurs, and a given pressure occurs at a higher true altitude than otherwise.

    This effect can be moderately large. During the Antarctic night ground temperatures are commonly -50° C (-58° F); with even lower temperatures seen every winter at interior stations. These temperatures are roughly 10-15% closer to absolute zero than are the moderate temperatures experienced elsewhere and at other times. The absolute temperature, being reduced by some 10-15%, results in observing the same pressure at a given elevation, as occurs at elevations 10-15% greater under moderate temperatures. Equivalently, for a given elevation, the pressure altitude will be 10-15% higher under antarctic conditions than for normal temperatures.

    So it’s really the combination of high altitude plus extreme cold. The rotational S pole is almost as cold as Vostok, but not nearly as high, so the reduced air pressure effect is much more noticeable at Vostok. The absolute amount of O2 and CO2 is indeed low at Vostok, compared to other sites of comparable altitude, but their relative amounts (relative to dominant N2) would still be about the same as elsewhere. The nearby geomagnetic S pole has nothing to do with it.

    Hence, the Vostok ice cores could in fact be representative of global CO2. False alarm!

    • pjm
      Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#89), this makes excellent sense. I wondered whether, as CO2 is heavier, its (partial) pressure would drop off more quickly with height, although I suspect that wind mixing would destroy this effect.

      Re Steve’s snark:

      “‘But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
      If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
      You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
      And never be met with again!’

      Lewis Carroll “The Hunting of the Snark” at Project Gutenberg

  67. curious
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

    re: Phil at 91
    Hi Phil – are you sure about the lower polar pressures? Wiki atmospheric pressure article suggests it is higher:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_high

    and this one:

    http://sci.tech-archive.net/pdf/Archive/sci.geo.geology/2004-10/0428.pdf

    also suggests an increase would be expected due to lower centripetal effect.
    Further info appreciated – apologies if I’ve misunderstood.

    • John M
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

      Re: curious (#92),

      also suggests an increase would be expected due to lower centripetal effect

      That would be consistent with the citation I used in comment 84. The effect is more than off-set by temperature and altitude at the South Pole.

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

      Re: curious (#92),
      Hi Phil – are you sure about the lower polar pressures? Wiki atmospheric pressure article suggests it is higher:

      Yes, basically the atmosphere ‘spins out’ to form a ‘bulge’ over the equator. Granted that temperature has a major effect on pressure in the antarctic but my original response was to a claim (based on Wikipedia) that the S Pole had a special property that caused the concentration of CO2 and O2 to be reduced wrt N2.

      • thefordprefect
        Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

        Re: Phil. (#104), If he read the file he would have seen the table I quoted in 101. He would then have realised that the data he points out was flagged as wrong just as many of the other readings in the data referenced in the header.
        He either did not read it or is misrepresenting the “error” or… – let him answer.

        To correct the quote of Steve McIntyre (#97)

        Does this sort of error “matter”? Well, it doesn’t say very much for their quality control if they can’t figure out that a 46.7 deg C hot spot in Ojmjakon in December isn’t very likely even in Hansen-world

        the fault was seen, and noted therefore their quality control is good!
        Mike

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (#106),

          the fault was seen, and noted therefore their quality control is good!

          Neither you nor Steve quoted any error code related to 467. Whether it was flagged or not is open question to me since I have not attempted the download. But your earlier comment was certainly not clear. Of course, one option is that Gavin or someone at GISS saw this page and flagged the error between the time Steve spotted it and you downloaded it. That kind of thing has happened quite a bit recently. GISS watches this site regularly and do not always give credit when Steve finds an error.

        • thefordprefect
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ron Cram (#109), error code was G

          (My 100 entry errors are for snow depth not temp)
          A few more quality codes from the data
          RS000024688197612TMAX qual code I
          RS000024688197612TMIN qual code I
          RS000024688199806TMAX qual code g
          RS000024688199806TMIN qual code g
          etc
          They must have someone really on-the-ball to have corrected Mr McIntyre’s and a couple more besides!

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (#111),

          (My 100 entry errors are for snow depth not temp)

          So you did not find any error code for the temperature 46.7C (the 467 Steve was talking about)? Is that what you are saying?

        • thefordprefect
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ron Cram (#112&113),
          The download is as in header i.e.
          ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ghcn/daily/all/RS000024688.dly

          Steve’s date:
          198112 -404 -320 -301 467 … the 467 is quality code G (= failed gap check (10degC))

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (#114),

          Thank you for providing the link. It does have quality code G. Perhaps you have provided a service here. Or perhaps GISS corrected the file after Steve found the error. It will be interesting to see Steve’s comment on this.

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (#114),

          I have one other question. Where is the info file found?

        • thefordprefect
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

          Re: Ron Cram (#116), ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ghcn/daily/readme.txt

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:56 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (#117),

          Thank you again. The Read Me file explains the abundance of I and S throughout. They are source flags. For this site, there was a change around the year 2000. I was intrigued, but this file explains it.

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

          Re: thefordprefect (#111),

          Why not provide the link so I can download the data myself and take a look at what you are seeing? Maybe that is the best way to come to understanding.

      • John M
        Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

        Re: Phil. (#104),

        Yes, basically the atmosphere ‘spins out’ to form a ‘bulge’ over the equator.

        Phil. Just one persnickety clarification. Based on centripetal force, higher or lower pressure at the poles?

  68. joe
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    I went ahead and graphed the measured temp minimums from NOAA’s CDO database (http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO), the ftp file provided from the GHCN-D in this article (converted to c) and METAR via weather underground. except for a few exceptions which probably can be attributed to my rule of thumb equation used to calculate celsius, it is pretty clear that CDO numbers are the same as GHCN numbers so its even more confusing why these numbers would be missing from the GHCN database.

  69. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    It doesn’t look like the low at Ojmjakon will quite hit -60°C this week, according to the latest forecast. However, on 12/19, the high was -56 while the low was -59, for a mean of -58°C. Is this some sort of record for the mean?
    See http://www.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/12/19/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA

  70. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

    Here’s another example of the excellence of Hansen’s quality control. I was looking at Ojmjakon history and noticed the following in 1981.

    198112 -404 -320 -301 467 -471 -490 -471 -467 -400 -372 -372 -400 -466 -458 -449 -439 -417 -480 -481 -486 -413 -411 -459 -544 -566 -466

    Does this sort of error “matter”? Well, it doesn’t say very much for their quality control if they can’t figure out that a 46.7 deg C hot spot in Ojmjakon in December isn’t very likely even in Hansen-world.

    Update: As noted below, this entry is tagged with a G-error code. I take back my snark that this error had not been identified – though this is such a gross mistake that this is the most minimal quality control. I wonder how the downstream NOAA programs attend to such errors.

    • thefordprefect
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#97),
      And if you had bothered to read the info file:
      QFLAG1 is the quality flag for the first day of the month. There are
      16 possible values:

      Blank = did not fail any quality assurance check
      A = failed accumulation total check
      C = failed intraday consistency check-
      D = failed duplicate check
      F = failed value-measurement flagged consistency check
      G = failed gap check
      I = failed internal consistency check
      K = failed streak/frequent-value check
      M = failed megaconsistency check
      N = failed naught check
      O = failed climatological outlier check
      R = failed lagged range check
      S = failed spatial consistency check
      T = failed temporal consistency check
      W = temperature too warm for snow
      X = failed bounds check

      A little bit less glee at finding fault wouldn’t go amiss in my opinion
      Mike

      • Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

        Re: thefordprefect (#101),

        D=failed duplicate check. Wouldn’t that have eliminated the October miscue? What the notes say and what the code does is the ticket.

        • thefordprefect
          Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

          Re: captdallas2 (#102), Not necessarily, if I were organising collection of data I would look for duplicates in multiple previous adjacent readings. Otherwise you would be checking for duplicates at any interval within a year.
          Perhaps you should query noaa as to the exact meaning of the tests generating the codes K and D seem similar

    • freddy
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#97), What does a NOAA file have to do with Hansen in any case? Or (Ron Cram (#109)) anyone else at GISS?

      Steve: They use this data, stating that they carry out QC on it. If they identified a gross error, I presume that they would have notified their supplied (NOAA), as it turns out that GISS is primarily a distributor, only doing 0.25 man-years of work on this product according to Gavin Schmidt. If the error had been unflagged (in this case, it was), then one could validly presume that it had eluded their QC as well. Since the error was flagged, this turns out not to be a particularly compelling example on the surface, though we don’t know how this sort of flag is handled in downstream uses.

  71. curious
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    re: John M at 93
    Thanks John – I came in mid thread. All ok now!

  72. thefordprefect
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    ‘scuse me but check your data extractor! my download to excel shows 467 to be a non number
    for example RS000024688199604SNWD
    shows [1379 G] also a non number
    as does
    RS000024688197304SNWD 381 S 749 G S 749 G S
    Mistakes seem to be easy!

  73. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    Re: thefordprefect #101

    What makes you think Steve did not read the info file? Nothing in Steve’s #97 would make me think he failed to read it.

    What kind of attitude is Steve supposed to have when he finds mistakes? Finding mistakes improves the science. Without an audit, no one can have any confidence in the research product. Steve’s contributions are through finding mistakes. Is he supposed to be sad about it? Acccording to Gavin, GISS spends .25 annual FTEs on data quality assurance. How many annual FTEs do they spend on flying around the world promoting their poor quality data and suspect conclusions?

    Jimmy Hansen and Gavin Schmidt ought to be singing Steve’s praises for all the free work he is doing for them.

  74. jae
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    No matter how incompetent the bureaucrats become, there’a always some folks out there that will defend them. I can’t see why, unless the defenders are kin bureaucrats or just argumentative trolls.

  75. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

    Looks like the station there went offline when the temp hit -72f tonight.

  76. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

    There is an article about a major shift in altitude of the ionosphere as measured by satellites due to the lowest solar activity noted since the beginning of the space age. What happens when the atmosphere contracts as much as it seems to be doing right now?

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/NASA_Ionosphere_not_where_it_should_be_999.html

  77. thefordprefect
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

    One hopes that Mr. McIntyre has realised these flagged errors in his reconstructions of the world temperature maps?

    Steve: I’ve never done a “reconstruction of world temperature maps” using GHCN-daily data. I presume that you just fabricated this particular spitball without a shred of basis

    • thefordprefect
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#119), One hopes that Mr. McIntyre has realised these flagged errors in his reconstructions of the world temperature maps?
      Re: Steve McIntyre (#97), Does this sort of error “matter”? Well, it doesn’t say very much for their quality control if they can’t figure out that a 46.7 deg C hot spot in Ojmjakon in December isn’t very likely even in Hansen-world

      Mine=spitball. Yours =snark …. Hhhhmmmm!!

      Since all the temperature data and error codes for 34500ish locations are available from your referenced site; when doing reconstructions wouldnt it be better to go back as close to the source as physically possible for your input? Your reconstructions would therefore check-out all included errors in Mr. Hansons derivations from the input data to the final output.

      Do you have a txt version of hanson’s data from Oymyakon that could be checked against the data referenced here – i.e. has he accounted for all the quality errors?

      A point to all those who keep “snarking” on about the poor quality control – the G code I believe refers to a shift of 10degC This coarse check would exclude this sort of weather:
      • At Browning, Montana, the temperature fell 55.6 °C in the 24 hours between 23 and 24 January 1916 from 6.7 °C to –48.9 °C. This occurred during the passage of a cold front.
      • At Rapid City, South Dakota on 10 January 1911, the temperature fell from 12.8 °C at 0700 to –13.3 °C at 0715
      • At Rapid City, South Dakota on 22 January 1943, the temperature rose from –20 °C at 0732 to 7.2 °C two minutes later. This was caused by the onset of warm Chinook winds.
      See:

      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/library/factsheets/factsheet09.pdf

  78. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

    I’ve added an update above agreeing that this entry is tagged with a G-error code. I take back my snark that this error had not been identified – though this is such a gross mistake that this is the most minimal quality control. I wonder how the downstream NOAA programs attend to such errors – I guess that they must exclude the G-codes.

    We still have no idea why so much data gets lost on its way to NOAA.

    • Phil
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#120),

      Steve, I would beg to differ. I think you are being too generous. One of the problems with the way temperature data is stored in these files is that it may lead to mishandling. In a post I made on 22 Sep 2007, I identified a case where the temperature data was included in a separate file but the flag data was omitted.:

      In conclusion, V2.MEAN appears to consist of data that is almost, but not quite, “unadjusted.” Specifically, the information contained in the flags in HCN94MEA.ASC has been omitted.

      So, your original snark may still have some validity as I have shown at least one case where the temperature data was available in a different file with the flag data removed. Anybody using the non-flagged version of the temperature data would be unaware of any quality problems and, thus, your original snark would have some validity in that case.

  79. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:28 PM | Permalink

    Oddly, Ojmjakon is reporting “smoke” conditions, as has Verhojansk in recent days. Are forest fires raging in Siberia? Are the reporters burning their instrument shelters to stay warm? Why smoke?

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#121),
      When it’s that cold you’d expect an inversion and if they burn wood then smoke tends to accumulate in the valley bottoms. I recall similar effects when I was growing up (not as cold as that though;) ).

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#121), Some years ago in Vail Colorado, a very hip ski town, wood stoves became very “in” but inversions in the winter caused smoke to accumulate and they had to restrict wood stoves. Kind of ironic really–they were burning wood as more “natural” and ecological…

      • Ron Cram
        Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

        Re: Craig Loehle (#128),

        Spanish explorers saw the inversion layer near Los Angeles when sailing the California Coast.

        The Tongva people greeted the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo when he “discovered” San Pedro Bay in 1542. Noticing that smoke from Tongva fires accumulated under what is now called an “inversion layer,” Cabrillo named it Bahia de los Fumos, the Bay of Smokes. This was surely the first recorded reference to Los Angeles smog!

        http://www.tedsimages.com/text/sanpedro.htm

        But I doubt an inversion layer would make it impossible to read a thermometer. We’ve been reading them in LA for years.

  80. Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

    Re Phil, #122,

    How would this bias the reported temperatures? Sort of a Rural Heat Island effect?

    • Phil.
      Posted Dec 20, 2008 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

      Re: Hu McCulloch (#123),

      It sounds to me like it’s a ‘frost hollow’, the presence of a hot spring presumably doesn’t have much effect either. The bottom of the valley where I grew up was like that, no direct sun for ~2months, damn cold!

  81. ianl
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been in Verhojansk and quite a few other Siberian towns over the last few years on business (for Steve M, I work as a geologist). That December/January is cold is a given (I’ve seen a small mountainside waterfall frozen in mid-air), but to inform some of the speculation here:

    1) Siberian towns (especially the Soviet-built ones such as Verhojansk) use peat/brown coal-fired stations to generate steam which is piped through every room in every building for life-saving heating. This works extremely well – I’ve walked around a triple-story minerals processing plant in shirtsleeves with the outside temperature at -28C. No wood is now used, it’s too costly and inefficient.

    If you look at Google Earth, you will see that Verhojansk is at altitude about 100m and built around an old-meander river (obviously frozen half the year). The “smoke” is most likely steam from the power station trapped by thermal inversion.

  82. Larry Huldén
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 4:34 AM | Permalink

    ukridge wrote:
    Re: Larry Huldén (#6):

    1. “Do you know the exact mosquito species living there?”
    It is same vector species as in Finland, Anopheles messeae.
    Source: Lysenko & Kondratchin 1999: Malariologia. Published on internet by WHO (in Russian).

    2. “How can it be that “There were no adult mosquitoes during the summer.”?”
    The vector species was in larval stage during summer in the northern part of its distribution. In warmer regions messeae develope 2-3 generations in the summer.
    Source: Check Malaria Journal home page and search for articles by Hulden (2005 and 2008).

    3. “Who laid then the larves?”
    A. messeae lay eggs after overwintering late in May or beginning of June depending on local temperature conditions. The larvae develope during summer and the new generation of adult messeae start to emerge in late July or August. In warmer regions messeae develope 2-3 generations in the summer.
    Conclusions from Malaria Journal articles.
    The Russian malaria researchers have misinterpreted the life cycle of Plasmodium vivax in the north. They think that sporogony occurred in the summer in Yakutia. This is impossible as the adults of the vector emerge too late in the summer when temperatures were sloping down (well below 16-18 centigrade which is minimum for development of sporozoites).
    See the Natural relapses … article in Malaria Journal.

    • ukridge
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 4:57 AM | Permalink

      Re: Larry Huldén (#126), Thanks very much, Larry. I examined the tropical and European malaria, but not the northern ones yet. Things work quite differently there. I appreciate that you saved some hours of mine on this, I now go and dig into. Hope to find you later if I get in trouble.

      • tty
        Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

        Re: ukridge (#127),

        European malaria was similar, at least in the northernmost part of its range. Historical data makes it clear that transmission occurred mainly indoors and in winter in northern Sweden and Northern Finland. It is less clear if this was true for southern Sweden as well. The species involved were vivax and messeae here too.
        Also note that the short summers definitely do not mean that there is no mosquitoes in summer in Siberia. There are relatively few in early summer, but in late summer Siberia is possibly the worst place in the world for mosquitoes.

  83. freddy
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    Re: response to freddy (#129), Can you clarify this? as far as I can tell, GISS only uses the v2.mean file which has the monthly mean data. The daily data is not used in Hansen’s analysis. So even if this had been an unflagged error (which it wasn’t), I still don’t see why it has anything to do with GISS.

  84. Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    Re Freddy #135,

    Is it possible to tell if the monthly means in the v2.mean file used by GISS incorporate the erroneous +46.7°C reading for the day in question?

  85. curious
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    Re: John M and Phil at 132
    FWIW after backtracking the thread I saw the context was to do with variance of altitudinal changes in pressure according to latitude. I came in as the comment went against my understanding that centripetal effect means weight at the equator is reduced relative to the poles. After reading the links etc. I don’t think there is a conflict. My understanding remains that at sea level atmospheric pressure will be higher at the poles and that temperature effects only start applying as altitude changes relative to sea level. All this is consistent with a bulging atmosphere at the equator. Happy to be corrected if off track – there is the issue of what happens to the pressure variation travelling at sea level along a line of longitude pole to equator and I guess the answer is we are not talking about a static atmospheric volume?

    No comment re: the effects on gas composition beyond simple view that the % change in pressure is small and cannot see how this would influence composition. If there is a relationship between pressure and composition in this pressure range then I’d guess this would be visible in existing variable altitude samples?

    Again pleased for more info. and apologies if the above is spelt out elsewhere or OT.

  86. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    #133. Hansen uses GHCN-monthly averages. These in turn appear to be derived from MCDW for recent data, but I don’t know right now who calculates the MCDW averages or what data they use to derive these averages. If you can locate this information, I’d appreciate it. In addition, if you can determine why GHCN-daily information misses the information that Wunderground manages to obtain, I’d appreciate that information as well. (Or anyone else who knows.)

  87. Hans Erren
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

    graph test for ojmjakon

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/histGraphAll?day=22&year=2008&month=12&ID=24688&type=1&width=500

  88. Hans Erren
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    works!
    the graph will update automatically until the end of the month!

  89. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Hu, there are have only been a few [December] days in the Ojmjakon record where the daily maximum has been below minus 57 (which we’ve seen for 3 straight days now). Only 8 in the entire GHCN-D record – one in 1975, 4 in 1977,2 in 1984 and one in 1993. Now we’ve had 3 straight days with a good chance for a 4th.

    Note: I used a LT sign for the above calc in a context where a LE sign would have been more appropriate. I got 8 values with LT and 10 with LE: 1 in 1975, 4 in 1977, 1 in 1978, 3 in 1984 amd 1 in 1993 from the GHCN-D version.

    • thefordprefect
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#141), Don’t know what data you are refering to:
      I find 26 maximum temps below -57 in the whole record:
      1952/01/16 -57.7
      1954/01/5,16 -57.1, -57.4
      1967/01/12,14,15,17 -57.5,-57.3,-57.1,-58.0
      1970/01/4,5,6 -58.0, -60.8, -59.6
      1972/01/19,20 -57.2, -57.6
      1973/12/16,17 -57.5, -59.8
      1977/12/21,22,23 -57.2, -58.9, -58.9
      1980/01/3,7,8 -58.4, -59.5, -59.2
      1984/12/13,14,19 -57.9, -59.9, -57.8
      1992/01/8,9 -59.1, -58.4
      1993/12/10 -57.6

      All temps degC. All quality failures removed.
      There are a total of 26 max temperatures less than -57degC and 30 less than or equal to -57degC in the whole record
      There are a total of 4 min temps below 64degC in the whole record
      I assume the GHCN-D record, to which you refer, cannot be the one in your header.
      Will you give a link to it please?

      Cheers Mike

      Steve: In each of my comments, I’ve specified December temperatures, but omitted to do so in this comment. I’ll add this qualifier as that’s what I meant. Sorry bout that.

    • Phil
      Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 10:31 PM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#141),
      Re: thefordprefect (#146),

      I found the following December temperatures of -57 or below for Ojmjakon (I have indicated tfp’s and Steve’s results for comparison):

      1993: 11,17: -58, -57.1 [tfp: 1 on 10: -57.6] {Steve: 1}
      1984: 13,14.19: -57.9, -59.9, -57.8 [tfp: same 3] {Steve: 2}
      1978: 22: -57 [tfp: 0] {Steve: 0}
      1977: 20,21,22,23: -57, -57.2, -58.9, -58.9
      ………[tfp: same 3 values on 21,22,23] {Steve: 4}
      1975: 31: -58.2 [tfp: 0] {Steve: 1}

      Source: http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp040/f24688.dat

      Isn’t it appropriate to question quality assurance when 3 different people get 3 different answers to the same question?

      Steve: TFP and I get the same values (we’re using GHCN-D values) – the difference between us was that my calc has a LT sign where his had a LE sign. I’ll comment separately on this below as there’s an interesting point on provenance arising out of this.

  90. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    #140. Nice. It’s nice to be start being able to control these cgi commands.

  91. Hu McCulloch
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    It’s currently (7AM 12/22 there) -59&degC in Ojmjakon. See http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/24688.html.

    The forecast is for “warming”, so -60°C looks unlikely, but still this must be some sort of record.

  92. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    somebody release the heat in the pipeline please

    • jeez
      Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

      Re: steven mosher (#144),

      Since it is known from GCM’s that the total heat energy budget of the Earth’s climate is steadily increasing, it appears that something else is happening to obscure this energy, and it is not simply fluctuations in “Weather”. I propose that the heat energy in the pipeline exists in a previously unknown form which should be known as Dark Enthalpy.

      Dark Enthalpy is the likely hiding place. It is an energy which temporarily, for unknown periods, has all the properties of kinetic energy except that it does not interact with matter as we know it (it may interact with Dark Matter though), until at some future time, it phase shifts into normal kinetic energy.

      Dark Enthalpy makes far more sense than assuming that the heat energy is hiding in deep water ocean caves or other mythical hiding places.

      Dark Enthalpy could explain more than the recent non-real cooling trends noted in the Global Temperature budgets. For example, inordinately high, unanticipated utility bills could likely be attributed to losses to Dark Enthalpy.

      • Geoff Sherrington
        Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 11:56 PM | Permalink

        Re: jeez (#166),

        Your posts are so good. Why do I think of Star Wars & Vader, when I’d rather be thinking of the Princess?

        An abstract question. What is your description of the first differential of the Dark Entropy with respect to time? It seems we have an acceleration in progress.

        • jeez
          Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

          Re: Geoff Sherrington (#169),

          Geoff,

          I’m not sure DE can be modeled as a continuous function, perhaps on large scale, such as the Earth’s climate system, but now that I realize it exists, on smaller scales, I can observe it appears to exhibit discontinuous, almost instantaneous changes of state.

          For example, last night I was out with this woman who was definitely hot for me all evening. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason around 2 am–cold as dry ice.

  93. PaddikJ
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

    Re: Hu McCulloch (#121), Some years ago in Vail Colorado, a very hip ski town, wood stoves became very “in” but inversions in the winter caused smoke to accumulate and they had to restrict wood stoves. Kind of ironic really–they were burning wood as more “natural” and ecological

    And by the mid-80’s, those restrictions took the form of smoke detectors required in all wood-burning appliances in residential units built after the restrictions took effect, which reported directly to Big Brother, the easier to fine scofflaws who were smoking out of turn.

    BTW, Vail has always been nouveau-riche, and decidedly unhip (but for deep-powder junkies, the back bowls are sublime).

    steven mosher; December 21st, 2008 at 3:51 pm
    somebody release the heat in the pipeline please

    And pipe some of it here to the Colorado Front Range where it’s been hovering in the low teens for the better part of a week. Getting a little nippy in N. California as well? Oh,well; if it’s anything like CO, you should have a good base of Sierra Cement by now. I’m looking forward to some fine snow-shoeing starting in January.

  94. Larry Huldén
    Posted Dec 21, 2008 at 10:41 PM | Permalink

    tty: # 134 said:
    “Also note that the short summers definitely do not mean that there is no mosquitoes in summer in Siberia. There are relatively few in early summer, but in late summer Siberia is possibly the worst place in the world for mosquitoes.”

    That is of course true. However, with the term “mosquitoes” I was thinking of Anopheles which is the only genus transmitting malaria.

  95. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    #147. This is getting quite weird. http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp040/f24688.dat and ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ghcn/daily/all/RS000024688.dly/ in a quick spot check appear to contain the same values for 1994 but different data in 1993. TFP and I were using GHCN-D info, which has many gaps in 1993, whereas the CDIAC record is complete. The CDIAC data was updated in Nov 2008 and the readme says that it is transcribed from Russian records, which I presume tie in to the Wunderground records.

    Here are tmax values from GHCN-D for Dec 1993:
    199312 NA NA NA NA -514 -459 NA NA NA -576 NA -529 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA -308 NA NA NA -462

    Here are corresponding CDIAC values. The record at CDIAC is complete. TMA is in column starting with -52.4 and the values where both are available don’t necessarily match. The provenance of GHCN-D and GHCN-M remains unknown to me.

    24688 1993 12 1 0 -56.1 0 -54.8 0 -52.4 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 2 0 -54.9 0 -51.0 0 -48.8 0 0.6 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 3 0 -49.9 0 -44.7 0 -41.2 0 0.9 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 4 0 -50.7 0 -43.9 0 -39.7 0 0.6 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 5 0 -55.4 0 -53.9 0 -50.7 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 6 0 -55.4 0 -51.5 0 -45.9 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 7 0 -53.7 0 -51.8 0 -49.5 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 8 0 -52.7 0 -46.5 0 -42.4 0 0.5 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 9 0 -58.7 0 -57.1 0 -52.4 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 10 0 -60.6 0 -59.3 0 -56.5 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 11 0 -60.6 0 -59.8 0 -58.0 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 12 0 -60.9 0 -58.7 0 -52.9 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 13 0 -59.7 0 -57.4 0 -52.9 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 14 0 -59.4 0 -57.9 0 -56.7 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 15 0 -58.4 0 -57.5 0 -55.7 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 16 0 -59.4 0 -58.2 0 -56.9 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 17 0 -58.9 0 -58.1 0 -57.1 0 0.2 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 18 0 -59.8 0 -58.3 0 -56.6 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 19 0 -57.7 0 -52.4 0 -46.8 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 20 0 -48.1 0 -44.2 0 -42.1 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 21 0 -48.2 0 -42.7 0 -39.2 0 0.0 3 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 22 0 -42.8 0 -39.1 0 -36.8 0 0.0 3 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 23 0 -37.3 0 -31.4 0 -28.0 0 0.5 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 24 0 -40.2 0 -33.0 0 -27.0 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 25 0 -42.9 0 -39.2 0 -34.6 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 26 0 -34.6 0 -32.3 0 -30.7 0 1.4 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 27 0 -41.0 0 -34.2 0 -30.8 0 0.2 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 28 0 -45.5 0 -42.6 0 -39.7 0 0.0 3 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 29 0 -51.3 0 -47.4 0 -42.3 0 0.2 0 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 30 0 -51.7 0 -50.3 0 -49.3 0 0.0 2 0 AAAA
    24688 1993 12 31 0 -51.6 0 -48.8 0 -46.2 0 0.3 0 0 AAAA

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#149),

      Looking at the ftp site from NOAA, most of 1993 and Jan and Feb of 1994 have a source code of I. But November and December of 1993 have a source code of S. The Read Me file states:

      Global Summary of the Day (NCDC DSI-9618)
      NOTE: “S” values are derived from hourly synoptic reports
      exchanged on the Global Telecommunications System (GTS).
      Daily values derived in this fashion may differ significantly
      from “true” daily data, particularly for precipitation
      (i.e., use with caution).

      So if you have a choice between these values and other values, it looks like other values would be preferable.

      • Nylo
        Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

        Re: Ron Cram (#150),
        Do they mean that it is better to get daily “true data” by averaging daily max&min as standard instead of getting hourly updates?

        And they call themselves scientists?

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nylo (#151),

          I don’t think they are averaging Tmin and Tmax. I think they mean these values would differ from “true” Tmin and Tmax data taken from observations. I’m only guessing here, but this could be the early stages of an automated reporting system and they are not convinced all the bugs are worked out yet.

        • Ron Cram
          Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nylo (#151),

          It looks like CDIAC was able to find real observations for December 1993 somewhere. That is the “weird” part Steve was referring to. I was saying that based on the note, the CDIAC values are probably better although we don’t know the provenance of those numbers. CDIAC was not able to obtain values for November 19993.

  96. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

    HEre are some tools for reading the CDIAC files (which were updated to 2001 in Nov 2008):

    url=”http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp040″
    info=read.fwf(“http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp040/station_inventory.txt”,widths=c(5,1,25,6,8,7,5,rep(5,8)))
    info=info[,c(1,3:ncol(info))]
    names(info)=c(“id”,”name”,”lat”,”lon”,”alt”,”start_tmin”,”miss_tmin”,”start_tmean”,”miss_tmean”,
    “start_tmax”,”miss_tmax”,”start_prec”,”miss_prec”,”end”)
    info$name=gsub(” +$”,””,info$name)
    info[37,]
    #37 24688 OJMJAKON 63.27 143.15 740 1943 0.1 1943 0 1943 3.9 1943 3.3 1989

    ##DATA
    i=37
    loc=file.path(url, paste(“f”,info$id[i],”.dat”,sep=””))
    station=read.fwf(loc, widths=c(6,6,4,4,2,6,2,6,2,6,2,6,2,3,1,1,1,1) )
    names(station)=c(“id”,”year”,”month”,”day”,”flag_temp”,”tmin”,”flag_tmin”,”tmean”,
    “flag_tmean”,”tmax”,”flag_tmax”,”prec”,”code_prec”,”flag_prec”,”code1″,”code2″,”code3″,”code4″)
    station$time=100*station$year+station$month
    temp=(station[,c("tmin","tmean","tmax","prec")]==999.9);sum(temp) #1271
    station[,c("tmin","tmean","tmax","prec")][temp]=NA

  97. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    I calculated monthly averages of tmean from the CDIAC version and compared to GHCN-M version. Differences were as large as 6 deg C in individual months, but values for many months matched. For Ojmjakon, there wasn’t any significant trend in one series relative to another.

    The CDIAC readme reports use of data from the Russian meteorological institution; it seems that GHCN-M uses Monthly Climate Data of the World information (for the most recent portion anyway). I don’t know how this data gets from Russia to GHCN-M. GHCN-D doesn’t match in detail to CDIAC (which appears to be the more reliable source). Again the provenance of the GHCN-D data is not known to me.

  98. thefordprefect
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    The data sources compared:
    CDIAC and NOAA
    Note that this is only the minimum temperature monthly average plot. there are missing data slabs in the NOAA stuff so a monthly average can be way off if data is not spread evenly throughout (and it was not in most cases)
    A few other temp records are included on the graph for comparison

    Mike

    • thefordprefect
      Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

      Re: thefordprefect (#159), Apologies I foolishly tacked on the noaa data from 2002 to present to the cdiac data (seemed like a good idea at the time but with thought is actually garbage)
      So the cdiac purple line is only valid for dates up to and including 1997 (averaging is done+-5years about the actual date)
      mike

  99. Raven
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

    A bit off topic but an interesting paper from the AGU:

    http://heliogenic.blogspot.com/2008/12/scientist-adjusts-data-presto-antarctic.html

    Abstract excerpt: “We use statistical climate field reconstruction techniques to determine monthly temperature anomalies for the near-surface of the Antarctic ice sheet since 1957. Two independent data sets are used to provide estimates of the spatial covariance patterns of temperature: automatic weather stations and thermal infrared satellite observations. Quality-controlled data from occupied instrumental weather stations are used to determine the amplitude of changes in those covariance patterns through time. We use a modified principal component analysis technique (Steig et al., in review, Nature) to optimize the combination of spatial and temporal information. Verification statistics obtained from subsets of the data demonstrate the resulting reconstructions represent improvements relative to climatological mean values.”

    • EW
      Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 5:10 AM | Permalink

      Re: Raven (#164),

      I’ve read the abstract and I don’t quite get it. The measured data said so far, that Antarctica is cooling. How can any derivative of PCA change the direction of measurements?

  100. crosspatch
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    Well, you might be on to something, Jeez. The sea is full of endothermic chemical reactions. One of them is photosynthesis. If CO2 increases, photosynthesis increases and the net result would be a temperature decrease. So maybe all that plankton that would grow more robust in the presence of more CO2 are cooling the ocean.

  101. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 11:46 PM | Permalink

    Ravaged by global warming, Ojmjakon today reached an oppressively warm minus 44 deg C.

  102. Mike Davis
    Posted Dec 22, 2008 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

    jeez:
    When I heard that global warming was in the pipeline in the ocean I imagined that someone had gone out and laid thousands of miles of 6ft.pipe on the ocean floor and NASA had figured how to pump the heat in there for later use. Mr. Hansen: Please release the heat you have stored on the ocean floor! PLEASE!

  103. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 12:37 AM | Permalink

    Free the heat!! Begone Dark Enthalpy.

  104. Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 5:27 AM | Permalink

    No serious institution would compute climatic data from GHCN-daily.
    Those daily data come currently from the GTS and are derived from all the 24 (or more) METAR and 8 SYNOP messages. For the European region, the 06 UTC synop reports also the minimum temperature of the recent night and is so referred to a 12 hour time frame (18 UTC – 06 UTC). The 18 UTC synop report the maximum temperature of the last 12 hours (06 – 18). So the Tmin you read in GHCN-daily is the minimum value among all the metar and synop reading plus the minimum reported at 06. A consequence of all that is that the reported Tmin could be the not-real Tmin value of the day.
    The real temperature exstremes of the day, refered to a 00 – 24 time frame, are found in the SYREP message published the next day (at least this is true for Italy). Those kind of data, I believe, aren’t upload in the GTS.
    NOAA has to ask for that data

  105. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    #173. I think that the provenance of GHCN-Monthly is separate from GHCN-Daily, as they don;t tie together, that’s for sure. GHCN-Monthly largely comes from the Monthly Climate Data of the World collection – the provenance of which remains unknown to me and any clarification would be appreciated/

  106. Mike Bryant
    Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

    I used to think that the heat was hiding in my attic here in south Texas. But I just checked and it is freezing up there…

    Olly olly oxen free!!!

  107. PaddikJ
    Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    Maybe they’re using it to power that star gate wormhole thingamajiggy.

  108. Stanislav Lem
    Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    Quite Cold in North America as well…

    http://stormwire.stormexchange.com/2008/12/frigid-temperatures-endanger-cattle.html

  109. jeez
    Posted Dec 23, 2008 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    The sudden disappearance of posts that could be considered a bit too hot, which previously has been blamed on the mysterious Zamboni force, might also be explained more simply by a sudden phase shift to DE.

  110. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 4:23 AM | Permalink

    re 181. It’s more easily explained by your lame comeback to my exquisite retort

  111. Scott Brim
    Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    Mine was clearly out of bounds. But it was fun while it lasted.

  112. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

    re 183. Dont worry Scott, jeez and I have already blamed you. Coal in the sock
    for you.

  113. Mike Bryant
    Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    OK… I don’t know any thing about Dark Enthalpy so I googled it and got this:

    “In the present work, using preparations of purified manganese-depleted photosystem II (PS II) core complexes from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, we have measured the DeltaV, DeltaH, and estimated TDeltaS of electron transfer on the time scale of 1 micros. At pH 6.0, the volume contraction of PS II was determined to be -9 +/- 1 A3. The thermal efficiency was found to be 52 +/- 5%, which corresponds to an ENTHALPY change of -0.9 +/- 0.1 eV for the formation of the state P680+Q(A-) from P680*. An unexpected volume expansion on pulse saturation of PS II was observed, which is reversible in the DARK.

    I hope this helps. :)

  114. Domingo
    Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

    These forecasts on wunderground are little weird… now they forecasts -14 C which hardly ever happens there even in october-november, not to mention the coldest time right now.

    I wish I had -14 here in Poland…it’s third awfully warm winter in a row :(

  115. EW
    Posted Dec 25, 2008 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    -14 C? You mean in Oymyakon? Russia’s Weather server says that the mean for today was -46 C, going down at the local time 6 p.m. to -50 C. Brrrrr… I wonder, what dataset they have at this website, as the values I downloaded for some stations were different from those given in GHCN. Oymyakon is there archived for download since 1998.

  116. Urederra
    Posted Dec 25, 2008 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    Actually, they are forecasting -12 C at Oymyakon for next Monday on wunderground. Although right now it must be -51 C.

    http://espanol.wunderground.com/global/stations/24688.html

  117. EW
    Posted Dec 25, 2008 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

    Hmmm, a 14 C increase in Oimyakon is scheduled to occur at Saturday. From -30 to -16 C.

  118. EW
    Posted Dec 25, 2008 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    Forgot the link.

  119. Urederra
    Posted Dec 29, 2008 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    Remember that Domingo said that wunderground was forecasting -14 C at Oymyakon and when I checked, one day later (dec 25th), they were forecasting -12 C for next Monday? (I made a screencapture ;) ) Well, Monday is over at Oymyakon and the max temperature was -28 C. (a whooping 16 degrees of difference between the forecasted maximum and the real one).

    http://espanol.wunderground.com/history/station/24688/2008/12/29/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA

  120. Ryan O
    Posted Jan 3, 2009 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    This may seem like a dumb and elementary question, but since we’re talking about how the GISS anomaly maps still manage to show a positive anomaly in Siberia, it kind of relates.
    The algorithm used by GISS always seems to add a positive slope to the temperature data – making recent stuff warmer and older stuff cooler than the raw data. So I guess I have a multi-part question:
    1. Has anyone ever generated a purely flat-line, completely populated data set for some fictional station and seen what the GISS algorithm would output?
    2. Then, from there, randomly get rid of some of the data to see what the results are when the algorithm begins estimating missing data?
    Sorry if this has already been done and is elsewhere on the blog or in the literature. :)
    One other quick question before I go: Does anyone know how much the relatively large-sized positive anomaly in Siberia contributes to the global anomaly values?
    Lot of things asked by a first-time poster . . . sorry if any of it is redundant or otherwise displays my ignorance. :)

  121. Posted Jan 4, 2009 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

    Great ….. now take a peek at Manitoba and Saskatchewan for the 4,5 of January.

    Coldest place on earth my frost bitten ass!

  122. tty
    Posted Jan 5, 2009 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

    SMHI (the Swedish Meteorological Agency) has published their monthly review of global weather for December (http://www.smhi.se/cmp/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=5648&a=38988&l=sv) and notes that Ojmjakon actually reached -60.2 degrees C on December 22, the lowest December temperature there (and in the northern hemisphere) for more than a decade.

  123. Ryan O
    Posted Jan 5, 2009 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    In response to my question above, never mind. I got off my ass and downloaded some GISS data and, after looking at it, realized my question was just ignorant. :)

  124. Leonard Herchen
    Posted Feb 4, 2009 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    Anecdotal evidence of unusually cold winter in Russia

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2203989.ece?OTC-RSS&ATTR=News

  125. Vissarion Gotovtsev
    Posted Mar 2, 2009 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

    Hi, everyone. I’m the one from Sakha Republic, Borogontsy (140km NE from Yakutsk).
    This year has been colder than others just because for the last 15 years we’ve been facing very warm winters and not so hot summers. When a was a kid, from around 1985 up to 1996, we used to have very cold winters (-50C to -62C, even one night it was about -65C) and very hot summers (+30C to +39C). I used to stay at home, because the schools were closed, for a month or so during these years. When after a month off coldeness, it would “warm up” to -40C, we, the 7 year olds, would get out and play outdoors, we used to think it as a spring-coming-soon period.
    But starting from mid-90s, till 2007 – temperatures where mostly from -45C -40C to +18C +25C with rainy summers. Only last summer 2008, as I remember, was the most hottest, +30C +35C, for the last years. As elder people say here, when we’ve got hot summer, we have to pay for it with cold winter, and they are right.

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  1. [...] are among the coldest places on earth.” Take it away, Steve and the Commenters… Minus 60 (deg C)? by Steve McIntyre _______________________ A slot machine with three ice cubes, perhaps? Hell [...]

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