Orland CA and the New Adjustments

In my last post, I observed that NOAA’s Talking Points applied their new “adjustments” to supposedly prove that NOAA’s negligent administration of the USHCN network did not “matter”.
In order to illustrate the effect of the new methods in this post, I’ll compare the new adjustments (post-TOBS) to the old adjustments (post-TOBS) on a “good” station – Orland CA, a prototype “good” station, discussed at the outset of surfacestations.org, discussed at WUWT here and CA here in early 2007.

The station history for Orland (at CDIAC) says that it has been in its present location for (at least) most of the 20th century and has had minimal changes during that time, other than perhaps time-of-observation (TOBS). The TOBS adjustment is carried forward into USHCN-v2. As I understand it, NOAA’s New Adjustment Method replaces station-history based adjustments for instrumentation changes and station location (the latter formerly done in FILNET).

As a benchmark, here is the difference between FILNET (adjusted) and TOBS for Orland in the “old” USHCN. Adjustments in the 20th century are negligible – in keeping with station history information that indicates no changes in location.


Figure 1. “Old” USHCN Adjustments for Station Location and Instrument Changes

Now here is the net adjustment in the “New” USHCN.

Two points jump out. Look first at the monthly adjustments at the right hand side. In the “old” method, there weren’t any adjustments to recent data – where metadata did not indicate any relevant change. In the “new” method, there are all sorts of jittery little adjustments. They seem to average out, but why introduce these jitters in the first place? It’s starting to look like a pointless Hansen-esque (ROW-style) adjustment that simply distorts the underlying data.

On a larger scale, the new adjustment noticeably increases the 20th century trend at Orland.

These graphics strongly indicate to me that the effect of the algorithm – regardless of whatever good intentions may underlie it – is that data from lower quality stations is being blended into the presently archived Orland data. I presume that something similar is happening to other “good” stations (though I’ve only examined one example so far.) (Note that Orland is a CRN3 station. However, its excellent continuity makes it a pretty attractive station for benchmarking and visually it doesn’t look a “bad” CRN3 station).

Based on this example, it looks like NOAA’s Talking Points comparison is between the overall average and 70 “adjusted” stations – AFTER the good stations have been adjusted. :)


23 Comments

  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 9:57 PM | Permalink

    From the station history at CDIAC:
    OBS_NAME begin_date latitude longitude elev dist_prev dir_move elev dir_PO
    1 SOUTHERN PACIFIC RR 1883-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 NA 254 SW
    2 P D BANE 1907-03-01 39 45 122 12 254 NA 254
    3 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1909-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 NA 254 W
    4 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1909-05-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    5 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1915-11-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    6 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1917-11-08 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    7 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1922-07-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    8 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1933-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    9 US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 1949-03-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    10 ORLAND WATER USERS ASSOC 1955-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W
    11 ORLAND UNIT WATER USERS ASSOC 1958-03-19 39 45 122 12 254 0 S 254 WSW

  2. Jeff C.
    Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 10:54 PM | Permalink

    Good stuff Steve. Orland appears to be an excellent test case as the only change in the station history record was the change to a min-max thermometer and addition of the Stevenson Screen in 1907. As you mention, the location has been constant since the record start in 1883.

    It does look like there might be Time of Observation changes that roughly coincide with the steps in the second plot prior to 1950.

    Here are the Time of Observation entries for Orland from the station history file. Note that the steps do seem to coincide with the observation time changes, particularly those in 1907, 1909, 1922 and 1949 (last column shown below). I don’t exactly recall how to decipher the observation time codes shown below, but this may explain the steps.

    station start stop temp time of obs
    ORLAND 18830101 19070228 HR
    ORLAND 19070301 19081231 89
    ORLAND 19090101 19090430 79
    ORLAND 19090501 19151031 8
    ORLAND 19151101 19171107 16
    ORLAND 19171108 19220630 89
    ORLAND 19220701 19321231 17
    ORLAND 19330101 19490228 HR
    ORLAND 19490301 19541231 89
    ORLAND 19550101 19580318 89
    ORLAND 19580319 99999999 8

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff C. (#2),

      you have to read the time of obs for both precipitation and temperature together.

      If the datum is of the form 9189 then the time is 1800 hours but the bracket 9…9 indicates some uncertainty.

      If its 0618, then its 0600 for prec and 1800 for temp. Its an awkward format.

      • Jeff C.
        Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 11:20 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (#4),

        Steve, you are correct. 9xx9 means they weren’t sure if the time was for precip or temp as only one value was given. The other odd one is “02HR” which means the temps were checked for 2 hours but they were not sure which two.

        I don’t have your raw data so I can’t say for sure, but the plot steps sure look like they occur at observation time changes.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 11:11 PM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff C. (#2),

      $move
      name OBS_NAME OBS_NUM begin_date latitude longitude elev dist_prev_loc dir_move elev.1 dir_PO obstime_temp hgt_temp
      1 ORLAND SOUTHERN PACIFIC RR 0 1883-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 NA 254 SW 03HR NA
      2 ORLAND P D BANE 0 1907-03-01 39 45 122 12 254 NA 254 18 4
      3 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1909-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 NA 254 W 17 5
      4 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1909-05-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 08 5
      5 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1915-11-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 16 5
      6 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1917-11-08 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 08 5
      7 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1922-07-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 17 5
      8 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1933-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 02HR 5
      9 ORLAND US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION 0 1949-03-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 08 5
      10 ORLAND ORLAND WATER USERS ASSOC 0 1955-01-01 39 45 122 12 254 0 000 254 W 08 5
      11 ORLAND ORLAND UNIT WATER USERS ASSOC 0 1958-03-19 39 45 122 12 254 0 S 254 WSW 08 5

  3. mondo
    Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    How come the adjustments always seem to be in the direction of exaggerating warming since 1900?

    • John A
      Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

      Re: mondo (#3),

      How come the adjustments always seem to be in the direction of exaggerating warming since 1900?

      I’ve no idea. Its a complete mystery

  4. Jeff C.
    Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

    I was able to decode the time of observation values and they are listed below. Some of them also require the precipitation observation time as the two values were combined into one 4-digit code. They are shown below.

    It does look like there were significant changes in 1909, 1915, 1917, 1922 and 1949. Does V2 use a TOBS adjustment?

    station start stop temp time of obs
    ORLAND 18830101 19070228 3 hours daily (not specified)
    ORLAND 19070301 19081231 6:00 PM (1800)
    ORLAND 19090101 19090430 5:00 PM (1700)
    ORLAND 19090501 19151031 8:00 AM (0800)
    ORLAND 19151101 19171107 4:00 PM (1600)
    ORLAND 19171108 19220630 8:00 AM (0800)
    ORLAND 19220701 19321231 5:00 PM (1700)
    ORLAND 19330101 19490228 2 hours daily (not specified)
    ORLAND 19490301 19541231 8:00 AM (0800)
    ORLAND 19550101 19580318 8:00 AM (0800)
    ORLAND 19580319 99999999 8:00 AM (0800)

  5. Richard Henry Lee
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 12:19 AM | Permalink

    Steve, FWIW, there is additional data on the NCDC website under
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/williams/nws/
    which is probably the folder used by Claude N. Williams. The data include a fairly large set of raw and apparently adjusted monthly temperatures from 1949 to 2009. There is a meta file which lists 4630 stations.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

      Re: Richard Henry Lee (#8),

      If you can capture and store truly original data, then it will be most useful one day. One has to define a dataset against which subsequent changes are measured. I’m not having an easy job finding the equivalent here Down Under.

      • John Baltutis
        Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

        Re: Geoff Sherrington (#9),

        I have it. If anyone wants it and can’t get it directly (use the guest login), let me know. It’s about 48 MB gzipped into 6 files.

  6. Tony Rogers
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

    I would love to see a plot of average temperatures for the last 50 or 100 years based only on unadjusted CRN1 and 2 stations only. Is Anthony planning to do this eventually?

  7. Mac
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

    Poor quality control on siting compounded by an attempt to smear heat from poor sites to good ones.

  8. Craig Bear
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    Why is it pushing the 1900ish data further away from zero? It seems counter-intuitive that you’d want to move the starting point? (I know it’s a datapoint so it’s relative… but to go from ~0 to somewhere between -1 and -2 is a very LARGE movement, considering all the rage over a 0.6 deg celsius change in the global mean temperature…)

  9. John D.
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    Orland has shifted from an economic dependence on dry farming, mostly wheat during the late 19th and earlier 20th C, to irrigated row crops and orchards in the present. South and east rice is an extremely important crop. Beginning in the early 20th C sugar beets became a major crop and remained so until the big sugar plants in the valley were closed. Dairy is also fairly important. Humidity is likely to higher seasonally when crops are irrigated. The area should reflect a steady increase in the baseline humidity during the summer over the 20th C beginning around 1909-1910. At that time you see some ambitious water systems being planned and constructed in the valley. The short of it is that even at Orland you may expect some culturally driver trends to imposed on the data.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

      Re: John D. (#15),

      John Christy did a paper on this sort of issue. Orland might even be in his target area.

      • Andrew
        Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (#18), Probably this is what you refer to:

        Christy, J.R., W.B. Norris, K. Redmond and K. Gallo, 2006: Methodology and results of
        calculating central California surface temperature trends: Evidence of human-induced
        climate change? J. Climate, 19, 548-563.

        I don’t know where in California Orland is, but they focused on the difference in trends between T-Max and T-Min and the trends in the Valley and up in the Sierras. The conclusion was that the only temperatures which rose significantly were T-Min in the valley, which they attribute to agriculture.

        • sky
          Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

          Re: Andrew (#22),
          The Orland station is in the Central Valley, 84 km south of Redding, according to GISS.

  10. Jeff C.
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    Looks to me like there are two interesting things about the V2 minus TOBS chart (the second plot). If you look at the GISS plot shown in Anthony’s site photo above, the V2 minus TOBs plot looks to be very close to the mirror image of it. It appears that the V2 correction would turn the GISS temp record into something close to a flat line.

    The second point is that the steps in the V2 correction coincide with the date of new entries into the station history file. The station history file has a new date entry when a station moves, equipment changes, the observation time changes, or even something as seemingly mundane as a change in the observer’s name.

    I recall reading about one of the reasons for the V2 algorithm was to sniff out unreported location or equipment changes. I bet that the algorithm uses the station history dates in implementing this function. If the algorithm notices a temp difference between two adjacent station history time periods, it assumes there must be an unreported change. It then applies and adjustment to coerce the record into what it thinks is the correct temperature.

    How it knows the correct temperature is anybody’s guess.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff C. (#16),

      Menne et al 2009 says:

      The algorithm also makes use of station history information, when available, to improve the identification of artificial shifts in temperature data …
      The cluster of dates falling within overlapping confidence limits is then conflated to a single date at the target in one of two ways: 1) it is assigned to the date of a known event in the target station’s history that occurs within the confidence limits for a shift of that magnitude; or 2) it is assigned to the most common changepoint date that falls within these simulated confidence limits, which means that the discontinuity appears to be truly undocumented.

  11. John S.
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    Since the MAX/MIN thermometer was installed in 1907, the only necessary TOBS adjustment is for the 3 daily readings taken before then. But since the times of those readings are unknown, there is no solid basis for making an adjustment. What is being done blatantly is to bring Orland data into line with far-more-corrupted records.

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    The underlying article describing the algorithm is here
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/pairwise-rev8.pdf

    and the companion article describing the new USHCN is here

    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2008BAMS2613.1

  13. John S.
    Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    Orland shows very significant cross-spectral coherence with neighboring Willows, the squared values rising from 0.62 at zero frequency to 0.99 near that of the QBO. It fits in perfectly sensibly between Redding, which shows some UHI effects and Willows, which doesn’t.

    Sometime I’ll learn to post graphs.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] on USHCN2’s “warmer” trend treatment of Orland 30 06 2009 Orland CA and the New Adjustments by Steve McIntyre on June 29th, [...]

  2. [...] alteration of Orland data by Steve McIntyre, with his customary thoroughness, here and here. Figure 2. Orland USHCN raw data/GISS homogenized data blink comparison. Animation courtesy of [...]

  3. […] http://climateaudit.org/2009/06/29/orland-ca-and-the-new-adjustments/ […]

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