The Vose and Karl Response to Davey and Pielke 2005

Anthony Watts has a couple more stations in hand (Electra and Fallon) about which I’ll comment later today. The detailed examination of USHCN stations fits into the prior debate initiated by the Davey and Pielke 2005 survey of sites in eastern Colorado.

The original Davey and Pielke article was accompanied by an official response from Vose, Karl et al in which one of their primary defences was that Pielke et al had merely found problems in one area and had not proved that there was a problem over the entire network.

If one views the Davey and Pielke study as a type of audit spot check, this aspect of the Karl and Vose response is both obfuscating and appalling and should have raised alarm bells in any properly administered system.

Pielke Sr gives a little history to his article at his blog here. According to him, the AMS took three years to process the article, in part to accommodate the simultaneous publication of an official response from Vose, Karl et al, the editor of BAMS explaining:

In the case of your 2005 article, Jeff Rosenfeld felt that since your work raised significant (though potentially justified) criticism of an observing network that the entire scientific community relies upon and would impact the public confidence in those networks, that a companion comment was appropriate to provide additional perspective.

The Vose, Karl et al 2005 response, entitled Comments on “Microclimate Exposures of Surface-Based Weather Stations” , BAMS, 2005 is online here.

They begin by re-iterating the mantra that USHCN is a “high-quality” network:

USHCN is a high-quality subset of the much larger U.S. Cooperative Observing Network, stations having been originally chosen based upon factors such as their spatial coverage, record length, data completeness, and historical stability (i.e., the number of changes in station location, instrumentation, and observing practice). In addition, the recommendations of the nation’s State Climatologists, whom were often knowledgeable of site exposures, figured prominently in the selection of USHCN stations (Quinlan et al. 1987).

They don’t mention anything about barbecues or incinerators. They then proceed to defend themselves on the basis that Davey and Pielke have only shown problems in eastern Colorado:

Furthermore, their analysis was a static assessment of site exposures over a relatively small part of the country, an area within which station exposures varied considerably. In other words, their results do not show that a large number of USHCN stations have a comparable exposure problem…

Responsibility for quality control rests with the agency responsible for the network. It wasn’t Pielke’s job to survey the entire country. Pielke did a spot check and reported that the claims that the network was “high-quality” in this area were false. Consider Pielke’s article a type of audit. Business auditors do spot checks all the time. They don’t have to explain why they picked one invoice or one contract to examine. If they find problems with an invoice or contract, they will expand the scope of the examination. Can you imagine the response if a company told an auditor: well, you’ve just found one fraudulent contract, you haven’t shown that a large number of contracts are fraudulent. While this may well be the hope of the company, once this type of problem comes to light, it has to be investigated. You’d have thought that this would have prompted a program to re-assess the USHCN network, but Karl appears to have taken no action whatever to institute any additional quality control on the USHCN network.

Karl agreed that “documentation” could be “improved” and viewed actual photographs as an “ideal” situation but, even though sites are supposedly inspected, the idea of actual photographs was laughed off as a kind of utopian fantasy:

the USHCN database could definitely benefit from improved site exposure documentation. Under ideal conditions, this new documentation would meet the high standards set forth by Davey and Pielke (2005). Until such metadata become available, however, we encourage the users of USHCN—particularly those interested in relatively small study areas, such as eastern Colorado— to review Cooperative Station Reports (i.e., B-44 forms), which are available online from the National Climatic Data Center. Although most station histories no longer contain site sketches, these forms still contain a plethora of information about each station, including numerical values of azimuth, range, and elevation (which with some effort could be used to create pseudosketches of site exposure). We also encourage users to contact State Climatologists and the National Weather Service for additional information about exposures around individual stations.

Their one valid point – a point re-stated in Peterson 2006 – was that Davey and Pielke 2005 did not show a connection between poor siting and differing trends – something that Peterson 2006 attributed (incorrectly in my opinion) to the success of their homogenization adjustments. In the eastern Colorado situation, none of the sites, even the bad sites, had modern values in excess of those of the 1930s. It’s the sites with strong trends that really need to be examined. In addition, because USHCN2 uses Reno as a type case, the current site census in the Reno-California area will give material for a check on the Reno calculation.

One question about the Karl article. They say that the B-44 forms are online. I spent some time searching and couldn’t find them. I found one example of what a B-44 form looked like in a larger reportand show it below (it includes good directions in this case, by the way.) The very specific directions show that a site inspector has been there (and presumably other sites). This suggests that it is neither impossible nor utopian for USHCN inspectors to photograph the site installations and the failure to require this is presumably due to flaccid administration by Karl and his associates.



  1. Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    Furthermore, their analysis was a static assessment of site exposures over a relatively small part of the country,

    Mr.Watts et. al., looks like the gauntlet has been thrown down. I am planning to get up to Yosemite on Sunday, unless life gets in the way.

  2. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 8:11 AM | Permalink

    If one takes Karl’s suggestion at face value, you should be able to obtain directions to the stgation in question from the National Weather Service regional office . Why not take up Karl’s offer and see if you can get directions?

  3. Paul Linsay
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    Statistical quality control measures have been around for a long time in industrial production. There may be enough data available now from the surveyed stations to use those methods to estimate what fraction of the total ground based stations are useful for temperature reconstructions. Experience tells me that the answer is going to be not many, given the number of problem stations so far. But that’s just my opinion.

  4. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    RE: #3 – the observed DPMO rate thus far is not encouraging.

  5. Douglas Hoyt
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    They will be lucky to find 10 sites in the US suitable for climate monitoring.

  6. Roger Dueck
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Their one valid point – a point re-stated in Peterson 2006 – was that Davey and Pielke 2005 did not show a connection between poor siting and differing trends – something that Peterson 2006 attributed (incorrectly in my opinion) to the success of their homogenization adjustments.

    !! It seems the climatology community actually believes the statistical manipulations over the actual data.

  7. Jeff Norman
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    I guess I was wrong. It’s not a theory of what the historical temperature record would have looked like if it had been properly measured, its a hypothesis.

  8. Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    I don’t see any obvious link that would tell me how to get to the site, but I have the co ordinance (37.75N -119.59W (Elev. 4759 ft)) and will Google earth it or something. I’m sure it’s located in Yosemite Village or Curry Village.

    I assume someone has posted this link from the NOAA website, but just in case:

    Temperature sensor siting

  9. JG
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Using NCDC MMS, I was able to find much of the B4 information shown for the Kaufman site with the exception of the driving instructions as I did not have sufficient permission (clicking on the map tab essentially circumvents this). See

    One has to click around on the tabs and individual links, but my initially frustrating experience with the Poughkeepsie, NY station information has taught me where to look.

  10. Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:45 AM | Permalink


    Fits right in with their preference for computer models over actual observations.

    I have a question: did Karl et al even work on improving the bad Colorado sites?

  11. Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Obviously, Steve M. even mentioning this proves he’s trying to falsify I mean verify I mean audit I mean DoS I mean…. Yeah! He’s trying destroy the USHCN network and all its data…..

  12. Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    Thanks JG. The site was close to where I thought it was. Should I e-mail to let them know I’m participating in an on-line survey of the site, or would that just give them warning and clean the site before I get there?

  13. JG
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    #8 The details of the Yosemite site can be found starting here:

    To get better coordinates, and a map, click on Station History (to the right) and then click on
    Additional Station History Data from MMS just above the table. You will be taken to a page with a wealth of information, including the following coordinates:
    Latitude: 37.75 (37°45’00.0″N)
    Longitude: -119.58972 (119°35’22.992″W)
    Elevation: 3960.00 FEET ( ZERO DATUM )

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    I received a very prompt response from Russell Vose of NCDC, informing me that the B-44 forms were in a password protected zone of NOAA , directing me to Cynthia Karl ( a relation perhaps?) to get a password. She promptly provided me with limited access, but I wasn’t able to find any B-44 forms on the area provided, so I’ve asked for new directions. The access is personal to me, but the application process is quick and I’ll provide a recipe once I’ve figured it out.

  15. MarkW
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 12:04 PM | Permalink


    Why go through the bother of fixing the system, when you can construct a computer model capable of pulling the data you are looking for out of any data set. Even random noise.

  16. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    #13 – You can also click on the “Location” tab and get a description of where the site is located. For Yosemite Valley, this is:


  17. Barclay E. MacDonald
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 1:57 PM | Permalink


    What we are doing is merely collecting data. Nothing is destroyed. Why are you so afraid of more information, which you may reject any time you wish, depending on the strength of your pre-conceived conclusions and/or the quality of the data?

    Geez! I almost bought Enron, just before it collapsed. All the information from the “experts” was that it could only go higher. It sure looked attractive! Collection of data can’t hurt! We may certainly argue about, when, whether and to what extent conclusions may be drawn. But it is way too early yet!

  18. Geoff Olynyk
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    #17, I’m pretty sure #11 had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

    I wish they’d make a television special out of this kind of stuff. It’s way more compelling than the usual rot that is put up in popular media against the AGW consensus. Even if it turns out that the instrumental temperature record is largely correct, pictures of air conditioners near the temperature sensors make for good viewing.

    Maybe the CBC could do a special on Steve McIntyre and the audit process 🙂 (not likely)

  19. David
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    Google maps, zoom in to second tick, click on satellite or hybrid:

  20. L Nettles
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    As to the utility of Google maps for finding the location of the sensors, I was amused by what came up in my research of the University of South Carolina site

    University of South Carolina

    In all fairness I believe the construction show here has been completed but I haven’t gone to the site yet.

  21. John F. Pittman
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    You are on the wrong side of the street L Nettles #20. The station is located across Rosewood right before you get to the RR trestle. On the link, the object next to it has a big white line heading almost due south according to the link. I think it is the one located closest to the trestle, but I can’t zoom in close enough to tell. Used to walk by it going to USC games until I gave my tickets up last year. The construction is actually demolition of an old government housing project called Henley Homes. I drive by it once a month. My wife and I can’t remember when the station wasn’t there. We had tickets for about 20 years. Rosewood is one of the busiest roads in the city. One of the next busiest is South Assembley located to the west. The trains crossing the trestle blocking Assembly or trains crossing Rosewood (note 2 sets of tracks), football stadium, the fair and conventions, rush hour traffic, and pro baseball right down the street all cause trafiic jams where Rosewood backs up from Assembley all the way to Harden east of your link. Not only that, it is surronded by pavement and concrete except where the concrete trestle uses gravel as a ballast (the nearby west is a slope leading to the tracks, manmade). The nearby shrubbery is to help give a little green in an otherwise manmade heat island. Hope this helps. If you want a picture I can get one easliy, but I am heading for the beach tommorrow for a week.

  22. L Nettles
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    21 John

    You are on the wrong side of the street L Nettles #20.

    I assumed as much. I did my undergrad and graduate work at The University and I planned to do the survey next time I got to Columbia. I am over in the Pee Dee region so it could be some weeks before I get over there. I would encourage you to consider doing USC and Winnsboro.

    Are you going to the Charleston beaches? Summerville and Charleston are on the USHCN list and need surveys done.

    I have no idea when I might get to Beaufort.

  23. Harold Pierce Jr
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    RE: Lighthouses as Global Thermometers

    Due to all the complications and bias in ground-based temperature measurements, i decided that lighthouses are ideal “thermometers” for take earth’s temperature. I live in British Columbia and there are about 80 lighthouses on the Pacific coast some with records that go back before 1900.

    Here is the plan. I decided use temperature measurements around the spring equinox. I set the midpoint of the data set at the equinox and used 5 measurements above and below the midpoint. I choose years that have El Nino indices of aproximately the same value. Here is some data for lighthouse at Scott Point which is the nothern tip of Vancouver Island.
    I further decided to use only the mimimum temperatures which usually occurs just before sunrise, thus avoiding the influence of clouds on sunlight. Here the results for March 1900 and 1987. For 1900 the mean was 3.7 deg C and for 1987 the mean was 3.7 deg C. Since the means are the why bother with calculating the standard error the means.

    Here is data from the Estevan Point(year, mean +/- RSD) 1909, 275.2 +/ -1.9 deg K; 1931, 276.7 +/- 2.5 deg K;
    1987, 276.9 +/- 2 deg K. Estevan Point is in the middle of the island on the west coast. Note that mean temperature in 1987 is the _exactly_ same as that at Scott Point. It doesn’t get any better than this. No evidence for global warming on the westcost of Vancouver Island.

    The most important condition in doing these compaisons is the the El Nino indices were almost the same.

    It is GAME OVER, Don Al Gore who is the Godfather of the mob in New York City trying to filthly rich trading carbon credits.

    Yikes! The tournament at PokerTime just statred. See you all later.

  24. John F. Pittman
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    #22 going to Hilton Head Island, and will be unavailable. Not only going to beach but my main computer power supply just died. I have done a FOIA for raw data for one of the grants listed in CA and waiting for results. All other inconsequential FOIA got immediate replies how they did not have “the documents” I requested. This time I requested the raw data from one of their grant numbers. They did not have an immediate reply; hard to say documents don’t exist for a grant and a published paper. However, my email is restricted to my main computer. I can do both Columbia and Winnsboro (need directions) once I get back. There maybe a Darlington site quoted. I think it is around Francis Marion or the airport, wasn’t able to find it. We need to check for the closed Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, at one time the base was cited for excellence before the base closings started. I can do Summerville (may be at North Charleston) or Charleston but will need good directions, time, and a weekend my wife doesn’t have something for me to do. If I need to post pictures may need some help, I am more used to using attachments rather than links. I may be able to do Beaufort, always take a camera to the beach and will be nearby. But, the odds are it is at Parris Island, and in these days of homeland security I would not want to show up unannouced at a military base taking pictures.

  25. John Baltutis
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 9:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve M:

    They say that the B-44 forms are online. I spent some time searching and couldn’t find them.

    B-44 Worksheet is a web-based version of that form and b44.doc on the forms page downloads the form (MS Word type).

  26. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    #25. – The filled out forms like the example, not blank forms!

  27. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

    Re: #25
    John, I’m pretty sure Steve is talking about the *completed* forms for various stations.

  28. Anthony Watts
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

    I’ve got the Lovelock Nevada USHCN station online

    Its in a CWO’s backyard. I also have the Lovelock previous station location at the Lovelock Post Office. The CWO asked for it to be moved to backyard from the PO dues to vandalism.

    Site survey form not up yet, but will have shortly.

    I will also post the other Lovelock station, the Derby, Army airfield, 5 mi SW of town which has a MIG next to the station and A/C units all over the place…will advise when its up.

  29. Jim Johnson
    Posted Jun 8, 2007 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

    “Should I e-mail to let them know I’m participating in an on-line survey of the site, or would that just give them warning and clean the site before I get there?”

    Good question.

    Inevitably, that sort of ‘make tidy for the mother-in-laws visit’ is going to happen once word gets out that folks are coming around with camera in hand to document the important metadata on the functional properties of the meteorlogical equipment used at the site: Is the paint on the Stevenson screen whitewash or latex? Is the temp sensor a glass thermometer or a thermistor? Is the grill propane, or ‘carbon neutral’ charcoal? Those sort of things.

    Anyways, one wonders if enough of these sites are going to get cleansed to cause a cooling signature in the aggregate? And who will be tasked with computing the correction factor to hotmogenize the network of its effects?

  30. Anthony Watts
    Posted Jun 9, 2007 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    I found this when I visited the old Army Airfield (Derby Field) in Lovelock, Nevada. The official airport for the city also has a NOAA weather station that has been there since the airfield opened around WWII.

    In addition to the air conditioners, there’s nothing like an occasional jet blast or propwash to complement your high temperature measurements. Thats not a museum piece, its a working jet. The aviation ramp is in fact just 10 feet from the Stevenson Screen. This station has since been replaced with a more modern ASOS, about 200 yards south of this location, but this Stevenson Screen measured data for years in the exact same spot. And yes, the data from it is in the GISTEMP database.

    Oh, and they like light bulbs in the screen here too. Notice this screen is the old kind with doors that open side by side. At least somebody had the good sense to put in a timer.

    I’ll have the complete series of pix including the new ASOS setup for Lovelock tomorrow.

  31. John Baltutis
    Posted Jun 9, 2007 at 12:55 AM | Permalink

    Re: #26

    Sorry, I misread your statement.

  32. DocMartyn
    Posted Jun 9, 2007 at 6:23 AM | Permalink

    Dear Harold Pierce Jr,
    “Due to all the complications and bias in ground-based temperature measurements, i decided that lighthouses are ideal “thermometers” for take earth’s temperature. I live in British Columbia and there are about 80 lighthouses on the Pacific coast some with records that go back before 1900.”

    You don’t by any chance have a link to the record do you? That looks like it may be a very nice data set. I like the idea of measuring the temperature just before dawn, so that the temperature after night time cooling can be measured.

  33. Liselle
    Posted Jun 11, 2007 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been a lurker on this site for a while, but I am interested in potentially doing a limited station survey here in Michigan. I have tried various links noted above and NOAA site searches to find them. Through the NWS, it only gave me airports. Using the link from #12 found five current stations (several others had been closed, one as early as 1967), but they all appeared to be near the southern border of Michigan. While I might be able to make it to some of these, I doubt that’s representative of the state as a whole. Could anyone possibly help me find the USHCN locations in West Michigan?

  34. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 11, 2007 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Here is a list of Michigan USHCN sites:

    id ghcnid name state division lat long alt open close ipop pop airport lights bright
    415 200032 72536008 ADRIAN 2NNE MI 10 41.92 -84.02 760 open 6 S 22 x bright 40
    416 200128 72635002 ALLEGAN 5NE MI 8 42.58 -85.78 750 open 3 R NA x dark 0
    417 200146 72539004 ALMA MI 6 43.38 -84.67 760 open 4 S 10 x bright 26
    418 200230 72537004 ANN ARBOR UNIV OF MI MI 10 42.30 -83.72 900 open 3 U 110 x bright 85
    419 200779 72636004 BIG RAPIDS WATERWORKS MI 6 43.70 -85.48 930 open 1 S 13 x bright 42
    420 201439 72743005 CHAMPION VAN RIPER PK MI 1 46.52 -87.98 1565 open 1 R NA x dim 8
    421 201486 72743002 CHATHAM EXP FARM #2 MI 2 46.33 -86.92 870 open 4 R NA x dark 0
    422 201492 74365002 CHEBOYGAN MI 4 45.65 -84.47 590 open 2 R NA x bright 32
    423 201675 72539001 COLDWATER STATE SCHOOL MI 9 41.95 -85.00 984 open 3 S 10 x bright 33
    424 202423 72639001 EAST TAWAS MI 4 44.28 -83.50 586 open 2 R NA x bright 24
    425 202737 72648001 FAYETTE 4SW MI 2 45.67 -86.72 745 open 1 R NA x dark 0
    426 203632 72636003 HART MI 5 43.68 -86.35 700 open 2 R NA x dark 9
    427 203823 72536009 HILLSDALE MI 9 41.93 -84.63 1080 open 5 R NA x bright 25
    428 204090 72648002 IRON MOUNTAIN KINGSFORD WWTP MI 1 45.78 -88.08 1060 open 1 R NA x bright 14
    429 204104 72741005 IRONWOOD MI 1 46.47 -90.18 1430 open 1 R NA x bright 38
    430 204244 72635001 KALAMAZOO STATE HOSPITAL MI 8 42.28 -85.60 950 open 2 U 80 x bright 58
    431 205434 72637003 MIDLAND MI 6 43.62 -84.22 640 open 3 S 38 x bright 68
    432 205650 72632001 MOUNT CLEMENS ANG BASE MI 10 42.62 -82.83 580 open 3 U 4352 A bright 46
    433 205662 72638001 MOUNT PLEASANT UNIVERSITY MI 6 43.58 -84.77 796 open 2 S 23 x bright 37
    434 205690 72743004 MUNISING MI 2 46.42 -86.67 680 open 2 R NA x bright 16
    435 205816 72734002 NEWBERRY STATE HOSPITAL MI 2 46.33 -85.50 875 open 1 R NA x bright 19
    436 206300 72637001 OWOSSO 3NNW MI 9 43.03 -84.18 740 open 4 S 16 x bright 27
    437 207690 72535005 SOUTH HAVEN MI 8 42.40 -86.28 620 open 1 R NA x bright 20
    438 207812 72743001 STAMBAUGH 2SSE MI 1 46.05 -88.62 1560 open 1 R NA x dark 0

  35. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 11, 2007 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    RE: #30 – Ah yes, the place that has rides in a MiG-15.

  36. Harold Pierce Jr
    Posted Jun 24, 2007 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

    Hi Doc!

    Here are the links:

    This site is marvelous and very easy to use. The graphics are so pleasant. The USHCN is just sucks bigtime compared to this site!

    This is official website of the BC Lighthouse Keepers Assoc. Print out the first three pages.
    Also check out the pics of the lighthouses. Quite spectacular.

    The is Kirsten Byrnes’ website from which I down thw chart od the El Nino/La Nina index chart.

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