Parker and Fresno Airport

Fresno Airport is one of the sites in the Parker 2006 network that is used to argue that there is a negligible UHI component in temperature increases in the major indexes. Here is a picture of this rustic location (which is still on the to do list):

Parker has a figure showing results for Fresno. I’ve collated all the relevant daily NCEP and temperature data for Fresno online here and tried to replicate this figure without success.

First here is a plot of GSN daily data (summarized to annual averages) categorized for windy max, windy min, calm max, calm min and mean. To calculate this, I downloaded all the NCEP daily uwind and vwind 10-m wind data from 1948 to 2006 (over 1 GB of data) and extracted the data for the Fresno gridcell. Nicholas gave me some help on handling the downloading – he is really good at it. In this particular case, there is a difference between calm tmax and windy tmax, but not really for tmin. The long-term increase is primarily in the tmin.


GSN is only version of Fresno airport data. The next graphic shows the GSN version as well as USHCN, GHCN and GISS versions. In this case, the GSN version used by Parker is equivalent to the USHCN TOBS version (before their station history adjustments), which, in this case, is virtually equal to the USHCN raw version. The adjusted GISS version is higher than the Parker GSN version.


The next graphic shows differences between several key versions of Fresno airport. In this case, the third row shows the difference between the GISS adjusted version and Parker’s version. Even Hansen does an adjustment of up to 1 deg C for this data.


Parker shows the following figure for Fresno from which he concludes that there is a discontinuity in the mid-1970s.


Far be it from me to suggest that one of these data sets lacks discontinuities, but I wasn’t able to replicate this diagram. My replication is as below. Now it’s quite possible that I’ve implemented some step in Parker’s loosely described methodology differently; I asked Parker to give me exact URLs for his data, which he didn’t do. It’s possible that I’ve downloaded a different edition. I’m pretty sure that I’ve at least done a plausible interpretation of his methodology and got a different looking figure.


I don’t plan to wade through Parker’s data site by site. I picked this site because it was close to the sites that Anthony Watts was working on and for no other reason.


  1. Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    Fresno is not that rustic today. Here is a google photo of the Airport.

  2. crosspatch
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    I used to fly into Fresno rather often in the mid/late 1980’s and even then it wasn’t particularly “rustic”. The glide path to the end of the runway was over large concrete pads that were used for drying raisons in the sun.

  3. mjrod
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    I think Steve said it tongue in cheek, but I could be wrong.

  4. jae
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    ?? What do these graphs show, anyway? In Parkers figure Tcalm-Twindy shows a trend downward. Why does wind make less difference in later years? Steve’s graph shows no trend, just fluctuations (which makes more sense, I guess). How does one interpret these types of graphs?

  5. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    Judging from that Convair sitting at the terminal, no other planes there, and the nearly empty parking lot with large cars with fins, I’d have to say the photo up at the top must be from about 1963 or so ….. LOL!

  6. Gary Kobes
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    Check MMS site for “name” “contains” “Fresno” and look at COOP stations 043253 and 043252. The record seems to be for two separate locations which are quite close. The record periods for the two stations overlap. The table seems to imply the two records have been combined into a single record. If anything there should be a data overlap not a gap in the mid-70’s.

  7. JerryB
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    The filename of the photo near the top is:
    CopyofTerminalOutside1968.jpg 🙂

  8. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    RE: #7 – Definitely the 1960s. Not yet using jetways, recip engine prop planes still in short hop mainline service, big old land yachts in the parking lot …. 🙂

  9. Murray Duffin
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    the graphic of the GISS etc. data shows no trend to about 1977, a short upward
    trend to about 1982, and the a negative trend. did Parker interpret this as
    warming? Murray

  10. Keith Herbert
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    According to U.S. census Fresno population in 1980 was 217,491 city and 515,000 metro area.
    The 2000 census for Fresno was 427,652 city and 922,516 metro area. The population has doubled in twenty years. Wikipedia has the numbers slightly higher.

  11. Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

    OK. Now I fell like crap. I live in Fresno and I manage to get to Yosemite, 1 1/2 hours away and cataloged the station there; the airport is a ten min drive from me and I have yet to catalog that site. I’m lame!

  12. Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    Feel Like Crap! Not fell.

  13. Rightwing Judo
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    one could always compare Fresno airport to the Rural sites in the area to
    test Parkers hypothesis. i played with this a bit a ago…
    the well was not dry.

    Start by look at the university data…( fresno state.. just north of the airport)

    for a sample of site data and descriptions see

    The biggest issue here is the irregular historical record….stations come on line
    at different times as the metwork get built out

  14. Steven mosher
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    opps pardon my sock puppet Mr Judo.

  15. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    RE: #10 – When you fly into San Francisco at night, the final leg phasing into the beginning of the approach is over Yosemite and the northern San Joaquin Valley. From there, you can see the big picture. All along Highway 99, the superhighway that runs down the eastern side of the Valley, you can see that if nothing changes, there will be a continuous connurbation from Fresno to Modesto within the next 10 years. The Modesto connurbation already sprawls east and west a good distance, from the foothills West of Yosemite to the entrance to Altamont Pass. This in turn is also looking like it will merge with Stockton to the north. Prevailing winds tend to run NW to SE. Fresno is therefore “downstream” from the Modesto blob (and further upstream, and over the Altamont Pass, the SF Bay Area). When I was a kid, there were major open spaces separating these places. Meanwhile, as agriculture has gotten pushed out of these urbanizing zones, it’s moved on to more marginal areas which require massive irrigation – areas that are technically desert. Driving down the west side of the valley on I-5 you can see it. Again, the change since I was a kid is dramatic. Areas I remember as desert are now orchards.

  16. Gary Kobes
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    RE: #11 Sonicfrog, the contact number for the airport is 559.621.4500. Tell them you would like to photograph and document the ASOS equipment. It is located between Runway 11-29 and its taxiway. Be prepared to explain the SurfaceStation website and its purpose. Since it is a controlled airport someone from the airport staff will have to drive you in an airport vehicle that is in contact with the tower. You should probably try to schedule it for an off peak traffic time. Happy hunting.

  17. Papertiger
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    seems to me that no matter what rural area you relocate a temperature station too, in a short time it will be subject to urban sprawl. Wouldn’t the more logical method be to recreate artifical heat sinks around all surface stations?
    This would standardize the procedure for smoothing UHI effect out. Any CO2 warming signal would supposedly be present as a dollop sitting on top of the heat bloat.

  18. Nicholas
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

    Papertiger, I think it would make more sense to design totally autonomous stations (solar powered/satellite communication) that can be placed in middle-of-nowhere locations. They’ll probably be urbanised one day too, but not for decades. Of course the solar power and communications equipment should be placed far away from the actual sensor, which should be surrounded by an open grass area, etc. Perhaps someone should show up once a year to mow the grass and pull out any seedlings, but that would be about it. Of course, this would cost money to set up, but surely in this multi-billion dollar Climate industry someone can put together a grant proposal?

    However, perhaps all this would be unnecessary if the satellite/balloon measurements could be agreed to be accurate and the satellites can be kept in orbit long enough.

  19. J Christy
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

    I personally entered all of the daily TMax and TMin for Fresno beginning in 1887 for the downtown station from the 1001 forms. I also did the same for the station nearby at Chandler Field. Read the small print on page 552 Table 1 of Christy et al. 2006 (J Climate) in which we note that the COOP ID for Chandler Field (W of downtown) was transferred to the Fresno Air Terminal (FAT) 12 km NW of Chandler in Aug 1948. There were a few other changes after that too. Note that we have 4 stations named Fresno but at different locations. When I get back to the office next week, I’ll get the numbers. When growing up in Fresno as a weather nerd, I visited the FAT weather station many times – generally a cotton region shelter set in the middle of a vast asphalt and concrete part of the terminal situated on sod about 10 ft by 10 ft square. FAT was way out in the county in the 1950s amongst orchards and fields, but is now embedded in a large metropolis. Our temp results show rapid TMin warming, but no warming in TMax. In the adjacent foothills – no warming in either Tmax or TMin.

  20. J Christy
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

    Oops FAT is 12 KM NE of Chandler Field

  21. Papertiger
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    It’s funny. Recently some scientist explained global warming on Mars as being due to change in albedo, with Martian winds clearing dust away from darker surfaces. Heat Island effects is important enough to cause Martian climate change by itself, but on Earth… according to the climate scientists in league with the UN, not so much.

  22. Steven mosher
    Posted Jun 19, 2007 at 11:28 PM | Permalink

    RE 15.

    Everytime I drive 99 I Feel like I’m back in LA on the 405.

    From Yuba city/marysville to Fresno.

    Funny, on the map it looked like a nice country highway.

  23. Steven mosher
    Posted Jun 20, 2007 at 1:15 AM | Permalink

    RE 19.

    TMax stable and Tmin rising. i saw the same thing in Yosemite data ( eyeball analysis)
    Would it be safe to assume that this is an “accepted” signal of ubanization?

    Related question, ( too lazy to look) are urbanizaton adjustments, therefore, only made to

    Are the CIMIS sites worth looking at, to contrast with The airport?

  24. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jun 20, 2007 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    There should be plants and soil beneath the Stevenson Screen, not concrete. Concrete would reflect heat back up to the shelter.

  25. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 20, 2007 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    RE: #22 – The area around 99 is definitely to most attractive area to live in. You’re starting to see the orographic up slope effect, there is surface water from the Sierra and artesian wells, and the towns have an established look and feel (well, except the sprawls of Sacto, Fresno and Bakersfield). Sort of scary though, to think of a continuous strip city from Marysville down the Fresno.

    RE: #23 – The area where the Yosemite station is located is a de facto strip mall environment, with a major maintenance yard adjacent to it. It was already somewhat in place during the 70s, but definitely has expanded and densified since then.

  26. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 20, 2007 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    RE: 25 – “the” should have been “to” – one of my repeated dyslexic goofs ….

  27. GMF
    Posted Jun 20, 2007 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    Re #21 I saw someone mention this as a rebuttal to the claim that Mars GW is a big problem for the AGW crowd. The way they described it was that the winds on Mars had blown away the sand covering the darker rocks and so changed the albedo. But that seems a bit er – convenient – doesn’t it? The wind only manages to blow light colored sand away from the dark rocks, it doesn’t blow sand over the dark rocks (reversing the process). So the process has to work in a very specific (and unrealistic way) in order to produce the natural, endogenous warming on Mars. This allows us to, conveniently, discard the possibility of an exogenous source of GW in the solar system.

    By the way, if the planet’s albedo changed that much, it should be easy to determine from photographs.

    This looks like another piece of “greenhouse science” – a hypothesis with no empirical support generated for singular purpose of denying evidence that casts doubt on the Holy Gospel of AGW.

    Despite what they say about skeptics, it seems to me they’ve got a pretty good line in denial going themselves…

  28. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Jun 20, 2007 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Typical mid to late 1960s airport scene.

  29. Sam
    Posted Jun 21, 2007 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

    Just for information, I flew out of Fresno in August of 2003. A new terminal building had been added fairly recently. The facilities were very nice although on the small side. However, it is a good place to be leaving.

  30. Posted Jun 22, 2007 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    # 27

    I’ve made a comparison between interstellar cosmic radiation and the trend of tropospheric temperatures. When I was looking for information about an anomaly in the incoming cosmic rays I found that the Voyagers 1 and 2 had meet the anomaly in the bow shock.

    When I graphed the intensity of the radiation and nucleons that overcome the solar wind, I found a coincidence with the annual tendency of the anomaly of the Earth’s tropospheric temperature. Right in opposition to which Dr. Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University discovered some years ago. This could be explained if we take into account that Dr. Shaviv referred to particles, that is, nucleons of Helium and Hydrogen.

    I also looked in the information related to climate changes in the Solar System and I found information about warming and climate change in almost all the planets of the Solar System and in some moons around those planets. This is more than a simple coincidence with Mars’ Global Warming. It is interesting to see that all the planetary and satellite climate changes started 30 years ago, at the same time than on Earth.

    I concluded that the global warming is the resultant from the climate change, and that GW and CC are phenomena related with the Cosmic Radiation incoming from the Sun and from the Interstellar Medium. There are cosmic clouds and bubbles of high density Radiation in the galactic vicinity. ESA, NASA and JAXA have confirmed that our Solar System is now immersed in one of those huge interstellar cosmic clouds.

  31. Posted Jun 22, 2007 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    # 27


    The anomalies in the Tropospheric Temperature (TT) are the resultant of Climate Changes, not vice versa. I know that most people think the opposite, but the TT is a factor of climate; the climate is not a factor of TT. I also know that many people would say that the TT can change the climate, but they have to demonstrate it with evidence. The climate is delineated by many factors; Pluvial Precipitation, water beds, RH, TT and biomass are significant components of climate. If we alter the topography or destroy the biomes in a given zone, the climate could change on that particular zone and that change could be accompanied by anomalies in the TT, but not necessarily because it could be the opposite.

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