Last summer I attempted to do a survey of Reno’s USHCN official climate station. But I was thwarted by its placement at the Reno International Airport due to security and lack of accessible photographic vantage points. Reno’s USHCN station is particularly important due to it being part of the test cases of stations in the new USHCN2 scheme being implemented by NCDC. It’s also important due to it’s steep temperature trend which appears to be more of an urban heat island issue than a climate change issue. It shows up as a hot spot in USHCN contours done by Steve McIntyre.
While there wasn’t good Google Earth photography online last summer, that has since been remedied, and high resolution photographs are now available at Google Earth and at Microsoft’s Live Earth. Having these, I was able to complete the station survey and determine that this station is a CRN4 rating due to proximity to the ILS building with a/c exhaust vents, less than 10 meters away. A CRN4 rating is unusual for an ASOS station.
The Reno USHCN ASOS station undergoing repair, looking west.
(HO83 hygrothermometer repair perhaps?)
The Reno USHCN station is in the middle of the runway complex, between runways 16L and 16R. And what is interesting about that placement is that it seems the color/albedo of the surface where it is located is actually darker with a lower albedo than than of the nearby runways as shown below.
You can see a complete photo collection of the Reno USHCN station here.
In wondering about just how this placement between runways on a darker surface environment might contribute to the upward trend in the GISS temperature graph shown above, I did some searching online and soon discovered that NOAA uses Reno’s placement problems as an example in a training manual for climate monitoring COOP managers. They’d already done all the work for me! More on that internal NOAA training manual later, as it has provided a wealth of information previously undisclosed.
What was amazing is that they’d already determined that there were significant problems with this USHCN station placement that contributed a significant warming bias to the record.
From that manual:
Reno’s busy urban airport has seen the growth of an urban heat bubble on its north end.
The corresponding graph of mean annual minimum temperature (average of 365 nighttime
minimums each year) has as a consequence been steadily rising. When the new
ASOS sensor was installed, the site was moved to the much cooler south end of the
runway. Nearby records indicate that the two cool post-ASOS years should have been
warmer rather than cooler. When air traffic controllers asked for a location not so close
to nearby trees (for better wind readings), the station was moved back. The first move
was documented, the second was not. The climate record shows both the steady warming
of the site, as well as the big difference in overnight temperature between one end of this
flat and seemingly homogeneous setting, an observation borne out by automobile
traverses around the airport at night.
They were also kind enough to provide a photo essay of their own as well as a graph. You can click the aerial photo to get a Google Earth interactive view of the area.
This is NOAA’s graph showing the changes to the official climate record when they made station moves:
Source for 24a and 24b: NOAA Internal Training manual, 2004-2007
What is striking about this is that here we have NOAA documenting the effects of an “urban heat bubble” something that Parker 2003 et al say “doesn’t exist“, plus we have inclusion a site with known issues, held up as a bad example for training the operational folks, being used in a case study for the new USHCN2 system.
I’ll have more on revelations from this internal training manual from NOAA coming soon, plus I have my Paint Experiment Data collated, and I’ll be publishing results of that Latex -vs- Whitewash likely over the weekend.