Over two and a half years after the Climategate scandal fundamentally undermined public confidence in the theory of manmade climate change, questions are continuing to be raised regarding the means used for collecting data for evaluating global warming, and the process of peer review that evaluates the climate studies.
The latest challenge confronting advocates of the theory of global warming is a study coauthored by Anthony Watts, a former television meteorologist, president of IntelliWeather, and a "convert" to the ranks of the skeptics of manmade global warming. In 2007, Watts founded SurfaceStations.org, a site which evaluates the weather stations gathering data used to model changes in global temperatures, because of concerns regarding the accuracy of the data.
Why would the location of the stations matter? Because the growth and spread of the population of the United States could cause localized changes in temperature without having a larger — even global— effect. For example, measurements from a location that was once in the middle of a field might now be surrounded by blacktop; in such a situation, the world has not necessarily gotten warmer but the area around the monitoring equipment certainly has.
The existence of such poorly-placed monitoring equipment is far from hypothetical: an article for FoxNews.com cited several examples:
That problem of poorly sited stations thanks to “encroaching urbanity” — locations near asphalt, air conditioning and airports — is well established. A sensor in Marysville, Calif., sits in a parking lot at a fire station next to an air conditioner exhaust and a cell tower. One in Redding, Calif., is housed in a box that also contains a halogen light bulb, which could emit warmth directly onto the gauge.
The study conducted by Watts and his colleagues (An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends) draws on the SurfaceStation data to reach several significant conclusions, including the following points:
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Photo: a weather monitoring station in an open field at the Bloom Dairy Farm near coldwater Mich.: AP Images