When I was a kid and needed a day off from school I had this little trick. I would complain that I was Ill, my mom would stick a thermometer in my mouth and leave the room. During the intervening five minutes before my mom would come back and check the thermometer, I would rush over to the desk lamp and use it to heat up my temperature to a fever level.
A new study claims that the National Climate Data Center is doing the same thing to make it look like the American temperatures are wamer than they actually are.
A critical cog in the machinery that drives the theory of global warming is a small white box not too far from where you live. Inside the box sits a thermometer that tracks the local temperature, which in turn becomes part of a data trail for the monitoring of climate change on Earth.
But there's a problem: Nearly every single weather station the U.S. government uses to measure the country's surface temperature may be compromised. Sensors that are supposed to be in empty clearings are instead exposed to crackling electronics and other unlikely sources of heat, from exhaust pipes and trash-burning barrels to chimneys and human graves.
The National Climate Data Center (NCDC) uses this massive network of sensors to determine daily highs and lows at the 1,219 weather stations in its Historical Climatology Network (HCN). The network has existed since 1892, but only in the last decade has it come under intense scrutiny to determine whether the figures it measures can be trusted.
For the past three years, a group of zealous laymen has visited and photographed nearly every one of the weather stations to determine whether they have been placed properly. And what they found is a stunning disregard for the government's own rules: 90 percent of the sensors are too close to potential sources of heat to pass muster, including some very odd sources indeed:
- A sensor in Redding, Calif., is housed in a box that also contains a halogen light bulb, which could emit warmth directly onto the gauge.
- A sensor in Hanksville, Utah, sits directly atop a gravestone, which is not only macabre but also soaks up the sun's heat and radiates it back to the thermometer at night.
- A sensor in Marysville, Calif., sits in a parking lot at a fire station right next to an air conditioner exhaust, a cell phone tower and a barbecue grill.
- A sensor in Tahoe City, Calif., sits near a paved tennis court and is right next to a "burn barrel" that incinerates garbage.
- A sensor in Hopkinsville, Ky., is sheltered from the wind by an adjoining house and sits above an asphalt driveway.
Dozens of sensors are located at airports and sewage treatment plants, which produce "heat islands" from their sprawling seas of asphalt and heavy emissions.
"So far we've surveyed 1,062 of them," said Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who began the tracking effort in 2007. "We found that 90 percent of them don't meet [the government's] old, simple rule called the '100-foot rule' for keeping thermometers 100 feet or more from biasing influence. Ninety percent of them failed that, and we've got documentation."
Watts, who has posted pictures of the sensors on his Web site, SurfaceStations.org, says he believes that the location of the sensors renders their recorded temperatures inaccurate, which in turn brings some of the data behind global warming theory into question.
"It's asinine to think that this wouldn't have some kind of an effect," Watts told FoxNews.com.
But climate scientists who analyze the data say that they are able to account and adjust for the faulty locations by comparing warming trends they spot at bad sites to trends they see at good ones.If this climate nonsense was really true, why do they keep "fudging " the temperature data?
"If you use only the sites that currently have good siting versus those that have not-so-good siting, when you look at the adjusted data basically you get the same trend," said Jay Lawrimore, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NCDC.
Lawrimore admitted that Watts' volunteers had discovered real problems with sensor siting, but he said that even when those sites' heat readings were adjusted down, they still showed a steady overall rise in temperatures. "