How not to measure temperature #24 – Worst Station Ever

By | July 21, 2007

The picture says it all:

Yes folks, this is an official climate station of record, the temperatures it measures go into our National Climatic Database and are used in research such as the graph produced by NASA Goddard Institute for Spaceflight Studies here:

There's a British word that has been bandied about to describe the reaction to pictures like this one: "gobsmacked". The word applies even more so since this station is operated by science faculty members at the University of Arizona.

They are so proud of this station they even had a sign made for it to hang on the chain link fence enclosure:

The complete photo essay is available at the Tucson album at The satellite and aerial photo images there are telling of the environment being measured.

Besides the obvious questions like "why is it in the middle of a parking lot?" and "why would scientists who should know better allow such a bizarre siting for a USHCN climate station of record?" Then there is this burning question: "Why did they go to the trouble of installing a precision aspirated temperature sensor and then not even bother to place it at the standard observing height?".

It appears that the Stevenson Screen serves no other purpose except as an equipment holder, as Warren Meyer reports the Stevenson Screen to be empty. Originally the inside standard mounting board for the mercury max/min thermometers were mounted about 1.5 foot higher than the air inlet of the precision aspirated temperature sensor. So the lower mounting height for the precision sensor adds a positive bias.

Is there no diligence left in basic measurement? Is this what they teach in college science departments these days?