The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s reliance on poorly-sited weather stations to calculate surface temperatures is inflating the warming trend of the U.S. and maybe even the rest of the world, according to a landmark study looking at three decades of data.
“The majority of weather stations used by NOAA to detect climate change temperature signal have been compromised by encroachment of artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts,” Anthony Watts, a seasoned meteorologist and lead author of the study, said in a statement Thursday.
These “compromised” weather stations run hotter than stations that are well-sited, and are used by NOAA as a benchmark to make upward adjustments for other weather stations that are part of the agency’s official temperature record.
Watts and his fellow researchers found only 410 “unperturbed” weather stations out of the 1,218 stations used by NOAA to determine U.S. climate trends. These “unperturbed” stations don’t need to be adjusted by NOAA because they had not been moved, had any equipment changes, or change in the time temperatures were observed.