Documentation of uncertainties and biases associated with surface temperature measurement sites for climate change assessment

Roger Pielke, John Nielsen-Gammon, Christopher Davey, Jim Angel, Odie Bliss, Nolan Doesken, Ming Cai, Souleymane Fall, Dev Niyogi, Kevin Gallo, Robert Hale, Kenneth G. Hubbard, Xiaomao Lin, Hong Li, Sethu Raman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this research is to determine whether poorly sited long-term surface temperature monitoring sites have been adjusted in order to provide spatially representative independent data for use in regional and global surface temperature analyses. We present detailed analyses that demonstrate the lack of independence of the poorly sited data when they are adjusted using the homogenization procedures employed in past studies, as well as discuss the uncertainties associated with undocumented station moves. We use simulation and mathematics to determine the effect of trend on station adjustments and the associated effect of trend in the reference series on the trend of the adjusted station. We also compare data before and after adjustment to the reanalysis data, and we discuss the effect of land use changes on the uncertainty of measurement. A major conclusion of our analysis is that there are large uncertainties associated with the surface temperature trends from the poorly sited stations. Moreover, rather than providing additional independent information, the use of the data from poorly sited stations provides a false sense of confidence in the robustness of the surface temperature trend assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-928
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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