History made as Jones et al 2008 paper admits huge urban warming in IPCC flagship CRUT3 gridded data over China

So sceptics have been correct for decades.

Yes you have to pinch yourself, the old canard so long clung to by the IPCC, that the urban influence in large area gridded data is “an order of magnitude less than the warming seen on a century timescale” is now severely compromised.

The IPCC drew that conclusion from the Jones et al 1990 Letter to Nature which examined temperature data from regions in Eastern Australia, Western USSR and Eastern China, to conclude that “In none of the three regions studied is there any indication of significant urban influence..” That has led to the IPCC claim that for decades, urban warming is less than 0.05 per century.

Now Jones et al 2008 are saying in their Abstract, “Urban-related warming over China is shown to be about 0.1 degree per decade, hey that equates to a degree per century. Huge.

33 thoughts on “History made as Jones et al 2008 paper admits huge urban warming in IPCC flagship CRUT3 gridded data over China”

  1. Warwick,

    Did you see this write up on the scientific fraud allegations against Professor Wei Chung Wang?

    It sounds to me that Jones is backing away from Wang’s fake dataset very very fast.

  2. I am aware of Doug Keenan’s work John A.
    I did try and contact Wang myself in 2007 by email and fax asking for their Chinese station list but never got anywhere.
    Note the ref in Jones 2008 that even he could not find all the station pairs, not surprising I suppose. If anybody knows if the newer Chinese datasets ref to in Ren et al 2008 and Jones et al 2008 are available anywhere, let us know please. I have tried emailing the Chinese, never had a reply. I ought to be used to that after near 20 years. Perhaps it shows I am more notorious then I assumed.

  3. Which reminds me…if China has had a spurious UHI warming of a degree in a Century, is there any warming left to be caused by anything else?

  4. Yes I have seen that, another transparent hatchet job, trying to keep the world safe for the IPCC. If the writer had taken the time to look at the end of the abstract for Jones et al 2008, this is the vital text to be found. The Euro examples were included simply as a distraction and to appear to be learned, thats my opinion. Nothing to do with the subject matter of the paper, CHINA detailed climatology. If people do not appreciate the significance, then I am sorry, I can not help that Hoski.

    [Urban-related warming over China is shown to be about 0.1°C decade−1 over the period 1951–2004, with true climatic warming accounting for 0.81°C over this period.]

    Even these statements at the end of Jones et al 2008 are loaded with obfuscation. Why did the Editor allow them to mix the metrics, quoting one figure per decade then another over 54 yrs ?

  5. So the original trend was about (if I’m doing my math right) .26 degrees per decade-similar to the global land trend over this period-which McKitrick-Michaels criticized as exaggerated by a factor of two. That leaves .16 which Jones doesn’t explain with urban warming-this is quite a reduction. It would seem that criticisms of the surface data have been right on-the trend in the data is greatly exaggerated. Which means CO2 sensitivity is exaggerated, and therefore apocalyptic predictions are exaggerated. Hm, I wonder what the response of warmists will be? “China is only 10% of the Globe” or something to that effect, probably.

  6. I’m not sure what Jones means by “true climatic warming”. Does he mean that from 1951-2004 the Chinese stations averaged a 1.31 degree C increase, of which .5 was from UHI effects, leaving .81 for good ol’ AGW?

  7. Rob:

    Why should the Chinese warming be any different from any other warming, US, Europe, etc.”

    Because Chinese economic development has been very rapid. Places that are fully developed such as New York, London, etc. will show little warming over the same period. I would guess that this rapid UHI increase applies only to China.

    I don’t think Parker’s new paper is necessarily inconsistent with his earlier work.

  8. pochas-this may indeed be true for data in cities that haven’t grow in the study period. But before the study period New York and London etc. weren’t static, especially before the the post war boom. Anyway, why is the “adjusted” China land trend so much less than the Global land trend? If anything, the brown cloud should be making China warm faster!

  9. John A, you wrote,”…if China has had a spurious UHI warming of a degree in a Century, is there any warming left to be caused by anything else?”

    Not a whole lot left if any. Here’s a graph of the land surface temp for China (20N-50N, 70E-135E) from 1900 to 2009.

  10. My guess is that when you stand back you will find that tenths of a degree in surface station measurements are nothing but error and noise.

  11. I remember reading that Vincent Gray stated that the US was producing about 0.31 watts/m^2 for the US as a whole in 2002, it was 0.81 watts/M^2 for California, 89.2 watts/m^2 for San Francisco, and 221.6 watts/m^2 for Essen Germany.
    Besides adjusting for albedo in the UHI effect, you’ve also got to adjust for energy usage. I suspect that even in urban areas, average wattage has been going up all through the century. I have a sneaking suspicion this urban factor is also a reason for a majority of the warming showing up at night, and during the winter.

  12. jones paper china
    Figure 3: Annual average temperature anomalies. Jones et all (dotted green and brown) is a dataset of 42 rural and 42 urban sites. Li et al (solid green and brown) is a homogenized dataset of 42 rural and 40 urban sites. Li (blue) is a non-homogenized set of 728 stations, urban and rural. CRUTEM3v (red) is a land-only data set (Brohan et al., 2006). This plot uses the 1954–83 base period.

    This graph taken from Jones et al, shows that the urban trend matches the rural trend.

  13. Turbobloke.
    Let me recite to you a few facts.
    [1] Dr Jones has for at least 20 years underestimated the effect of urban warming in his gridded global data.
    [2] Chinese scientists have for over a decade now published papers which in various ways have documented evidence of urban warming in China.
    [3] The Ren et al paper carefully documents urban warming, on the same intensity that Jones et al concludes, over a large grid box area of north China, see my post one down.
    In My Humble Opinion (IMHO); For Dr Jones to include his huge backdown statement in the last sentence of his Abstract, “Urban-related warming over China is shown to be about 0.1 degree per decade..”, tells me that he and his co-authors found the conclusions in Ren et al 2008 to be unassailable.
    Clearly, none of the above has prevented Dr Jones blurring and obfuscating the stunning conclusion of the Jones et al 2008 paper by including a raft of barely relevant material from regions far remote from China. IMHO the Editor of JGR should have shortened the paper by cutting the extraneous material. We all know that at other times Editors are always whining about lack of space.
    The article by John Cook at Skeptical Science that you linked to emphasized this extraneous material to avoid quoting the key conclusion to be drawn from this pivotal paper, which is, IPCC “global warming” is now every bit as gravely compromised as informed sceptics have known for decades. How John Cook could have missed the main conclusion of Jones et al 2008 is beyond me.
    With respect to the “Figure 3″ that you linked to, firstly it is actually Figure 7 in Jones et al 2008, not Figure 3.
    Let me make these points about the Jones et al 2008 Figure 7.
    (A) We would need that data in a spreadsheet in order to draw conclusions as to exactly what it indicates. Apart from the CRUT3 data, I doubt that on the past performance of Dr Jones that the other series will be publically available. In a nutshell Turbobloke, your Figure is based on mainly secret data and tells us little.
    (B) Now just quickly look down a page past Figure 7 to the next section in Jones et al 2008, see the section heading [3.3. Comparisons with SST Data] Note the start of the first sentence; “As it is difficult to develop a network of specifically
    rural sites in China..”. can I just repeat this;
    I would point out here that while it has been “difficult” for Dr Jones and like minded authors, it has not been too difficult for Ren et al 2008 who have defined urban warming in north China in a way the Jones team have been unable to disprove. Jones et al go on in section 3.3 to describe how they compare their land data from eastern China with SST’s (sea surface temperatures) and duly make their conclusion of a 0.1 degree per decade urban warming. IMHO this is Dr Jones way of avoiding complete acceptance of the Ren et al 2008 data. I bet the midnight oil has been burning in Norwich. In my experience it is rare for urban warming to be based on a comparison with SST’s.
    Does any reader know of another case ?
    I will comment on the SST comparisons later.
    We have to realize that over twenty years of Dr Jones work has been shafted by his having to accept the huge Chinese rate of urban warming. IMHO this tactic of Jones et al to compare land data with SST’s is to avoid a complete capitulation and leave a door open for continuing examination of the land data.
    One more IMHO, I think that if there were more truly rural stations in China, the true rate of urban warming would be shown to be even higher then that established by Ren et al 2008.

    Since the formation of the IPCC, that disgraceful organization which certainly should be disbanded, has inspired many misleading statements and lies. Now we see a beginning to a period when many of these lies will come home to roost and be exposed for what they are.
    Just to quickly wrap up Turbobloke, in the hope of making issues clearer for you by using a colloquialism, IMHO Dr Jones might have been “dragged kicking and screaming” to his key conclusion re urban warming by some Chinese climate scientists who after years of patience have grown weary of IPCC lies.

  14. Re Urban warming and SST

    There was some fiddling with this technique in the 1990s. As late as March 28 2006, Phil Jones emailed me that –

    “I would suggest you look at NZ temperatures. … What is clear over this region is that the SSTs around islands (be they NZ or more of the atoll type) is that the air temps over decadal timescales should agree with SSTs. This agreement between SSTs and air temperatures also works for Britain and Ireland. Australia is larger, but most of the longer records are around the coasts.
    So, NZ or Australian air temperatures before about 1910 can’t both be right. As the two are quite close, one must be wrong. As NZ used the Stevenson screens from their development about 1870, I would believe NZ. NZ temps agree well with the SSTs and circulation influences.”

    Remember that this grave uncertainty was about at the time that the IPCC was writing “The science is settled”.

    Apart from Canberra, the main Australian candidates for UHI are on the coast, so I guess Jones is saying that he’s in a knot with Australian UHI and is looking for an out via SST.

    Re China, there are vast areas that are unsettled, mountainous, without electricity or gas or climate stations. The mathematical methods that separate these weather regions from weather stations in the suburbs of Shanghai must be truly amazing. Given the population density in settled China, it’s almost a case of “Show me a Chinese weather station and I’ll show you a source of UHI”. Almost, because there are many defence installations on isolated mountain tops that are probably recording weather as well as radar etc.

  15. Gotta love this statement in Jones et al.’s abstract:

    We show examples of the UHIs at London and Vienna, where city center sites are warmer than surrounding rural locations. Both of these UHIs however do not contribute to warming trends over the 20th century because the influences of the cities on surface temperatures have not changed over this time.

    It basically says, “These UHI do not effect temperature because we say they don’t. So there.” This is either very poorly worded, or just ridiculous. I leave that up to everyone else to decide.

    I am more confused by this paper than ever. Jones et al. clearly stated a non neglible effect of UHI, clearly state that it cuts the trend by .1 degree C per decade, and after some simple calculations, one can derive from all their statements that the warming rate was reduced from .26 degrees per decade to .16-yet they say that there is little warming relative to the ocean data and include a graph claiming to show no difference between urban and rural time series. There are several parts of the abstract which appear intended to mislead-the .81 figure is clearly given to show agreement with the earlier .8 in the last century global statement, but completely neglects the fact that the global amount is much less than the supposed land trend, and that the part of China in question is entirely inland. One could go on at length-I just fail to understand the bizarreness of it all.

  16. Andrew, The two longest periods measured in their Table 5 do show the land warming more than the sea, at 0.11/decade 1951-2004 and 0.13/decade 1954-1983. Only the shortest period they checked, 1981-2004 shows a contrary result and I assume they have reasons for discounting that. So on balance this SST comparison lets them agree with other urban warming conclusions from Chinese climate people, that as I say, Jones et al must have found to be unassailable.
    I agree with you, it is a bizarre paper but I will take the historic Jones backdown in any form.
    Thanks for taking the time to ponder the thing.

  17. I think this admission is not so much about resurrecting UHI, it is also about resurrecting Aerosols.

    The negative effect of Aerosols is dead in the water with the significantly rising temperature trends in China, India and Asia. If Aerosols truly reduced temperatures through blocking solar radiation reaching the surface, then it would be most evident in recent Asian temperature trends. Nope.

    The models are getting far off track right now. They need another big negative forcing to be able to match up to current temperature trends. A new Aerosols database has been created and although I haven’t seen the data yet, it is supposed to show higher Aerosol effects.

    Ressurecting UHI in China is required in order to put the new numbers into the models.

  18. Thanks Bill for raising the aerosol issue which has long been misrepresented by the IPCC. I remember in the 1990’s they blamed aerosols for a lack of warming but when you examined global maps, the cooling was in the southern hemisphere while aerosols of course are dominantly in the north. So just the usual IPCC lies there. I will try and keep up with new IPCC statements on the issue. Not sure I agree with your first sentence, I still think the Jones et al paper is the net result of him putting the bravest face possible on “being dragged kicking and screaming” to accept the Sino urban warming, when for 20 years now his entire series of papers has misrepresented urban warming leading to much urban warming contaminating IPCC global trends. This 2008 paper of Jones is his FIRST backdown in the ~20 year series of errors.

  19. Big problem with the ground data has always been what is meant by Global Temperature??

    For the purpose of brevity — Let’s leave out the oceans where the surface water and ir temperature records are really screwed-up — as the data set prior to automated buoys used data collected by ships with no really standard methodology (particular post the introduction of reporting condenser input temperature for “surface water) and deck-level air temperature (compare a fishing boat to a super tanker))

    Anyway — sticking strictly to the land:

    [I]: you need to 1) decide in some logical way how to collect the data at each station, 2) how to site the station 3) how often you collect it, 4) how often to calibrate your instruments, 5) how about training your data collectors, 6) perform maintenance on the equipment and shelters, etc. — note over the 100+ years and over the scale of the planet — no such a systematic approach was ever employed — for instance you have unpaid or under paid observers deciding to go out or not to record some of the coldest temperatures ever in Siberia.

    [II]: you need to develop a logical way of siting stations to adequately represent the local temperatures and to account for the modifications of the surroundings over time — for example in Boston a temperature record was established beginning in 1923 for aviation purposes at what was then an Army air Corp field (grass and gravel) on an island in the middle of Boston’s inner harbor. Over the next 8 decades, progressively more and more of the inner harbor was filled and covered with concrete, asphalt and structures. Several times the control tower site of the weather instruments moved to accommodate new runways, terminals, other buildings. Eventually the site of the weather station for what became the CATX Logan International Airport moved to a new building located quite close to the remaining water in the inner harbor – in a sense a return to 1923?. So which of the various sites is representative of the temperature ?

    [III}: you need to decide where on the global scale you need to site the stations to get a “Global Temperature” that accounts for the diversity of natural land forms, and man-made uses and most importantly remains meaningful over centuries and is not subject to large-scale perturbations such as the un-desertification of large areas of Arizona, Nevada, California, Israel for agricultural and residential uses. This is a lot harder than just trying to decide if a turkey has been cooked adequately — by probing at random with a digital thermometer — and that is hard enough.

    [IV]: (and last for now) you need to develop sophisticated mathematical techniques of averaging in time and space and extracting trends, quasi-periodic signals and the “spectral power” in statically fluctuations — this is also a lot harder than it seems because data sets break and they shift and their error bars grow and decrease with time and vary specially because of ([1, II, III]). It’s also hard because we know that there are quasi-periodic natural fluctuations (solar activity) some with a period of the order of the length of the existing global surface data set (80 to 100 years and there also may be even longer period natural fluctuations) — these make all of the signal processing tasks much harder as the data may not be able to be considered “stationary”

    Oh yes — while I promised to skip the oceans — I have to mention the obvious fact that there is very very little data for the vast majority of the surface of the planet (the oceans, most of Greenland, Antarctica and lots of even settled land in the southern hemisphere)

    So why do we even believe that what comes out of GISS and Hadley is a “Global Temperature”


  20. To follow-up — why don’t we take about 10 years and few B$ that would be wasted on GCM and computers to actually develop and implement a Global Surface Temperature Network

    Such a network (of order 1 million sensors) would be:
    1) fully automated, highly reliable, relatively low maintenance, self powered, self calibrating, self monitoring, self locating (GPS and back-up)
    2) all securely and freely accessible over the W3 to anyone with web access
    3) sited to monitor rural, suburban, urban, dense urban and extreme land uses and as much of the surface of the ocean as we can afford
    4) archived in numerous redundant secure locations

    Then we can let the ingenuity of a GNU-like viral explosion of development of tools to analyze and process the data


  21. Well spotted, Warwick!

    Having followed Jones for years I too lighted on his typical technique of quoting the “climatic” warming figure raw (0.81 degrees) but the urban warming figure as a decadal rate (0.1 degrees per decade), making it look far smaller. The simple, objective way of putting this would have been to say that they found 0.81 degrees of climatic warming and 0.53 degrees of urban warming in the overall Chinese record.

    Abstracting from the obfuscation, however, this is still a major admission by Jones, given that he has been saying for decades (and the IPCC has relied on him) that urban warming can’t be more than about 0.1 degrees globally for the whole of the 20th century.

    London and Vienna are of course furphies. For a start they happen to be two of the very rare major cities in the world that were already major cities 100 years ago. Vienna may be the only big city in the world where the population actually fell over the 20th century, and London’s population peaked in 1939. What is the point of even looking for an increasing urban warming signal in cities that are not growing anyway?

    Meanwhile, world population has gone up by a factor of 6 since 1900 and world urban population by a factor of 10. The urban warming signal in China would be far more typical for the world as a whole and if applied in many other regions would explain much or even most of the observed trend, leaving little or nothing for “global warming”.

    Also notice the cherry-picking of starting the analysis in the early 1950s, conveniently avoiding the warmer temperatures one would expect to find during the 1930s and early 1940s.

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