the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Triplets on the Hudson river

Posted by Jeff Id on November 25, 2009

We’ll not be ignoring the impact of the recent emails but we shouldn’t let the antics of the true scientists hold back our pursuit of understanding.

As a young man, history was as exciting as liver and onions, now it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Tony Brown, official Air Vent (and every other blog) historian, has done yet another well researched and analyzed post on some of the worlds oldest quality thermometers.


Guest post by Tony Brown.

The Little Ice Age thermometers

which predate Giss and Hadley/Cru, provide an interesting insight into the longer term climatic cycles that the shorter records often seem to miss. This was demonstrated with Uppsala/Stockholm and Hohenpeissenberg in my article;

Today we examine another temperature triplet linked by the Hudson river, drop in to see James Hansen and Gavin, visit a shanty town and pay our respects to John Lennon. In other words my usual eclectic mix of history, trivia, science and serious investigation.

The first of our records comes from Mohonk, which in the world of climate science is a bit of a hero. It is a most interesting station, as this link demonstrates;

“Since 1896, daily weather conditions (including temperature and precipitation) have been recorded at the Mohonk Lake Cooperative Weather Station established by the U.S. Weather Bureau. The instruments and location of the weather station have virtually stayed the same since then–providing one of the longest and most consistent weather records available.”

Figure 1 photo from New York Times of Mohonk.

Mohonk is some 40 miles north of West Point, which itself is some 50 miles north of New York.

“Every day for the last 112 years, people have trekked up the same gray outcropping to dutifully record temperatures and weather conditions. In the process, they have compiled a remarkable data collection that has become a climatological treasure chest.

The problems that often haunt other weather records — the station is moved, buildings are constructed nearby or observer’s record data inconsistently — have not arisen here because so much of this place has been frozen in time. The weather has been taken in exactly the same place, in precisely the same way, by just a handful of the same dedicated people since Grover Cleveland was president. “

For much of that time, those same weather observers have also made detailed records about recurring natural events, like the appearance of the first spring peeper or the first witch hazel bush to bud in the fall. Together, these two sets of data, meticulously collected in the same area, are beginning to offer up intriguing indicators about climate change — not about what is causing it but rather how it affects the lives of animals, plants, insects and birds.

If the procedure seems old-fashioned, that is just as it is intended. The temperatures that Mr. Huth recorded that day were the 41,152nd daily readings at this station, each taken exactly the same way. “Sometimes it feels like I’ve done most of them myself,” said Mr. Huth, who is one of only five people to have served as official weather observer at this station since the first reading was taken on Jan. 1, 1896.

That extremely limited number of observers greatly enhances the reliability, and therefore the value, of the data. Other weather stations have operated longer, but few match Mohonk’s consistency and reliability. “The quality of their observations is second to none on a number of counts,” said Raymond G. O’Keefe, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Albany. “They’re very precise, they keep great records and they’ve done it for a very long time.”

Mohonk’s data stands apart from that of most other cooperative weather observers in other respects as well. The station has never been moved, and the resort, along with the area immediately surrounding the box, has hardly changed over time. Rain and snow are measured in the original brass rain gauge issued in 1896 by what was then known as the United States Weather Bureau. Mr. Huth also checks the temperature and pH of Mohonk Lake daily, and he measures the level of the lake according to its distance from the top of an iron bar that was bolted to the Shawangunk conglomerate in 1896.

The record shows that on this ridge in the Shawangunk Mountains, about 20 miles south of the better-known Catskills, the average annual temperature has risen 2.7 degrees in 112 years. Of the top 10 warmest years in that time, 7 have come since 1990. Both annual precipitation and annual snowfall have increased, and the growing season has lengthened by 10 days.”

It is a charming and interesting story and the graph does indeed show a gentle nudge upwards of some 2.7degrees Fahrenheit in 110 years.

Fig 2 Mohonk graph from this link

But Mohonk is not quite so pristine as we may first have thought. It was bought in 1869 by Alfred Smiley from John F Stokes when it was a 10 room inn and subsequently has grown somewehat, now providing accomodation for up to 500 guests in the Mountain House Hotel, where you can also get married-(from link below).

Figure 3 Mohonk from the River.

Let us leave the idyll of Mohonk in the Hudson river valley, and their slightly rising temperatures derived from a not very long record, and travel 40 miles or so south to the equally verdant 16000 acres estate adjacent to the river Hudson which houses West Point Miltary Academy. This contains another famous weather observatory with records from 1820.

Aerial view of the site here.

West Point is a U.S. military reservation on the Hudson River in Orange County, New York, United States. West Point Academy is also known as the U.S. Military Academy, which has been on the site since 1802.

In 1779 George Washington established his headquarters at West Point while trying to defend the Hudson River Valley from the British, and in 1780 Benedict Arnold unsuccessfully tried to betray the land to the British.

The temperature graph for West Point will be shown intertwined with those of our next stop, as we follow the increrasingly urbanised silvery thread of the Hudson for another fifty miles south, to gritty urban New York where we approach that oasis of relative calm- Central Park. (Map in link under)

As we approach the Park, check out the New York HQ of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (and Real Climate) home to Gavin and James Hansen, located just a few blocks to the north and like Central Park itself also close to the Hudson river. Yes, a river runs through this thread.

Figure 4 Location of Goddard Institute for Space Studies-New York

Figure 5 The GISS office is located above Tom’s restaurant-used in Seinfield

Central Park is half a mile wide and some 2.6 miles long, covering 800 acres in extent. It is hardly the rural idyll of our last two stops, but still relatively unchanged for decades, although visited by 25 million people annually. The park is a moument to far sightedness, as although New York quadrupled in size between 1820-1850 nevertheless provision was made for a large green space at its heart. The park opened in winter 1859.

Figure 6 New York Central Park- plans circa 1850

The above link leads to details of the weather station at Belvedere castle, which is the purpose of our journey here.

Figure 7 Belvedere castle

The Link below leads to an aerial view of the Belvedere-the half mile wide park has the station roughly equidistant between the roads and buildings on either side.

At this point we can reveal the purpose of our journey along the Hudson, which started in Mohonk and passed through West Point, by showing a combined graph for temperatures covering West Point and Central Park to 1820

Figure 8 Temperature Graph for West Point and Central Park-

Graph from;

(click on link, then enlarge if required) The following graph of Central Park to 1880 comes from our friends at Giss- so tantalisingly close by-

Figure 9-Central Park from 1880-Giss ors=1

The Mohonk graph-said to be proof of global warmimg because of its untouched state (apart from wedding parties) repeated below, dates to 1896.

Figure 10-Mohonk revisited.

Examining the graphs for the three locations, it once again appears that a short record has failed at Mohonk (1896) and Central Park (1880) to pick up natural climate variation in the longer data sets to 1820. This also happened with Uppsala/Stockholm and Hohenpeissenberg in my article linked below.

The proof of global warming cited at pristine Mohonk appears to be nothing of the sort if we take a step back in time. However, our short journey along the Hudson does throw up an apparent conundrum. Why have the West Point and Central Park data diverged since around 1890?

Before calling into Tom’s restaurant for a Blueberry Muffin, we might be able to sove that mystery. Central Park appears to be greatly influenced by a number of factors. The reservoir in front of Belvedere-built 1842- was emptied in 1917 after the park became semi derelict. It then became ‘Hooverville’ –a shanty town-during the Great Depression.

Then in the 1940’s the area was grassed over and became The ‘Great Lawn,’ but then became ‘packed as hard as ashpalt’ before being renovated in the 1970’s. So lots of changes to the weather station environs. The current location is shown in the photo below.

Figure 11 The weather station at Belvedere (from Anthony Watts)

Some interesting weather statistics from Belvedere. The link below is the temperature record from 1876;

The one below for snowfall;

Other statistics-1931 warmest year on record in New York.

So the longer records illustrate the climate cycles operating, but then a combination of factors have caused the divergence of temperatures between Central Park and the other stations observed during this journey. The greatest factor appears to be related to population growth. The link below provides astonishingly detailed US census details of major US cities.

This for New York ;

1820 123,706

1850 515,000

1880 1.5 million people (note inclusion of Bronx)

1990 7.5 milion people.

In calculating temperatures there appears to be a misapplication of the UHI allowance made for population. The Central Park temperature set was discussed at very great length back in 2007 over at Climate Audit, when we had no les a duo than Steve Mcintyre and Anthony Watts making valuable contributions as they get to the bottom of Central Park’s overheating mystery..

“So we have here a nice case study with which to examine the “urban warming bias” adjustment of Karl et al 1988. The Karl adjustment results in a huge reduction in adjusted temperatures in the 1960s and 1970s relative to modern temperatures – something that makes sense only if there had been a de-urbanization of New York City in the past century. There is negligible adjustment of 1850 to 2005 however. The GISS adjustment is not as extreme as the Karl adjustment, but it also has the effect of increasing the recent trend by relative lowering of earlier data and negligible relative adjustment of older data. Without Karl’s “urban warming bias” adjustment, there is no Central Park trend since the 1960s; with Karl’s adjustment, there is a 3 degree increase in Central Park temperature in the past 30 years. What a strange “urban warming adjustment” – it increases modern temperatures relative to temperatures a40 years ago, while the expectation for a “urban warming adjustment” would be just the opposite.”

(UHI data taken from here).

Sa as well as the other factors- reservoir infill, compacted grass, poor siting- UHI appears to be a major factor in temperature rises during the 20th Century. A factor that seems surprisingly underestimated in many of the increasingly urbanized global temperature data sets from Giss and Hadley/Cru.

No visit to Central Park –even a virtual one-wouldn’t be complete without a final stop at Strawberry Fields-a place dedicated to John Lennon who was gunned down nearby. He played some amazing music and wrote some amazing things. He could have been talking of our current age, and our obsession with chasing climate phantoms, when he said;

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

Tony Brown

26 Responses to “Triplets on the Hudson river”

  1. Nica in Houston said


    Two comments:

    1. TOEING the line, as in putting your toe on the line, to comply with the race rules
    2. You missed it. Have you seen Mohonk Lake – GISS-Raw (Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences public portal??? The raw data show declining temps! The.Books.Are.COOKED!

  2. Gary said

    The gallery of Mohonk station equipment is here:

    Hardly pristine.

  3. Jeff Id said

    #1 Show us what you have, find a plot or make one and copy to photobucket or something and post a link. We’re all interested.

  4. Phil said

    Under the title “How not to measure temperature, part 84: “Pristine” Mohonk Lake USHCN station revisited” here is the link for the discussion about Mohonk Lake’s weather station:

  5. Nica in Houston said

    m looking for the original post by Anthony Watts, but here is some interim links
    and this
    and this

    There are two posts I am looking for, because I saved the graphics and not the links. I will keep looking

  6. Nica in Houston said

    here ARE … sorry fro the typo

  7. Nica in Houston said

    Found it!

    So, I’m conflating Tony and Steve… It;’s late and I’m tired…

  8. Tonyb said

    Please not that I’m British and the word ‘pristine’ is used in a ironic way!


  9. Johnny said

    They hard-coded the hockey stick into the program which draws the curve! And with the fudge factor they can alter how much the curve bends like the want it to…
    To sum up the FUDGE FACTOR postings so far:

    Willis Eschenbach (18:59:05) :
    This is interesting:
    From the progrm file FOI2009/FOIA/documents/

    2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
    if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’
    ; Now normalise w.r.t. 1881-1960

    That is more than interesting. It is a perfect example of why the code needs to be released. [..] But look at what they are actually doing. They are fudging the numbers by an arbitrary amount to get the result they want. You probably understand this code, but let me see if I can explain it in English for those who don’t.
    First, they put together a list of numbers that will be used to calculate the yearly adjustment. The numbers start at zero, get a bit smaller, and then gradually increase. This list is called “valadjust”.


    At the end of their calculations, they use valadj to make a yearly adjustment string, yearadj, by interpolating (taking intermediate values) from the values in valadj. This gives a value for each year, by which each year’s data will be adjusted up or down.

    But of course, they’re fudging things, so it won’t come out right the first time. To control the process, they put in a “fudge factor”, a single number that they can use to change the size of all the data adjustments. This is the “fudge factor” referred to in the code, which at the moment is set to 0.75. This is the 0.75 at the end of the line for setting up the valadj values:

    2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor

    They are using arbitrary values plus a fudge factor to make the result just what they want …


    Or here (it is IDL not plain Fortran):

    debreuil (04:25:44) :
    Ok, haven’t done fortran in 20 years, but if I read this right, it is creating a weighting hash for each 5 year period starting in 1904 (two arrays, 1st is year, second is weighting). The forties area are multiplied by as much as -.3, then in 1960 the ‘fudge’ creeps positive, up to 2.6 in 1980 onwards. It then interpolates this over the data. Please correct if this is wrong…
    1904 0.
    1909 0.
    1914 0.
    1919 0.
    1924 0.
    1929 -0.1
    1934 -0.25
    1939 -0.3
    1944 0.
    1949 -0.1
    1954 0.3
    1959 0.8
    1964 1.2
    1969 1.7
    1974 2.5
    1979 2.6
    1984 2.6
    1989 2.6
    1994 2.6
    1999 2.6
    original code (
    ; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
    2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
    if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’

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  12. Paul Z. said

    C’mon you lazy British bastards, sign the petition!

    Do you want to pay trillions of pounds for a fraudulent cause so that the rich fascist elite can be the only ones to eat meat, drive cars, and have kids? Next, the AGW zealots will tell us “NO MORE SEX FOR YOU PEONS. CREATES TOO MUCH HEAT & CO2. BAD FOR GLOBAL WARMING.”

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  14. lichanos said


    I’ve yet to do the research or fully digest this interesting post, but I know that the entire wooded area of the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and much of the surrounding region was clear-cut of trees in the late 19th century. The Adirondack and Catskill parks were created in response to the flooding that ensued, as denuded hillsides produced cataracts of muddy runoff. It would be interesting to see how this is related, if it is, to the temperature record at Mohonk.

  15. lichanos said

    Oh, also about Central Park. I don’t think you mentioned this. When the park was built, the land around it, the east and west sides of Manhattan above about 50th street, was mostly completely vacant of buildings. Some of it was farms. In the early twentieth century, the building infil moved rapidly uptown, but it did take a while. The nearby area has been anything but constant in character. Would that affect a meter in the center of the park?

  16. Tonyb said


    Land use change has a large effect on local temperatures, whether it is building on it or clearing a forset and planting a crop (or being replanted with trees).

    The weather station in NY is barely a quarter mile from the surrounding buildings and quite apart from any additional siting problems would be affected to some extent by its built environment.

    In effect UHI is discounted by Giss and the IPCC although many of the records on the Giss data base represent stations that have become increasingly urbanised.

    All things considered, a well sited station in a large park is likely to be less affected by UHi or other factors than a poorly sited one hemmed in by buildings or at an urban airport-(an increasingly favoured location for recording temperatures)


  17. Andrew said

    Guys, if you think GISS Central Park is bad, you should see NOAA:

    Apparently the men in Asheville are under the impression that NYC’s population suddenly started to decrease in recent years, which even GISS doesn’t try to pull.

  18. stan said


    OT, but I thought I’d make sure you saw AJ Strata’s take on why scientists aren’t allowed to produce code for any project that has the potential to get people hurt. As an engineer, you know. But I thought you might enjoy reading it.

    Like I keep saying, it’s not just the fraud and lack of transparency, it’s mostly about the incompetence.

  19. Jason said

    A good story would be what outfit guided the New York Times (Revkin?) to the Mohonk. I remember the story. If ever a story smelled like being planted, that was it.

  20. suncity2 said

    I remembered seeing NYC Central Park temperatures starting in 1820 in a blog a while back. I backtracked and here’s the posting – scroll to bottom to see earlier Central Park temps.

  21. Lynn Erickson said

    USHCN data is not corrected for UHI effects. See .

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