Saturday, March 13, 2010

Utah Temperatures and Colorado UHI

This is now the fourth in an originally unplanned series looking at the differences between GISS and USHCN average temperatures and some trends in the data that are not necessarily obvious when one only looks at global data. Tracking Westward from Colorado, Utah has the next set of temperature data that I will look at, and I will also comment on Anthony Watts note on Colorado UHI , which he posted since my post on that state.

Utah has a different topography in that while in Colorado as we head West the land rises, in Utah that is no longer the case. So for the hypothesis of the week I will assume that while there will be a correlation with elevation, that there will be none with longitude. Let’s see if I’m correct. And while there was little correlation with latitude in Colorado, because of the strong effect of elevation and the wide range it covered, I am going to hypothesize that we will see a significant effect of latitude again, even though the elevation is considerably higher.

As usual I am writing this as I carry out the tabulation, and so I begin, following the initial procedure, by going to the USHCN web site and, yikes, there are 40 weather stations listed for Utah. OK, there will be a slight pause while I enter all these into the data table . . . . 40 stations, mutter, mutter).


Hmm! And we have the same problem of missing data that showed up in Colorado, but with more stations. For some stations there is no data in specific years before 1900. Well I am going to apply the same procedure as I did for Colorado and calculate an assumed temperature for those sites. First is Blanding, for which there is no temperature for 1896. Blanding is, on average at 51.15 deg, 2.8 deg warmer than the rest of the state. If that year the average temp was 47.5 deg, then Blanding should be at 50.3 degrees. If the average temperature for 1896 was, at 47.5 degrees, 0.8 degrees below the average annual temp, and the annual temp for Blanding is 51.15 deg, then the temp in 1896 would be 50.35 deg. Taking the average of these gives 50.33 deg, which is what I insert.

I follow the same procedure to calculate the temperatures for Bluff in 1895, 1896, 1896, and 1898; Farmington in 1895; Morgan Power in 1895; Snake Creek in 1895; (if you get the table these values are marked in red.)

Again checking on Chiefio’s list of the GISS stations. I find only one station out of the stations in Utah, that has survived the cut is the one in Salt Lake City. So I go to get the GISS data for that station.

Adjusting the tabulation to calculate averages for the different numbers of USHCN and GISS stations reveals that the GISS station reads 4 degrees higher than the state average from the USHCN stations.

Looking for the populations of the different cities and towns, Deseret is now apparently preferably called Delta. Modena, UT is also not on the city-data file, and so I got the population of 35 from Century 21. The population for Snake River Powerhouse also requires a little detective work, and two communities have merged to form Midway, and so I will use that number. And for Zion National Park I used Springdale.

And so all the data is in the table and what do we find? First of all, looking at the primary hypothesis of the day:


There is realistically no correlation here, so the first hypothesis is apparently valid.


As with the Colorado data, this again suggests that the trend that we saw with the Kansas data in regard to longitude was really a reflection of the increasing height above sea level. And at the high elevations, looking at latitude, there is a trend:


Not as strong as elevation, given the widely carrying heights of the stations around the state, but it is still there.

In regard to the population distribution, Utah is a state with a large number of small communities , which also have weather stations, so I shrunk the scale of the plot shown to below 10,000 population:


And the log correlation still shows.

In terms of the standard deviation plot that I have calculated for all the states so far:


There has been a slight increase in scatter over the years, (which would validate Anthony Watts observation on station quality) though it is not at a significant level (which I have set at an r-squared of 0.05).
However Utah is a state that has seen a warming over the years:


But the growth of the small communities, relative to the single GISS station in Utah, and the sensitivity of temperature more to the growth of small communities, means that the difference between the GISS and USHCN averages has declined over the years, due to the makeup of the USHCN average.


Which brings me back to Anthony Watts recent post on Colorado data. What he and Stephen Goddard have done is to look at the relative population growths of Boulder, and Ft Collins in Colorado.

Growth in relative populations of Boulder and Ft Collins in Colorado

Now, taking the data that I had discussed last Saturday, it was fairly easy to pull out the data for Ft Collins and Boulder and find the difference, and plot it against time:



I have taken it back a little further than WUMT, since I had the data, but the two curves are otherwise the same. And it does show the effect of the Urban Heat Island, from the point of view that the most significant change between the two towns has been their relative growth.

And so it continues, perhaps next week we will look at Nevada?

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