Surface Stations Survey

Posted: August 26, 2012 by tchannon in Analysis, Blog, Surfacestation

This post will be sticky for a while, so scroll down to see new posts.

Posts on other topics will be swamped for a while as we get the first phase of this UK skye-1Surface Stations survey completed, so use the ‘archive’ link on the left to sift through recent posts.

The survey is a major project intitiated by Tim C. It is being carried out with the blessing of Anthony Watts, who has offered technical advice and a permanent home for the results on his surfacestations server which hosts his site

Tim says there are opportunities to help, and one obvious one is to share your knowledge about the stations in your local area. Please leave comments with information about changes in station environs like new buildings, car parks etc in comments on the relevant threads. If you have close up photos, let us know. If you or someone you know has worked at or near the stations get in touch.

Non-commercial use is being made of Google’s satellite imaging facility and Microsoft’s imaging facility and we believe we are within their terms of use. If either of these companies or any private individual who’s photos we use feels our interpretation is incorrect or against their wishes, we request they contact us informally via this site so we can conform to their wishes which we are willing to do.

Formalities dealt with, over to Tim.


Locate and passively look at a good selection of UK Met Office meteorological stations as an appraisal taking into account WMO 2010 site recommendations, assigning an estimated Class number and also noting likely Heat Islands, where the initial primary focus is on temperature.

In the process a web resource will be created.


The actual number of UK sites is higher than the official WMO listing, sites remain volatile changing over time.

The initial station list is the 2012 WMO list for the UK comprising 100-150 sites, version with very recently enhance location accuracy. (this is a great improvement, makes life much easier)

The sequence I choose will probably mean many low interest sites appear relatively early, no particular agenda, however it pans out.

There are historic sites which need to be seen as just that but useful for local purpose, the trouble being when the context is wrongly widened. Image below for example seems ludicrous (needs confirming is the site)  yet relative to itself it is useful. There is even an electricity substation next to it. peterhead-1

Gardeners want to know, if that is grass, how it is kept alive? Peterhead Harbour, Scotland.

In an instance like that if you find someone has linked this to climatic change, are they really aware of what they have done? Maybe that is reasonable, need pretty good evidence.

One of the things becoming apparent is how many people have assumed sites are competent without really knowing. I must though make it clear that what can be seen today does not tell us much about the conditions through history. Some caution is needed with finger pointing.

Right this moment I have no list of which stations are synoptic (weather) and which are climatic, including synoptic which are wrongly being used as climatic by various parties.

Also note that many of these 2012 stations are almost new and either have no significant history or have dubious dataset joining with previous stations.

A vast amount more could be done so here I am nailing down a starting point.


There will be plenty of opportunity to help.

Please no-one snoop on the ground, keep within the law and within good manners.

Initially I intend working through the list of stations fairly rapidly without much comment. This will be a lot of detail boring work best done by me since this including creating Talkshop blog posts, pages and editing other pages. Automation would be nice, doesn’t look feasible at the moment so bash onwards with what I have.

Some stations will be unknowns, for many others more information is needed, which is where you come in.

The Blog

We are using a WordPress hosted site. This has many limitations where in return there is good security and a shared server cloud.

Rog (Tallbloke) is on board, he wrote “All sounds good for surface stations UK, your baby!”

We are both aware this project will pose problems over other blog subjects appearing so I am going to try and submerge some of the activity. I hope our loyal regulars who do not have an interest in met stations will be understanding. The chances are there will be a lot of noise at times but eventually it will fall silent.


Left sidebar category selector will help location blog articles.

Top menu “Surface Stations Project” provides access to an index and subpages.

Guessing URL may be feasible (intentionally) accesses a page giving some information and links to content about WMO 03784

Alternatively, you can browse through the archives for August and September 2012 to see the station entries, roughly starting from the north and heading south.


I have to create the pages, put in the links and back links by hand, mistakes and omissions are going to happen. Tell me but don’t be offended if I often do not thank you, please don’t read that as bad manners so much as on-line practicality, looks nuts if there are lots of thank you. In general I try to attribute people, quite a problem including that some people want to remain anon. There is also the problem of two people pointing out or doing the same thing independently, do what I can but broadly if you feel slighted, let it pass, unlikely to be wilful.


This whole project is relying on the work of Google, Microsoft and their providers. So far as I can see non-commercial usage with credit is acceptable and we should thank them. On balance I think they gain from people using their provision in connection with this work.

I will be deliberating trying to leave in image attribution but if this is omitted I hope it is acceptable.

Google aerial images can be accessed via a web browser and ground level images if you have Adobe Flash available. Generally this understands lat/long as two numbers.

Microsoft (also known under the brand Bing) is accessed via a web browser and ground level if Silverlight in available. Generally this understands lat/long as two numbers.

Test lat/long, copy to either of the above 64 30 15N 40 43 40E
Not England, far far away.

Google Earth has more extensive facilities such as measurement. Unfortunately I cannot provide .kml files via WordPress. Paste or whatever lat/long should be sufficient.

The head picture I’ve chosen is a pleasing photograph, Skye, Scotland.

Some might be wondering why am I going to so much trouble. Detailing why is not appropriate, it is something I am able to do using experience and ability otherwise going to waste, take it as self betterment. I see it as needs doing, trying to make the world better.

I am not expecting perfection in the Met Office, competence yes.

Tim Channon, August 2012

[update 22nd Sept]

Article on the Camborne site contains important details about met site paving.

Archive of decoded CLIMAT files.


Link to list of articles, same page as shown in the blog top menu 


  1. Caz says:

    There’s also Ordnance Survey “get a map”, no need to sign up to use it.

  2. KevinUK says:

    Hi Tim,

    If you’d like some help with this project I’d be more than happy to contribute. Anthony is supposed to be doing a GHCN surface stations type project but seems to be taking his tme setting it up. I think a UK surface station project is a great idea.

    I have extensive database and mapping skils which might come in handy. For example here is something I’ve recently done.

    These are interactive maps which when you click on the ‘placemarker’ display a page showing the warming/cooling trends in the GHCN-M- V3 dataset for diiferent time periods. I also live in Liverpool so can cover any UKMO stations in the North West/Midlands.


  3. tchannon says:

    I’m doing this simply with the resources available now.

    When Rog returns and perhaps Anthony Watts appears I expect some discussion will take place.

    I am quietly working away doing what I can as and when I feel well enough. Don’t want to say more.
    Under different circumstances the wealth of experience would be in play. One of the difficulties is the chasm between a one person sized project and anything collective where to be effective a lot of people and systems management is necessary, effect is highly non-linear.

    There are specific reasons why at the moment I am keeping things tight, the reason will appear in due course.

    Give it a few days to see what happens. Of course I would like help yet this has to be immediately useful.

  4. KevinUK says:

    Hi Tim,

    “Of course I would like help yet this has to be immediately useful”

    Do you have all the monthly average temperature data for all the 100+ UK Met office stations easily to hand Tim? If you do and can send it to me then I can have a ‘TEKTemp’ database up and running complete with trend charts (and interactive maps) within a couple of days.

    Does that sound ‘immediately useful’ enough for you Tim :-)?

    Also I live in Crosby, Liverpool very close to this UK Met Office station.


  5. Caz says:

    Tim you are doing a fantastic and as far as I know a unique thing.

    The UK Met office is in effect deciding the UK’s and perhaps Europe’s energy policy based on their data.

    Climate change whether it be man made, natural or a mixture of both is inducing trillions of pounds of investment and the data that affects this investment should be beyond reproach and absolutely sound.

    So far we have seen air conditioning plants, micro climates, buildings, roads, tarmac, concrete, hedges, metal cotainers, housing estates and sheer neglect of instrumentation affecting this critical data. I would even hazzard a guess that even if there was no warming the data recorded would say that there was warming and this would all be down to the sloppiness in the way that it is recorded.

    Serious qutestions and doubts have to be raised on why we are spending so much money to cure a problem that has so little invested in its source.

    Well done Sir.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Great effort Tim. Do we have a full list of stations and locations so we can muck in and help?

  7. tchannon says:

    First thing was waiting to see your response, oh my goodness you’ve broken my blog, or whatever.

    We need to discuss what can be done in private.

    Please give me a day or two I’ve been ill with an eye infection and virus, managed an hour’s sleep last night, there was a groan when you mentioned you were going away, came as I could barely read the screen (touch type fortunately). Want to quietly plod on with something I can do. I can see now.
    No commiserations please, think it and I thank you. I’m fine in myself.

    Folks are helping, there will be more. More extensive help, Have to think about it. Is going to take time anyway.

    10% done.

  8. Doug Proctor says:

    You are to be commended! The weather/climatic stations were never intended to be used for long-term government policy. As in the States, it appears that everyone assumed they were good – and they were good ENOUGH for what they were used for. But once you start counting on something, you can’t go back and question it fundamentally.

    The same thing occurs in private enterprises, especially resource-based. Once there is an assessment in, the principals and market run with it. Next year has to be the same, at least. Nobody wants you to reassess the assessment internally. Only bad things can come from that unless you have some great addition that can handle any deficiences in the old. The only time you can legitimately have a “reserve writedown” is when some external, global condition arises, like a commodity price drop, that affects everyone. Then there is a stampede to writedown all the crapola you’ve had in your closet. Nobody gets hurt, or at least nobody worse than anybody else, if everyone is doing it.

    How are the alarmists going to get out of their dilemma? Hansen has to retire, Guillard has to be removed from office, Obama has to end his term or lose the election, and then the new powers can announce a “re-look” using new information, the result of which is that the “problem” still exists, but now appears to be “most likely” to be in the 1.5C range, not +3C, and well-handled by technological upgrades. Gore gets a medal for “raising public consciousness of Man’s responsibility to act ethically and consciously” in the world. He smiles, waves and goes away to be philosophical and philanthropic (and write a memoir). Suzuki is proclaimed an Elder of some First Nation and made a Living National Treasure of Canada. And goes away to write his memoirs. Egos stroked and face-saving done, we move on … to worry about militant Shetland Island Crofters and Weapons of Peat Destruction.

    Please, please let it be soon.

  9. KevinUK says:


    “First thing was waiting to see your response, oh my goodness you’ve broken my blog, or whatever.”

    It appears that some nasty script has infected my web site. I’ve just dis-infected it but it appears that my web site is now on the list which is very annoying as some browser plug-ins like McAfee Security use it and throw up warnings regardless of the fact that I’ve now got rid of the bugger (and have stopped it from being re-infected).

    You should now have my email adress as my posts will include it so contact me whenever you feel up to it as I’m keen to show Anthony W what can be done. At the moment AW’s USHCN surface stations web site uses a piece of software called ‘Gallery’ which is very good IMO and th whole web site could be done much better. I’ve ‘lead the horse to the water but so far it hasn’t drank’ but too be fair to AW he has a lot on his plate. I’m convinced that web developers like myself (and Alan Cheetham etc) can quite easily set up a fully interactive web site that integartes metadata for the weather stations (e.g. images, test descriptions etc) with their historical daily/monthly temperature data and it’s trends. I know AW intends to do just this for NOAA’s US CRN stations and doing this for just the UK Met Office stations will act as a great prototype.

    If you can get me the monthly temeperature data for all these UK sttaions then I promise I’ll have it up on the web (as a TEKtemp database and interactive UK map) )within two days of receiving it.


  10. tchannon says:

    I’m plodding. Very tired. Sharp thinking, not now.

    Some things have been discussed. Anthony, I’m not in contact., tends to be a law unto himself but I gather friendly enough.

    Timeseries, sure, several months work in there, off you go. Lots of hidden hurdles, such as new stations, no published data, get it, process it. 🙂

    Patience. If we chat you might be in for some surprises.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Tim, useful comment over at WUWT on the gravesend thread:

    Dave Brown says:
    September 1, 2012 at 8:01 am
    Living just 4 miles from the weather station and having followed and monitored weather for over 40 years, I think that some of the investigation has missed the point. A lot of work has been done to analyse the proximity to the M25, 8 lane Motorway and Littlebrook D Power Station, and the effect it may have on readings. However, Gravesend is only the warmest place in the UK when the wind is in the SE to SW quadrant. This is when the wind blows the FROM site of the weather station out across the river, so any river based warming would be felt on the Essex side. Also London is to the west and southerly winds do not come from London.

    I am 4 miles to the east of Gravesend Broadness, just above the Chalk Marshes, and topography here is everything. When the wind is from the south air temps tend to be warmer than other directions to start with, but when coupled with descending air as the wind comes down from the North Downs to the river Thames, it slightly warms. Very often any cloud cover thins, or even breaks as it descends, and the resultant brightness or sunshine not experienced elsewhere in the region, can also raise temps. The same is true along the whole of the north Kent coast, and the record for 10th August 2003 was only held by Gravesend for 2 days. The new record of 38.5C being recorded by Brogdale near Faversham, 30 miles to the east. That has the same topographical set up at Gravesend with descending southerly airflows. North Kent has more sunshine than London, so that can lead to higher temperatures in Kent in warm airflows.

    The situation on that day was very warm air wafted up across France, and warmed further descending into the Thames estuary. My personal reading was 39.2C but my thermometer is not certified as only for my own use.

    The fact is, under the right wind conditions, this area IS the warmest in the UK, but a NE wind in winter or spring is more Siberia that anything else :(. My garden is more like the tropics (to look at) in summer, as we have one of the best summer climates in the UK.


  12. tchannon says:

    Now here is a surprise. The WordPress Pages I am creating as a simple index system accessed from the top menu is a pain to do, so only when I want boring.

    Decided to program the content here locally, essentially write out WordPress acceptable HTML, simple enough based on the WMO listing. (might try and do a table later)

    Open the actual page, delete contents, paste in the new stuff, save, hairy on a live website. (don’t want to keep taking the Talkshop offline)

    Sigh of relief once I fixed a missing quote.

    Next step is worse, add all the missing link pages, no good way but slowly one by one online. (don’t ask)

    At that point, huh? Seems there is a neat feature of WordPress, stroke of luck. Many of the pages are missing but there are blog articles deliberately named starting the WMO number.
    Server can’t find the page specified but instead of throwing a 404 it latches onto the prefix of a post and uses that. This is good enough for the moment!

    (Point here, I programmed in the page addresses which ought to match but won’t right now)

  13. tchannon says:

    Met Office MIDAS Stations

    Discussion in ‘Data Analysis & Weather Statistics’ started by Dollsworth, Aug 30, 2011.

  14. Caz says:

    I have a feeling that your work is only just starting Tim. If the “meticulous” UK Met office is so sloppy about their sites I dread to think what is going on in other countries.

    I think you are just garnering the initial facts.

  15. tchannon says:

    I don’t think it is that bad because the purpose of sites must be kept in mind as well as the highly complex reality of a country with immense local history and an authoritarian administration going back a thousand years.

    If there is a problem it is 2+2 = 5 combined with typical mentality.

    Misuse of data by anyone.

    World project? No chance simply because for most of the world the co-ords are poor, the aerial images are awful, we don’t know how it looks, nor read der lingo.

    Want to try one?
    40 33 07N 141 28 02E
    Developed country so it is feasible. Class 5?

  16. Caz says:

    Probably near the tower. That’s where most were originaly placed. Provably is not good enough though. A Japanese military air base is a tad more difficult than Portland Bill.

    Anyway this is where my probably is.

    Some links here

  17. tchannon says:

    I think local and national knowledge is necessary, how things are done in that country.

  18. Caz says:

    Quite agree. And I also totally agree your “September 8, 2012 at 2:54 am” post. My concerns are that the logs from these stations are being used to make a case for accelerating global warming when there are local reasons why the temperatures recorded have increased.

    I think the Met office should at least publish health warnings about weather stations where the data they produce has been affected by changes in topography.

    This data is being used to form the energy policy of our country and it is flawed.

  19. tchannon says:

    Completed 149 out of 152 WMO synoptic stations, although a few I have not given an opinion.

    Will be mistakes and I’ve learnt.

    New resources have been found, there is a lot still to do.

    I ought to add in some other stations.

    I’m thankful the eye problem and virus I had early on slowly went away. That was “fun” trying to squint.

  20. Steve Brown says:

    I’m based on the central south coast near Chichester. I’ve often got time available to go for a drive for a day (or so) so is there anywhere that needs scrutiny? I’d be more than willing to contribute to a UK version of Anthony’s work.
    Just mail me and I’ll have a go!

    [Reply] Thanks Steve, when we start a further phase of the project beyond examining the aerial photos, we might take you up on that. TB

  21. tchannon says:

    There might be, not far.

    I’ll talk about this with Rog (Tallbloke). There is an awful lot going on so we might been need to plan.

  22. […] They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, so color me flattered. I’ve been remiss in writing about this effort by Roger Tattersall (aka Tallbloke) and his colleague Tim Channon, but a tip from WUWT reader David Schofield brought me to think this would be good to mention it, so they can make comparisons.  First, as you may know, they have an ongoing effort to catalog  UK surface measurement stations. Details here. […]

  23. P. Solar says:

    Just posted a detailed comment on WUWT about the possiblity of the Gravesend site being affected by the neighbouring 20GHz SMR radar transmitter.

  24. dave ward says:

    I’m happy to help with surveying / photographing in Norfolk & North Suffolk. I might be able to enlist a friend to provide some aerial pictures as well.

    There’s a privately operated station at Seething near Norwich. It has quite a bit of information and records available:

  25. Jiri says:

    I’m from Aberdeen, Scotland and I’m passing by Iverbervie station on Saturday. Is there any quick tip for surveying? Should I also speak to the owner about the history?

  26. P. Solar says:

    I’ve just checked up with a college who has years of experience in radar and microwave design. He reckons the Gravesend – Broadness radar is probably X or C band, ie 5-8 GHz (rather than the 20 GHz I suggested).

    Estimating the tower height and distance from the screen it would seem to be about 30 degrees off the horizontal axis of the radar. He reckons that would be about -3dB of the on-axis peak power.

    What is more interesting is that one to way to accurately measure the power of millimetric radar is with a bolometer that includes a THERMISTOR.

    He says he recalls using such a device that at it’s most sensitive scale measured 1mW full-scale. The transmitter will be several kW.

    All this confirms my gut feel on seeing this set-up. There is ample scope for significant heating of the sensor by the radiation from the radar transmitter if this is indeed a thermistor based thermometer.

  27. One of the places I often use is Eskdalemuir. I have been there a few times (there is a Buddhist temple there!) and it is pretty remote. But I have no way of knowing if the actual weather station is properly located.

    If anyone has any specific knowlege, it would be helpful.

  28. tchannon says:

    This is a problem which needs keeping in mind.

    There is no question over this site being badly exposed and sloppy as shown by photographic evidence to this effect.

    So far as I know the Met Office use platinum resistance (4 wire measurement), not thermistors, stable over time but shifts the stability burden into the electronics.

    As you correctly write power loss in bulk resistance is a standard method in power measurement, particularly at extreme frequencies.

    Direct heating of a sensor is extremely unlikely given this is RF leakage and the transmitted mean power is small. Other problems with the equipment is more likely, where I am writing as an equipment designer.

    It is also feasible there are losses in physical objects which is seen by the Stevenson screen. Power still seems too low.

  29. tchannon says:

    Paul, been covered, try search. So far I have done 151 of 152 synoptic stations, plus some incidentals. More to come but there is supporting other things in progress.

  30. oldbrew says:

    You have to wonder what effect the recent (from 2010?) changes to all the technology at the Met Office automatic weather stations is having on the actual data, compared to the old system.

    Click to access 7P6.pdf

  31. tchannon says:


    Lots of possible takes on what is manager droppings, someone was told to produce, it’s incomplete but also confirms the shambles.

    I like the balloon labelled “magic happens here”.

    Probably better I say nothing.

    Try Big Ball of Mud. (which you can look up)

  32. Stephen Richards says:


    Have a look at Chivenor (air force base) and Liscombe. There is always 3°C difference between and only a few Kilometre.

  33. David Ball says:

    My compliments to the hard work being done here at the Talkshop. tchannon, nice job. Will be following closely.

  34. Bob MacLean says:

    Like Steve Brown on Sep 16th I’m in West Sussex – Horsham this time, not far from Gatwick/M25/Brighton etc. Happy to help at some future time as outlined in your reply to Steve. Retired so do have available time, grandchildren and golf permitting.

    [Reply] Much appreciated Bob, we’ll get in touch. – Rog