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Inhofe criticizes NOAA's shoddy track record of weather station standards

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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
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WASHINGTON -- Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works, today welcomed a report by the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) entitled “NOAA Can Improve Their Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology
Network (USHCN).”
This report quantifies lingering
questions concerning proper siting of weather stations, finding about 42% of
the active USHCN stations in 2010 did not meet one or more of NOAA’s siting
standards. GAO says the two standards most commonly unmet are “distance to
obstructions [such as buildings and trees] and distance to extensive concrete
or paved surfaces.”

Additionally, the report notes, “NOAA does not centrally track whether USHCN
stations adhere to siting standards…nor does it have an agency-wide policy
regarding stations that don’t meet standards.” The report continues, “Many of
the USHCN stations have incomplete temperature records; very few have complete
records. 24 of the 1,218 stations (about 2 percent) have complete data from the
time they were established.” GAO goes on to state that most stations with long
temperature records are likely to have undergone multiple changes in
measurement conditions.

“I want
to thank GAO for conducting this report examining the proper siting of climate
network weather stations in the United States,”
Senator Inhofe stated. “The GAO has confirmed
what many have long suspected: A substantial number of USHCN stations fail to
meet many of NOAA’s own citing standards. Additionally, NOAA has no established
policy to track adherence to standards system-wide. I will continue monitoring
NOAA’s consideration of GAO’s recommendations.”

The USHCN was designated in 1987 as a subset of historical
weather-monitoring stations in the Cooperative Observer Program. The purpose of
these 1,218 stations is to monitor the nation’s climate and to analyze
long-term surface temperature trends.

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