The same organizations and people that launched the climate scare back in the 1980s -NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies – are also the keepers of the data that validate or invalidate their premise. It’s a lot like the old “fox guarding the hen-house” scenario where there isn’t enough separation to ensure objective science. I question the validity of the data. Back in 2009, in conjunction with Heartland, I published Is The U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?

When that was published, it created a firestorm of criticism of just how bad the “official” temperature record is, because I found that approximately 90% of the weather stations in the U.S. are compromised by urban influences affecting their measurements. In December 2015, I demonstrated at the American Geophysical Union convention that the long term temperature trends from these compromised stations were significantly higher than stations that were properly maintained and this was backed up by a NOAA experiment and study published in 2019 that showed poor weather station siting leads to artificial long-term warming.

Now, yet another piece of evidence that supports that premise has come to light. In an article published on his website, climate scientist Dr. Roy Spencer suggests U.S. Warming Trends could be largely spurious.

In his analysis, Dr. Spencer examined another dataset maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and found that when adjusted for population density, weather stations used to measure climate trends report lower long term temperature trends:

“… the highest population density stations had ~0.25 C/decade warming trend, with a reduced warming trend as population density was reduced…”

He adds:

“Significantly, extrapolating to zero population density would give essentially no warming in the United States during 1973-2011. As we shall see (below) official temperature datasets say this period had a substantial warming trend, consistent with the warming in the highest population density locations.

How can one explain this result other than, at least for the period 1973-2011, (1) spurious warming occurred at the higher population density stations, and (2) the evidence supports essentially no warming if there were no people (zero population density) to modify the microclimate around thermometer sites?

I am not claiming there has been no global warming (whatever the cause). I am claiming that there is evidence of spurious warming in thermometer data which must be removed.”

And, this correlation between population density and temperature trend was also identified back in 1996 by James Goodridge, who found the exact same effect in California by examining county population vs. weather station temperature trends. Goodridge published a peer-reviewed paper on the topic in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. His graph drives the point home clearly:

Source: James D. Goodridge Comments on Regional Simulations of Greenhouse Warming Including Natural Variability , 1996, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Clearly, greater population density affects long-term temperature trends. This Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) has been identified and proven time and again, yet official government temperature record-keepers don’t want to acknowledge or properly address the issue. This latest analysis by Dr. Spencer suggests the government record-keepers are failing to properly address the issue and are likely adding to the error  through a series of poorly thought-out statistical manipulations.

With mounting evidence that corrupted data is giving a false warming signal, it is time for NOAA, NASA, and other government science agencies to clean up their bad data and present more accurate, non-heat biased, temperature records.



Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website


  1. I looked at this back in 1991 from a perspective of urban growth. Here is the citation byline/abstract for that study:

    Future warming for U.S. cities
    Arthur Viterito
    Population and Environment volume 13, pages101–111(1991)

    In this study, a model is developed to predict future warming for metropolitan areas in the United Sates to the year 2035. According to model results, most U.S. cities of 200,000 population or more can expect significant local warming. The average predicted warming for 104 cities analyzed is .34 degrees Fahrenheit. The greatest warming can be expected in “sunbelt” cities experiencing rapid population growth. Such localized warming is in addition to any heating which might occur from an enhanced greenhouse effect. Most cities can expect changes in energy demand, human health, and water supply.

    You can link to this information at:

    I will be happy to provide you with a hard copy of the full text if you wish.

  2. About three weeks ago, main stream radio reported that 2016 and 2020 were the warmest years on record. Record not mentioned, but offered as proof of AGW. Thus, stoking the green new deal crisis.

    I suspect the record they use is the corrupted land based system. Roy Spencer’s satellite record, shows natural variability, but the overall slope is slightly negative, no record making.

    NASA and NOAA purport to be scientific organs, and yet they ascribe to the IPCC AGW mantra. Politics and money trumps science again.


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