The media is reporting an Algerian oil town in the middle of the Sahara Desert likely set an all-time record-high temperature for Africa, but a closer look at the weather station that made the reading suggests it may not be very reliable.
The town of Ouargla’s “124.3-degree temperature surpassed Africa’s previous highest reliable temperature measurement of 123.3 degrees (50.7 Celsius) set July 13, 1961, in Morocco,” The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reported.
Ouargla “is probably the highest temperature ever reliably measured both in Algeria and in all of Africa,” the Weather Gang reported Friday. Ouargla’s temperature record was recorded on Thursday. Ouargla’s record hasn’t been made official by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The WMO certifies temperature records after carefully scrutinizing whether or not the weather station where the record occurred was unduly influenced by non-climatic factors, like artificial heat sources.
For example, the U.K. Met Office rejected a record-high temperature reading of 91.8 degrees Fahrenheit in Motherwell, Scotland recorded on June 28. Officials rejected the reading because an ice cream truck idling nearby may have contaminated the temperature reading that day. (RELATED: Officials Admit Scotland’s Latest Record-High Temp Reading Was Contaminated By Vehicle Exhaust)
However, Weather Gang used Ouargla’s purported temperature record as an examples of how humans were warming the world. Environmentalists also joined in to sound the alarm on global warming.
Africa, which has done almost nothing to cause global warming, is now recording its hottest temperatures ever https://t.co/5WFPczZjPU
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) July 6, 2018
Interestingly enough, Ouargla’s record heat might be man-made, but not in the way most reporters would admit.
For starters, there was a six degree difference between the record-high reading and weather models. Cato Institute atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue noted the discrepancy on Twitter.
My ECMWF based maps zoomed on Algeria showed a high of 117-118°F
I’m skeptical of an ob 6°F above the model grids but will look for other evidence.
— Ryan | weather.us (@RyanMaue) July 6, 2018
The Daily Caller News Foundation decided to look into it, and with the help of meteorologist Anthony Watts found the weather station was located at Ain Beida Airport about four miles southeast of Ouargla.
Airports tend to run hotter than surrounding areas because of runways, jet wash from airplanes, vehicles exhaust and other non-natural factors that can artificially raise temperatures, creating a heat island relative to the surrounding area.
“It’s not the right place to measure climate,” Watts, publisher of the popular science blog Watts Up With That, told TheDCNF. “It’s not climatologically representative.”
There aren’t a lot of photos of Ain Beida Airport since it doubles as a military airport, but Watts narrowed down the location of the airport’s weather station to a plot in the northeast corner.
Watts combed through the data and found a south-southwest wind was blowing as the record-high temperature was recorded, meaning it had to cross the tarmac, suggesting possible contamination.
“Airports are NOT good places to measure climate change or even record highs/lows,” Watts wrote in a blog post on the subject.
“Why? they are dynamic places; jet exhaust, changing infrastructure, and constant energy use. Just look at the small area for the jet above, it has to make a 360 rotation and that spews jet exhaust everywhere,” Watts wrote.
“In my view, this temperature record should be disqualified as being influenced by man-made objects, just like the Ice Cream truck parked next to the weather station in Scotland,” Watts wrote.
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