by Geoffrey Sherrington, December 20, 2018 in WUWT
The ‘urban heat island’ arises because air temperatures measured in urban cities can be different to those of the rural city surroundings. Thermometers were and still are more often found in cities than surroundings. City temperatures have a synthetic, man-made component that needs to be subtracted to match the surrounding rural temperatures, which are the items of interest for climate studies.
Failure to subtract the UHI effect will lead to false results for temperature trends such as those used to claim global warming. The question arises whether rural and urban temperatures have adequate accuracy to provide reasonable results after the subtraction. This essay argues that historic Australian rural temperature records are unfit for this purpose; that global temperature records are likely to be similarly inadequate; and that as a consequence, all past estimates of UHI derived from land surface temperatures by thermometry are invalid or questionable.
In short, all past estimates of UHI magnitude before the satellite era are incorrect for reasons given. The actual rates of global temperature changes over the past century are likely to be wrong by a significant amount, of similar magnitude to the global warming claimed at about 1°C per century.
More recent estimates are being made with temperatures from instruments on satellites, which help the future path to better understanding.