Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Townsville Airport - A Case in Point

A comment we see thrown around quite a lot these days is: "Does it really matter if a weather station is located at an airport? Surely all this gets lost in the background noise." Well, let's look at Townsville Airport, and see what we can learn.
  1. 032040 - Townsville Airport (FNQ) - [data] [graph]
Townsville Airport (1940)

Firstly, the obligatory BoM "rural scene" photograph of the Townsville Airport weather station:

Followed by the Google Earth view of the same:

As can be seen from this image, Townsville is anything but a "non-urban" location. It is a coastal city in Far North Queensland, and has a population (2008) of ~176,000, having grown from ~98,000 in 1981.

In addition, Townsville Airport is anything but the "rual" airstrip shown in the BoM image above. According to the history of Townsville Airport, the following significant activites can be noted:
  • 1958 - the present 2438 metre long main runway was completed 
  • 1981 - the new international terminal was opened and B747 flights commenced
  • 1986 - the present runway was resurfaced
  • 2003 - the second stage of the airport terminal redevelopment was completed
I wonder if any of this is reflected in this graph from the BoM, particularly the pronounced uptick from the mid-1980s?

By comparison, when we look at the same graph for sleepy seaside Cardwell, 135km north of Townsville, what do we see?

Can you believe it? Pronounced cooling over the same period. Apparently we can have Global Warming in Townsville, while we simultaneously have Global Cooling a mere 135km away. Amazing.

Eloi's First Law of Climate Science: "No Airport - No Global Warming".

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