Thursday, April 24, 2008

Employing new tools to accurately measure climate change

NOAA: NOAA today announced it will install the last nine of the 114 stations as part of its new, high-tech climate monitoring network. The stations track national average changes in temperature and precipitation trends. The U.S. Climate Reference Network (CRN) is on schedule to activate these final stations by the end of the summer.

NOAA also is modernizing 1,000 stations in the Historical Climatology Network (HCN), a regional system of ground-based observing sites that collect climate, weather and water measurements. NOAA’s goal is to have both networks work in tandem to feed consistently accurate, high-quality data to scientists studying climate trends.

The CRN is helping to pinpoint the shifts in America’s changing, often unpredictable, climate. “We’re entering a new age of understanding climate change, by adding more sound, reliable data about what’s really happening in the atmosphere and on the ground,” said Dr. Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Karl, one of the world’s leading experts on climate change, helped spearhead the new climate network’s development. “Very high accuracy in the data collected is the key to getting a feel for the national trend. That’s what the Climate Reference Network is doing.”

Karl said the placement of each CRN station is crucial to obtaining accurate information on current — and likely future — conditions. “All the stations are strategically placed in rural environments away from the influences of nearby urban areas that would confound the interpretation of any changes observed,” he said. Each CRN station logs real-time measurements of surface temperature, precipitation, wind speed and solar radiation. NOAA’s geostationary satellites relay the data from these ground-based stations to NCDC, which posts the observations online….

CRN station in Baker, Nevada. Photo by NOAA

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