The U.S. Climate Reference Network Completes Addition of New Sensor Suite at 114 Station Locations

The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), managed by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in partnership with NOAA’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, is a network of 114 sites in the continental United States that has been implemented, beginning in 2002, for the express purpose of detecting the national signal of climate change. The vision of the USCRN program is to maintain a sustainable, high quality, climate observation network that in the future can answer, with the highest degree of confidence, the question “How has the climate of the nation changed over the past 50 years?”

These stations, designed with climate science in mind, primarily take observations of temperature and precipitation. However, since April 2009, the program cooperated with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program to install  at all 114 stations. The USCRN completed the final site near Denio, Nevada in 2011 and will begin installing this suite of sensors at its evolving network of sites in Alaska in 2012.

The data from the new suite of sensors consists of soil measurements at five standard soil depths down to a depth of 100 centimeters, in addition to atmospheric relative humidity data. These data are key inputs in assisting decision makers involved with drought monitoring, documenting growing season length, the verification of climate change and variation, and climate model validation. Additionally, these data played a key role in providing ground truth calibration information to support the launch of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite that is scheduled in November 2014 (see http://smap.jpl.nasa.gov/).

For more information on the USCRN program as well as access to all data, including the new soil and relative humidity data, please visit their website at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn. The USCRN soil data are also available via the NIDIS Drought Portal at http://drought.gov.