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Monitoring the Health
of Weather and Climate
Observing Networks

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U.S. In Situ Networks
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Global In Situ Networks
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Remotely Sensed Observations

The 1997 Conference on the World Climate Research Programme to the Third Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded that the ability to monitor the global climate was inadequate and deteriorating. As a result, the National Research Council (NRC) undertook an assessment of the U.S. climate observing capacity. The NRC recommended that a system of performance measures be developed and monitored on a regular basis because it would be unwise to wait for a major environmental assessment or data archeology effort to discover that problems that occurred 10 or 20 years earlier had already inflicted considerable damage to the climate record. The NRC also recommended that an institutional infrastructure be developed to assess the quality of data sets and correct problems as they occur.

This site is part of that institutional infrastructure, though much of it is still under development. There are three aspects to this effort. The first is the creation of clear metrics that can be used to track a network's performance. Some of these metrics are very straightforward, such as timely receipt of complete data. But other metrics will stretch the technical and statistical envelops to develop performance indicators that can quickly and accurately detect a drift or bias in an observational system. The second part of the infrastructure is a web based system to provide this information in the form of tables, graphs and maps, that will allow network managers and network data users to quickly see the current status of the network, place it in historical perspective, and focus in on a specific observing platform whether one specific satellite sensor or a thermometer at a specific in situ station. The third part of the system will automatically send out alerts or warnings to individuals as the information warrants. These messages will alert the person responsible for a specific station or platform that problems were detected in its data so that immediate action can be taken to address the problem. Also, it will send out alerts to primary users of the data so they can be aware that they should use recent data from a particular station or platform with extra care or perhaps not at all.

The links at the top of this page will provide access to our network monitoring information.

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