13.8 The Role of a Regional Climate Center in Complex Terrain

Thursday, 21 August 2014: 9:45 AM
Kon Tiki Ballroom (Catamaran Resort Hotel)
Timothy J. Brown, DRI, Reno, NV; and K. T. Redmond, M. Breckner, B. Daudert, G. McCurdy, N. Oakley, and D. B. Simeral

The western United States faces distinct challenges such as persistent drought, dwindling water resources amidst an expanding population, and climate-sensitive alpine environments. The complex terrain of the region compounds these challenges. From the towering ranges of Alaska and the volcanoes of Hawai'i to California's Sierra Nevada, across the Basin and Range Province to the iconic Rocky Mountains, rugged topography abounds in the West. The Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) provides climate services that support the unique needs of stakeholders in this mountainous region.

WRCC offers meteorological data, tools, and products for thousands of stations across the West. Station networks accessible through WRCC's web pages include NWS COOP, NIFC RAWS, NRCS SNOTEL, and USRCRN as well as stations maintained by WRCC throughout Nevada, the Lake Tahoe Basin, University of California reserves, and various national parks. Users can download data to perform their own analyses or utilize a variety of online tools to calculate extremes, averages, anomalies, frequencies and other statistics. In addition, WRCC has developed tools to address specific needs in the West, such as the North American Freezing Level Tracker, which allows users to plot a time series of freezing level utilizing the NCEP/NCAR Global Reanalysis data set. Another tool, Westmap, allows users to create maps and time series of monthly temperature and precipitation data from the PRISM dataset to help assess climate variability in remote and complex terrain where point observations may not be available. These data and tools support decision-making and research pertinent to the West.

This presentation provides an overview of the insights, opportunities and challenges of providing climate services in the diverse physical and human geographies of the western U.S.

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