2a.4 RAWS network products to improve western US drought monitoring

Monday, 18 July 2011: 2:15 PM
Salon C1 (Asheville Renaissance)
Laura M. Edwards, DRI, Reno, NV; and K. T. Redmond and G. McCurdy

The multi-agency Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) network was originally designed to support fire activities in the western United States. The data provided by the 2000+ stations in this network has been useful in characterizing knowledge of individual weather events, but has not been fully utilized for climatological purposes. A strong need exists to better utilize existing meteorological and climatological networks for improved drought monitoring, especially in data sparse regions of the western US. Data from such networks provides greater spatial density of temperature and warm season precipitation measurements, and adds elements relevant to evaporative demand, such as wind, radiation, and humidity. The network is maintained and calibrated on a regular basis. The RAWS data stream is transmitted and available near-real time on an hourly basis, and thus potentially extremely useful for these purposes. After a quarter century of operation, sufficient data is available to provide the historical perspective necessary for many drought monitoring applications. For effective application, several outstanding issues that remain are being addressed, including: 1) Are daily summarized values sufficient for drought monitoring? 2) What is the minimal temporal scale (i.e., hourly, daily) for which QC procedures should be applied? 3) Should hourly or daily values serve as the basis for calculating long-term averages? 4) How often should long-term daily, monthly and annual averages be updated? 5) Should long-term averages be adjusted to a common reference period, and how? and 6) How are such data and departures routinely and automatically incorporated into ACIS (Applied Climate Information System) climate monitoring products on a daily basis? Prototype applications that make use of RAWS data for such purposes will be presented. These methods can work for any mesonet stations that have sufficient length and quality of record.
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