Symposium on Planning, Nowcasting, and Forecasting in the Urban Zone


The Florida GLOBE Partnership Program

Paul H. Ruscher, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; and W. R. Lusher

The REALM project is an educational program funded by the National Science Foundation's Program for Gender Equity. The program builds scientific awareness in middle schools for girls and boys, and their teachers. The meteorological component is the design and build-out of a countywide mesoscale data network anchored at twenty middle schools. Data are reported from rooftop weather stations at schools with reasonably good exposure, using aspirated thermometers and hygrometers. Data are reported in real-time back to Florida State University and to NOAA through the Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) weather network run largely by amateur radio operators.

Data are quality controlled in real-time by NOAA Forecast Systems Lab (FSL), which routinely processes all APRS network data. The REALM network stations are very reliable, according to the objective and subjective quality control algorithms used at FSL. In addition, they are used to help initialize the Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS) at Miami's Weather Forecast Office (WFO). These local observations have been very important for understanding of small-scale variations of surface weather features, according to NWS officials at Miami. They are used already in nowcasting situations, and potentially can be quite useful to emergency managers and local meteorologists when flooding rains or tropical cyclone conditions threaten or exist.

Data include barometric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, rain rate, solar radiation, wind speed and wind direction at 5-minute intervals. Some stations also have ultraviolet radiation sensors. The weather stations are wireless (to the classrooms), and use console receivers connected to networked PCs to transmit the data in real-time through the school’s internet ports, on to the APRS network.

We will report on our experience collecting over 1.5 years of observations from the schools in Miami-Dade County, and the need for good quality control of data. Our project funds a full-time meteorological technician who works with school staff on maintenance issues. The network is part of the evolving Florida Mesonet, and also stations report data to GLOBE using the new automated weather station observation protocol developed in 2003.

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Poster Session 1, Urban Zone Posters (Hall 4AB)
Monday, 12 January 2004, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Hall 4AB

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