As the Nation's official archive for climate information, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is charged with the preservation of and access to a quality digital record of National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer (COOP) data and metadata. This record has historically been derived through the imaging and keying of so-called ‘B-91' forms that are received monthly from observers and the NWS to NCDC. The processing time, including quality assurance (QA) checks and serial publication, typically is 45-60 days after the end of the data month. Technological and communication advances, coupled with integrated climate, weather and water reporting needs have reached a level at which near real-time (i.e., daily) reporting of observations is desirable. While Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) data have long been directly reported to NCDC in this time horizon, daily COOP data continue to be recorded on forms only received by NOAA at the end of each month. Timely data reporting is fundamental to the success of the U.S. effort in Global Earth Observations, especially for monitoring drought as part of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). With implementation planning for the transition of legacy COOP under NOAA's Environmental Real-Time Observing Network (NERON) underway, work toward such a system is timely. NCDC is coordinating with its Regional Climate Centers and the NWS to develop a web-based interface based on existing systems (e.g., WxCoder, CoCoRAHS and COOLTAP) to provide for the electronic submission of daily COOP data to NCDC and the climate community. To this end, the following guiding principles have been identified:
1) Provide an efficient, easy-to-use data entry system for participating COOP observers.
2) Ensure timely availability of COOP data for all customers.
3) Improve data quality through automated near-real-time data QA.
4) Achieve a paperless electronic data collection, transmission, and archiving system.
This presentation provides an update on the development of the web-based interface system, and also offers an overview of NCDC's plans to make a paradigm shift to a near real-time, paperless environment for the receipt of COOP data.