87th AMS Annual Meeting

Sunday, 14 January 2007
SPaRCE (Schools of the Pacific Rainfall Climate Experiment): Fifteen years of integrating research and education
Exhibit Hall C (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Melissa Koeka, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and S. Postawko, L. Bodenhamer, and M. Morrissey
The Pacific Ocean plays an important role in data collection to better understand past and current climate changes. The SPaRCE program is run through EVAC (Environmental Verification Analysis Center) at the University of Oklahoma. In cooperation with NOAA, SPREP (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Program), and PI-GCOS (Pacific Islands Global Climate Observing System), SPaRCE sends rain gauges, thermometers, and educational materials, to various schools around the Pacific. Our main objective is to aid in educating students (and the general public) in the region about meteorology and climatology, while also enhancing climate data collection for researchers around the globe.

Participating schools (and other interested groups) are sent a rain gauge, thermometer, notebook, and quarterly newsletter (The Pacific Tradewinds Quarterly). The participants set up the instruments, collect the data, and send a copy of the data to their local meteorological service as well as to the SPaRCE office, where it is entered into the PACRAIN database (Comprehensive Pacific Rainfall Database). The notebook is used as a teaching guide for the schools.

Some difficulties with implementing this program include maintaining the schools' participation, data return, data completeness, and contact. Teachers often change schools, and there is no guarantee that the new teacher will continue the program. The nature of the academic year often means gaps in data. And in a region where Internet access may not be available, or is prohibitively expensive, keeping contact with the schools can be difficult. One of the sections of this presentation will discuss creative ways of addressing these issues.

SPaRCE data has been vital in various research projects. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center has used SPaRCE data in their Merged Analysis of Precipitation product. The data are also commonly used to verify satellite rainfall estimates, assist in graduate research, and by private businesses.

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