U.S. climate reference network: a national network monitoring climate change

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Michael Palecki, NOAA/NESDIS/NCDC, Asheville, NC; and B. B. Baker

The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) deployment in the continental U.S. was completed in September 2008, with a network of 114 stations at 107 locations. The locations were chosen with great care at very stable sites that are intended to remain rural and unchanged for the next 50-100 years. Therefore, between the site selection and the science-based observation techniques adhering to the best principles for climate observation, the USCRN climate records will not be required to be homogenized going forward, providing a premier time series record of national climate change as it occurs. High-quality soil moisture and soil temperature observations are currently being installed across the network. A deployment of 30 USCRN stations to Alaska is in progress, and the rollout of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network Modernization (USHCN-M) regional climate change pilot project in the Southwest is based on USCRN practices.

Early observations from the first seven years of the USCRN will be examined to illustrate the value and utility of this science-based approach to climate observation. Triple configurations of both temperature sensors and precipitation gauge depth measurements insure data quality by providing independent measurements that can be cross-checked continuously, and also safeguard continuity against the failure or replacement of a single instrument. Outreach is taking place to encourage more use of USCRN observations in the climate stakeholder communities, and the adoption of USCRN approaches in climate observing networks in the U.S. and in other nations.