The Mobile Platform Environmental Data (MoPED) System: providing mobile environmental data to the National Mesonet
The commercial fleet, who participate in the Mobile Meteorological Observation (M2O) network that provide data to the MoPED system, travel major transportation routes in the eastern United States. The fleet operate from terminal to terminal, which provides excellent urban coverage near population centers, but importantly provides observation data from more remote areas in between the terminals. The use of mobile platforms to acquire environmental data facilitates the gathering of observations that are faster in time, more densely spaced horizontally, and provide greater detail about the near-surface boundary layer.
With vehicles taking data observations every 10 seconds at highway speed, the MoPED system exceeds expectations for mesoscale meteorological data resolution. The MoPED system acquires and processes mobile environmental data at the microscale level. This level of microscale detail means that observations are made when vehicles travel near critical areas of interest (e.g., bridges susceptible to icing, known areas prone for fog formation, etc.). The MoPED system processes and validates the mobile environmental data with minimal latency to the National Mesonet. Approximately 95% of the mobile observations have a data latency of less than 12 minutes from observation time to government acquisition.
Data attributes fall into one of two categories: environmental (e.g., temperature) and vehicle (e.g., cabin heater). Acquiring the environmental attributes generally involves adding a third-party sensor to the vehicle. These sensors are tied into a telematics communications device. The J-protocol (vehicle) data also communicates through the telematics box. The National Weather Service (NWS) land-station standards apply for the accuracy, range, and resolution of the environmental attributes. The SAE standards apply for the vehicle data.
Case studies are presented for data attribute relevancy and accuracy. Of interesting note is that the pavement temperature resolution was so detailed that shadows were detected when vehicles traveled through cities on a sunny day.
The MoPED system is undergoing engineering development to process millions of data observations from fleet that provide national coverage. Greater geographic coverage of environmental data will provide enormous benefit to NOAA's modeling community, as well as Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) that will gain greater insight into changing meteorological conditions at locations in between fixed land observing systems.