92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 10:45 AM
An Overview of Infrastructure and Processes of the North Carolina Mesonet
Room 239 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Mark S. Brooks, NC State Univ., Raleigh, NC; and S. Heuser, A. Syed, A. P. Sims, and R. P. Boyles

Many states operate their own mesonet, a network of automated climate observing stations concentrated on a local scale. The North Carolina Environment and Climate Observing Network (ECONet) is one such network, operated and maintained by the State Climate Office of North Carolina. To date, there are 37 ECONet stations across North Carolina from the mountains to the coast. Each station collects data at 1-minute intervals. Measurements include temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, photosynthetically active radiation, incoming solar radiation, barometric pressure, soil temperature and soil moisture. Data from the ECONet are used frequently by researchers, citizens, businesses, emergency managers, and the National Weather Service.

ECONet stations employ a suite of sophisticated, research quality instruments. Great care is taken to ensure proper instrument siting, calibration and maintenance.

Sustaining communications are critical for accessing the data, especially during severe weather. The ECONet utilizes three different communications platforms—telephone lines, wifi, and radio frequency. Each method presents its own unique benefits and challenges. Data are downloaded from each station at least twice per hour.

When data are downloaded to the State Climate Office of NC, a series of software scripts automatically process the data. Data are immediately inserted into a public database called CRONOS, the Climate Retrieval and Observations Network of the Southeast. CRONOS provides data access to researchers, emergency managers, the media, and the public.

Data quality is extremely important. A short time after new data are inserted into CRONOS, data quality control routines are run against the data. Data may be automatically flagged according to a range of expected values for each parameter.

This presentation will detail the ECONet infrastructure, typical station profile, station communications, flow of data, and challenges with each. Future plans for the ECONet will also be shared.

The State Climate Office of North Carolina is the primary source for NC weather and climate information and is involved in all aspects of climate research, education, and extension services. The State Climate Office is a public-service center, part of the UNC system, housed at North Carolina State University and was one of the first officially recognized state climate offices by the American Association of State Climatologists.

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