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

Thursday, 26 January 2012: 4:15 PM
Scriptable Access to Climate Data for Operational Products and Services
Room 242 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Mark S. Brooks, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC; and B. E. Aldridge

Accessing climate observations and data can be daunting especially when there are dozens of sources, providers, formats and standards from which to choose and coalesce. Contemporary practices in data access, software development methods, high bandwidth availability, and the increased prevalence of on-demand operational products have created a need for scriptable climate data access. This is especially useful during research to operations transitions.

In 2003, CRONOS (Climate Retrieval and Observations Network of the Southeast) was launched by the NC State Climate Office. It provides access to climate data from 9 different weather observing networks (ASOS, AWOS, COOP, Buoy, CMAN, SCAN, RAWS, CoCoRaHS, NC ECONet). CRONOS standardizes data from its sources and provides it in one common format with one common web interface. Web pages were developed enabling users to easily retrieve data, graph data, and search for stations without being concerned about providers, data access standards or formats. During the period 2003-2010, CRONOS served over 266,523 data queries from over 2,725 observing stations to 216,862 unique users.

The newly released CRONOS API provides "back door" access to the CRONOS database. It was developed knowing that nearly every programming and scripting language has either contributed or built-in routines for retrieving data from URLs. The API provides software developers the flexibility of using the language of their choice, without going through a web interface. Coders can retrieve data via a standard URL where parameters are passed in through the URL string. The output is pipe delimited, which makes parsing the data from any programming language very easy and efficient.

The CRONOS API is used by state, regional and national partners as well as some private industry users. The API enables scientists to focus on science and spend less time manipulating and gathering climate data. It has been used to expedite the transition from research to operations at the State Climate Office of North Carolina, where it was developed. The API's usefulness in powering operational products and services is unmatched and could serve as a national model for scriptable, remote-data access. Its future uses include but are not limited to integration into mobile applications, external webpages, automated verification of nwp models, and automated inclusion into water resources modeling.

This presentation will articulate the known needs of data users, the technologies being used for the CRONOS API, examples of its use in research to operations, benefits, and future plans.

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