1462 Modernization of the NWS Sterling Field Support Center Laboratories

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Barbra Childs, CyberData Technologies, Herndon, VA; and J. Black and M. Hicks

Handout (2.5 MB)

Cyberdata Technologies, in conjunction with the National Weather Service's (NWS) Sterling Field Support Center (SFSC), is currently modernizing the meteorological laboratories located in Sterling, Virginia. Among them are a pressure laboratory, wind tunnel, thermometry laboratory, and environmental chambers. The SFSC laboratories have been in use in their current locations since 2002. However, the equipment in the labs dated back to as early as the late 1960’s/early 1970’s and was at or near the end of its life. Over the years the labs have been updated at various rates but a concerted effort has been made over the past two to three years to upgrade all of them to current standards.

The labs are in various states of modernization. The modernization includes upgrades to the hardware, software, methodologies, and the quality assurance management of the labs. The specific steps to achieve this and what the outcome of this effort looks like will be detailed.

As an example, the SFSC pressure lab contained a Hass MS-3 mercury manometer as its primary standard. In January 2013 at the United Nations Environment Programme’s Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty was agreed upon to eliminate the use of mercury by 2020, which includes the production, import and export of mercury-based weather instrumentation, including mercury manometers. It was determined that the SFSC should follow suit as mercury poses a health as well as an environmental hazard. This precipitated the upgrades to the pressure lab.

Ultimately, the modernization effort of the laboratories at the SFSC will allow the organization to partner with national and international entities to test and calibrate meteorological sensors for use in applications as wide-ranging as the Automated Surface Observing System to the United States upper air network to low-cost 3D printed sensors for use in emerging countries in Africa. The paper will discuss these applications as well as instrumentation that has been or will be acquired for the modernization effort of all of the labs at the SFSC.

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