Monday, July 02, 2007

Additional Comments on the NWS RRS program

My webpage comments on the NWS RRS program have been posted on the Roger Pielke Climate Science weblog

There have been several comments and questions posted at this site as follow:

Question: How many other sites have changed sondes and rendered breaks in seemingly good time series?

The site changes have been documented according to NWS procedures. The problem is that the announcements are not easily seen by many in the data user and research communities. I hope that NWS systems operations people will find ways to improve the dissemination of information about changes in observing systems to all external users.

The new sondes, as per Fig. 1 map shown at, are now being used at a significant percentage of the NWS upper-air sites. Thus, because of the unreliable temperature and humidty sensors, more noise is being introduced into the long-term time series for, eventually, the entire US upper-air network.

I mistakenly did not indicate on Fig.1 that KOUN is now using the Sippican sondes. As of today, KSLE began using the new sonde.

Question: The purpose of the move was to? What do radiosondes measure and how is it used by weather forecasters?

The purpose of the Tucson move was apparently to save money, since continuing the observations at the airport required a service contract. That contract was terminated. The move will eventually save the NWS money, even though the new sondes cost twice as much as the ones being discontinued.

Simply put, radiosondes measure temperature, humidty and winds from the surface into the stratosphere. These data feed into the numerical prediction models used by all weather forecasters. Unreliable observations will affect the performance of these models. See comment # 5 at the Pielke site also.

Question: Who is responsible for this program?

Those responsible for the RRS program and the operational implementation of unreliable sondes are apparently the high-level managers of the NWS Office of Operational Systems (OOS). The Director is John McNulty

The OOS branch responsible for upper-air operations is the Field Systems Operations Center. The Director of this branch is John Van Kuren

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