NOAA 2002-R217
Contact: Susan A. Weaver
9 /12/02
NOAA News Releases 2002
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


NOAA will gather with private and academic weather and data experts on September 18th in Rockville, Md., to plan the modernization of the nation’s volunteer network of more than 11,000 weather observers whose daily data reports are used by NOAA’s National Weather Service to forecast changes in our weather, water and climate. The Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) of volunteers has been in existence for 112 years. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the Commerce Department.

“Cooperative observers are the backbone of the temperature and precipitation readings that describe weather and climate in the United States,” said James Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA deputy administrator. “The data they collect provides us with a solid weather history and an essential tool for predicting the future.”

Established in 1890, the COOP network was set up to take meteorological observations and establish and record climate conditions in the United States, primarily for agricultural purposes. Today, most COOP stations depend upon outdated technology. Volunteers are provided a set of weather instruments and observing instructions by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Service), which manages and maintains the network.

Since its inception, many uses for COOP data have emerged. These applications include: climate change and variability; water management; flood zone determination; drought assessment; environmental impact assessment; risk management and insurance industry needs; litigation; engineering, power plant and architectural design; energy consumption studies/models; crop yield forecasts; and weather and climate forecasts, warnings and verification.

“Modernizing the COOP network is the first step in meeting the nation’s increasing need for timely, higher-resolution weather and climate data,” said NOAA Weather Service Director retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly. “Modernized stations will increase our ability to quickly and accurately chart variability, thereby improving our forecasting and drought-monitoring capabilities.”

An improved COOP network also supports President Bush’s Climate Change Research Initiative and will provide very high spatial resolution. When integrated with NOAA’s newly emerging Climate Reference Network, these two networks will provide the nation with the highest quality information possible regarding climate trends nationally, regionally, and locally.

Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, added, “COOP data are one of our most requested resources. Modernization will allow us to disseminate quality-controlled data in a more timely and economical fashion.”

The Partners Forum is open to the public, but limited seating is available and pre-registration is required. The meeting will be held at the Doubletree Hotel and Executive Meeting Center in Rockville, Md. For more information on the forum, visit:

To learn more about the COOP network, log on to:

NOAA’s National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Service) is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories and operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

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