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NOAA News Releases 2004
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After nearly a year of full-scale operation, the U.S. Climate Reference Network is already helping to improve the tracking of temperature and precipitation trends, giving National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists and the nation’s decision makers more insight into climate variability and change. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

When it was unveiled in January 2004, the high-tech CRN marked the first time that climate measurements gathered from the Earth’s surface and NOAA satellites were integrated into one source, enabling higher levels of verification of observations. NOAA’s top official said the CRN is poised to be a key tool on the world stage.

“The Climate Reference Network is filling a major land-based data gap throughout the United States that we need for a larger, more comprehensive Global Earth Observation System of Systems,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Increasingly, the CRN will be a critical data link from the United States to the Earth observation system and address emerging global climate issues.”

Currently, there are 72 CRN stations operating in 35 states, logging real-time measurements of surface temperature, precipitation, wind speed and solar radiation. NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites relay the data from these ground-based stations to the agency’s National Climatic Data Center, in Asheville, N.C., which posts the observations online.

Additional deployments for the next two years are scheduled at a rate of about 27 each year. Officials said a total of 100 stations are planned throughout the rest of nation by 2006.

“The CRN is giving America a sound, first-class observing network that it will have for the next 50 to 100 years and will be the benchmark for climate monitoring,” said Gregory W. Withee, director of NOAA Satellites and Information.

“The Climate Reference Network is injecting as much concrete data as possible into the research pool about what the climate is doing now, and how it will be impacted in the future,” said Tom Karl, NCDC director and creator of the CRN.

As an example, Karl said that CRN data are being used to develop NOAA’s drought monitor, which assesses the status of drought nationwide. Also, the NOAA National Weather Service uses the CRN data to verify forecasts and monitor meteorological conditions.

NOAA Satellites and Information is America’s primary source of space-based oceanographic, meteorological and climate data. It operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for ocean and weather observation and forecasting, climate monitoring and other environmental applications. Some of the oceanographic applications include sea-surface temperature for hurricane and weather forecasting and sea-surface heights for El Niño prediction.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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