Minutes of the May 20, 2013 Meeting
Smoky Mountain AMS Chapter

Around five members first met for dinner at Calhoun's on the River in downtown Knoxville. The meeting then began at 7:30 PM in Room 123 of the Ellington Plant Sciences building on the University of Tennessee Ag campus. Around seven members and three guests heard Grant Goodge (government-contracted QC monitor for the U.S. Climate Reference Network of the National Climatic Data Center) speak about "Ten Years of the U.S. Climate Reference Network, What Have We Learned?". Grant gave a very informative presentation about the history, status, and future of the NOAA Climate Reference Network. The presentation began with a brief overview of the history of weather data collection in the U.S. A critical time came when the state climate office program was discontinued in 1973, and again when TVA stopped collecting weather data in the early 80's, especially for the Tennessee Valley area. The accuracy of temperature and rainfall measurements at both coop and automated stations have been compromised by site moves and changes in instruments and shelters. The CRN was established in the period of 2002-2004, when it was estimated that about 115 reference stations would be adequate to provide reliable national averages and that the key to a well-founded climate reference network was redundancy. Additional stations have been located in the Four Corner States as well as Alabama under some special funding sources. Grant described the configuration and the sensors used at the CRNs, as well as any limitations or issues that have occurred. Data access is free and relatively easy. Analysis of the past ten years show agreement between the CRN and the Historical Climate stations that were used to estimate warming trends in the U.S.

Synopsis of Grant's talk: "The year 2012 marks the end of the first decade of observations undertaken by the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). It's operated under the auspices of NOAAs National Climatic Data Center (Asheville, NC) and Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (Oak Ridge, TN). The network consists of 121 sites in the 50 states with one site in Ontario, Canada. There is also one experimental site in northern Siberia, Russia. Each site is equipped with a suite of instruments that monitor ambient temperature, precipitation, wind, relative humidity, solar radiation, ground surface temperature, soil temperatures and soil moisture at various depths. The elements of air temperature, precipitation, and soil temperature and moisture are measured in triple redundancy (i.e. there are three separate sensors which allows for comparison between each sensor to determine when one may depart from the other two or fails altogether). Instruments are regularly calibrated to National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) standards, and are maintained by a staff of expert engineers. Data are quality assured through both an automated and human interface with the data made available on an hourly basis to the public at large. One critical use for these observations is an independent data source to verify the existing U.S. temperature record derived from other networks that have been corrected for non-homogenous histories."

Bio for Grant Goodge: Graduate of UT Knoxville with B.S. in Geography 1967 and M.S. work (all but dissertation) at UT Knoxville in Geo/Climate 1969. Career with National Climatic Data Center 1969-1997 (during the last eight years, Grant was editor of the NOAA publication "STORM DATA", which gave him the distinct privilege of working with Dr. Ted Fujita in the assembly of the monthly editions). Three years associate consultant with Climatological Consulting Corporation 1997-2000. Independent meteorological consultant 2000-2001 (testified in several weather related law suits). NOAA contractor as QC monitor and focal point for US Climate Reference Network 2001-present. Active private pilot 1967-1993. Weather-related photos published in numerous text books and periodicals. Lightning video used in WGBH production of a NOVA DVD episode entitled "Lightning". Appeared in numerous TV interviews on weather science, two of those were with The Weather Channel.

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