Environmental applications research


Project Title: Non-LAPS Activities



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Project Title: Non-LAPS Activities

Science On a Sphere (SOS)


Participating CIRA Researcher: Steve Albers

FIM and GFS global model forecast displays were updated with additional fields and improved color tables. For example, a display that overlays precipitable water with surface pressure is useful for tracking tropical cyclones. These displays are now utilizing the higher resolution 0.5 degree gridded data. This was the centerpiece of a "high-level" presentation to NOAA administrators. IDL display procedures were generalized to make it easier to switch models and modify color tables & color bars. GLAPS analysis displays were also updated with improved color tables and wind barb depiction.


Efforts were restarted to combine or "unrender" various SOS datasets so they can be used with a more generalized projector configuration.
The dataset for Mercury was updated based on recent data from the MESSENGER spacecraft as well as Earth-based radar information (Fig. 1). A new map of Io from the USGS is now available for SOS. We worked to construct updated planetary satellite maps for several of Saturn's moons, including Dione, Tethys, Enceladus, and Iapetus. An improved map of Ariel we've been working on is part of a collaboration mentioned in a poster at a NASA planetary science conference.

Fig. 1. Updated SOS dataset of the planet Mercury using recent spacecraft and Earth-based radar data

Several SOS demos were presented to groups visiting the Space Weather Prediction Center. In August, we attended a NASA workshop on Outer Planet Satellites held in Boulder. As part of that meeting, an SOS presentation was provided at ESRL of the related Solar System datasets that are being working on. Consultation also occurred with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History about an SOS exhibit they are developing showing oceans and the early Earth.



QC Procedures for Application to US Operational and Real-time Mesonetwork Precipitation Observations


Participating CIRA Researcher: Randy Collander


(Additional NOAA Mission Goal to Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond / Climate observations and analysis)

1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:


Precipitation observations from several thousand sites in the United States, in hourly and daily resolution, are received by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in Washington, D.C. on a daily basis. Much of this data is manually inspected and quality controlled at the River Forecast Centers (RFC) and other locations before being disseminated to the National Weather Service (NWS) offices and other users. The Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) at NCEP desires to have an automated, objective system for performing a more consistent quality control on the hourly data, with the expectation that a cleaner dataset would be of great value in evaluating current model predictions as well as input to current numerical weather prediction models. This quality-control software was completed in late FY04, with refinements implemented in each subsequent fiscal year to address issues discovered through routine scrutiny of daily results and case studies.
2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:

In FY08, close collaboration with the EMC yielded criteria refinement and successful software test runs were completed and the software was introduced into NCEP daily operations for model precipitation verification. The refined criteria were applied to individual observations and daily totals as well as subjective evaluation of station performance during the preceding 30-day period. Listings of stations that passed or failed the criteria were used in the Real Time Verification System (RTVS) of GSD's Aviation Branch. Several case studies for the Hydrometerological Testbed project study of extreme rainfall were completed and the results used to identify weaknesses in the quality control scheme that led to discussion of criteria refinement (as well as proposed additional tests). The examination includes station reliability (observations received on a regular basis), anomalous observations (excessive hourly values or daily sums), stuck gages (reporting the same value for multiple consecutive hours or pattern of hours) and a neighbor check (comparison to values reported by nearby stations).

3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:

Our accomplishments for this project compare favorably with the goals projected in the statement of work.




Balloon-borne Atmospheric Sampling




Participating CIRA Researcher: Randy Collander


(Additional NOAA Mission Goal to Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond / Climate observations and analysis)

1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:


Research activities drawing upon extensive experience with design and implementation of balloon vehicles and balloon-based instrument payloads advanced in FY08, including a third successful field experiment in October. The AirCore TM method for obtaining vertical atmospheric profiles of trace gases designed by scientists in the ESRL Global Modeling Division (GMD) was exercised in a high-altitude balloon flight. The AirCore TM consists of a 250 ft. thin-walled, stainless steel coil of tubing that is open and subsequently fills with air as the coil is parachuted to the ground. During the descent, a so-called "noodle of air" flows into the tube and maintains a record of gas concentrations at various altitudes. The AirCore TM weighs only 16 pounds and can be carried aloft with inexpensive meteorological balloons conducting up to 25 profiles with essentially expendable equipment for the price of one high-altitude aircraft sampling flight.
2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:

In FY08, a team of NOAA/ ESRL scientists from the Global Monitoring Division (GMD) and the Global Systems Division (GSD) completed another successful stratospheric balloon flight, testing the AirCore TM atmospheric gas concentration profile sampler. The flight was conducted jointly by ESRL and the Edge of Space Science (EOSS) Balloon Group, a Colorado educational non-profit corporation for promoting science and education through amateur radio and high-altitude balloon flights. The balloon was launched and cut down by radio command from the EOSS ground station at Windsor, CO with the payload landing over 7,030 miles away adjacent to Interstate 76. The AirCore TM was recovered and returned the same day for trace gas analyses at ESRL laboratories in Boulder. As with previous flights, the analyses showed that CO2 is not uniformly distributed through the atmosphere, as has generally been believed. ESRL has submitted a patent application for the AirCoreTM because of its enormous potential to obtain numerous profiles of trace gases on a global scale. The AirCoreTM could feasibly collect 1,000 or more profiles inexpensively on a daily basis around the world, as it can be easily deployed on commercial and private aircraft, from Unmanned Aircraft System platforms, or carried aloft with small balloons.
3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:
Our accomplishments for this project compare favorably with the goals projected in the statement of work.




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