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Professional Competency Unit 6: Demonstrate Knowledge of Timely, Accurate, and Consistent Climate Data Observations and the Broad Range of Their Applications
Producer: James Zdrojewski and Jenna Meyers, OCWWS NWS

Training Need: NWS field staff is responsible for providing the observations that constitute the backbone of the national climate database and climate services. To have maximum value, these observations must conform to certain established standards. Field staff needs to understand that sufficient documentation, data continuity and quality, and minimal data gaps and errors play a critical role in supporting a wide range of climate data applications.

Training Objective: NWS field staff needs to understand that accurate, consistent, timely, quality controlled and well documented climate observations form the foundation for NOAA's basic mission as the nation's steward of environmental data. The data form the principal NWS legacy to future generations and deserve the attention appropriate to that responsibility.

Specific Job Task Skills and Knowledge

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the need to provide quality controlled climate observations and factors, which can affect the data accuracy and continuity, and the need to distribute the data in a timely manner. Demonstrate knowledge of the "Ten Guidelines for Climate Monitoring" recommended by NOAA so that NWS personnel can manage the observing network with these principles.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the factors in the vicinity of an instrument that affect the measurements it makes, and of the effects of observational practices on the types of biases they can introduce into climate records.

  • Nonstandard exposures (rooftops, proximity to buildings, trees, heat sources, etc.)
  • Local site effects. Can be very pronounced even in "uniform" locations.
  • Need for overlapping observations as much as possible.
  • Nonstandard instrumentation (tenths of degrees matter, in the long run)
  • Effects of observing practices (such as a.m. / p.m. observation times)
  • Changing environments (vegetation, surface albedo, obstructions and blockages, air movement, radiative environment (visible and infrared)
  • Development of feedback mechanisms to rapidly uncover/fix problems
  • Mesonet issues

    3. Demonstrate knowledge of NOAA applications of data
  • climate monitoring
  • climate variability and change
  • climate of the U.S.
  • NOAA climate centers, national and regional
  • The Drought Monitor (joint with states and other federal agencies)
  • customer service (data, and interacting with national, regional, state climate centers)
  • internal NWS data applications:
    - hydrologic models
    - zone forecasts
    - zone forecast verification
    - CPC climate variability and ENSO impact assessments
    - CPC climate outlooks
    - Heat stress advisories
    - New gridded forecast products
    - CPC/USDA Joint Agricultural Weather Facility

    4. Demonstrate knowledge of non-NOAA applications of data:
  • Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Infrastructure (buildings, highways, etc.)
  • Weather risk management industry
  • Architecture
  • Recreation
  • Tourism
  • Litigation
  • Presidential disaster declarations
  • Snow removal contracts

    Instructional Components

    Instructional Component 6.1: NWS Actions for Assurance of Climate Quality of Weather Data Observations

  • Applying Ten Principles of Climate Monitoring

    Instructional Component 6.2: Factors Affecting Climate Observations

  • Online tutorial on Factors Affecting the Accuracy and Continuity of Climate Observations

    Instructional Component 6.3: NOAA Tools for Climate Data Quality, Access and Analysis (residence training on Operational Climate Services)

    Instructional Component 6.4: NOAA and non-NOAA Users of Climate Data (under development)

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