ARL Weekly News – May 4, 2018

An operational on-demand backtracking capability has been implemented at NOAA as part of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)-World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Backtracking Response System to identify potential Nuclear-Test source locations. The software and website interface was developed at ARL and became operational at NOAA on September 30, 2014 with coordinated teamwork among many NOAA organization, including ARL, EMC, NCO and OST. On Oct. 23, 2017, a discrepancy between the number of stations stated (7) and the number of stations (8) in the listing of their details caused CTBTO operational failure. A successful run was later made by correcting the stated station number from “7” to “8” at NCEP Central Operations (NCO). The original delivered package included a checking function that can identify such errors in the request. Barbara Stunder and Tianfeng Chai at ARL Headquarters investigated the problem with the help of NCO. It was found that the NCO version did not have this functionality fully implemented. Barbara submitted a ticket on Nov. 21, 2017 to make a permanent fix in order to avoid the future problems. With the help of Barbara, Jeff McQueen from EMC, and SDMs, Tianfeng Chai worked with Davina Sasser and Sung Kim from NCO to add the checking functionality to the operational version that SDMs use. After multiple rounds of testing, the restored function has been working properly. The ticket was officially closed on May 2 as the problem was successfully resolved.

Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator, Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., U.S. Navy Retired, visited ARL on May 3, 2018. Dr. Ariel Stein, ARL’s Acting Director, provided an overview of the lab’s key research efforts, with special emphasis on ARL’s role in continually enhancing critical models and transitioning research to operations. Glenn Rolph demonstrated several features of the HYSPLIT modeling system using simulations produced for a major emergency earlier this week. RDML Gallaudet, who took the time to meet and greet every member of the staff by name, was gracious enough to round out his visit by participating in a short all-hands meeting. Personnel from all four divisions of ARL participated in the all-hands, with the geographically disparate locations present via phone and/or webinar. This was the second high-visibility meeting in as many months for ARL, which hosted Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Deputy NOAA Administrator, Dr. Neil Jacobs, on March 29, 2018. ARL’s meeting with Dr. Jacobs featured more in-depth scientific presentations and a tour of the air chemistry laboratory.

The FY 2017 annual report for the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) has now been completed and is posted on the USCRN program website at This is the 15th annual report dating back to 2003 and documents the accomplishments and continued progress of the program. The highlights of the report for FY 2017 focused on the following six areas: (1) the program management change, in line with a budget realignment in NOAA, where the focus and budget of the program will now be managed from ATDD, with the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) continuing to perform the data management, stewardship, and related science activities that they have been involved in from the beginning of the program; (2) continuing to push past the halfway point in Alaska, with the installation of two new stations in Cordova, AK, in the southeast portion of the state; and Toolik Lake, AK, in the northeast central portion of the state; this brought the network configuration in the state up to 21 out of a planned total of 29 stations by FY 2022; (3) continuing to monitor and improve the power systems at USCRN stations in Alaska given the unique challenges due to the typically harsh winter weather, as well as limited solar energy availability from December to February; (4) continuing software and data system improvements at NCEI; (5) science and development activities that include five journal articles completed in previous fiscal years and published in FY 2017 using USCRN data to address a variety of issues, from model verification to human health issues; and included a unique opportunity to use the USCRN to monitor environmental conditions during the total solar eclipse in August 2017; and (6) the development of new gridded data for USCRN in order to address a need for an enhanced utilization of the USCRN dataset; daily means of more than 20 variables were computed, going back to at least 2006. Please direct any questions to Howard Diamond, the USCRN Program Manager, at 301-427-2475.