ARL’s Mark Hall receives the NOAA OAR Team Member of the Month Award

Congratulations to Mark Hall for receiving the OAR Team Member of the Month (June, 2010) Award. Mark Hall is a Supervisory Engineer with the Oak Ridge Associated Universities assigned to the Air Resources Laboratory’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division. He has demonstrated both outstanding support for NOAA’s mission and commitment to his staff’s safety. Mark and his team are responsible for the installation and maintenance of the NOAA U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) and the NOAA U.S. Historic Climatology Network modernization (USHCN-M) effort. These high-profile programs are collaborative efforts among NESDIS, OAR, and the NWS that are critical to the detection of climate change both nationally as well as regionally in the U.S.

Mark’s superb technical leadership and contributions have led to the development of many improvements to the instrumentation used in the climate networks. These improvements have been incorporated into permanent changes by the manufacturers that make the rain gauges and temperature shields used by both climate networks. These engineering changes have increased the efficiency of the annual maintenance visits, and have led to a significant cost savings for both programs. Mark’s commitment to technical and personal excellence is exemplary and has led to a perfect safety record for the entire team for over 8 years in some very harsh environments which include installations in Barrow, Alaska; Death Valley, California; and the summit of Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaii.

A high point of his professional accomplishments was the completion of the USCRN in September of 2008 that now consists of 114 stations across the continental U.S. and additional ones in Alaska and Hawaii, all with a 99.9% data recovery this past year. USCRN’s reliability and high accuracy make it the “gold standard” for monitoring U.S. climate change. Mark and his team are now providing critical support to the National Integrated Drought Information System by adding soil moisture and temperature sensors to the USCRN stations. Many of the approaches developed for USCRN are also being applied to the much larger USHCN-M to monitor regional climate change. Much of the success of these key climate observing programs can be credited to Mark’s approach to engineering which is both innovative and flexible. Mark routinely deals with calls during unique environmental conditions with “cool under pressure” thinking and the ability to adjust. For instance, NOAA has been working to install a USCRN station at the Russian Arctic monitoring site in Tiksi slated for June 2010, and Mark’s work has been essential in helping to make that happen. His can-do attitude can be summed up in a quote from the USCRN Program Manager, “If Mark were asked to install a USCRN station on the Moon, I think he could do that as well if asked and given enough lead time.”

For More Information, contact: Bruce Baker