Boundary-Layer Characterization Projects: USCRN
U.S. Climate Reference Network
Changes in the climate can influence economic prosperity, national security, and human and environmental health. Businesses, citizens, communities, governments, and international organizations are requiring accurate and high quality meteorological observations and forecasts to assess and adapt to current and potential threats associated with climate variability.
ARL operates and maintains the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), which provides long-term robust climate observations that are necessary to document climate change trends for the United States. The USCRN provides high quality, reference-grade measurements of critical climate measures such as air temperature, precipitation, winds, land surface temperature, and solar radiation and translates that information for decision-makers to understand how and why climate has changed and what changes might occur in the future. ARL’s activities focus on:
- advancing the quality and quantity of reference observations;
- evaluating select observing systems for their ability to satisfy ongoing and evolving climate requirements;
- improving the understanding of air-surface interactions; and
- analyzing long-term observational datasets and models to understand climate variability and change.
ARL manages, operates, and maintains the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) which includes 139 stations in the lower 48 (114); Alaska (23); and Hawaii (2), which provides long-term robust climate observations that are necessary to document climate change trends for the United States. The current plan is to extend the number of stations in Alaska to 29-30 by the end of fiscal year 2026. The network is now entering its third decade of service, having begun initial operations in 2002.
Researchers at ARL’s ATDD perform installation as well as extensive evaluation and maintenance of the array of instruments and the infrastructure for the USCRN. Additionally, ARL conducts energy, water, and greenhouse gas flux measurements and analyzes their relationships. A predictive understanding of the surface energy budget and related feedbacks is critical to the understanding of climate forcing factors at the land surface and the ability to credibly predict future conditions, especially those related to water resources.
ARL designs, evaluates, and maintains the array of instruments and the infrastructure for the USCRN to provide the Nation with a climate-quality benchmark observing system that meets national commitments to monitor the climate of the United States for the next 50-100 years. As a key participant in climate observing networks, both nationally and internationally, ARL develops methods for measuring climate parameters with high accuracy and reliability. The Lab also conducts long-term field studies to improve the understanding of interactions between the atmosphere, the land surface, and plants, which leads to better climate and weather predictions.