Accuracy of NWS 8" Standard Nonrecording Precipitation Gauge: Results and Application of WMO Intercomparison

Daqing Yang Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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Barry E. Goodison Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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John R. Metcalfe Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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Valentin S. Golubev State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia

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Roy Bates U.S. Army CRREL, Hanover, New Hampshire

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Timothy Pangburn U.S. Army CRREL, Hanover, New Hampshire

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Clayton L. Hanson U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Northwest Watershed Research Center, Boise, Idaho

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Abstract

The standard 8" nonrecording precipitation gauge has been used historically by the National Weather Service (NWS) as the official precipitation measurement instrument of the U.S. climate station network. From 1986 to 1992, the accuracy and performance of this gauge (unshielded or with an Alter shield) were evaluated during the WMO Solid Precipitation Measurement Intercomparison at three stations in the United States and Russia, representing a variety of climate, terrain, and exposure. The double-fence intercomparison reference (DFIR) was the reference standard used at all the intercomparison stations in the Intercomparison project. The Intercomparison data collected at different sites are compatible with respect to the catch ratio (gauge measured/DFIR) for the same gauges, when compared using wind speed at the height of gauge orifice during the observation period.

The effects of environmental factors, such as wind speed and temperature, on the gauge catch were investigated. Wind speed was found to be the most important factor determining gauge catch when precipitation was classified into snow, mixed, and rain. The regression functions of the catch ratio versus wind speed at the gauge height on a daily time step were derived for various types of precipitation. Independent checks of the equations have been conducted at these intercomparison stations and good agreement was obtained. Application of the correction procedures for wind, wetting loss, and trace amounts was made on a daily basis at Barrow, Alaska, for 1982 and 1983, and, on average, the gauge-measured precipitation was increased by 20% for rain and 90% for snow.

* Current affiliation: Lenzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geoeryology, Lenzhou, People’s Republic of China.

Corresponding author address: Daqing Yang, Climate Research Branch/AES, 4905 Dufferin Street, Downsview, ON M3H 5T4, Canada.

Email: daqing.yang@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

The standard 8" nonrecording precipitation gauge has been used historically by the National Weather Service (NWS) as the official precipitation measurement instrument of the U.S. climate station network. From 1986 to 1992, the accuracy and performance of this gauge (unshielded or with an Alter shield) were evaluated during the WMO Solid Precipitation Measurement Intercomparison at three stations in the United States and Russia, representing a variety of climate, terrain, and exposure. The double-fence intercomparison reference (DFIR) was the reference standard used at all the intercomparison stations in the Intercomparison project. The Intercomparison data collected at different sites are compatible with respect to the catch ratio (gauge measured/DFIR) for the same gauges, when compared using wind speed at the height of gauge orifice during the observation period.

The effects of environmental factors, such as wind speed and temperature, on the gauge catch were investigated. Wind speed was found to be the most important factor determining gauge catch when precipitation was classified into snow, mixed, and rain. The regression functions of the catch ratio versus wind speed at the gauge height on a daily time step were derived for various types of precipitation. Independent checks of the equations have been conducted at these intercomparison stations and good agreement was obtained. Application of the correction procedures for wind, wetting loss, and trace amounts was made on a daily basis at Barrow, Alaska, for 1982 and 1983, and, on average, the gauge-measured precipitation was increased by 20% for rain and 90% for snow.

* Current affiliation: Lenzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geoeryology, Lenzhou, People’s Republic of China.

Corresponding author address: Daqing Yang, Climate Research Branch/AES, 4905 Dufferin Street, Downsview, ON M3H 5T4, Canada.

Email: daqing.yang@ec.gc.ca

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