The system for the collection and archiving of climatic data from approximately 7000 cooperative observing stations across the United States is in need of improvement. Despite the efforts of many dedicated volunteers and professionals, suspect or incomplete data continue to enter the national climate archive. Cooperative observers need further education regarding the importance of collecting complete and accurate data. The transition to the Maximum/Minimum Temperature Systems (MMTS) from the former liquid-in-glass thermometers mounted in Cotton Region shelters needs to be better coordinated, particularly with respect to the continuity of temperature data. The role of the Cooperative Program Managers in overseeing the physical well being of the network and the quality of data emanating from its needs to be strengthened. A continuation of efforts recently begun at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) to improve the digitization and quality-control procedures employed in data archiving is required. These improvements might be fulfilled within the present National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) infrastructure. Another avenue which might be explored is the amalgamation of all aspects of the United States climate-observing system under the supervision of a new department within NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). Regardless of how this is achieved, now is the time to improve the system. There has never been a greater need for a national climatic database of superlative quality, whether it be for investigations of climate change, meteorological research, agricultural planning and assessment, engineering, environmental-impact assessment, utilities planning, or litigation.

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