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Matthew Hobby, Matthew Gascoyne, John H. Marsham, Mark Bart, Christopher Allen, Sebastian Engelstaedter, Dieh Mohamed Fadel, Abdoulaye Gandega, Richard Lane, James B. McQuaid, Bouziane Ouchene, Abdelkader Ouladichir, Douglas J. Parker, Phil Rosenberg, Mohammed Salah Ferroudj, Azzedine Saci, Fouad Seddik, Martin Todd, Dan Walker, and Richard Washington


The Fennec automatic weather station (AWS) network consists of eight stations installed across the Sahara, with four in remote locations in the central desert, where no previous meteorological observations have existed. The AWS measures temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed, wind direction, shortwave and longwave radiation (upwelling and downwelling), ground heat flux, and ground temperature. Data are recorded every 3 min 20 s, that is, at 3 times the temporal resolution of the World Meteorological Organization’s standard 10-min reporting for winds and wind gusts. Variations in wind speeds on shorter time scales are recorded through the use of second- and third-order moments of 1-Hz data. Using the Iridium Router-Based Unrestricted Digital Internetworking Connectivity Solutions (RUDICS) service, data are transmitted in near–real time (1-h lag) to the United Kingdom, where calibrations are applied and data are uploaded to the Global Telecommunications System (GTS), for assimilation into forecast models.

This paper describes the instrumentation used and the data available from the network. Particular focus is given to the engineering applied to the task of making measurements in this remote region and challenging climate. The communications protocol developed to operate over the Iridium RUDICS satellite service is described. Transmitting the second moment of the wind speed distribution is shown to improve estimates of the dust-generating potential of observed winds, especially for winds close to the threshold speed for dust emission of the wind speed distribution. Sources of error are discussed and some preliminary results are presented, demonstrating the system’s potential to record key features of this region.

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