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Howard J. Diamond, Thomas R. Karl, Michael A. Palecki, C. Bruce Baker, Jesse E. Bell, Ronald D. Leeper, David R. Easterling, Jay H. Lawrimore, Tilden P. Meyers, Michael R. Helfert, Grant Goodge, and Peter W. Thorne

The year 2012 marks a decade of observations undertaken by the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) under the auspices of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division. The network consists of 114 sites across the conterminous 48 states, with additional sites in Alaska and Hawaii. Stations are installed in open (where possible), rural sites very likely to have stable land-cover/use conditions for several decades to come. At each site a suite of meteorological parameters are monitored, including triple redundancy for the primary air temperature and precipitation variables and for soil moisture/temperature. Instrumentation is regularly calibrated to National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) standards and maintained by a staff of expert engineers. This attention to detail in USCRN is intended to ensure the creation of an unimpeachable record of changes in surface climate over the United States for decades to come. Data are made available without restriction for all public, private, and government use. This article describes the rationale for the USCRN, its implementation, and some of the highlights of the first decade of operations. One critical use of these observations is as an independent data source to verify the existing U.S. temperature record derived from networks corrected for nonhomogenous histories. Future directions for the network are also discussed, including the applicability of USCRN approaches for networks monitoring climate at scales from regional to global. Constructive feedback from end users will allow for continued improvement of USCRN in the future and ensure that it continues to meet stakeholder requirements for precise climate measurements.

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Wayman E. Baker, Robert Atlas, Carla Cardinali, Amy Clement, George D. Emmitt, Bruce M. Gentry, R. Michael Hardesty, Erland Källén, Michael J. Kavaya, Rolf Langland, Zaizhong Ma, Michiko Masutani, Will McCarty, R. Bradley Pierce, Zhaoxia Pu, Lars Peter Riishojgaard, James Ryan, Sara Tucker, Martin Weissmann, and James G. Yoe

The three-dimensional global wind field is the most important remaining measurement needed to accurately assess the dynamics of the atmosphere. Wind information in the tropics, high latitudes, and stratosphere is particularly deficient. Furthermore, only a small fraction of the atmosphere is sampled in terms of wind profiles. This limits our ability to optimally specify initial conditions for numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and our understanding of several key climate change issues.

Because of its extensive wind measurement heritage (since 1968) and especially the rapid recent technology advances, Doppler lidar has reached a level of maturity required for a space-based mission. The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus (ADM-Aeolus) Doppler wind lidar (DWL), now scheduled for launch in 2015, will be a major milestone.

This paper reviews the expected impact of DWL measurements on NWP and climate research, measurement concepts, and the recent advances in technology that will set the stage for space-based deployment. Forecast impact experiments with actual airborne DWL measurements collected over the North Atlantic in 2003 and assimilated into the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational model are a clear indication of the value of lidar-measured wind profiles. Airborne DWL measurements collected over the western Pacific in 2008 and assimilated into both the ECMWF and U.S. Navy operational models support the earlier findings.

These forecast impact experiments confirm observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) conducted over the past 25–30 years. The addition of simulated DWL wind observations in recent OSSEs performed at the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA) leads to a statistically significant increase in forecast skill.

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