Personal Computers, Weather Observations, and the National Climatic Data Center

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  • 1 National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina
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The personal computer (PC) has become an important part of meteorological observing, telecommunications, forecasting, research, and data-management systems. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the nation's quality-control and archival facility for weather data. NCDC's digital archive consists of more than 200 data sets which are stored on over 50 000 reels of high-density magnetic tape. Its size and complexity make on-line access to the complete archive via PC and modem impractical. However, NCDC recognizes the growing importance of PCs in climatic applications and, since 1984, has made selected data sets available in a PC-readable format.

The data sets available on diskette fall into the following broad categories: hourly observations, daily observations, derived quantities, and summary statistics. The period of record varies with each data set and with each station. In the digital archive, daily observations generally begin in the late 1800's to the early 1900's, and hourly observations generally begin in the mid 1900's.

A review of NCDC data operations and products puts the digital archive into an operational perspective. The two formats (BASIC sequential element, and fixed-position fields) in which data-set diskettes are available are summarized. BASIC–sequential-element files can be “imported” into a LOTUS-type spreadsheet.

NCDC is also responsible for describing the nation's climate. These functions have been condensed into a climatological data-management and analysis software package, called CLICOM, which can be run on a PC.

The personal computer (PC) has become an important part of meteorological observing, telecommunications, forecasting, research, and data-management systems. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the nation's quality-control and archival facility for weather data. NCDC's digital archive consists of more than 200 data sets which are stored on over 50 000 reels of high-density magnetic tape. Its size and complexity make on-line access to the complete archive via PC and modem impractical. However, NCDC recognizes the growing importance of PCs in climatic applications and, since 1984, has made selected data sets available in a PC-readable format.

The data sets available on diskette fall into the following broad categories: hourly observations, daily observations, derived quantities, and summary statistics. The period of record varies with each data set and with each station. In the digital archive, daily observations generally begin in the late 1800's to the early 1900's, and hourly observations generally begin in the mid 1900's.

A review of NCDC data operations and products puts the digital archive into an operational perspective. The two formats (BASIC sequential element, and fixed-position fields) in which data-set diskettes are available are summarized. BASIC–sequential-element files can be “imported” into a LOTUS-type spreadsheet.

NCDC is also responsible for describing the nation's climate. These functions have been condensed into a climatological data-management and analysis software package, called CLICOM, which can be run on a PC.

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