ITHACA, N.Y. -- A postage stamp-sized piece of property belonging to Cornell University's Animal Research Facility in Harford, N.Y. is now the site of a national climate station. The Harford site will be part of the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), a land-based system of climate stations now being developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.
Every USCRN observing site is equipped with state-of-the instruments including, a standard set of sensors, a data logger and a satellite communications transmitter. The Harford site meets NOAA criteria for its distance from urban areas, long-term stability and reliability as an area representative of the regional climate, among other factors.
While it looks like a weather station, the function of the Harford site is to provide long-term observations of temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, solar radiation and ground-surface temperature, that can be coupled to long-term historical observations. "The solar radiation observations will be particularly valuable, as there exist very few stations with reliable measurements over any length of time," said Dan Graybeal, Northeast Regional Climate Center research climatologist. Observations from the automated Harford station will be sent via satellite to the National Climate Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and made available via their Web site.
According to NOAA reports, more than $3 trillion of the U.S. gross national product is affected by climate and weather, including the agriculture, energy, construction, travel and transportation industry sectors. The USCRN, developed by NOAA scientists, will improve the ability of America's decision-makers to form policies about programs affected by climate variability and change. If fully implemented, the network will consist of about 110 stations nationwide. To date, 67 stations are in operation.