Item: Evolution, challenges and management of mountain weather observations
Title: Evolution, challenges and management of mountain weather observations
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2004 International Snow Science Workshop, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Authors: Mark Moore, Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center, Seattle, WA
Abstract: Mountain weather observation programs in support of avalanche mitigation efforts and forecasting programs have evolved considerably since their humble beginnings over 50 years ago, and they have experienced quantum leaps in equipment as well as data access, reliability and availability during the last 10 years. From periodically recorded manual observations to continuous analog charts to real time digital formats accessible most anywhere at any time, this progression of both quantity and quality of high elevation weather data has been remarkable, spanning a wide spectrum of both observing programs and technology. Although manual observations are still an integral element of most avalanche programs, for the most part this discussion focuses on remote automated high elevation weather stations (RAHEWS). Despite advances in RAHEWS infrastructure and sensors, and an even greater evolution in data loggers and communication systems, significant obstacles remain that may limit the usefulness and availability of resulting information. The potential for measurement errors mandates that users exercise caution and common sense in utilizing and applying data. Possible problems also require that any manager of mountain weather data—from those responsible for single weather stations to those overseeing large data networks—expend considerable time and commitment to ensure that data outages are kept to a minimum, output remains at a high caliber, and quality control, sustainability, maintenance, and archiving are ongoing and high priorities. In this paper, recent evolution of mountain weather observations is described, along with the challenges of accurately and continuously measuring the parameters that can render even the most robust station useless at times. As such data has become increasingly important for an expanding set of weather forecasting, climate modeling/research and other concerns, associated data management considerations are also outlined.
Keywords: mountain weather, data, weather observations, avalanche weather, weather sensors, data management
Digital Abstract Not Available