GCOS TECHNICAL SUPPORT CENTER REPORT
CARIBBEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICA
DECEMBER 2004 – February 2005
rd3 Quarterly Report
INTERMET, INC. April 20, 2005
Danny L. Foster
Sarasota, FL 34240
Danny L. Foster
7732 Castleisland Drive
Sarasota, FL 34240
Business fone/fax + 941 379 3536
Home + 941 378 1313
Cell + 540 420 2255
The following report describes the activities of the Contractor during the period
December 2004 thru February 2005. The contractor’s activities were reduced during Dec-
Jan because of the holiday season. During this period the Contractor was asked to
provide 2 interim reports. See Attachment A
The Satellite Communication links from the GCOS sites to NOAA Centers, DWD, UK,
and JMS using the MetLab or the Corobor systems is not satisfactory and does not work
reliably and in some cases it doesn’t work at all. Certain sites have abandoned their
Satellite system and send their observations and CLIMAT/CLIMAT TEMP messages to
NOAA NCEP/NCDC via email using the NOAA EDIS system. The routine is for
NOAA to insert the observations and CLIMAT/CLIMAT TEMP messages onto the GTS
or other circuits for normal distribution. This EDIS system seems to work satisfactorily.
The solutions or “fixes” needed to reliably use the METLAB and Corobor systems are
not trivial and require a lot of interactions between the vendors, NOAA gateway, and the
GCOS site itself. The Contractor has not been successful in getting the appropriate
people in NOAA to work with the sites to solve any of the communications problems.
GUAN SITES (now includes Curacao as the 7th observatory)
While the observatories performed reasonably well during the period, the nagging
problems with the Proton Hydrogen Generators, the communications links with NOAA,
and inadequate expendables hinders the performance of certain sites.
Performance of Observatories during Dec-Feb 2005-04-27
630 Observations were expected during this period and only 445 we received at NCEP
according to the THANKS2 report.
360 Observations were expected from the 4 sites using the Proton Energy hydrogen
generator. 80 observations were missed because of faults with the Proton Energy
Expendable supplies for GUAN sites.
The outlook for the provision of expendables (sondes and balloons) at the 7 sites is favorable for the next 6 months.
Barbados Fully supported by NOAA
Jamaica Fully supported by NOAA
Curacao Fully supported by NOAA
Belize Fully supported by NOAA
Manzanillo Full national support
San Jose NASA & GCOS providing short term support. Long term is
Bogota Urgently needs support for RS-92 sondes. Limited budget
and demands by Hurricane Conference for observations at
Rio Hache is competing for funds needed for Bogota.
The Contractor dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort in attempting to resolve the power supply problems at the Proton Energy hydrogen sites. Because the Proton generators may or may not be under some type of maintenance contract or continuing warranty the Contractor is limited in providing support. The Contractor must be careful not to violate some part of any NOAA agreement with Proton. Neither the observatories nor the Contractor are privy to NOAAs existing agreements with Proton Energy.
The Proton generator in Curacao failed again in December 2004. Both the master and slave power supply units failed as they have at the other sites in the Caribbean. NOAA recommended they do not install new power supply units until they install the promised surge protection system. NOAA/Proton has promised a power surge protection system at all the sites in the Caribbean. The Contractor discussed the situation with the Director of the Netherlands Antilles Meteorological service and decided they could not discontinue the upper air program while they wait for the NOAA/Proton surge protection system. Therefore the Contractor performed a mission to the site and worked with the staff to reenergize the old Stuart Hydrogen Generator. Currently the old generator is providing enough hydrogen for one observation per day. This is a very tenuous situation and the old generator could fail any day.
The water used to generate hydrogen at certain sites requires considerable filtration and the sites need extra filters. The Contractor has been providing these extra filters.
Observations Received at NCEP during Dec-Feb 2005
60Percent of Possible40
20Percent of Possible0BarbadosJamaicaCuracaoBelizeSan JoseManzanilloBogotaAverageObservatory
Soundings Exceeding 50, 20, and 10 Millibars during Dec thru
908070Above 50 Mbs6050Above 20 Mbs40Above 10 Mbs3020100
Number of Soundings
Note: Average heights can be significantly increased by using larger balloons such as . Curacao600 or 800 grams balloons.
San JoseSystem Problems
ManzanilloThe Contractor continues to believe there are internal problems at those observatories
using the Intermet Systems IMS1500C, Imetos data reduction program. The Contractor Bogota
has alerted NOAA to the problems. The Contractor keeps the GUAN sites aware of each
Averageothers problems in an attempt to foster discussions concerning common problems and
share solutions and better ways of operating their sites. See Attachment B
The winds computations for Barbados had been in question by NCEP since the new
IMS1500c was installed several months ago. The winds continually showed a bias of
several degrees. The Contractor working with Barbados and with NCEP has solved this
problem and the winds are now considered accurate.
With the exception of the above intermittent height errors and the wind bias problem, the observations have been quite accurate according to the NCEP monthly Inventory reports which shows only a few rejections per month at the most.
Bogota used RS80 radiosondes during Dec/Jan. Winds cannot be computed at Bogota using the RS-80 sonde because of rf interference problems. In addition, no observations were reported during February because of communications problems with the MetLab/NOAA link. The contractor and the Colombian authorities have repeatedly asked NOAA to include them on the EDIS system without any success.
The Contractor was asked to provide some support to the observatory on Galapagos Island, Ecuador. The contractor found a difficulty with the Proton Generator and helped the staff on the island solve the problem. The government has since discontinued the email capability on the island. The contractor is willing to add Galapagos as part of his responsibility.
CLIMAT TEMP REPORTS
Hadley Centre reports that 4 of the 7 observatories in the Caribbean submit the CLIMAT TEMP reports most of the time. Belize, Curacao, and Jamaica submitted 9 of 12 CLIMAT TEMP reports. Discussions with the Directors of the Meteorological Services present a perplexing problem. The Directors assured the contractor that they do not compile or send any CLIMAT TEMP messages to anyone. The contractor has contacted Hadley Center and NOAA NCDC to determine who creates and sends in these CLIMAT TEMP messages. No one at either center seems to know. The Directors also want to see the CLIMATE TEMP messages to ensure the integrity of their data.
NOAA/NCEP THANKS2 AND UPPER AIR INVENTORY REPORTS
The contractor has worked very closely with the Directors and Managers of the upper air observatories to ensure the observations are received at the Centers. During missions to the observatories the contractor routinely the upper air staff how to view and use the THANKS2 report as well as the monthly Upper Air Inventories. These two reports are very important to the Directors and Managers to evaluate the performance of their staff. The use of these reports does promote better performance among the observatories. The contractor translated the THANKS2 report into Spanish for our colleagues in Latin countries. See Attachment C
GSN SITES (16)
The Contractor does not do realtime monitoring of the exchange of synoptic and metar reports from the 16 sites. This would be too difficult and time consuming for the contractor. However, monthly evaluations of site activities are performed and the sites are queried if there are a significant number of missing observations.
The contractor has performed missions to all the GSN sites with the exception of those in Mexico. The missions to Mexico are scheduled to begin on May 22, 2005.
During the past 4 years, 2001-2004, the 16 sites were expected to report 480610 Synops and Metars. During that period they reported 362952 observations or roughly 76% of expected. During this period the sites reported 64% of expected CLIMAT messages or 489 or 768. This low number is primarily a result of communications problems. At least one site was not aware of the CLIMAT message program The Contractor expects to see the number of CLIMAT messages submitted to increase during April/May 2005. The
Metrics in Attachment D Are Helpful in Visualizing all the Statistics in this Paragraph.
The number of Synops and Metars are dictated by the function of the observatory. Observatories located at busy airports are usually operational 24 hours per day and take 8 synops and 24 metars routinely. Observatories in Central America and some in Mexico are not full time observatories and take fewer observations.
Of the 16 GSN sites in this report, 5 are located on very busy airports in the Caribbean, 2 are at more remotes sites in Central America and the 9 in Mexico are a mix of airport and more remote type observatories. The Metar observations comprise roughly 71% of all observations received at centers.
During the period, the 5 Busy airports in the Caribbean provided 50% of all observations, Mexico 41% and the two in Central roughly 9%.
The GSN observatories in the Caribbean and in Central America are functioning well and require little support from the Contractor. All of the evaluations and recommendations on observing practices, including instrument placement, accuracy, recording, etc are in the original reports and have not changed.
A couple of problems on the horizon include the migration from standard instruments to automatic type instruments and the threat of the observation fields at airports being contaminated by increased traffic and possible relocation off the airport or to another less desireable location.
At this time, the Contractor is evaluating some instruments for replacements at some of the Caribbean/Central American sites.
The Contractor’s primary support is to monitor the receipt of all messages and to
discussion down time or omissions with the observatories to see if help is required. Again the primary problem is communications links with Washington DC Gateway which requires the contractor to try and get the two entities to discuss the situation. This is time consuming.
The Contractor will be dedicating more time to the GSN sites in Mexico beginning late May 2005. It is likely that the Mexican sites will require some tuning up and replacement of some instruments. It is also likely that some tools and test equipment may be required at the 9 GSN observatories.
As indicated in previous reports, the Contractor has compiled a significant amount of METADATA type information. Discussions with NCDC indicate significant changes are being considered for the basic METADATA file. The Contractor has been advised to wait until these changes are made official before rigorously pursuing and recording this information. NCDC is to reveal the new standards and requirements in mid May 2005.
MAINTENANCE PROJECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
June – December 2004
CARIBBEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICA GCOS OBSERVATORIES
An experienced meteorologist and expert in observing techniques visited all GCOS sites in Caribbean and Central America to investigate and review all aspects of the observing programs to determine their compliance GCOS requirements and goals.
The Contractor has worked very closely with 16 GSN sites and 7 GUAN sites in the region to improve and maintain the integrity of the GCOS networks.
Support has been provided in terms of the provision of equipment spares, replacement parts, tools and test equipment and on-site technical support.
The Contractor has developed a detailed and technical inventory of equipment and instruments at each observatory including details on the observing practices and GCOS activities at each observatory.
The Contractor has become the initial contact for the observatories when technical or other difficulties disrupt or threaten their activities. Many problems have been resolved via telephone or internet without on-site missions.
National and regional telecommunications was identified as being the primary reason for many observatories not providing observations or CLIMAT/CLIMAT TEMP data to the GTS and GCOS centers. The Contractor solved this problem at nearly all the silent or unreliable sites through coordination and corrective measures with the observatories, NOAA centers and Hadley Center. The Contractor established and funded initial EMAIL links at certain observatories to ensure reliable communications with their National Centers.
The Contractor has determined that none of the GCOS sites maintain a current MEDTADATA inventory and NOAA/NCDC has no METADATA files on any of the
observatories. The Contractor is working with NOAA/NCDC to acquire current METADATA from all the observatories.
The Contractor has developed a list of needs for each of the observatories including replacement and spare parts, tools and test equipment, improvements to basic
infrastructure, and training in data assimilation, CLIMAT/CLIMAT TEMP coding, and technical training for maintenance technicians and observers/operators.
Established and maintains a pro-active and near realtime monitoring desk that maintains vigilance and scrutiny over the international exchange of surface and upper air observations as well as CLIMAT and CLIMAT TEMP messages.
Nearly all the surface instrument fields are located at airports where commercial traffic and construction activities are encroaching on the fields causing spurious temperature, rainfall and wind measurements. Airport authorities are forcing many of the observatories to move their instrument fields to more remote locations. The contractor is working with the observatories to identify new locations, purchase duplicate observing instruments and beginning a program to compare the readings at the new locations to the existing locations.
The contractor has established a cadre of bilingual electronic technicians, observing experts and experienced climatological specialists to provide support to the GSN/GUAN sites.
With regard to quality control of the upper air observations, Contractor monitors the NCEP monthly upper air inventories of errors, rejections and average sounding heights and discusses the reports with the observatories and pursues corrective measures. The Contractor has recommended the observatories begin using larger balloons to attain the 5 millibar height standard that GCOS requires.
CLIMAT and CLIMAT TEMP REPORTS
The contractor determined that only 60% of expected CLIMAT reports were received at NCDC during Jan-July2004
4 of 17 GSN sites reported 100% of the time
9 of 17 GSN sites reported roughly 70% of the time
4 of 17 GSN sites were silent
Only 4 sites report all 4 CLIMAT groups, 111,222,333, and 444
The Contractor is initiating actions to overcome the above deficiencies.
Note: There are several years of upper air data and surface data available at each site that could be put into CLIMAT TEMP or CLIMAT format and provided to the GCOS centers.
Attachment A cont.
March 17, 2005
Receipt of complete Upper Air Observations increased by 11% during first six months of
contract. July – December 2004
Jan-June 2004 received 802 upper air observations, July –December 2004 received 902
Receipt of complete vs partial Upper Air Observations increased by 28% during first six
months of contract
Soundings above 20 Millibars increased from 330 Jan-Jun 2004 to 383 Jul-Dec 2004
Identified and corrected wind bias problem
Identified and alerted NOAA authorities to intermittent height error problem with
METADATA does not exist for any GCOS sites. Contractor working with NCSDC to
begin create METADATA program for all sites.
Identified the primary problems at GUAN sites are:
Proton Hydrogen Generator Failures
Lack of training for Electronics Technicians on all ground equipment
Communications links with NOAA Gateway
Balloons too small to routinely reach above 10 Millibars
Observing staff needs training on iMetOS Compaq system
Inability to automatically transfer TEMP message from upper air system
to ISCS for insertion onto the GTS
Determined that none of the GUAN sites participate in the CLIMAT TEMP program.
Efforts to establish or resume participation are in place.
Improved the number of CLIMAT and CLIMAT TEMP reports received at NCDC and
Determined the accuracy of all GSN observing instruments and replaced some