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New Climatological Reference Station transmitting high quality data set up by EMPIR project

Planet Earth from space

Developing reference stations to determine the extent of environmental bias in climate monitoring data

Ground-based environmental monitoring stations are required to collect data accurately over large time frames to capture the small variations characteristic of climate change. Exposure of station instrumentation to environmental factors can generate measurement errors, hard to distinguish from real changes, which are a major contributor to measurement uncertainty. Developing ‘reference climatological stations’ with metrologically validated instruments will increase the accuracy of measurements and strengthen the confidence in data collected.

Completed EMPIR project Climate Reference Station (19SIP03, CRS) built on the results and methods developed during the preceding two EMRP projects Metrology for essential climate variables (ENV58, MeteoMet2) and Metrology for pressure, temperature, humidity and airspeed in the atmosphere (ENV07, MeteoMet).

This project has provided definitions, guidelines and measurement methods to improve the comparability of climate data. This is a key goal of the project’s primary supporter, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which needs consistent technical specifications for the set-up of Climate Reference Stations to increase data comparability between climate observing networks.

The consortium has installed a Climatological Reference Station which is now transmitting high quality climatological data. The installation, near Torino in Italy, is in a specific flat area of 100 m radius free from obstacles and covered by natural grass in line with WMO recommendations. This has allowed the effects of environmental parameters such as rain, heat and constant use on instrumentation to be determined. These results have been supplied to the World Meteorological Organization Expert Team on Measurement Uncertainty and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and were used to support the definition of data formats for near surface air temperature measurements, in terms of quantities required to complete the overall measurement uncertainty budget. These results will improve data comparability between monitoring stations, strengthen climate models and help locate potential problems within monitoring networks.

The station was included among a series of infrastructures, completed by other field sites and laboratories, in a proposal submitted to the WMO Candidature of INRiM as WMO Research Lead Center On “Traceability and Field Metrology”. The proposal was approved by the National Permanent Representative and by the WMO Standing Committee on Measurement and Instrumentation. The last step is the required approval at the plenary session of the Commission for Observation, Infrastructure and Information Systems (INFCOM). The station itself will also be proposed to join the limited number of climate reference stations of the GCOS Surface Reference Network (GSRN).

Project Coordinator Andrea Merlone from INRIM said

‘This project extended the impact already generated by the MeteoMet1 and 2 projects, towards a further direct outreach of the results by the WMO and the GCOS, in terms of reference procedure for evaluating uncertainty in measurements of essential climate variables. The Climate Reference Station, studied and installed in the framework of this project, is now operating and managed by INRiM jointly with the Italian Meteorological Society. It is a unique installation, able to provide top quality measurements of meteorological parameters for the specific purpose of generating climate reference data series. The system start-up happened during the days of the International Conference on Metrology for Meteorology and Climate (MMC2023), with the presence of IPCC authors, WMO and GCOS members, local authorities and the general public. Newspapers and national TV reported the news during the following days on different media platforms. The site was completed with an ‘open air classroom’ with explanatory panels describing the station and giving general information on climate, measurements of variables, maps with points of interest globally on monitoring climate change. The area is now a place where anyone can learn and directly see how climatology is based on trustable data, generated by high quality instrumentation.’

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

EMRP joint research projects are part of EURAMET’s European Metrology Research Programme. The EMRP is jointly funded by the EMRP participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union.


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