ESRL Global Systems Division

Reliable NOAA Profiler Network Data Attributed to Well-Trained El Techs

The Profiler Program Office in Boulder, Colorado, has conducted training for the National Weather Service (NWS) Electronic Technicians (El-Techs) every year since the NOAA Profiler Network (NPN) became operational in 1988. These three-day training sessions, carried out under agreement between NOAA/OAR and NWS, cover a huge amount of information - from transducer assemblies to failure calibration procedures. The agreement specifies that field maintenance of the NPN is provided by NWS El-Techs, and training and technical assistance in support of the NPN are provided by the Forecast Systems Laboratory. El-Techs at the NWS Central and Southern regions receive training annually in Boulder, Colorado, and El-Techs at the Alaska region's Anchorage and Fairbanks offices receive training biennially in Alaska.

Mission-critical operations such as the NPN depend on the continuing function of all systems at each site in order to maintain high-level data availability. The 35 NPN sites (32 in the NWS Central and Southern regions and 3 in Alaska) provide reliable, low cost continuous upper-air observing data. Each site includes a wind profiler Doppler radar to accurately measure the wind speed and direction from 500 meters up to 16 kilometers at intervals every 250 meters above the earths surface, a Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) to measure the air temperature throughout the lower atmosphere, a Global Positioning System (GPS) to measure water vapor in the atmosphere, and an array of surface meteorological instruments to measure barometric pressure, ground wind speed and direction and temperature, humidity, and precipitation levels. All of the equipment at the NPN sites are considered Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), which means components are designed for easy and quick replacement to ensure a short mean time to repair. The training is based on the "NOAA Profiler Network Guide to LRU Replacement" manual. Since each site involves so much equipment, El-Techs are instructed to refer to the manual to familiarize themselves with the system before arriving at a site to make equipment repairs or for general maintenance work. Hands-on training is also offered at the Boulder test facility where a nonoperational system is provided to aid in the educational process.

The excellent services provided by NWS El-Techs help keep the wind profiler data availability average at 95%, during 2002, and often higher. Data from the NPN instruments are used by federal, state, and local organizations to support weather forecasting, aviation, and monitoring climate and air quality.

Contact information
Name: Michael K Shanahan
Tel: (303) 497-6547
michael.k.shanahan@noaa.gov