Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) at PSD
The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) was the product of a national partnership to improve the observation and understanding of the world's oceans. Information from this system will serve national needs for:
- Detecting and forecasting oceanic components of climate variability
- Facilitating safe and efficient marine operations
- Ensuring national security
- Managing resources for sustainable use
- Preserving and restoring healthy marine ecosystems
- Mitigating natural hazards
- Ensuring public health
The NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division contributed to this national effort by conducting a year-long technology evaluation to determine the type of Doppler wind profiler best suited to coastal and marine applications, meeting one goal of IOOS to improve the nation's capability to measure coastal winds.
This evaluation was carried out at the University of California's Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory on the Pacific coast in Sonoma County, California (Figure 1). Two types of profilers, with differing sampling characteristics, were being compared in the evaluation.
- The portable 915-MHz wind profilers (Figure 2) have been used in coastal research for more than a decade. These profilers are the least expensive to produce and provide the highest resolution wind and temperature profile measurements in the atmospheric boundary layer. Their vertical coverage above the boundary layer is limited.
- The 1/4-scale 449-MHz profiler (Figure 3) was recently developed by PSD for the U.S. Air Force. The 1/4-scale refers to the size of the antenna as compared to the antenna used in the 404-MHz profilers deployed mainly in the central U.S. as part of the NOAA Profiler Network (NPN). The 1/4-scale systems provide deeper coverage than the 915-MHz profilers.
One of the questions to answer in the evaluation was how much deeper coverage is obtainable with the newer 1/4-scale 449-MHz technology. Another important question to answer was how low and with what vertical resolution the 1/4-scale systems can observe the lower altitudes, since most of the important processes in the marine atmosphere often occur in the lowest 200 m.
The Bodega Bay site was ideally suited for the evaluation because it experiences a wide range of weather conditions characteristic of the coastal zone, varying from shallow fog layers (Figures 4 and 5) to intense land-falling winter storms, and because a uniquely detailed understanding of the local meteorological conditions has emerged from several years of NOAA research focused on coastal meteorology in the area.
The National Weather Service Office in Monterey, California provided valuable feedback on which type of profiler data and data products are most useful for forecast operations. Results from the evaluation will help NOAA make informed decisions about future improvements to the nation's operational observing system.