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GAO: 42% of USHCN Weather Stations Fail to Meet NOAA Standards


Link to GAO Report

Washington, D.C.—Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today welcomed a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled “NOAA Can Improve Their Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN).” This report quantifies lingering questions concerning proper siting of weather stations, finding about 42% of the active USHCN stations in 2010 did not meet one or more of NOAA’s siting standards. GAO says the two standards most commonly unmet are “distance to obstructions [such as buildings and trees] and distance to extensive concrete or paved surfaces.”

Additionally, the report notes, “NOAA does not centrally track whether USHCN stations adhere to siting standards…nor does it have an agency-wide policy regarding stations that don’t meet standards.” The report continues, “Many of the USHCN stations have incomplete temperature records; very few have complete records. 24 of the 1,218 stations (about 2 percent) have complete data from the time they were established.” GAO goes on to state that most stations with long temperature records are likely to have undergone multiple changes in measurement conditions.

“I want to thank GAO for conducting this report examining the proper siting of climate network weather stations in the United States,” Senator Inhofe stated. “The GAO has confirmed what many have long suspected: A substantial number of USHCN stations fail to meet many of NOAA’s own citing standards. Additionally, NOAA has no established policy to track adherence to standards system-wide. I will continue monitoring NOAA’s consideration of GAO’s recommendations.”

The USHCN was designated in 1987 as a subset of historical weather-monitoring stations in the Cooperative Observer Program. The purpose of these 1,218 stations is to monitor the nation’s climate and to analyze long-term surface temperature trends.


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