Atmospheric Observations

Updated 2012-07-23

To acquire atmospheric data in support of both the prediction and detection of severe weather and of climate trend and variability research. This serves a broad range of users including researchers, policy makers, and service providers. Main gaps: Long-term, atmospheric monitoring in the North poses a significant challenge both operationally (e.g. in-situ automated snowfall measurements) and financially (charterd flights for maintenance and calibration).Most monitoring in the North is limited to populated areas. Attempts to develop an AMDAR capacity out of First Air and Canadian North fleets failed due to economical and technical difficulties. As demonstrated through impact studies, benefits of AMDAR in the North would be tremendous, however would require acquisition and deployment of specialized sensing packages such as TAMDAR (which includes measurements of relative humidity), development of datalink capacity through satellite communications (e.g. Iridium), and upgrading some aircraft systems when possible, especially the aircraft navigation systems. Network type: Atmospheric observing stations over land and sea composed of: - Surface Weather and Climate Network: o In-situ land stations comprising both Hourly stations and Daily Climate observations - Marine Networks: o Buoys (moored and drifting) o Ships: Automatic Volunteer Observing System - Upper Air Network: o In situ (radiosonde) o In situ Commercial Aircraft (AMDAR)

Time frame

Project time span
1850 -
Data collection
1850 -
Data processing
1850 -
Data reporting
1850 -

Contact information

Contact person
- -
Surface Weather and Climate Networks: John MacPhee ( Marine Networks: Chris Marshall ( Upper Air Networks: Lee Suddick (
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Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Human media
Seawater/suspended particulate matter


Regions studied
Atlantic, Northwest
Pacific, Northeast

Data availability

Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

- MSC owned Surface Weather and Climate stations: • Approximately 65 automatic Reference Climate and Surface Weather Stations of varying quality: • hourly; temperature, humidity, 10 m and 2 m wind including peak wind, total precipitation, surface pressure seasonal rate-of-rainfall, and differential snow depth. A few sites report solar radiation. • MSC has a high quality but low density Reference Climate Stations (RCS) observing network in the north. Since early 2003, MSC has installed 43 high quality climate observing platforms north of 600. These observing sites, operate 24/7 and report hourly through land lines and satellite links. MSC is committed to the ongoing maintenance of these stations well into the future. • MSC directly owns and operates approximately 25 Surface Weather stations with essentially the same sensor configuration, but operated in support of prediction services, that is forecasters and numerical weather prediction. These stations are older and less well maintained than the RCS network. They operate 24/7 and report hourly. • Daily Climate Stations: • Daily Maximum and Minimum Temperature and Total precipitation - Marine Stations: • Drifting buoys: • Sea surface temperature and atmospheric pressure and position information (SVP-B). Some buoys provide estimates of wind speed and direction (WOTAN buoys) • Ships (AVOS): • hourly when in the Arctic, 3-hourlies when in Canadian waters, regularly 6 hourly when away from Canadian waters; wind direction and speed, Pressure, Air Temperature, Sea surface temperature, humidity. Where possible, an observer can complement the observations with additional parameters including present weather, past weather, amount of cloud, type of cloud, height of cloud base, visibility, direction of movement of waves, period of waves, height of waves, sea ice and/or icing of ship superstructure, when appropriate. Note that AVOS network moving towards hourly observations with deployment of Iridium telecommunications. - Upper Air Stations: • In situ (Radiosondes): 00z & 12z; temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and wind (speed and direction) from the surface to about 30 km. Some stations also measure atmospheric ozone on a weekly basis. • Commercial Aircraft (AMDAR): tropospheric profiles as well as en-route in-situ data: air temperature and pressure, wind speed and direction, aircraft position, time and phase of flight

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

Not specified Networks:

Indigenous AND traditional knowledge used in this project


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