NSF awards grant for climate observation system

NSF awards grant for climate observation system

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US: The COCONet grant is being awarded to UNAVCO, Inc., a national geodetic support facility in Boulder, Colorado, funded by National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, and to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a consortium supported by NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences and which includes the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado.

The grant aims to develop a tectonic plate-scale integrated geodetic and atmospheric/regional climate observational system in the pan-Caribbean region.

COCONet, the Continuously Operating Caribbean GPS Observational Network, will add 50 continuously operating Global Positioning System (cGPS) stations to those in place in Caribbean and Caribbean-border nations.

“COCONet has the potential to transform our understanding of seismic and hurricane hazards in the extremely vulnerable Caribbean region,” said Robert Detrick, director of NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, “and to support basic research into plate tectonic processes and regional climate change.”

Meghan Miller, President of UNAVCO, said, “We will provide a regional framework for new discoveries about the fundamental processes that control tectonic and atmospheric unrest.”

The new cGPS stations will, in some cases, be co-located with existing tide gauges, supporting studies of sea-level change in response to global warming.

They will be linked with surface meteorological instruments to expand geodetic and atmospheric observational infrastructure in a region with complex tectonics and with substantial earthquake, tsunami, volcanic, tropical storm and hurricane, flooding and landslide hazards.

“COCONet will complement current seismic, tsunami, hurricane and landslide monitoring systems in the Caribbean region, and become an international platform for multi-hazard research and education,” said Guoquan Wang of the Puerto Rico Seismic Network and a geologist at the University of Puerto Rico.

COCONet data will be freely available through UNAVCO, and will enable observations with immediate relevance for understanding, mitigating and predicting regional geohazards.

The data will flow via the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO). From there, the data will be processed into geodetic products.

In addition, scientists will estimate tropospheric precipitable water vapor (PV) every 30 minutes from observations of GPS radio frequency signals.

These observations will be used to improve numerical weather models and may eventually be incorporated into operational forecasting systems. The project will allow Caribbean researchers to use COCONet data for both scientific and socioeconomic purposes.

Real-time data from COCONet will be made available to the international scientific community in a region of the globe with few existing real-time data sources.

Source: infoZine