On Thursday, December 3rd, The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) hosted a webinar for the Association of Certified Meteorologists. The webinar provided an engaging way for the meteorologists to learn about what they are doing to expand and improve upon their data archives. NCEI has many archives containing important environmental data surrounding the topics of weather, climate, geophysics, heliophysics, and many others. NCEI data is especially important not just for private sector meteorology, but for other sectors such as finance, education, construction, as well as the general public. In order to continue to preserve these archives for the future, the ACM learned about ways to better access and use this data. After hearing from several staff members at the NCEI, including Chief of Data Access Rich Baldwin, Chief of Climatic Information Services Michael Brewer, and Customer Service Representative Scott Stephens, the ACM was able to gain an overview of NCEI products and the best ways to access them online.
One of the most important, and most expansive, products that the NCEI offers is the Weather and Climate Toolkit. This archive is a free software program that can be downloaded to give the user access to decades of archived satellite and radar data. The satellite data includes channels from the GOES 16 and GOES 17 satellites, while the radar imagery includes a variety of NEXRAD Level 2 and Level 3 radar products. Upon opening the The Weather and Climate Toolkit software, there is a very specific set of filters that allow the user to easily sort through data easily. When looking through the satellite and radar archives which date back to 1995, data can be filtered by city, county, zip code, state, climate, or even a specific ASOS. Additionally, there are also map filters that allow the data to be sorted regionally, as well as more specifically at the state or local level.
A few of the other products that the NCEI offers for public use include the Storm Events Database and the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS). The Storm Events Database is a useful tool for obtaining summaries about significant weather events, including severe weather, flooding, drought, and winter storms. Preliminary information comes from 122 NWS forecast offices, while a full weather summary is uploaded to the database from the applicable forecast office(s) about 3 months after a significant weather event occurs. ACIS is a great resource for climate records and normals, with data dating back to 1895. ACIS is developed using NOWdata from the NWS, in cooperation with the CPC and NCEI. Currently, the archive includes annual, monthly, and daily climate data, and the NCEI is planning on adding hourly data by the end of 2021.
Overall, the National Centers for Environmental Information is working to expand their data archives and make information accessible for anyone that needs environmental or climate data. Many products currently offered through the NCEI are useful for Consulting Members of the ACM to use, either for personal use or for their clients.