Benefiting from a continuously updated time series of climate data

Herman Russchenberg (Atmospheric Remote Sensing, TU Delft) takes part in the CESAR consortium (Cabauw Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research). This consortium operates a large set of instruments to study the atmosphere and its interaction with the land surface.

One of these instruments is the TU Delft IRCTR drizzle radar, IDRA in short. It is located on top of the 213 metre high tower, located next to the village of Cabauw between Gouda and Utrecht. IDRA measures drizzle (very fine rain), precipitation, and low clouds with a high spatial and temporal resolution.

Herman Russchenberg

The long-term operation of IDRA will support the CESAR objective to monitor trends in atmospheric changes.  The IDRA weather radar measurements consist of a large time series of numerical data. The first dataset dates from April 2009 and is continuously updated.

Data open accessible through 4TU.ResearchData

To ensure longevity and easy access, Ruschenberg and his former colleague Tobias Otto chose to store the datatsets at 4TU.ResearchData. The data are stored in NetCDF- format and reside on an OPeNDAP server. They are enriched with metadata to make the dataset self-explanatory. The datasets are freely available and easily accessible to the users.

The IDRA dataset collection is now the largest collection in the 4TU.ResearchData repository and is viewed an average of 200 times a month.

“Data are only valuable when they are easily accessible and well-documented. Our radars produce lots of data for climate research. We have to acquire long time series, spanning over many years, to detect potential trends in the variation of clouds that may be due to climate change. Without 4TU.ResearchData data management would not have been as easy as it is now”, according to Herman Russchenberg.

Increasing efficiency and findability

In 2010 the IDRA, was the first dataset in the 4TU.ResearchData archive which was given a digital object identifier (DOI). Due to this permanent link, the IDRA dataset is much easier to find on the digital highway.

Tobias Otto at that time :  “This made IDRA more visible to the scientific community. It has taken some time to set up the data archiving process and to create the metadata. But we save that time now by being able to easily access our data”.

The data are also used for education; not only at TU Delft but also elsewhere, thus enhancing collaboration. Within the European ERASMUS programme, two students from Politecnico di Bari (Italy) who have already been experienced to work with IDRA data came to Delft to do parts of their MSc project with them.

The future for the IDRA data seems bright:  “We expect that in the near future, IDRA data will be used even more in various research projects, for example to validate and refine highresolution atmospheric simulations”.

Link to dataset on 4TU.ResearchData
Cover image by Patricia Alexandre via Pixabay 

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