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NPS and USCRN: A Collaboration for the Ages

Photo of U.S. Climate Reference Network Station in Denali, Alaska
Courtesy of NOAA

In August 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service (NPS) to safeguard and steward the young but growing National Park System. The NPS mission is to preserve “unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” These preserved and pristine locations provided the perfect opportunity for collaboration with the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) program, which aims to monitor climate in stable, open landscapes.

Map of U.S. Climate Reference Network Stations in National Park Service Units

Since 2002, NCEI has managed and operated the USCRN in partnership with NOAA’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division. The USCRN’s mission is to monitor the climate across the United States in pristine locations for the next 50 years and provide user-driven information products based on these measurements. It consists of a systematic and sustained network of stations with sites across the conterminous United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. These stations use high-quality instruments to measure temperature, precipitation, soil conditions, and more.

The USCRN program has collaborated with the NPS since 2003, placing climate-observing stations in national park units around the country. Currently, 25 USCRN stations are located in NPS units. In commemoration of the NPS centennial, the USCRN program will release a series of reports describing the stations located in NPS sites across eight regions of the United States. These reports will also describe the environments in which the stations are located, recount interesting events, and provide a preliminary look at the climatology of these locations. Check out the table below to see all of the USCRN stations located in national parks.

Installation DateName of StationNational Park Service SiteRegion
Mar 25, 2003Redding 12 WNW, CAWhiskeytown National Recreation AreaNorthwest
Apr 3, 2003Darrington 21 NNE, WANorth Cascades National ParkNorthwest
Jul 10, 2003Arco 17 SW, IDCraters of the Moon National MonumentNorthern Rockies
Aug 27, 2003Harrison 20 SSE, NEAgate Fossil Beds National MonumentGreat Plains
Sep 25, 2003St. Mary 1, MTGlacier National ParkNorthern Rockies
Mar 16, 2004John Day 35 WNW, ORJohn Day Fossil Beds National MonumentNorthwest
May 5, 2004Stovepipe Wells 1 SW, CADeath Valley National ParkSouthwest
May 9, 2004Baker 5 W, NVGreat Basin National ParkSouthwest
May 19, 2004Bowling Green 21 NNE, KYMammoth Cave National ParkEast
Jul 1, 2004Moose 1 NNE, WYGrand Teton National ParkNorthern Rockies
Jul 21, 2004Dinosaur 2 E, CODinosaur National MonumentCentral Rockies
Jul 25, 2004Montrose 11 ENE, COBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkSouthern Rockies
Jul 31, 2004Los Alamos 13 W, NMValles Caldera National PreserveSouthern Rockies
Sep 18, 2004Medora 7 E, NDTheodore Roosevelt National ParkGreat Plains
Dec 16, 2004Brunswick 23 S, GACumberland Island National SeashoreEast
Nov 2, 2005Cortez 8 SE, COMesa Verde National ParkSouthern Rockies
Sep 9, 2006Quinault 4 NE, WAOlympic National ParkNorthwest
Feb 10, 2007Everglades City 5 NE, FLBig Cypress National PreserveEast
Feb 25, 2007Panther Junction 2 N, TXBig Bend National ParkGreat Plains
Aug 19, 2007Brigham City 28 WNW, UTGolden Spike National Historic SiteCentral Rockies
Sep 29, 2007Yosemite Village 12 W, CAYosemite National ParkSouthwest
Oct 4, 2007Torrey 7 E, UTCapitol Reef National ParkCentral Rockies
Sep 25, 2009Port Alsworth 1 SW, AKLake Clark National ParkAlaska
Aug 17, 2012King Salmon 42 SE, AKKatmai National ParkAlaska
Aug 20, 2015Denali 27 N, AKDenali National ParkAlaska

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