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Earth System Science Data









As the 2015/2016 El Niño was gathering strength in late 2015, scientists at the Earth System Research Laboratory's Physical Sciences Division proposed and led the implementation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) El Niño Rapid Response (ENRR) Field Campaign. ENRR observations included wind and thermodynamic profiles of the atmosphere over the near-equatorial eastern central Pacific Ocean, many of which were collected from two field sites and transmitted in near-real time for inclusion in global forecasting models. From 26 January to 28 March 2016, twice-daily rawinsonde observations were made from Kiritimati (pronounced Christmas) Island (2.0° N, 157.4° E; call sign CXENRR). From 16 February to 16 March 2016, three to eight radiosondes were launched each day from NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown (allocated call sign WTEC) as it travelled southeast from Hawaii to service Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) buoys along longitudes 140 and 125° W and then north to San Diego, California. Both the rapid and remote nature of these deployments created particular difficulties in collecting and disseminating the soundings; these are described together with the methods used to reprocess the data after the field campaign finished. The reprocessed and lightly quality-controlled data have been put into an easy-to-read text format, qualifying them to be termed Level 2 soundings. They are archived and freely available for public access at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) in the form of two separate data sets: one consisting of 125 soundings from Kiritimati (, the other of 193 soundings from NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown ( Of the Kiritimati soundings, 94 % reached the tropopause and 88 % reached 40 hPa, while 89 % of the ship's soundings reached the tropopause and 87 % reached 40 hPa. The soundings captured the repeated advance and retreat of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) at Kiritimati, a variety of marine tropospheric environments encountered by the ship, and lower-stratospheric features of the 2015–2016 QBO (quasi-biennial oscillation), all providing a rich view of the local atmosphere's response to the eastern central Pacific's extremely warm waters during the 2015/16 El Niño.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.