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CrowdQC+—A Quality-Control for Crowdsourced Air-Temperature Observations Enabling World-Wide Urban Climate Applications

Fenner, Daniel; Bechtel, Benjamin; Demuzere, Matthias; Kittner, Jonas; Meier, Fred

In recent years, the collection and utilisation of crowdsourced data has gained attention in atmospheric sciences and citizen weather stations (CWS), i.e., privately-owned weather stations whose owners share their data publicly via the internet, have become increasingly popular. This is particularly the case for cities, where traditional measurement networks are sparse. Rigorous quality control (QC) of CWS data is essential prior to any application. In this study, we present the QC package “CrowdQC+,” which identifies and removes faulty air-temperature (ta) data from crowdsourced CWS data sets, i.e., data from several tens to thousands of CWS. The package is a further development of the existing package “CrowdQC.” While QC levels and functionalities of the predecessor are kept, CrowdQC+ extends it to increase QC performance, enhance applicability, and increase user-friendliness. Firstly, two new QC levels are introduced. The first implements a spatial QC that mainly addresses radiation errors, the second a temporal correction of the data regarding sensor-response time. Secondly, new functionalities aim at making the package more flexible to apply to data sets of different lengths and sizes, enabling also near-real time application. Thirdly, additional helper functions increase user-friendliness of the package. As its predecessor, CrowdQC+ does not require reference meteorological data. The performance of the new package is tested with two 1-year data sets of CWS data from hundreds of “Netatmo” CWS in the cities of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Toulouse, France. Quality-controlled data are compared with data from networks of professionally-operated weather stations (PRWS). Results show that the new package effectively removes faulty data from both data sets, leading to lower deviations between CWS and PRWS compared to its predecessor. It is further shown that CrowdQC+ leads to robust results for CWS networks of different sizes/densities. Further development of the package could include testing the suitability of CrowdQC+ for other variables than ta, such as air pressure or specific humidity, testing it on data sets from other background climates such as tropical or desert cities, and to incorporate added filter functionalities for further improvement. Overall, CrowdQC+ could lead the way to utilise CWS data in world-wide urban climate applications.
Published in: Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10.3389/fenvs.2021.720747, Frontiers