On December 20, 2006, NOAA installed a new high tech Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS), called CHIN, at the Nancy Foster Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center as part of the International Ocean Observation System (IOOS) program. Station CHIN holds the distinction of becoming the 1,001st station to join the NOAA-managed CORS network. Each CORS is equipped with a receiver that continuously collects radio signals broadcast by Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. These signals enable people to determine positional coordinates for a location of interest to them with an accuracy of less than an inch in all three dimensions. Most notably, station CHIN will usher in a new generation of CORS by becoming the first to provide precise positioning data in real time from both the U.S. based GPS satellites and the Russian based GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS).
Station CHIN will also be co-located with the tide gauge in Key West to provide crucial data for relating local sea level changes at Key West to the globally-consistent, rigorously-defined International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS). Installed in 1913, the Key West tide gauge provides one of the longest continuous records of sea level change among all stations contained in NOAA’s National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON). As part of the IOOS program, NOAA will install additional CORS at other NWLON stations to better relate sea level changes around the country to the ITRS. In addition to providing precise positioning data, the CORS network provides data to monitor (1) crustal motion, (2) the distribution of water vapor in the atmosphere, and (3) the distribution of free electrons in the ionosphere. The water-vapor information enables meteorologists to better forecast the amount of precipitation associated with storms, and the free-electron information enables atmospheric scientists to better forecast the impacts of space weather on power grids and telecommunications.
Station CHIN is so named in honor of Ms. Miranda Chin, the recently retired NOAA scientist who in the mid-1980’s pioneered the concept of establishing permanent stations for continuously collecting GPS signals. For more than two decades, Ms. Chin collaborated extensively with foreign, national, state, and local government agencies–as well as with private and academic organizations—to develop the CORS network. More than 185 organizations worldwide cooperate to sponsor and operate the stations that comprise the NOAA-managed CORS network, and the number of CORS partners continues to grow as, currently, more than 150 stations are being added to the CORS network each year. (For more information, see www.ngs.noaa.gov/CORS/)