GPS station debuts in Cuba

Anthes, Braun help celebrate COCONet milestone

Data, data, data. Research is all about having good data. Throughout the Caribbean, researchers focused on natural hazards have been working tirelessly to establish a network of Global Positioning System and surface meteorology instrumentation, known as GPS/MET. A key part of that effort is the Continuously Operating Caribbean Observational Network, appropriately nicknamed COCONet. A collaborative five-year project of UCAR and UNAVCO, the project reached another significant milestone with the recent installation of a GPS receiver in Camagüey, Cuba.

Rick Anthes and colleagues in Cuba
Rick Anthes (center in green shirt), UCAR president emeritus, attending a celebration for the new COCONet station in Camagüey, Cuba (photo courtesy Luis Enrique Ramos.)

Rick Anthes (UCAR president emeritus) and COSMIC’s John Braun, along with Glen Mattioli and Jim Normandeau (both from UNAVCO), recently visited Camagüey to celebrate the inauguration of the new COCONet station.

"This achievement is quite remarkable, but it started out mostly by accident,” Rick told Staff News. “In a visit to Cuba in 2007 as AMS president, I proposed GPS/MET as one of several possible UCAR–Cuba interactions. A lot of things fell into place over the next seven years, as we summarized in our recent BAMS paper."

“The data from this station will be used for atmospheric and solid Earth research applications,” added John. “We will use the data to determine how accurately atmospheric water vapor is represented within numerical weather models and how errors in water vapor can influence forecasts. The station should also be very useful in understanding the

UNAVCO's Jim Normandeau and Glen Mattioli.
UNAVCO's Jim Normandeau and Glen Mattioli. (Photo courtesy Rick Anthes.)

diurnal cycle of atmospheric water vapor. And from a geodetic perspective, this station will allow us to accurately measure the plate boundary between the stable North American plate and the Caribbean plate.”  

The two-day inauguration event included a tour of the station, presentations by Cuban researchers, a tour of the historical center of the city, and a scientific symposium on the research conducted within the COCONet project, which included a discussion of how the station in Camagüey will support research vital to both Cuban and U.S. scientists.

"I support increasing interactions between U.S. and Cuban scientists for many reasons," said Rick. "Primarily, the two countries have a lot in common geographically, with respect to weather and climate—a primary example being hurricanes. And the Cuban scientists and engineers I have met have much to offer to scientific partnerships in the way of intellectual horsepower—they are bright, innovative and energetic. Finally, science can be a significant tool for people-to-people exchanges, in keeping with recent efforts to bring our two countries closer together,” Rick added.

On the web

A synopsis of the events leading up to the installation of the Camagüey station is available for early online release from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS, Anthes et al., 2015).


Rebecca Swisher, Internal Communications Specialist


The inaugural event also generated some press coverage in Cuba, with a television station there covering the historic venture (available in Spanish on YouTube).