13th Conference on Applied Climatology and the 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology

Monday, 13 May 2002
The Iowa Environmental Mesonet—observing climate at the mesoscale
Dennis P. Todey, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; and E. S. Takle and S. E. Taylor
Poster PDF (64.3 kB)
In response to needs for more spatially detailed, real-time observational and climatological data, information from over 300 stations from five different weather-observing systems existing in Iowa are being gathered at Iowa State University initiating the Iowa Environmental Mesonet (IEM). This mesonet attempts to capitalize on the existing amount of data being gathered, which is not being used optimally.

Five different organizations are responsible for the data collection (National Weather Service (NWS), Federal Aviation Administration, Iowa Department of Transportation, United States Geological Survey, and Iowa State University) for specific real-time purposes. Several problems existed with the data. None of the data was available from the same site; nor was it reviewed for inter-comparison of data. Some internal quality control was done for some of the systems individually.

The IEM has succeeded in consolidating the data feeds of these streams. Quality control is being initiated on the data to determine comparability. This is allowing not only display of combined current data, but also the development of climatologies that are not commonly disseminated (http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu). Data such as wind climatology, seasonal rainfall and growing degree days can be displayed in great detail across the state. The increased density of stations available from the IEM allows more detailed resolution of climate than was possible before. New instrumentation will be added to collect data, such as soil temperature and soil moisture, which are currently lacking or non-existent.

By combining the systems the state hopes to create a research quality mesonet at a lower total cost than developing a new system from scratch. The effort, also, ties with an Iowa State University Agronomy departmental initiative to intensively study agro-ecosystems. Part of this initiative is to develop a base-line of long-term measurements of the agro-ecosystem for the purpose of assessing how agriculture interacts with the surrounding ecosystem.

Supplementary URL: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu