2002 Annual

Thursday, 17 January 2002: 11:15 AM
The Iowa Environmental Mesonetócombining observing systems into a single network
Dennis P. Todey, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; and D. E. Herzmann and E. S. Takle
Poster PDF (827.9 kB)
In response to needs for more spatially detailed, real-time observational 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. Using existing stations limits the need to cite a great number of new stations.

Most of the current data being gathered is specific to aviation, roadways, or waterways with a small amount for agriculture. 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). 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 initial IEM effort is to collect these data feeds and check for accuracy and comparability of the data among systems. The combined data are used to create hourly daily real-time summaries and climatologies. The data and products are disseminated freely to the public in raw and graphical formats (http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu). Current and archive data are available freely for download, also.

After assessing the quality and station density of the existing data, new stations will be added to fill data voids in the state. New instrumentation will be added to collect data, such as soil temperature and soil moisture, which are currently lacking or non-existent. Applications of the data are being developed for agriculture (daily tracking of Growing Degree Days (GDDs), rainfall, and their deviations from mean values), education (observation of small-scale atmospheric effects such as heat bursts and outflows from thunderstorms), transportation (development of a roadway frost forecasting model), forecasting (initialization and verification of atmospheric models) and NWS severe weather verification.

This project has attracted attention statewide and outside the state in its attempt to bring different governmental organizations together to capitalize on the benefits of each organization's individual system and create a powerful tool for the general public. 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 a Iowa State University Agronomy departmental initiative to 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