Thursday, 13 February 2003
Improving the observation of the water cycle in Iowa using the Iowa Environmental Mesonet
Numerous mesonetworks have been and continue to be developed across the United States for different purposes from agriculture to transportation. Huge amounts of surface data are being regularly collected, but often not shared among networks or users. A project to capitalize on the existing data from the variety such of stations in Iowa began in the summer of 2001. Since its inception, the Iowa Environmental Mesonet (IEM), has collected, compared and disseminated data from more than 400 stations in 8 existing networks in Iowa. Nearly all of these stations collect precipitation data. Time scales of the data range from daily to minute values. Comparisons among the stations to check validity of the data and detect errors in recording are continuing. These are difficult due to the differences in data collection platforms and methods and differing observing periods.
Data collected from these stations have improved the temporal and spatial resolution of precipitation within the state. Collection and transfer of this data to National Weather Service (NWS) Offices in the state and NWS River Forecast Centers has improved warning issuance and verification and flood guidance. It has also spurred research on daily soil erosion estimates, bacterial infection estimates in Iowa lakes and the temporal variation of precipitation across the state. The dense network has benefited agriculture by allowing better assessment of drought and excessive wetness in the state. Observation of the interaction between the atmosphere and soil is beginning through the introduction of soil moisture measurements at Iowa State University Research Farms and other locations in the state. These are improving soil capacity measurements that are missing in water use estimates in the state.
Supplementary URL: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu