The workshop, sponsored by NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program and hosted by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, was held March 21-23 in Champaign, Illinois.
Participants from WKU were Dr. Stuart Foster, state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Climate Center and Kentucky Mesonet at WKU; Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, associate director of the Kentucky Climate Center and Kentucky Mesonet at WKU; and Megan Schargorodski, Mesonet manager; and Andrew Quilligan, lead systems architect.
“The Kentucky Mesonet at WKU is one of the premier automated weather and climate monitoring networks in the nation,” Dr. Foster said. “This workshop provided a venue to meet with other mesonet operators to identify and explore opportunities for collaboration. We are constantly seeking ways to become more efficient and provide greater value. By working with other mesonets and coordinating through the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, we think that we can achieve these goals.”
Drought was also a focus of the meeting as representatives from the National Drought Mitigation Center and the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub addressed the use of mesonets across the Midwest to provide early warning as drought conditions develop. NIDIS is expected to release its strategic plan for the Midwest Drought Early Warning System later this year.
“At the Midwest regional level, the Midwest Climate Hub recognizes the need for local gathering of important ag-related information but also the regional sharing of information and tools to help decision-makers across state boundaries,” said Dennis Todey, Director of USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub. “As a former state network director, I also realize the effort involved in maintaining a network as well as the power that it can provide to local users. We must continue to value-add to the data to create usable information and tools.”
The Kentucky Mesonet at WKU, the only network of its kind in the Commonwealth, has 68 stations in 66 counties and is the Commonwealth’s official source for weather and climate data. The stations collect real-time data on temperature, precipitation, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction and transmit it to the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU every five minutes, 24 hours per day, throughout the year.
“State and local mesonet programs offer high-quality atmospheric and soil data that compliments data being gathered from federal networks,” said Beth Hall, Director of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. “Data from these mesonets have historically been underutilized from a regional, if not federal, perspective. This workshop was a fantastic opportunity to convene mesonet program leaders, affiliates, and partners to integrate their unique assets into a much larger, coordinated resource for a variety of stakeholders.”
Contact: Stuart Foster, (270) 745-5983