Mesonets: Mesoscale Weather and Climate Observations for the United States

Rezaul Mahmood Department of Geography and Geology, and Kentucky Climate Center, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky

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Ryan Boyles North Carolina State Climate Office, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

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Kevin Brinson Delaware Environmental Observing System, Department of Geography, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware

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Christopher Fiebrich Oklahoma Climatological Survey, School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Stuart Foster Department of Geography and Geology, and Kentucky Climate Center, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky

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Ken Hubbard High Plains Regional Climate Center, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska

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David Robinson Department of Geography, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey

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Jeff Andresen Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

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Dan Leathers Department of Geography, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware

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Abstract

Mesoscale in situ meteorological observations are essential for better understanding and forecasting the weather and climate and to aid in decision-making by a myriad of stakeholder communities. They include, for example, state environmental and emergency management agencies, the commercial sector, media, agriculture, and the general public. Over the last three decades, a number of mesoscale weather and climate observation networks have become operational. These networks are known as mesonets. Most are operated by universities and receive different levels of funding. It is important to communicate the current status and critical roles the mesonets play.

Most mesonets collect standard meteorological data and in many cases ancillary near-surface data within both soil and water bodies. Observations are made by a relatively spatially dense array of stations, mostly at subhourly time scales. Data are relayed via various means of communication to mesonet offices, with derived products typically distributed in tabular, graph, and map formats in near–real time via the World Wide Web. Observed data and detailed metadata are also carefully archived.

To ensure the highest-quality data, mesonets conduct regular testing and calibration of instruments and field technicians make site visits based on “maintenance tickets” and prescheduled frequencies. Most mesonets have developed close partnerships with a variety of local, state, and federal-level entities. The overall goal is to continue to maintain these networks for high-quality meteorological and climatological data collection, distribution, and decision-support tool development for the public good, education, and research.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Publisher’s Note: On 18 September 2017 this article was revised to amend captions for Figs. 3 and 4, inserting citations omitted from the original publication.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Rezaul Mahmood, rezaul.mahmood@wku.edu

Abstract

Mesoscale in situ meteorological observations are essential for better understanding and forecasting the weather and climate and to aid in decision-making by a myriad of stakeholder communities. They include, for example, state environmental and emergency management agencies, the commercial sector, media, agriculture, and the general public. Over the last three decades, a number of mesoscale weather and climate observation networks have become operational. These networks are known as mesonets. Most are operated by universities and receive different levels of funding. It is important to communicate the current status and critical roles the mesonets play.

Most mesonets collect standard meteorological data and in many cases ancillary near-surface data within both soil and water bodies. Observations are made by a relatively spatially dense array of stations, mostly at subhourly time scales. Data are relayed via various means of communication to mesonet offices, with derived products typically distributed in tabular, graph, and map formats in near–real time via the World Wide Web. Observed data and detailed metadata are also carefully archived.

To ensure the highest-quality data, mesonets conduct regular testing and calibration of instruments and field technicians make site visits based on “maintenance tickets” and prescheduled frequencies. Most mesonets have developed close partnerships with a variety of local, state, and federal-level entities. The overall goal is to continue to maintain these networks for high-quality meteorological and climatological data collection, distribution, and decision-support tool development for the public good, education, and research.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Publisher’s Note: On 18 September 2017 this article was revised to amend captions for Figs. 3 and 4, inserting citations omitted from the original publication.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Rezaul Mahmood, rezaul.mahmood@wku.edu
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