latest news & announcements


by: Norman E. Breuer, Clyde W. Fraisse, Peter E. Hildebrand

Volume 2009, No. 5, 7 October 2009

We used a participatory approach for research, development, and dissemination of AgroClimate, a decision support system for climate risk reduction in agriculture. Feedback from stakeholders and dissemination of climate forecast technology were simultaneous outputs from interactions with potential end users. We describe the research and development process, including the use of Sondeos (a semi-structured, multidisciplinary team discussion process), focus groups, semi-structured interviews, web-surveys, on-line feedback and participation at farmer association meetings. Quality and quantity of feedback, cost, number of activities, and numbers of stakeholders reached were scaled for analysis. Radar diagrams were used to characterize the several research participatory methodologies used. Results showed that all methods were useful. The greatest quantity of feedback was obtained through Sondeos, interviews, and a web survey. The greatest quality of feedback came from the web survey, workshops, interviews and Sondeos. Dissemination of climate forecast technology and applications available on AgroClimate were greatest at farmer association meetings and lowest at workshops. All methods mentioned are appropriate loci for two-way translational science to occur. While disseminating climate information, feedback and new ideas from potential end users are obtained. Thus AgroClimate and many of the tools within it may be thought of as having been co-developed by scientists and stakeholders.


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Alan R. Bender 1944-2008

by: Dennis Todey

Volume 2009, No. 4, 4 June 2009

Alan R. Bender, 63, of Volga, S.D., died suddenly in Brookings on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008. In 1979 he became an engineer and assistant professor of agricultural engineering at SDSU and the following year he completed his master’s degree in agricultural engineering. In 1984 he was named acting director of the SDSU Water Resource Institute, a position he held until 1991. The previous year, he had been named an assistant professor and agricultural engineer in Extension and acting water quality coordinator. From 1991 to 2001 he was South Dakota’s state climatologist. His contributed significantly to the disciplinary knowledge base and helped pioneer many new processes through each of these positions; his professional achievements are too numerous to

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Integrating the Natural Climate Regime into Management Plans for Swine Wastewater Lagoons

by: Charles L. Wax, Jonathan W. Pote, Michael E. Brown

Volume 2009, No. 3, 1 Jun 2009

Disposal of wastewater from large-scale swine production facilities in the southern region of the U.S. is increasingly problematic as production facilities increase and regulations governing disposal become more restrictive. No-discharge systems are attractive or even mandatory for many producers. In such systems, wastewater is pumped from a storage lagoon when a certain level of storage is reached, and proper disposal depends on evaporation, infiltration into the soil,  and on a crop's ability to utilize some nutrient such  as nitrogen or phosphorus at that time. Under the control of climate in the region, lagoon levels rise during periods of precipitation while the soil becomes wet and the net water requirement of plants decreases, precluding irrigation.  Wastewater volume is therefore typically high du ring winter and spring when pumping would be ecologically damaging, and low during summer and fall when conditions are more often suitable for successful land application. Consequently, at the moment of greatest need this type of disposal system is not operational, and spills or illegal discharges may occur. This study uses daily computer simulation over a 45-year period to test how well five management strategies could remedy this offset distribution of wastewater supply and demand.  Pumping once each year on planned dates of the 15th of June, July, August, and September do successfully shift the time of necessary pumping out of the winter and spring and into the growing season. An annual September 15 th pumping of lagoons is recommended as the most efficient management plan for avoiding illegal overflows and emergency pumping at times when land application will not be successful.   

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Daily Climate Data Quality Control Procedures of the Iowa State Climatologist

by: Harry Hillaker, Karen Andsager

Volume 2009, No. 2, 1 Jun 2009

The State Climatologist Office of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has been performing data entry and data quality  control of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration daily climate data in Iowa since  July 1, 1987. This process uses comprehensive, automated quality control tests based on standard instrumentation and observing practices and on standard climatological consistency. Inconsistencies flagged by these tests are manually resolved using a standard procedure based on information available from other sources and surrounding stations. The process then uses a manual spatial test to flag additional suspect values, which are also manually resolved using a standard procedure based on information available from other sources and surrounding stations. For example, for suspect values spotted in snowfall and snow depth spatial plots, visible satellite imagery may be consulted along with snowfall at neighboring stations to produce reasonable snowfall and snow depth estimates. This manually intensive process has produced a unique resource for comparison of manual quality control with automated processes, as well as analysis of Iowa climate.   

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NWS Frost Depth Observation with Liquid-In Probes Performance: Two-Year Review

by: F. Adnan Akyuz, Mark Ewens, Radu Carcoana, Barbara Mullins

Volume 2009, No.1, 1 Jun 2009

Performance of the liquid-in frost depth probe made in-house by the Grand Forks National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (W FO) is compared against soil temperature observations made by North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) at the Fargo location for a two-year period from 2006-2007 to 2007-2008 winter seasons. While the liquid-in frost depth probe provided continuous frost depth observations, NDAWN soil temperature observations had to be interpolated between measurement points to determine the depth where the soil temperature was 0 °C (32 °F). In general, the trends of both observations matched almost identically; however, the magnitude of the depths varied with liquid-in frost depth probe consistently showing deeper frost depths than the NDAWN soil temperature observations.

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Paul Waite: 1918-2008

by: Harry J. Hillaker

Volume 2008, No. 1, 30 Jun 2008

Paul J. Waite, long-time State Climatologist for Iowa, died at the age of 89 in Pittsfield, IL on April 28, 2008. Paul was born on June 21, 1918 in New Salem, IL. He graduated from New Salem High School in 1936 and received a Bachelor of Education in Science and Mathematics from Western State College in Macomb, IL in 1940. He taught and coached in several Illinois schools prior to entering the Air Force Meteorology Cadet Program at the  University of Chicago in 1942. He served as a weather officer for the USAF from 1943 to 1946. He then served as a weather- briefer for the then US Weather Bureau in Chicago from 1948 to 1951. In 1951-1952 he served as a USAF meteorologist in Korea, then returned to work for the USWB in Kansas City. He was the USWB State Climatologist in Madison, WI from 1956- 1959, then took the same position in Des Moines, IA from 1959-1973.   

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Research Data Collection at the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed

by: D. Marks, M. Seyfried, G. Flerchinger and A. Winstral

Volume 2007, No. 4, 2 Jun 2007

To understand how variations in climate, land use, and land cover will impact water, ecosystem, and natural resources in snow-dominated regions, we must have access to long-term hydrologic and climatic databases. Data from watersheds that include significant human activities, such as grazing, farming, irrigation and urbanization, are critical for determining the signature of human induced changes on hydrologic processes and the water cycle. One of the primary components of effective watershed research is a sustained, long-term monitoring and measurement program. Such an effort was undertaken when the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) was added to the USDA Agricultural Research Service watershed program in 1960. The RCEW, a 239 km 2 drainage in the Owyhee Mountains near Boise, Idaho, has been continuously monitored since the early 1960's and continues to the present. The vision for RCEW as an outdoor hydrologic laboratory in which watershed re search would be supported by sustained, long-term monitoring of basic hydro-climatic parameters was described in 1965 in the first volume of  Water Resources Research . Research at the RCEW continues to be supported by monitoring at 9 weirs, 21 primary and 4 secondary meteorological measurement stations, 24 precipitation stations, 8 snow courses, 5 snow study sites, 14 soil temperature profiles, 4 soil moisture profiles and 3 sub-surf ace hill-slope hydrology sites.  These support a wide range of experimental investigations including snow hydrology and physics, cold season hydrology, water quality, model development and testing, water and carbon flux experiments, ecosystem processes studies, grazing effects, and mountain climate research. Active watershed manipulation allows research on fire ecology and hydrology, vegetation-climate interaction, watershed restoration, grazing and wildlife management, and invasive plants. All data are ingested into a computer database, and available to the public vi a both web-based and on-line ftp access.   

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NOAA Climate Data Stewardship: Progress through Partnerships

by Robert J. Leffler, Michael J. Brewer, Robert E. Livezey, Robert W. Reeves, Myron Berger, Timothy W. Owen, Karsten Shein

Volume 2007, No. 3, 2 Jun 2007

Recent changes in the organizational structure of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have created an environment conducive to improved end-to-end agency climate data stewardship.  Changes include the reintroduction of a climate services program into the National Weather Service (NWS) through the creation of a Climate Services Division (CSD) at the headquarters level, the creation of a NWS liaison at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and the addition of six Regional Climate Centers as contractual support for NCDC. Action is being undertaken to mitigate deficiencies identified in the current surface weather and climate data collection, quality control, and dissemination process. Central to the effort in improving NOAA’s end-to-end data stewardship process is the strengthened partnerships and related coordination and collaboration between these different organizations. Strengthened partnerships, data policy changes, staff training in climate principles, and more effective operational practices ensure compliance with climate community needs and pay immediate dividends through increased data quality and data availability for all users.  The evolution and changes noted above are documented. Future agency priorities for additional improvements that further protect the integrity of the nation’s climate record are also discussed.  

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Agricultural Climatology

by Kenneth G. Hubbard

Volume 2007, No. 2, 2 Jun 2007

Agricultural Climatology can play a role in decisions related to “What Crop Should I Plant?”, “When Should I  Plant?”, “What Hybrid Should I Plant?”, “What is  Happening with Crops in other Parts of the  World?”, and “Where Should the Feedlot be  Located?”.  There are a host of other questions that  Agricultural Climatology can help to answer  including: “What Seeding Density Should I  Choose?”, “What is the Optimal Fertilizer  Treatment?”, “How do I Choose Effective Pest  Treatment?”, “When should I conduct aerial  spraying?”, “Is Irrigation an Effective Option?”,  “Can I Grow a Second Crop?”, “Will an On-the- Farm Wind Energy Plant be Cost Effective?”,  “Where is the Optimal Location of a new Ethanol  Plant?”, “Is the Duration of the Growing Season  Changing?”, and “Is the Likelihood of Heat  Stress Changing?”.  For Agricultural Climatology to reach its potential with respect to these and other decisions federal investments and commitments are needed.  First and foremost the federal government must commit to supporting data gathering networks.  Secondly, the federal institutions must support the infrastructure necessary to archive and disseminate the basic data. Quality  Control/Assurance must be standardized between  agencies and institutions and any changes to  existing data sets should be synchronized so that  all parties have the “best” available data. A suite of standardized products should be supported so  that the data can be provided to potential users in  the agricultural sector in  formats that are readily used.   

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The Past and Future of Climate-related Services in the United States

By Stanley A. Changnon

Volume 2007, No. 1, 1 Jun 2007

Climate information has been the foundation upon which the nation’s weather-sensitive activities and infrastructure have been developed over the past 200 years. By 1970, climate services had begun to move to a new level of recognition and ever higher value to the climate-sensitive sectors of the nation. The past four decades have seen a series of scientific advances and technological changes that have vastly enhanced the provision of climate information. Atmospheric scientists created major improvements in weather-sensing instruments, in data quality and its archival, in the ease of accessing data and climate information, and in the generation of user-friendly climate products. Coupled with these advances have been national and global economic conditions and government policies that have acted to greatly increase the demand for climate products. On the government side, there has been establishment of state climatologists in all states, a national network of six regional climate cen ters, and an enhanced national data center. On the business side, there has been a rapid expansion into climatology, bringing new climate-based products and services to a vast array of climate-sensitive businesses and government agencies. However, not all aspects of climate services are at an optimum level. Five limitations need future attention to achieve optimum usage of climate information: better climate training; stabilization of weather/climate measurements; enhanced outreach to users; better information on climate impacts; and knowledge of effects of climate change. Regardless, provision of climate data and information is the oldest atmospheric sciences activity in service to society and its most successful.  

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