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Researcher: Souleymane Fall

Agricultural Weather and Climate Atlas for Research Stations across Indiana

( A project through the Mary S. Rice Farm Estate/ Purdue Agricultural Research Center )

Click here for Indiana Climate Atlas

Objective: Agricultural research stations conduct a variety of field experiments. A number of these experiments- if not all- require weather and climate information to help design, interpret, and analyze, field results. Indeed in 2004 alone, more than 50 Purdue researchers made requests for such information to the Indiana State Climate Office.

In response to this need, the State Climate Office of Indiana is presently developing an agricultural weather and climate atlas for the Purdue Agricultural Research Centers (PAC) that will directly benefit Agricultural Research Program activities. The atlas will be made available both electronically (web site and CDs) as well as in hard copy reports. This project involves various investigators and the support from a student.

The successful completion of this project will lead to the following deliverables: a quality controlled and quality assured dataset in electronic and hard copy (printed report) formats that can be widely used by various PAC investigators, county extension agents, and other agencies in Indiana.

Project Participants:

  1. Dr. Dev Niyogi, Indiana State Climatologist and Asst. Prof. in Agronomy and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  2. Ken Scheeringa, Asst. State Climatologist (Data Services) and Agronomy staff
  3. Dr. Rich Grant, Professor in Agronomy
  4. Souleymane Fall, Graduate student, Agronomy
  5. Web programmer.

Justification and Relevance:

Purdue's Agricultural Research Centers are a critical resource in the advancement of Indiana's agriculture. PAC undertakes production problems as addressed by researchers and extension educators, assuming risks that are not economically feasible to be undertaken by individual farmers. The variability in Indiana's soil types, microclimates, management practices, and other factors can be studied simultaneously at multiple sites in a single year. It is well known that the regional weather and climate has a significant effect on the experiments. Yet, currently, Indiana does not have a weather or climate atlas that documents such microclimates. This information is critical in a direct way to agricultural research station activities, and by way of extension, to the broader community.

The construction of an Agricultural Weather and Climate Atlas for Research Stations across Indiana will be achieved in a series of six important steps:

STEP 1 (already accomplished). Compile, quality control, quality assure, and process the official daily cooperative weather station observations of maximum and minimum air temperature, precipitation, and snowfall data for every cooperative station in each county where an agricultural weather station is located (see Figure 1 and Table 1).

STEP 2. Time series of daily, monthly, and seasonal averages will be plotted and tabulated for a 30-year 'normal' period (1974-2003). This 'normal' period is a standard in climatological literature and is required by various crop models for developing deviations in the weather patterns, i.e. weather anomalies.

STEP 3. These data and plots will be posted on the Indiana State Climate Office web site for comment and feedback. Some interactive features related to selection of period of record to plot, site images, metadata features, etc will be added on an ongoing basis.

STEP 4. Seven of the PACs have automated half-hourly weather observations (since 1999). In addition to the air temperature and rainfall, these stations record soil temperature, solar radiation, and winds. We will process these data initially for those stations that have a cooperative observing station co-located at these sites. We will compare the manual observations of temperature and precipitation (as done by the cooperative station) with daily averages augmented by maximum and minimum temperature and precipitation. We will develop plots of daily averages and typical diurnal fluctuations of temperature, precipitation, winds, solar radiation, and soil temperature. The half-hourly data will be available in electronic format (CD-ROM and web site), and daily averages will be available in hard copy reports as well.

STEP 5. All the variables from the cooperative observing stations as well as the automated stations will be available on the Indiana State Climate Office website.

STEP 6. In addition to these two main sources of weather and climate information, a USDA radiation/environmental monitoring research site is also operational at ACRE. We will compare and provide this data since it has additional information on radiative energy fluxes that may be desired by some models and field studies. Similarly, an AMERIFLUX site is available in southern Indiana, which has half-hourly energy fluxes, soil moisture, soil temperature, winds, and radiation information. All the processed, quality controlled, quality assured data will be made available at the Indiana State Climate Office website.

The Indiana State Climate Office will create a web portal for agricultural weather and climate information. The intent will be to have a straightforward format useful for researchers and collaborators to interpret and generalize their research results. This web site will be freely available and widely advertised as the product of the PAC- Rice grant. We will create hard copy atlases which will have the same information but without interactive features. The atlas will be made available to each PAC and county educator in which the research stations are located, the Purdue Agricultural Research Program office, the Cooperative Extension Service, and Heads and Extension Leaders of various Agriculture College departments across Purdue. We will have CDs available initially for research by investigators who will work with these PAC data, and all others requesting these data. This digital atlas will be extended in future work to include climate variables for all of Indiana .

In 2004, over 50 Purdue researchers requested climate data to interpret the results of their work done at the various PACs. This information is therefore desired and necessary for all aspects of research experimentation. For example, (i) in designing the experiment by selecting the correct location, variety; planning the various experimental design (e.g. by reviewing the frequency of weather events); (ii) for interpreting the results by comparing the current season in the context of climatology; (iii) for generalizing field measurements by interfacing regression and other types of models, which require information on weather environmental variables; and (iv) for developing scientific publications with defensible (citable) weather information sources.

We believe the information compiled, synthesized and presented as a result of this Rice grant supported project will make a positive contribution in all the above aspects directly related to PAC research. As an extension this information can serve a variety of other applications related to environmental management, disaster mitigation, drought monitoring and planning, among many others.

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