With the world changing rapidly, weather is emerging as one of the greatest challenges for governments, businesses, and private citizens around the globe. Here in the U.S., the National Mesonet Program (NMP) facilitates a unique collaboration between academia, local governments, and businesses that seeks to pool information for improving our collective severe weather resiliency.
Moving forward, we’ll explore…
- The National Mesonet Program’s mission
- The benefits the NMP provides for people across the country
- How AEM and the Earth Networks brand support the NMP
- How education, businesses, governments/municipalities, and private citizens can get involved in the program
What is the National Mesonet Program?
Generally speaking, a mesonet is a dense network of weather stations that provides real-time data to aid in nowcasting, forecasting, and modeling for a given geographic area.
Mesonets were initially created primarily by public universities in farm-belt states to give area farmers the information they need about temperature, humidity, wind, soil conditions, and more to optimize harvests. In the early 2000s, the idea of connecting those regional networks into a national system came into focus.
Developing a more complete picture of weather conditions across the country required an innovative public-private-academic partnership. That’s why the NMP was created in 2009 to establish a central repository for environmental data from tens of thousands of weather stations maintained by non-federal entities like universities, state governments, private businesses, and ordinary citizens.
What does the National Mesonet Program do?
The National Mesonet Program collects, analyses, and disseminates weather data from non-federal sources around the country in order to significantly improve our weather awareness and prediction capabilities on the whole, support severe weather response, and increase our overall national security. The overall goal is to create a weather-ready nation that is highly resistant to the power of nature.
Data from the program is used at every level of government as well as by private businesses and independent researchers to help tackle the great challenges of our time, from climate change to the supply chain to more efficient travel and electrical power generation.
How does the National Mesonet Program benefit people?
The NMP’s mission primarily centers on data gathering and analysis, but that doesn’t mean the work doesn’t have a human face. Data from the program is used in a wide variety of contexts by local governments, universities, and private entities with the shared goal of making life safer in the face of escalating environmental risks.
Here are a few ways data from the National Mesonet Program is leveraged to support quality-of-life for citizens across the U.S.:
Economic benefits of national weather monitoring
- Knowing when it’s safe to do business at a given location
- Optimizing supply chain & warehouse processes
- Projecting accurate project completion times
- Minimizing economic impact of major weather events
- Providing more data for innovation, research, and development
Agricultural benefits of national weather monitoring
- More accurate growing degree day and soil monitoring data
- More reliable, predictable harvests
- More opportunities to protect crops and workers from wildfires
Educational benefits of national weather monitoring
- More engaging, authentic K-12 STEM curriculum
- Increased data platform for university-level research
- Better situational awareness for schools and universities
Environmental benefits of national weather monitoring
- Increased understanding of our environment & ecosystems
- Increased fire management abilities
- Increased climate modeling
Homeland security benefits of national weather monitoring
- Better situational response planning in times of crisis
- Better understanding of regional & national air quality
- Better preparation for the future
Why is the National Mesonet Program important?
For all the reasons mentioned above, the National Mesonet Program provides a variety of benefits for Americans in every part of the country and demographic group. Given the explosive growth of severe weather challenges, from floods to wildfires, the data that the program provides will be key to problem-solvers at universities and in the private sector innovating new approaches, new tools, and new technologies.
Furthermore, as a program, the NMP as a powerful example of what’s possible when there’s true collaboration among government, education, and the private sectors. The partnership stands as a model for other climate, homeland security, and quality-of-life initiatives that could benefit the American public in the face of current challenges.
How does AEM support the National Mesonet Program?
Our commitment to the National Mesonet Program goes back to March of 2004, when our Earth Networks brand was known as WeatherBug. One cold spring morning, powerful winds capsized a water taxi in Baltimore’s inner harbor, just miles from our headquarters in Germantown, Maryland.
In the days following the fatal accident, leaders in Baltimore were looking to understand whether or not the events of that day could have been predicted with the right technology. Earth Networks raised our hands and said yes.
When the state of Maryland asked us how they could create a better, more complete forecasting network than what they had access to through the Coast Guard, we started paging through our rolodex of weather scientists, college professors, and private firms with an interest in the weather and connecting those teams with an eye towards finding a better way.
Over the next five years, those conversations percolated, public-private-academic relationships strengthened, and the National Mesonet Program materialized. That partnership created the best-yet nationwide network of non-federal weather stations and data for analysis.
These days, AEM and a leading team of industry professionals work with the National Weather Service to onboard new partners and evaluate new sensing technologies. We’re proud to play a continuing role in the foundation and growth of this key initiative. We also derive a great deal of satisfaction knowing that many of the National Mesonet Program’s partners use weather stations and sensors from AEM’s Davis Instruments, Earth Networks, and Lambrecht Meteo brands.
How can I support the National Mesonet Program?
If you’re an existing AEM customer, the NMP needs you to take action! To ensure critical weather information can be routed to the National Weather Service to enhance severe weather warnings and improve forecasts, please make sure that your weather station is turned on and continually transmitting data.
If you’re using Davis Instruments, Earth Networks, or Lambrecht stations and are unsure if you’re properly capturing and transmitting data, contact our support team today, and we can talk you through the process of validating everything is working correctly.
If you do not currently have a weather station at your location, be it a K-12 school, first responder facility, public park or athletic sports complex, university science center, local wilderness management building or a private business, and have an interest in the weather, you can become an NMP partner. Doing so will go a long way toward helping to provide a greater foundation of data for weather forecasters and researchers around the country. This in turn will help our country become a weather-ready nation.
To find out how you can join the program as a partner, contact our support team and ask about the National Mesonet Program.