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A weather map consisting of a station model plot of Oklahoma Mesonet data overlaid with WSR-88D weather radar data depicting possible horizontal convective rolls as a potential contributing factor in the incipient 3 May 1999 tornado outbreak

In meteorology (and climatology), a mesonet, portmanteau of mesoscale network, is a network of (typically) automated weather and environmental monitoring stations designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena.[1][2] Dry lines, squall lines, and sea breezes are examples of phenomena that can be observed by mesonets. Due to the space and time scales associated with mesoscale phenomena, weather stations comprising a mesonet will be spaced closer together and report more frequently than synoptic scale observing networks, such as ASOS. The term mesonet refers to the collective group of these weather stations, which are typically owned and operated by a common entity. Mesonets usually record in situ surface weather observations but some involve other observation platforms, particularly vertical profiles of the planetary boundary layer (PBL).[3]

The distinguishing features that classify a network of weather stations as a mesonet are station density and temporal resolution. Depending upon the phenomena meant to be observed, mesonet stations use a spatial spacing of 1 to 40 kilometres (0.62 to 24.85 mi)[4] and report conditions every 1 to 15 minutes. Micronets (see microscale and storm scale), such as in metropolitan areas such as Oklahoma City,[5] St. Louis, and Birmingham UK, may be even more dense in spatial resolution.[6]


Thunderstorms, squall lines, drylines,[7] sea and land breezes, mountain breeze and valley breezes, mountain waves, mesolows and mesohighs, wake lows, mesoscale convective vortices (MCVs), tropical cyclone and extratropical cyclone rainbands, macrobursts, gust fronts and outflow boundaries, heat bursts, urban heat islands, and other mesoscale phenomena can cause weather conditions in a localized area to be significantly different from that dictated by the ambient large-scale conditions.[8][9] As such, meteorologists need to understand these phenomena in order to improve forecast skill. Observations are critical to understanding the processes by which these phenomena form, evolve, and dissipate.

The long-term observing networks (ASOS, AWOS, Coop), however, are too sparse and report too infrequently for mesoscale research. ASOS and AWOS stations are typically spaced 50 to 100 kilometres (31 to 62 mi) apart and report only hourly at many sites. The Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) database consists of only daily reports. "Mesoscale" weather phenomena occur on spatial scales of tens to hundreds of kilometers and temporal (time) scales of minutes to hours. Thus, an observing network with finer temporal and spatial scales is needed for mesoscale research. This need led to the development of the mesonet.

Mesonet data is directly used by humans for decision making, but also boosts the skill of numerical weather prediction and is especially beneficial for short-range mesoscale models. Mesonets, along with remote sensing solutions (data assimilation of weather radar, weather satellites, wind profilers), allow for much greater temporal and spatial resolution in a forecast model. As the atmosphere is a chaotic nonlinear dynamical system (i.e. Butterfly effect), this increase in data increases understanding of initial conditions and boosts model performance. In addition to meteorology and climatology users, transportation departments, energy producers and distributors, other utility interests, and agricultural entities also have a need for fine scale weather information. These organizations operate dozens of mesonets within the US and globally. Environmental, emergency management and public safety, and insurance interests also are heavy users of mesonet information.

In many cases, mesonet stations may (by necessity) be located in positions where accurate measurements may be compromised; for instance, this is especially true of the stations built for WeatherBug's network, many of which were located on school buildings. The potential bias that these locations may cause must be accounted for when entering the data into a model, lest the phenomenon of "garbage in, garbage out" occur.


Kentucky Mesonet station WSHT near Maysville in Mason County

Mesonets were born out of the need to conduct mesoscale research. The nature of this research is such that mesonets, like the phenomena they are meant to observe, are short-lived. Long-term research projects and non-research groups, however, have been able to maintain a mesonet for many years. For example, the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah has maintained a mesonet for many decades. The research-based origin of mesonets has led to the characteristic that mesonet stations tend to be modular and portable, able to be moved from one field program to another.

Whether the mesonet is temporary or semi-permanent, each weather station is typically independent, drawing power from a battery and solar panels. An on-board computer takes readings from several instruments measuring temperature, humidity, wind speed & direction, and atmospheric pressure, as well as soil temperature and moisture, and other environmental variable deemed important to the mission of the mesonet, solar irradiance being a common non-meteorological parameter. The computer periodically saves these data to memory and transmits the observations to a base station via radio, telephone (wireless or landline), or satellite transmission. Advancements in computer technology and wireless communications in recent decades made possible the collection of mesonet data in real-time. The availability of mesonet data in real-time can be extremely valuable to operational forecasters as they can monitor weather conditions from many points in their forecast area.


Three-day barograph of the type used by the Meteorological Service of Canada

Early mesonets operated differently from modern mesonets. Each constituent instrument of the weather station was purely mechanical and fairly independent of the other sensors. Data were recorded continuously by an inked stylus that pivoted about a point onto a rotating drum covered by a sheath of graphed paper called a trace chart, much like a traditional seismograph station. Data analysis could occur only after the trace charts from the various instruments were collected.

One of the earliest mesonets operated in the summer of 1946 and 1947 and was part of a field campaign called The Thunderstorm Project.[10] As the name implies, the objective of this program was to better understand thunderstorm convection.


The following table is an incomplete list of mesonets that have operated in the past and present:

Years of operation Name of Network, Place Spacing No. of Stations
1939-41 Lindenberger Böennetz [de], Lindenberg [de], Tauche, Germany 3–20 km (1.9–12.4 mi) 19-25 research on convective hazard, squall lines and wind gusts, to aviation[9]
1940 Maebashi, Japan 8–13 km (5.0–8.1 mi) 20 research on convective hazard to aviation, examined structure of thunderstorms[9]
1941 Muskingum basin 10 km (6.2 mi) 131 rainfall and runoff research[9]
1946 The Thunderstorm Project, Florida 1 mi (1.6 km) 50 thunderstorm convection research[11]
1947 The Thunderstorm Project, Ohio 2 mi (3.2 km) 58 thunderstorm convection research[11]
1960 New Jersey 10 km (6.2 mi) 23 research on mesoscale pressure systems[9]
1960 Fort Huachuca, Arizona 20 km (12 mi) 28 Army operations (military meteorology) research[9]
1961 Fort Huachuca, Arizona 3 km (1.9 mi) 17 research on influence of orography[9]
1961–Present Dugway Proving Ground, Utah 9 mi (14 km) 26 air quality modeling and other desert area research
1961 Flagstaff 8 km (5.0 mi) 43 cumulonimbus convection research[9]
1961 National Severe Storms Project (NSSP) 20 km (12 mi) 36 research on structure of severe storms[9]
1962 National Severe Storms Project (NSSP) 60 km (37 mi) 210 research on squall lines and pressure jumps[9]
1972–Present Enviro-Weather, Michigan (now also adjacent sections of Wisconsin) Varies 81 agriculturally centered; archive, varies from 5-60 min observations[12]
1981–Present Nebraska Mesonet, Nebraska Varies 69
originally agriculturally centered now multipurpose; archive, near real-time observations[13][14][15]
1983–Present South Dakota Mesonet, South Dakota Varies 27 archive, real-time 5 min observations[16]
1986–Present Kansas Mesonet, Kansas Varies 72 archive, real-time observations[17]
1986–Present Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET), Arizona Varies 27 agriculturally centered; archive, real-time observations, 15 min - 1 hr[18]
1988–Present Washington AgWeatherNet, Washington Varies 177 multi-network system (comprehensive monitoring, agricultural focused); archive, real-time observations, 5 and 15 min[19][20]
1989–Present Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) Weather System, Ohio Varies 17 agriculturally centered; archive, hourly observations[21]
1990–Present North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN), North Dakota (also adjacent areas of NW-Minnesota and NE-Montana) Varies 91 agriculturally centered; archive, real-time observations[22]
1991–Present Oklahoma Mesonet, Oklahoma Varies 121 comprehensive monitoring; archive, real-time observations[23][24]
1991–Present Georgia Automated Weather Network (AEMN), Georgia Varies 82 agriculture and hydrometeorology; archive, real-time observations, 15 min[25][26]
1993–Present Missouri Mesonet, Missouri Varies 35 agriculturally centered; archive, real-time observations at 21 stations[27][28]
1994–Present **WeatherBug (AWS), across United States Varies >8,000 real-time observations for schools and television stations[29][30]
1997–Present Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), Florida Varies 42 agriculturally-centered; archive, real-time[31][32]
1999–Present West Texas Mesonet, West Texas Varies 63+ archive, real-time observations[33][34]
2001–Present Iowa Environmental Mesonet, Iowa Varies 469* archive, real-time observations[35][36]
2002–Present Solutions Mesonet, Eastern Canada Varies 600+* archive, real-time observations[37]
2002–Present Western Turkey Mesonet, Turkey Varies 206+ nowcasting, hydrometeorology[38]
2003–Present Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS), Delaware Varies 57 archive, real-time observations[39][40]
2004–Present South Alabama Mesonet (USA Mesonet), Alabama Varies 26 archive, real-time observations[41]
2004-2010 Foothills Climate Array (FCA), southern Alberta 10 km (6.2 mi) average 300 research on spatial-temporal meteorological variation, and on weather and climate model performance, across adjoining mountain, foothills, and prairie topographies[42]
2007–Present Kentucky Mesonet, Kentucky Varies 68 archive, real-time observations[43][44][45]
2008–Present Quantum Weather Mesonet, St. Louis metropolitan area, Missouri Varies (average ~5 miles (8.0 km)) 100 utility and nowcasting; archive, real-time observations[46]
Present North Carolina ECONet, North Carolina Varies 99 archive, real-time observations[47]
2012–Present Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory (BUCL) Mesonet, Birmingham UK 3 per km2 24 urban heat island (UHI) monitoring[48][49]
2015–Present New York State Mesonet, New York Varies, averages 20 miles (32 km) 126 real-time observations, improved forecasting[50]
2016–Present TexMesonet, Texas Varies 64+ in network; 3,151 total hydrometeorology and hydrology focused network operated by the Texas Water Development Board, plus network of networks; some real-time observations, archival[51]
Present New Jersey Weather & Climate Network (NJWxNet), New Jersey Varies 66 real-time observations[52]
Present Keystone Mesonet, Pennsylvania Varies real-time observations, archived; variety of uses, network of networks[53]

*Not all stations owned by network.
**As these are private stations, although QA/QC measures are taken, these may not be scientific grade, and may lack proper siting, calibration, sensitivity, durability, and maintenance. The AWS/Weatherbug network is a collection of multiple mesonets, each typically centered around a host television station's media market.

Although not labeled a mesonet, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) also maintains a nationwide surface observation network with the density of a mesonet. JMA operates AMeDAS, consisting of approximately 1,300 stations at a spacing of 17 kilometres (11 mi). The network began operating in 1974.[54]

Permanent mesonets are stationary networks consisting primarily of automated stations, however, some research projects utilize mobile mesonets. Prominent examples include the VORTEX projects.[55][56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mesonet". National Weather Service Glossary. National Weather Service. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  2. ^ Glickman, Todd S. (ed.) (2000). Glossary of Meteorology (2nd ed.). Boston: American Meteorological Society. ISBN 978-1-878220-34-9.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Marshall, Curtis H. (11 Jan 2016). "The National Mesonet Program". 22nd Conference on Applied Climatology. New Orleans, LA: American Meteorological Society.
  4. ^ Fujita, Tetsuya Theodore (1962). A Review of Researches on Analytical MesoMeteorology. SMRP Research Paper. #8. Chicago: University of Chicago. OCLC 7669634.
  5. ^ Basara, Jeffrey B.; Illston, B. G.; Fiebrich, C. A.; Browder, P. D.; Morgan, C. R.; McCombs, A.; Bostic, J. P.; McPherson, R. A. (2011). "The Oklahoma City Micronet". Meteorological Applications. 18 (3): 252–61. doi:10.1002/met.189.
  6. ^ Muller, Catherine L.; Chapman, L.; Grimmond, C. S. B.; Young, D. T.; Cai, X (2013). "Sensors and the City: A Review of Urban Meteorological Networks" (PDF). Int. J. Climatol. 33 (7): 1585–600. Bibcode:2013IJCli..33.1585M. doi:10.1002/joc.3678.
  7. ^ Pietrycha, Albert E.; E. N. Rasmussen (2004). "Finescale Surface Observations of the Dryline: A Mobile Mesonet Perspective". Weather and Forecasting. 19 (12): 1075–88. Bibcode:2004WtFor..19.1075P. doi:10.1175/819.1.
  8. ^ Fujita, T. Theodore (1981). "Tornadoes and Downbursts in the Context of Generalized Planetary Scales". Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 38 (8): 1511–34. Bibcode:1981JAtS...38.1511F. doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1981)038<1511:TADITC>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0469.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ray, Peter S., ed. (1986). Mesoscale Meteorology and Forecasting. Boston: American Meteorological Society. ISBN 978-0933876668.
  10. ^ "Overview of The Thunderstorm Project". NOAA. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  11. ^ a b Byers, Horace R.; R. R. Braham Jr. (1949). The Thunderstorm: Final Report of the Thunderstorm Project. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. OCLC 7944529.
  12. ^ "Enviroweather". Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Mesonet by NSCO". Retrieved 12 April 2017.
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  22. ^ "NDAWN Current Weather". Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Mesonet". Retrieved 7 February 2017.
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  25. ^ "Georgia Weather - Automated Environmental Monitoring Network Page". Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  26. ^ Hoogenboom, Gerrit; D.D. Coker; J.M. Edenfield; D.M. Evans; C. Fang (2003). "The Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network: Ten Years of Weather Information for Water Resources Management". Proceedings of the 2003 Georgia Water Resources Conference. Athens, GA: University of Georgia.
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