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. 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, and 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).
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 utilize a spatial spacing of 1 to 40 kilometres (0.62 to 24.85 mi) and report conditions every 1 to 15 minutes. Micronets (see microscale and storm scale), such as in metropolitan areas such as Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and Birmingham UK, may be even denser in spatial resolution.
Thunderstorms, squall lines, drylines, 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. 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.
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.
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. 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||Objectives|
|1939-41||Lindenberger Böennetz, Lindenberg, Tauche, Germany||3–20 km (1.9–12.4 mi)||19-25||research on convective hazard, squall lines and wind gusts, to aviation|
|1940||Maebashi, Japan||8–13 km (5.0–8.1 mi)||20||research on convective hazard to aviation, examined structure of thunderstorms|
|1941||Muskingum basin||10 km (6.2 mi)||131||rainfall and runoff research|
|1946||The Thunderstorm Project, Florida||1 mi (1.6 km)||50||thunderstorm convection research|
|1947||The Thunderstorm Project, Ohio||2 mi (3.2 km)||58||thunderstorm convection research|
|1960||New Jersey||10 km (6.2 mi)||23||research on mesoscale pressure systems|
|1960||Fort Huachuca, Arizona||20 km (12 mi)||28||Army operations (military meteorology) research|
|1961||Fort Huachuca, Arizona||3 km (1.9 mi)||17||research on influence of orography|
|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|
|1961||National Severe Storms Project (NSSP)||20 km (12 mi)||36||research on structure of severe storms|
|1962||National Severe Storms Project (NSSP)||60 km (37 mi)||210||research on squall lines and pressure jumps|
|1972–Present||Enviro-Weather, Michigan (now also adjacent sections of Wisconsin)||Varies||81||agriculturally centered; archive, varies from 5-60 min observations|
|1981–Present||Nebraska Mesonet, Nebraska||Varies||67||agriculturally centered; archive, real-time hourly observations|
|1983–Present||South Dakota Mesonet, South Dakota||Varies||27||archive, real-time 5 min observations|
|1986–Present||Kansas Mesonet, Kansas||Varies||72||archive, real-time observations|
|1986–Present||Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET), Arizona||Varies||27||agriculturally centered; archive, real-time observations, 15 min - 1 hr|
|1988–Present||Washington AgWeatherNet, Washington||Varies||177||agriculturally centered; archive, real-time observations, 15 min|
|1989–Present||Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) Weather System, Ohio||Varies||17||agriculturally centered; archive, hourly observations|
|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|
|1991–Present||Oklahoma Mesonet, Oklahoma||Varies||121||comprehensive monitoring; archive, real-time observations|
|1991–Present||Georgia Automated Weather Network (AEMN), Georgia||Varies||82||agriculture and hydrometeorology; archive, real-time observations, 15 min|
|1993–Present||Missouri Mesonet, Missouri||Varies||35||agriculturally centered; archive, real-time observations at 21 stations|
|1994–Present||**WeatherBug (AWS), across United States||Varies||>8,000||real-time observations|
|1997–Present||Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), Florida||Varies||42||agriculturally-centered; archive, real-time|
|1999–Present||West Texas Mesonet, Texas||Varies||63+||archive, real-time observations|
|2001–Present||Iowa Environmental Mesonet, Iowa||Varies||469*||archive, real-time observations|
|2002–Present||Western Turkey Mesonet, Turkey||Varies||206+||nowcasting, hydrometeorology|
|2003–Present||Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS), Delaware||Varies||57||archive, real-time observations|
|2007–Present||Kentucky Mesonet, Kentucky||Varies||68||archive, real-time observations|
|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|
|Present||North Carolina ECONet, North Carolina||Varies||99||archive, real-time observations|
|2012–Present||Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory (BUCL) Mesonet, Birmingham UK||3 per km2||24||urban heat island (UHI) monitoring|
|2015–Present||New York State Mesonet, New York||Varies, averages 20 miles (32 km)||126||real-time observations, improved forecasting|
|Present||New Jersey Weather & Climate Network (NJWxNet), New Jersey||Varies||66||real-time observations|
*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.
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.
- Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP)
- Road Weather Information System (RWIS)
- Surface weather analysis
- Automated airport weather station
- "Mesonet". National Weather Service Glossary. National Weather Service. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
- Glickman, Todd S. (ed.) (2000). Glossary of Meteorology (2nd ed.). Boston: American Meteorological Society. ISBN 978-1-878220-34-9.
- Marshall, Curtis H. (11 Jan 2016). "The National Mesonet Program". 22nd Conference on Applied Climatology. New Orleans, LA: American Meteorological Society.
- Fujita, Tetsuya Theodore (1962). A Review of Researches on Analytical MesoMeteorology. SMRP Research Paper. #8. Chicago: University of Chicago. OCLC 7669634.
- 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.
- 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". Int. J. Climatol. 33 (7): 1585–600. Bibcode:2013IJCli..33.1585M. doi:10.1002/joc.3678.
- Pietrycha, Albert E.; E. N. Rasmussen (2004). "Finescale Surface Observations of the Dryline: A Mobile Mesonet Perspective". Wea. Forecasting. 19 (12): 1075–88. Bibcode:2004WtFor..19.1075P. doi:10.1175/819.1.
- Fujita, T. Theodore (1981). "Tornadoes and Downbursts in the Context of Generalized Planetary Scales". J. Atmos. Sci. 38 (8): 1511–34. Bibcode:1981JAtS...38.1511F. doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1981)038<1511:TADITC>2.0.CO;2.
- Ray, Peter S., ed. (1986). Mesoscale Meteorology and Forecasting. Boston: American Meteorological Society. ISBN 978-0933876668.
- "Overview of The Thunderstorm Project". NOAA. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
- 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.
- "Enviroweather". msu.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "Mesonet by NSCO". unl.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Hubbard, Kenneth G.; N. J. Rosenberg; D. C. Nielsen (1983). "Automated Weather Data Network for Agriculture". J Water Res Pl-ASCE. 109 (3). doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9496(1983)109:3(213).
- "South Dakota Mesonet". sdstate.edu. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
- "Kansas Mesonet". k-state.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "AZMET: The Arizona Meteorological Network". arizona.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "AgWeatherNet at Washington State University". wsu.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Elliot, T.V. (2008). "Regional and on-farm wireless sensor networks for agricultural systems in Eastern Washington". Comput. Electron. Agr. 61 (1): 32–43. doi:10.1016/j.compag.2007.05.007.
- "OARDC Weather System". ohio-state.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "NDAWN Current Weather". ndsu.nodak.edu. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Mesonet". mesonet.org. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- McPherson, Renee A.; C.A. Fiebrich; K.C. Crawford; J.R. Kilby; D.L. Grimsley; J.E. Martinez; J.B. Basara; B.G. Illston; D.A. Morris; K.A. Kloesel; A.D. Melvin; H. Shrivastava; J. Wolfinbarger; J.P. Bostic; D.B. Demko; R.L. Elliott; S.J. Stadler; J.D. Carlson; A.J. Sutherland (2007). "Statewide Monitoring of the Mesoscale Environment: A Technical Update on the Oklahoma Mesonet". J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol. 24 (3): 301–21. Bibcode:2007JAtOT..24..301M. doi:10.1175/JTECH1976.1.
- "Georgia Weather - Automated Environmental Monitoring Network Page". uga.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- 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.
- "Missouri Mesonet". missouri.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Guinan, Patrick (2008-08-11). "Missouri's transition to a near real-time mesonet". 17th Conference on Applied Climatology. Whistler, BC, Canada: American Meteorological Society.
- "Extensive Weather Observations & Analytics". earthnetworks.com. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Anderson, James E.; J. Usher (2010). "Mesonet Programs" (PDF). WMO Technical Conference on Meteorological and Environmental Instruments and Methods of Observation (TECO-2010). Helsinki: World Meteorological Organization.
- "FAWN - Florida Automated Weather Network". ufl.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Lusher, William R.; John L. Jackson; Kelly T. Morgan (2008). "The Florida Automated Weather Network: Ten Years of Providing Weather Information to Florida Growers". Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 121: 69–74.
- "West Texas Mesonet". Texas Tech University. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Schroeder, John L.; W.S. Burgett; K.B. Haynie; I.I. Sonmez; G.D. Skwira; A.L. Doggett; J.W. Lipe (2005). "The West Texas Mesonet: A Technical Overview". J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol. 22 (2): 211–22. Bibcode:2005JAtOT..22..211S. doi:10.1175/JTECH-1690.1.
- Daryl Herzmann. "Iowa Environmental Mesonet". iastate.edu. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Todey, Dennis P.; E. S. Takle; S. E. Taylor (2002-05-13). "The Iowa Environmental Mesonet". 13th Conference on Applied Climatology and 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology. Portland, Oregon: American Meteorological Society.
- Sönmez, İbrahim (2013). "Quality control tests for western Turkey Mesonet". Met. Apps. 20 (3): 330–7. Bibcode:2013MeApp..20..330S. doi:10.1002/met.1286.
- "DEOS Home". udel.edu. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Legates, David R.; D. J. Leathers; T. L. DeLiberty; G. E. Quelch; K. Brinson; J. Butke; R. Mahmood; S. A. Foster (2005-01-13). "DEOS: The Delaware Environmental Observing System". 21st International Conference on Interactive Information Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology. San Diego: American Meteorological Society.
- "Kentucky Mesonet". kymesonet.org. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Grogan, Michael; S. A. Foster; R. Mahmood (2010-01-21). "The Kentucky Mesonet". 26th Conference on Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology. Atlanta, Georgia: American Meteorological Society.
- "Ameren website". ameren.com. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- "North Carolina Environment and Climate Observing Network". State Climate Office of North Carolina. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Chapman, Lee; Muller, C.L.; Young, D.T.; Warren, E.L.; Grimmond C.S.B.; Cai, X.-M.; Ferranti, J.S. (2015). "The Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory: An Open Meteorological Test Bed and Challenges of the Smart City". Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 96 (9): 1545–60. Bibcode:2015BAMS...96.1545C. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00193.1.
- Warren, Elliot L.; D. T. Young; L. Chapman; C. Muller; C.S.B. Grimmond; X.-M. Cai (2016). "The Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory—A high density, urban meteorological dataset, from 2012–2014". Sci Data. 3 (160038). Bibcode:2016NatSD...360038W. doi:10.1038/sdata.2016.38.
- "NYS Mesonet". nysmesonet.org. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- "New Jersey Weather and Climate Network". njweather.org. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "Japan Meteorological Agency". jma.go.jp. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- Straka, Jerry M.; E. N. Rasmussen; S. E. Fredrickson (1996). "A Mobile Mesonet for Finescale Meteorological Observations". J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol. 13 (10): 921–36. Bibcode:1996JAtOT..13..921S. doi:10.1175/1520-0426(1996)013<0921:AMMFFM>2.0.CO;2.
- Wurman, Joshua; D. Dowell; Y. Richardson; P. Markowski; E. Rasmussen; D. Burgess; L. Wicker; H. Bluestein (2012). "The Second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment: VORTEX2". Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 93 (8): 1147–70. Bibcode:2012BAMS...93.1147W. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00010.1.
- Dahlia, John (2013). "The National Mesonet Program: Filling in the Gaps". Weatherwise. 66 (4): 26–33. doi:10.1080/00431672.2013.800418.
- Mahmood, Rezaul. "Mesonets: Meso-Scale Weather and Climate Observations for the U.S.". Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. Bibcode:2017BAMS...98.1349M. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00258.1.
- Horel, John D.; M.M. Splitt; L.L. Dunn; J.J. Pechmann; B.B. White; C.C. Ciliberti; S.S. Lazarus; J.J. Slemmer; D.D. Zaff; J.J. Burks (2002). "Mesowest: Cooperative Mesonets in the Western United States". Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 83 (2): 211–24. Bibcode:2002BAMS...83..211H. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(2002)083<0211:MCMITW>2.3.CO;2.
- Fiebrich, Christopher A.; C.R. Morgan; A.G. McCombs; P.K. Hall; R.A. McPherson (2010). "Quality Assurance Procedures for Mesoscale Meteorological Data". J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol. 27 (10): 1565–82. Bibcode:2010JAtOT..27.1565F. doi:10.1175/2010JTECHA1433.1.
- Committee on Developing Mesoscale Meteorological Observational Capabilities to Meet Multiple National Needs, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies (2009). Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks. Washington: National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/12540. ISBN 978-0-309-12986-2.
- Fiebrich, Christopher A. (2009). "History of surface weather observations in the United States". Earth-Science Reviews. 93 (3-4): 77–84. Bibcode:2009ESRv...93...77F. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2009.01.001.
- McPherson, Renee A. (2013). "High-Resolution Surface Observations for Climate Monitoring". In Tarhule, Aondover. Climate Variability - Regional and Thematic Patterns. Croatia: InTech. doi:10.5772/56044. ISBN 978-953-51-1187-0.
- Tyndall, Daniel P.; J. D. Horel (2013). "Impacts of Mesonet Observations on Meteorological Surface Analyses". Wea. Forecast. 28 (2): 254–69. Bibcode:2013WtFor..28..254T. doi:10.1175/WAF-D-12-00027.1.
- Dabberdt, Walter F.; .W. Schlatter; F.H. Carr; E.W. Joe Friday; D. Jorgensen; S. Koch; M. Pirone; F. Ralph; J. Sun; P. Welsh; J.W. Wilson; X. Zou (2005). "Multifunctional Mesoscale Observing Networks". Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 86 (8): 961–82. Bibcode:2005BAMS...86..961D. doi:10.1175/BAMS-86-7-961.
- Meyer, Steven J.; K. G. Hubbard (1992). "Nonfederal Automated Weather Stations and Networks in the United States in the United States and Canada: A Preliminary Survey". Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 73 (4): 449–57. Bibcode:1992BAMS...73..449M. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1992)073<0449:NAWSAN>2.0.CO;2.
- Barth, Michael F.; P. A. Miller; D. Helms (2010-01-18). "Enhancing metadata available from MADIS for the National Mesonet". 26th Conference on Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology. Atlanta, GA: American Meteorological Society.
- MADIS Meteorological Surface Integrated Mesonet Data Providers (MADIS)
- National Mesonet/UrbaNet Data Overview (NCEP Central Operations)
- Hydrometeorological Networks in the United States
- Personal Weather Station Network (Weather Underground)
- Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) (wxqa.com)
- Midwest Mesonets and Specialized Instrumented Sites (Midwestern Regional Climate Center)
- FAESR: Surface In-Situ Networks (NCAR's Facilities for Atmospheric and Earth Science Research)