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Kentucky Mesonet planning to add 20 more stations by end of August 2010

With 45 sites now operational, the Kentucky Mesonet is planning to have 20 more sites added to the statewide network by the end of August of 2010.

“We’ve met our goal of 25 new sites added this year,” said Dr. Stuart Foster, director of the Mesonet and the Kentucky Climate Center at Western Kentucky University. “The progress since October of last year when we had 13 stations operating has been extraordinary, and credit goes to our very dedicated and professional staff.”

Statewide interest in the Mesonet continues to grow as well, Dr. Foster said. “Over the past year we’ve talked with local government officials and private landowners who want to be part of the Mesonet,” he said.

“One of the most enjoyable things for me is traveling the state and visiting with people in local communities.  Recognizing the value of the Mesonet, local officials and stakeholders have invested their time and energy to help us identify viable sites, and that demonstrates a strong belief in the project.”

The Mesonet stations collect real-time weather and climate data on temperature, precipitation, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction. Data is packaged into observations and transmitted to the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU every five minutes, 24 hours per day, throughout the year and is available online at www.kymesonet.org.

Earlier this month, the Mesonet provided the National Weather Service offices in Kentucky with valuable wind data as a cold front swept across the state. And the Mesonet was a key topic of a presentation Dr. Foster made at regional climate conference in Lexington.

“We’re getting more and more exposure for the project,” he said.

Mesonet data also is shared with the National Weather Service, University of Kentucky’s agricultural weather center, Penn State University and other Kentucky universities in the Mesonet consortium.

The statewide automated environmental monitoring network supports a variety of needs across Kentucky in agriculture, education, emergency management, energy, engineering and construction, recreation, transportation, water supply management and weather forecasting.

The Mesonet project also is providing valuable training and research opportunities for more than 50 students in WKU’s meteorology program.

“It’s been a great opportunity for students to work hand-in-hand with meteorology and information technology professionals,” Dr. Foster said.

“From our perspective, the Kentucky Mesonet is what becoming ‘a leading American university with international reach’ is about and puts that vision into practice.”

About the Kentucky Mesonet

Since the Mesonet’s first station at the WKU farm in Warren County became operational in May 2007, 45 stations have been installed toward a goal of 100 stations statewide.

Stations are located in Adair, Allen, Barren, Boone, Breathitt, Bullitt, Caldwell, Calloway, Campbell, Carroll, Casey, Christian, Clark, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Graves, Grayson, Hardin, Harrison, Hopkins, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lincoln, Logan, Madison, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Mercer, Metcalfe, Morgan, Ohio, Owen, Owsley, Rowan, Taylor, Trigg, Union and Warren counties.

Additional site installations are progressing in Breckinridge, Henderson, Lewis and Nicholas counties. Site license agreements have been reached in Marion and Muhlenberg counties with preferred sites identified in Boyd, Nelson and Shelby counties. Mesonet officials are actively pursuing sites in about 20 other counties, including Bath, Bell, Harlan, Lawrence, McCreary, Pendleton, Pike and Todd.

State Climatologist Stuart Foster is director of the Kentucky Mesonet and the Kentucky Climate Center. Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, associate professor of Geography and Geology, is associate director of the Kentucky Mesonet and the Kentucky Climate Center. The Kentucky Mesonet staff includes meteorologists and staff with expertise in instrumentation, information technology, quality assurance, and education outreach. The Kentucky Mesonet also provides opportunities for WKU student employees and interns to work side-by-side with professional staff.

Initial funding for the project was secured by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell through a $2.9 million federal appropriation for the Kentucky Climate Center, part of WKU’s Applied Research and Technology Program in the Ogden College of Science and Engineering.

Contact: Stuart Foster, (270) 745-5983.

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