What is a "Mesonet?"
A mesonet is a particular type of observing network, with weather stations spaced close enough together to adequately sample “mesoscale” weather. “Meso-“ refers to weather phenomena that range in size from less than a mile to hundreds of miles long and last a few minutes to hours.
The idea of a network of weather stations (a mesonet) is nothing new, and scientists have long known its value. The first “mesonet” was deployed hundreds of years ago, with weather stations deployed across much of central Europe. However, data had to be collected with hand-held instruments, with the results gathered by mail. Fortunately, today’s technology now permits real-time data collection throughout the depth of the atmosphere.
The New York State Mesonet will ultimately consist of 125 state-of-the-art environmental monitoring stations and will serve as the foundation of an Early Warning Severe Weather Detection network for the entire State of New York. Mesonet sites will be distributed statewide with every county across New York having at least one or more sites. The Mesonet will provide local, updated weather information in real-time 24/7 to government, academic, and private sector partners as well as the general public. The Mesonet was designed and developed by research scientists at the State University of New York at Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, and Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and through collaboration with the Oklahoma Mesonet.
What makes the New York State Mesonet Unique?
Like most mesonets, the New York State Mesonet will collect measurements of a number of surface and atmospheric variables, such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, surface pressure, soil moisture, soil temperature, solar radiation, and precipitation amounts for rainfall and snow accumulation.
What makes the New York State Mesonet unique is that of the 125 network stations, 17 of those stations will be enhanced with state-of-the-art vertical profiling instrumentation to capture vertical profiles of temperature, relative humidity, and “3D” wind speed as well as an accurate measurement of boundary layer height and cloud base height. In addition, data from enhanced profiler instrumentation will allow aerosol and cloud optical properties to be derived.
These vertical observations will, by themselves, provide a very detailed, three dimensional “image” of the atmosphere at very high spatial and temporal resolutions. In addition, enhanced products will be created from these data and used as input to high-resolution Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models to improve severe weather forecasting. These high-resolution data and enhanced forecast products will be provided to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office (NWS-WFO), and the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (DHSES), to augment and improve their forecasting and emergency management decisions.
How Often Will Data Be Measured?
For standard surface measurements, the data will be collected every 1 to 15 minutes, with 5 minutes being the preferred data rate. These observations are packaged, and transmitted, via the internet, to a central Mesonet ingest system located in the University at Albany’s state-of-the-art, Tier-3 certified Data Center. The data are quality assured, archived, and used to generate a wealth of products available to user consumption through the New York State Mesonet web portal.
For enhanced measurements, data rates are dependent of the fidelity of the data required as well as the desired products that will be developed. Data rates and products for the various vertical profiler and flux instrumentation are currently being designed and developed.