The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has established the Nebraska State Climate Office within the UNL School of Natural Resources. The office will serve as the primary source of climate information for Nebraska.
By forming a state climate office, IANR is adding resources to help the state climatologist serve the needs of Nebraskans. Initially, employees in the office will focus on identifying services, monitoring climate and user engagement, especially in the agriculture sector.
“People use climate data for many different reasons, so we’ll be assessing who’s regularly using our data and identifying ways we can better serve them,” said Martha Shulski, associate professor in the School of Natural Resources and the newly named state climate office director and state climatologist.
Primary groups the state climate office will support include Nebraska Extension, UNL departments in need of timely weather and climate data for research and extension, and a wide range of external stakeholders.
“This is an exciting time for our climate team and an enormous opportunity for us to be putting a critical mass of climate experts together to address Nebraska-centric issues relating to weather and climate,” said John Carroll, director of the School of Natural Resources.
The data managed by the state climate office will come from a network of weather stations, termed the “Nebraska Mesonet,” at locations across the state. The network is made up of 69 stations that are supported by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and individual station cooperators such as some of the Nebraska Natural Resource Districts.
Previously the network was managed by the High Plains Regional Climate Center. However, these operations will transition to the state climate office, which will allow HPRCC to focus on needs for a broader region which, in addition to Nebraska, includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas.
“Nebraska is a state with excellent natural resources,” said IANR Associate Vice Chancellor Ron Yoder. “The Nebraska State Climate Office will ensure that we continue to manage those resources efficiently.”
The office will hold a membership with the American Association of State Climatologists, which works to support a society in which climate-sensitive decisions are guided by science-based information derived from historical and current observed climate and scenarios of future climate.
Along with Shulski, others working in the state climate office will be Al Dutcher, associate state climatologist; Stonie Cooper, mesonet technical administrator; Glen Roebke, mesonet manager; and partial appointments for Shellie Hanneman, HPRCC data quality technician; and Eric Hunt, research applications specialist. Those affiliating with the office will include climate-conscious extension educators and several faculty members, including Gui Bagorria, a professor in the School of Natural Resources who models seasonal weather and agricultural crop production.