WERA102: Climate Data and Analyses for Applications in Agriculture and Natural Resources
(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)
WERA102: Climate Data and Analyses for Applications in Agriculture and Natural Resources
Duration: 10/01/2021 to 09/30/2026
Statement of Issues and Justification
Climate change, drought, and pronounced natural climate variability pose significant challenges to agriculture and natural resource management in the western United States. In turn, climate information—historical, real-time, and prognostic—is vital for the sustainable management of these resources. Climate information is a critical component of decision support tools, programs, technologies, and practices that protect and enhance water, soil, and air. Likewise, legislation and policy must incorporate the knowledge of climate variability and change if we hope to maintain the stability and long-term viability of agriculture, water, timber, and other goods and services in the West. These activities are consistent with efforts to be carried out under the USDA Climate Hub Program.
Climate data and information are currently collected by a wide range of federal, state, and local agencies and many non-governmental organizations. This information is then stored and distributed in myriad ways. Accessing relevant and reliable climate-related products continues to be a significant challenge for the agriculture and natural resource communities. Communication among the various agencies and organizations responsible for this information is becoming increasingly important to leverage data collection efforts, maintain monitoring stations, and disseminate products that best meet stakeholder needs. State Climatologists (SCs) and NOAA Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) fill some of these coordination needs at the state and regional level, and the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) performs similar—but limited—functions at the national level. However, there is a pressing need in the western U.S. to enhance cooperation and coordination and to address issues that S.C.s and RCCs working alone are not well-equipped to tackle. Collaboration and cooperation with the USDA Climate Hub Program can benefit both groups’ efforts to meet their mission statements and goals.
Over the past 30 plus years, the Western Extension Research Activity (WERA)-102committee has served a critical function in ensuring coordination and cooperation among the many and varied groups responsible for producing climate data, climate-related information, and products in the West. In times of increasingly tight budgets, the committee plays an increasing role in ensuring the sustainability and economic viability of the networks and partnerships responsible for creating and distributing these products. Given the significant economic impacts from adverse weather and climate variability and change, it is also prudent that the committee continues to serve as a focal point for ensuring the persistence of intense weather and climate research and application programs in the West. In short, this committee has served as a forum for coordination, discussion, and prioritization of data collection, research, and applications. It has been a platform to promote the efficient use of limited resources and enhance our collective ability to meet stakeholder needs. The new committee proposal aims to re-invigorate these activities in partnership with the western USDA Climate Hubs located in Corvallis, Oregon; Davis, California; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Fort Collins, Colorado.
Collaborate with federal agency climate hubs and centers to highlight their unique roles and leverage limited resources for research activities related to agriculture and resource management in the western U.S.
Evaluate monitoring network capabilities to facilitate regional comparison of data to address critical issues in agriculture and natural resources management.
Promote access to, use of, and further development of monitoring networks and associated value-added products to meet the needs of agriculture and resource management in the West.
Facilitate interagency coordination for data collection and maintenance of monitoring sites in the western U.S.
Procedures and Activities
Activites of the Committee in the next five years include:
Have the committee assemble a current capabilities document that identifies observing resources, managing agency, archiving center if it exists, and associated management purposes that resource the observations. (Year 1)
Have the committee meet with representatives from federal agencies and centers to collect gap anlayses and needs documents and assemble a master list of resource management observation needs for the Western United States. The committee can then create a needs priority list and a funding opportunity priority list to collaborate with agencies and centers on proposals and potential implementation plans. (year 2)
Collaborate on a multi-agency proposal to develop a multi-platform (station-based data, radar and airborne remote sensing, and satellite remote sensing) monitoring and data curation concept for resource management for an identified sector. A secondary and follow-on effort would look at how that concept could be transitioned to other sectors. (Years 3-5)
Objective 1: Collaborate with federal agency climate hubs and centers to highlight their unique roles and leverage limited resources for research activities related to agriculture and resource management in the western U.S.
- Communication and coordination with federal partners and their climate centers and hubs to ensure that the needs of agriculture and natural resource management are met in the most effective manner possible.
- Support monitoring and assessment of climate variability and change, particularly related to drought and water resources.
- Communicate an improved understanding of climate variability and change, and their impacts on agricultural and natural resources.
- Facilitate the creation of climatic time-series and climate scenarios that can be used in hydrological and natural resource models and decision support systems.
- Collaborate on the development of tools that quantify or describe relationships between weather and climate and water availability, crops, forests, rangelands, pests, and diseases, thereby increasing the effectiveness of management activities.
Objective 2: Evaluate monitoring network capabilities to facilitate regional comparison of data to address critical issues in agriculture and natural resources management.
- Identify and share relevant weather and climate data and information resources.
- 2. Develop technologies to gather and distribute data and information from disparate sources.
- Provide coordination on issues surrounding data collection, quality control/assurance, and, where appropriate, make recommendations, or take action to ensure the creation of high-quality data sets to support both research and applications.
- Play a leading role in the development of standards for siting and maintenance of stations, as well as standards for data archiving and metadata
Objective 3: Promote access to, use of, and further development of monitoring networks and associated value-added products to meet the needs of agriculture and resource management in the West.
- Share methodologies for manipulating and presenting climate information spatially.
- Facilitate the creation and use of gridded and modeled data sets and derived climate products suitable for agricultural and natural resources management.
- Facilitate the creation of climate impact assessments, drought advisories, and other products that are directly applicable to policymakers, water managers, and other key end-users.
- Facilitate the development of climate products that incorporate information from multiple data sources (e.g., satellite, radar, and ground observations).
- Ensure that data and information critical to agriculture and natural resource management are delivered in formats that can be readily incorporated into decision support systems.
- Develop and share methods to evaluate how well products and services are meeting user needs.
Objective 4: Facilitate interagency coordination for data collection and maintenance of monitoring sites in the western U.S.
- Identify monitoring needs or gaps in existing networks that impact agriculture and resources management and explore remedial options.
- Identification of data and analysis needs related to agriculture and natural resource management.
- Explore presentation and dissemination methods for climate information using emerging technologies (e.g., web mapping, social networks, etc.).
- Use of new and emerging sensor technologies to improve data quality and/or promote the economic sustainability of data collection networks.
- Leverage existing data collection, analysis, and distribution infrastructure and technologies to meet agriculture and natural resource management needs.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts
- Share relevant weather and climate data and information resources.
- Develop and share methodologies for manipulating, sharing, and presenting digital climate information. Comments: Explore different space and time resolution and associated challenges with the observations at those scales.
- Facilitate Climate Hub developed climate-related products to meet the requirements of decision support.
- Provide climate-related information via partner websites and other outlets.
- Assess the effectiveness of current approaches to collecting and disseminating climate data and products.
- Identify monitoring gaps and remedial measures to address such gaps in collaboration with data-gathering agencies. Comments: Explore new ways to collaboratively maintain monitoring sites to maximize the ability to collect reliable climate data across Western landscapes.
- Performance Metrics: Comments: 1) Number of SC Mesonet collaborators with Bureau of Reclamation’s Agrimet Network 2) Gap Analysis Report and number of papers published in observing systems status and needs 3) Number of federal agencies engaged in surveys and monitoring assessment 4) Number of participating states in Committee activities 5) Number of Resource Sectors Addressed The above-proposed work would be a significant advancement in activity and output for the Committee. These products will set the stage for notable advancement of the status and evolution of monitoring and data curation for agriculture and resources management in the Western US.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
Agricultural meteorology and climatology are integral sciences in virtually all research sectors of the AES. Participants are called upon to provide consultation to other researchers, extension personnel, and end-users such as growers and consultants. A major focus of the committee is the development and dissemination of weather and climate information related to agricultural and natural resources management in support of the USDA Climate Hubs. Another purpose of the WERA-102 is the on-going education of its participants regarding activities from the complex web of agencies involved in weather and climate monitoring and applications in the West. Specifically, the WERA-102 will: (1) Conduct detailed educational sessions at each annual meeting about current priority issues. The meetings can be held at the different western USDA Climate Hubs and Western Region Climate Centers to better engage and share information.
Governance will be standard. Two officers are elected each year: A chair, who develops the agenda and leads the annual meeting, and a secretary who prepares the minutes and the annual report. Traditionally, the secretary becomes the chair the following year.