Mission and Objectives
The mission of the High Plains Regional Climate Center is to increase the use and availability of climate data in the High Plains region.
HPRCC personnel work closely with scientists from other regional and federal climate centers on climate services and programs and provide a regional structure for climate applications. The long-term objectives of the HPRCC are to carry out applied climate studies, develop improved climate information products, and provide climate services in the High Plains region.
The HPRCC's activities include:
- Operating the Regional Automated Weather Monitoring System (AWDN)
- Conducting region-wide soil moisture and drought studies
- Developing seamless connections between HPRCC and other climate centers
- Developing computer software for the summarization and dissemination of important climate-related information.
Navigating Climate Change
A message from HPRCC Director Martha Shulski:
The HPRCC is well recognized as one of the centers of expertise in the use of automated weather stations to obtain near-real time climate data. Scientists from around the nation and from other countries have visited the HPRCC to receive training in the collection, management, and summarization of near real-time data. HPRCC also includes in it's archive all relevant data from National Weather Service surface weather networks.
Research projects are aimed at producing new climate information for use in expanding the climate service activities. The HPRCC staff have developed soil water monitoring capabilities that, together with the regional weather network, allow more quantitative monitoring of weather impacts in the region. Research objectives include the study of drought, development of drought monitoring strategies, and predicting the impact of weather and climate change on crop production in the region. HPRCC studies have resulted in many research reports and publications in the peer-reviewed literature.
HPRCC has helped organize and cosponsor workshops in regard to the climate change issue and possible impacts in the region. Cooperation with federal climate centers has included sponsoring (together with the National Climate Data Center) data base management systems and corresponding training in the region and participation in the Centennial Program to recognize community contributions to weather data collection. In addition, the HPRCC worked with the Climate Prediction Center to develop a joint program to identify climate impacts in the High Plains region in a timely fashion. The use of graduate students in HPRCC studies contributes to education by providing training opportunities. HPRCC staff are called on to prepare and present information at educational workshops and conferences throughout the region.
Climate information is necessary to address many requests from users whose work touches soil and water conservation, sustainable agriculture systems, agricultural competitiveness and profitability, and natural resources and environmental management.
To serve the public in such areas the HPRCC has offered telephone consultation, web-based services, and a monthly climate impacts newsletter. More than 600 climate requests are answered each year by HPRCC staff. Data from over 200 automated weather stations (collecting hourly and daily measurements), plus data from all National Weather Service daily reporting stations, is used to support the HPRCC Online Service, a web-based system accessible with any HTML 1.1 compliant browser. The Online System provides access to most of the data resources of the HPRCC, and averages nearly 100,000 accesses per month. In addition to the weather observations the Online System includes crop water use and crop performance for major crops, pest development, livestock conditions, soil water, and heat indices. The Online System offers autopilot with independent delivery which frees the user from logging on every day while delivering the desired information by email or ftp.
Federal funding for the HPRCC is through the National Climatic Data Center. State matching support is provided by the University of Nebraska through salaries and operating funds. Other states provide funding for operation of weather stations and for the State Climatology program in their states.
Staff supported in whole or part by HPRCC funding include: Director, Regional Climatologist, Research Climatologist, Software Development Specialist, Computer Systems Manager, Climate Data Specialist, Instrumentation Technician, Secretary, and Bookkeeper.