Fall 2002

NCSU Seal North Carolina ClimateSCO Seal

A Newsletter of the State Climate Office of North Carolina

A Public Service Center for
Climate-Environment Interactions

Fall 2002

In This Issue...

A Message from Dr. John Fountain

Head, Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, NC State University

John Fountain The State Climate Office provides a blending of research, teaching and outreach that is extremely rare in modern Universities and clearly sets Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences apart from many of its peers. Although virtually every University states that its mission includes research, teaching and public service, it is common for research to become the true driver with teaching secondary, and public service often paid little more than lip service. This largely because research is thought to bring prestige and attract the best students and faculty, but this does not have to exclude teaching and outreach, as SCO so wonderfully indicates. As a land-grant University, NC State has always had outreach as an important mission; the service of SCO to the agricultural community is fully in this spirit. However SCO does much more, the involvement of its staff in major research projects - including competitively funded external research, keeps SCO in the academic area as well. The large participation of graduate and undergraduate students provides a strong linkage to our teaching mission. Today, as the department moves aggressively forward with the study and prediction of earth systems, the multiple roles of SCO are as appropriate as they were 25 years ago.

From the State Climatologist...

The State Climate Office (SCO) of North Carolina welcomes Dr. John Fountain, the new Head of the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, and looks forward to continuing collaboration with the department. Several important developments have occurred since the last formal newsletter. UNC President Molly Broad inaugurated the NC ECONet on October 26, 2001 during the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the SCO. Chancellor Mary Anne Fox welcomed the guests and announced the partnership between the SCO and the NWS in developing enhanced seasonal forecasts for NC.

Drought was a major focus of the SCO for the past year with our participation in the NC Drought Monitoring Council and over 100 media contacts across NC. A Drought Conference was conducted on July 12 on Centennial Campus in collaboration with the NC Drought Monitoring Council to create public awareness.

On July 11, Dean Solomon inaugurated our new web site. This site has several user-friendly features and a host of new information on NC weather and climate. Robert Gilliam joined the SCO as an Environmental Meteorologist on January 1, 2002.

SCO participated in an EPA study involving transport of pollutants in the New York City area after the 9/11 WTC disaster event. We have added an additional site to the AgNet at the UNCG Lindale Farm Field Station. Our active collaboration with the NCARS program continues.

We look forward to another year of service to North Carolina on weather and climate issues.

At the service of North Carolina,

Sethu Raman's Signature
Sethu Raman
State Climatologist and Director

SCO Celebrates 25 Years of Service
NC ECONet Innauguration and Recommendations on Future of Climate Services

President Borad Chancellor Fox On October 26, 2001, the SCO celebrated 25 years of public service. As part of the activities, Molly Corbett Broad, President of the UNC system, officially inaugurated the North Carolina Environment and Climate Observing Network (NC ECONet). This network brings together several automated weather networks in North Carolina. Twenty-five of the stations in this combined network are maintained by the SCO. There are still 36 counties without an automated weather station. President Broad stated in her official announcement that the ECONet is "an important new tool of the digital world. It will make it possible for North Carolina to plan for, to recover from, and to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and technological disasters."

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox commended the State Climate Office for its focus on extension, research, and education. In addition, she announced the pilot project SCO has begun with National Weather Service to enhance seasonal climate outlooks.

The 25th Anniversary for the SCO included distinguished guests from the UNC system and scientists from across the southeastern United States. As part of a symposium on the future of climate services, several recommendations were made on how the State Climate Office should expand its services. One of the main recommendations was to take steps to complete the development of the NC ECONet. There was widespread agreement that the SCO was unique and provided valuable services for government, research, and education needs.

A complete summary of the meeting and its recommendations are available here.

4-Year Drought Plagues the Carolinas
Conditions worst in 100 years as agriculture and water supplies are threatened

October Drought Drought in the Carolina began in mid-1998 as La Nina emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Since then, the drought has persisted and become more severe. The region most severely affected has been the western Piedmont and foothills region, where exceptional conditions have been in place since July. Much of this area has accrued rainfall deficits equivalent to over a year's worth of water. Water restrictions are widespread, as river, reservoir, and even groundwater levels drop to record lows. Based on weather observations from over 100 years, this is the worst long-term drought ever experienced in North Carolina.

Communities across North Carolina are responding to the call for conservations. As part its continuing drought effort, the State Climate Office organized a Drought Workshop held in July 2002 to help educate the media on the complexities of drought monitoring, drought prediction, and the impacts of drought on our society. Sponsored by private donations to the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Foundation, the workshop drew a crowd of over 100 people from across North Carolina into a packed auditorium. SCO staff have participated in a series of similar workshops and seminars across North Carolina as part of the NC Drought Monitoring Council. With over 100 media interviews this summer, the SCO has been actively participating in outreach to the community to improve public understanding of drought and its implications. The NC ECONet has been an invaluable resource for drought monitoring, as it is the only network in North Carolina with soil moisture sensors to help measure local dryness.

Much of North Carolina has been declared a federal drought disaster for agriculture, and money has been made available to farmers for aid. However, there has been little aid to local municipalities though several are in emergency conditions.

As of September 13, 2002, 145 water systems were on voluntary restrictions, 78 systems are on mandatory restrictions, and 6 systems were on emergency restrictions. Drought conditions are likely to persist through the autumn. However, based on research in the SCO, winter precipitation will likely be above normal due to the emerging El Niño event.

Weekly updates can be found on the DROUGHT section can be found here.

SCO Helps in Aftermath of World Trade Center Attacks

After the World Trade Center tragedy last September, the SCO was asked by the EPA to assist with efforts to both model and monitor the meteorology around the disaster site.

Robert Gilliam (Environmental Meteorologist), Ameenulla Syed (Instrumentation Meteorologist), and Peter Childs (graduate student) assembled a mobile meteorological instrumentation cluster that included two SODARS and a 10-meter tower. These instruments obtained wind, temperature, humidity and turbulence information over a 7-month period from a pier just blocks away from the recovery site.

SCO scientists have been analyzing the weather data and modeling the conditions using ARPS, MM5, CALMET, and CALPUFF. Research from this project will be published over the next year. The research is vital to the EPA, as it will be used in the final public assessment of the air quality conditions after September 11. Data from the WTC site are also being used for undergraduate course projects in MEA 455 Micrometeorology.

World Trade Center Observation Tower World Trade Center Plume World Trade Center

NC ECONet Provides Valuable Resource for Undergraduate and Graduate Educations

Class in front of ECONet Tower Class with ECONet Tower Through support from the National Science Foundation - Awards for Geoscience Education, an Instrumentation Meteorology course for undergraduate and graduate meteorology students was initiated in the spring of 2002. This course, developed by Dr. Dev Niyogi and Dr. Vin Saxena, was offered by the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at NC State University during 2002 Spring semester.

The course covered the basics of instrumentation and data acquisition as well as applications for surface weather and climate monitoring. As part of the course, 15 students traveled to the Cherry Agricultural Research Station in Goldsboro, NC to get hands-on experience in installing a new tower and sensors as part of the NC ECONet. Students learned meteorological instrument system assembly, calibration, datalogger configuration, and data analysis.

The course will be offered again during the Spring 2003 semester. Instruments and data acquisition systems of the NC ECONet will be part of this course.

NWS Partnership for Enhanced Seasonal Outlooks

The SCO and the Raleigh NWSFO have launched a pilot project to enhance seasonal climate outlooks over North Carolina and disseminate them to agencies and the citizens of North Carolina. In partnership with NWS staff, the SCO has created and distributed enhanced outlooks for the past 3 seasons. The goal is to provide a more intuitive presentation of the official Climate Prediction Center outlook, along with climatology products, and a clearly worded description of the climate dynamics driving the seasonal outlook for precipitation and temperatures. The SCO is currently working with NWS to obtain support for monthly updates and evaluation of these enhanced outlooks.

SCO Keeps Busy this Summer!

SCO Summer 2002 Staff and Students The SCO was busy this summer, with a wide range of activities. Peter Childs, a 2nd year graduate student in MEAS worked on simulations of Tropical Storm Allison and on analysis of the WTC. Rob Gilliam, Environmental Meteorologist has been working both on Centennial Campus and in EPA located in Research Triangle Park to complete the modeling of the WTC plume that developed after September 11. Matt Simpson continued his work on the INDOEX experiment and assisted in SCO operations. Chris Holder, a second year undergraduate, received an Honors Grant and performed an analysis on the history of cooperative observation stations to provide better confidence on climate data. Kelly Pollard, a senior undergraduate student, completed an analysis of co-located Cooperative Observer stations with automated AgNet stations. Subhashini Sivagnanam, a graduate student from ECE, worked on the ECONet database development. Aaron Pratt worked on the role of Pacific Decadal Oscillations on NC climate. He was supported under the MGE (Minority Graduate Education) program and has joined Penn State for graduate studies this fall. Anasuya Ram, an eighth grade student from Ligon Middle School volunteered in the SCO and worked on GIS-based mapping and analysis of NC climate. Neil Jacobs, a third year Ph.D graduate student worked on the development of a winter storm climatology. Souleymane Fall, a Fulbright Scholar from Senegal pursued his research on weather and crop management. Christina Whitten, an undergraduate student assisted in data services. We were also able to host Sherri Pugh, a first year undergraduate, for 2 weeks to analyze evapotranspiration data as she took part in the RISE program through the Science House. Ameenulla Syed maintained the SCO's weather and climate stations and tested several soil moisture sensors and an evapotranspiration sensor. Dev Niyogi was busy with several proposals and papers and took part on the IHOP experiment. Ryan Boyles was busy with drought monitoring and community education. And somehow, Sethu Raman kept us all focused. After such a busy summer, it's nice to settle in to the hectic fall semester!

Recent Conditions & Winter Climate Outlooks

December 2002 through February 2003 Temperature Outlook
December 2002 - February 2003 Temperature Outlook
December 2002 through February 2003 Precipitation Outlook
December 2002 - February 2003 Precipitation Outlook

NC ECONet Database Update

ECONet Screenshot The SCO has made great progress in its efforts to create a unified climate database for all observations from the NC ECONet. Currently, all observations are being ingested into the recently upgraded database, and current efforts are focusing on finishing the web interface and quality control of the hourly and daily observations. The SCO plans to complete the interface and QA/QC this semester. Efforts next spring will focus on developing advanced database queries and value-added parameters such as degree days, evapotranspiration, and model estimated surface analyses.

Recent Activities

Select Activities

  • Presentation to The Cathedral School, Raleigh, May 9, Ryan Boyles
  • AMS Agriculture and Forest Meteorology Conference, Norfolk, VA, May 22-24, Dev Niyogi and Mathew Simpson
  • American Geophysical Union Conference, Washington, DC, May 27-31. Dev Niyogi
  • International H2O Program (IHOP), Kansas, June 6-21, Dev Niyogi
  • Water Sources Task Force Meeting, Raleigh, June 21, Ryan Boyles
  • NC Drought Conference hosted by the SCO, Raleigh, July 12, Ryan Boyles
  • Natural Hazards Conference, Boulder CO, July 15-19, Sethu Raman
  • Agricultural Research Station Superintendents Meeting, Wilmington, July 24-26, Sethu Raman, Dev Niyogi, Ameenulla Syed
  • Drought Monitoring Council Meeting, Raleigh, July 26, Ryan Boyles
  • League of Municipalities Drought Workshop, Greensboro, August 3, Ryan Boyles
  • IHOP Land-Surface Processes Workshop, Boulder, CO, August 5-7, Dev
  • American Association of State Climatologists Annual Meeting, Asheville, August 20-23, Sethu Raman, Ryan Boyles
  • Army Corps of Engineers Drought Meeting, Raleigh, September 10, Ryan Boyles
  • Flood Warning Program Meeting, Raleigh, September 12, Dev Niyogi
  • PAMS Board of Directors Luncheon, Raleigh, September 13, Sethu Raman
  • Presentation to North Carolina Water Resources Association, Raleigh, September 16, Ryan Boyles
  • Drought Monitoring Council Meeting, Raleigh, September 19, Ryan Boyles
  • Presentations to Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School,. Raleigh, September 24 & 26, Sethu Raman
  • Presentation at American Water Works Association Meeting, Concord, September 25-26, Ryan Boyles
  • SEA-COOS Planning Meeting, Chapel Hill, September 30 - October 1, Sethu Raman, Ryan Boyles, Rob Gilliam
  • Drought Monitoring Council - Economic Impacts planning meeting, Raleigh, October 3, Dev Niyogi, Ryan Boyles


  • Dr. U.C. Mohanty, Indian Institute of Technology - Delhi, May-June
  • Dr. M.A. El Shahany, Cairo, Egypt, June
  • Dr. Adel Hanna, Environmental Modeling Center, MCNC, June
  • Dr. Ching-Yuang Huang, National Central University, Taiwan
  • Dr. Venkat Lakshmi, University of South Carolina, August
  • Dr. Shafik Islam, University of Cincinnati, August
  • Dr. Russ Lea, Vice President, UNC Office of the President, September
  • David Bacon, SAIC, McLean, VA, October
  • Grady McCallie, NC Conservation Network, October

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