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Proposals

Cooperative Extension Statewide Weather Station Network Concept

The Issue

Over the past three years, South Carolina has been impacted by drastic weather changes and weather-related disasters. These disasters ranged from hurricanes, excessive rainfall, and floods to drought. The effects have devastated crops, caused severe infrastructure damage, and profoundly impacted waterbodies, which have, in turn, negatively affected water tables.

As Clemson University Cooperative Extension responded to these disasters, it became clear that we had an inadequate collection and record-keeping system to assess and archive meaningful data. That shortcoming has impaired our ability to accurately document weather events and climate patterns on a daily basis. Even though our county Extension agents made themselves available to be present on-site wherever needed during and after disasters, they had limited ability to scientifically corroborate the intensity of these severe weather events and the extent of the impacts other than through pictures and personal visual accounts. As a result, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requested specific data to assist them in classifying locations as disaster areas, Clemson Extension could not fulfill their requests.

 

A Proposed Solution

 

To properly support assessment reporting for not only NOAA, but the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, we propose the development of a Cooperative Extension Statewide Weather Station Network. The proposed statewide network would require the purchase of weather stations for installation at specified sites within each of the forty-six South Carolina counties and at six of the Clemson University Research and Education Centers (RECs), including Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science (Georgetown), Coastal REC (Charleston), Edisto REC (Blackville), Pee Dee REC (Florence), and Sandhill REC (Columbia).

The stations would comprise a centralized network allowing open access to vital real-time statewide data by individual county, regional, and statewide agencies. County Extension Agents will maintain the operation of each unit, and the units will be monitored through a central network bank at Clemson University to ensure QA/QC of the data.

This network will provide thorough documentation of severe weather events and climate patterns for use by NOAA and will be used as part of the University’s comprehensive water initiative to conduct research and educate target audiences.

 

The cost for each unit is estimated to be $5,100 for a total estimated cost of $260,100 to equip all sites required to create the statewide weather station network.

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