A publication of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center
October 2017  


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On the Road:
KY - USGS Kentucky
Cooperator Meeting
MO - Regional Climate
Services Meeting
MI - Great Lakes Expo
TX - AMS Annual Meeting

 Monitoring Illinois Weather During the 2017 Solar Eclipse
 Jennie R. Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program ISWS
2017 Eclipse photo by Stuart R. Saffen
2017 Eclipse - photo by Stuart R. Saffen

On August 21st, a solar eclipse crossed the contiguous United States.  Weather networks and researchers from Oregon to South Carolina used the opportunity to monitor atmospheric response to the event.  In Illinois, the Illinois Climate Network (ICN) and researchers from the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) documented the responses at ground level and higher in the atmosphere.

The ICN has collected weather and soil data at stations across the state since 1989.  Two stations were in the path of totality during the 2017 eclipse.  The other 17 saw between 99 and 88 percent obscuration.  Throughout the day, ICN collected 10-second solar radiation, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure and wind data, capturing conditions before, during, and after the eclipse. 

Solar radiation began declining shortly before noon with minimums occurring between 13:17 and 13:25 CDT (Figure 1).  Rain passing through the state impacted solar radiation and other parameters, dominating the response at some stations.  At ICN Snicarte, solar radiation fell to near 0 one hour before the maximum eclipse. 

Air temperature and relative humidity impacts trailed solar radiation.  Temperatures declined 1° to 5° with the minimums occurring 10 to 20 minutes after solar radiation.  At the same time, increases of 2% to 20% were observed with relative humidities.

The impacts on wind speeds were mixed.  A general decline was observed, but did not occur at all stations.  At the two stations within the path of totality, ICN Dixon Springs and ICN Carbondale, wind speeds reacted differently.  Winds declined at ICN Dixon Springs, reaching the minimum shortly after totality (Figure 2).  Winds at ICN Carbondale were more variable, spiking 10 minutes before totality (Figure 3). 

Photo of Kristovish team launching a weather balloon
Figure 4: Researchers from ISWS prepare to send a weather balloon aloft at Dixon Springs, IL. Photo by David Devall.

ISWS researchers, led by Dave Kristovich, monitored the responses higher in the atmosphere at ICN Dixon Springs (Figure 4).  Weak updrafts and downdrafts reaching a short distance into the atmosphere were detected shortly after sunrise.

By the time the moon started eclipsing the sun, the updrafts and downdrafts had increased in depth, size, and intensity, and towering cumulus clouds developed.  Updrafts and downdrafts weakened as totality approached.  During and shortly after totality, updrafts and downdrafts were no longer detected, and the clouds had completely disappeared.

Researchers are still analyzing the collected data to learn more about what happened during the event and to prepare for April 2024 when another solar eclipse will cross Illinois.

For more information on this article or the WARM Program, please contact Jennie R. Atkins via email.


Announcements from the USDA Midwest Climate Hub
Charlene Felkley, Coordinator: USDA Midwest Climate Hub

image of applesMidwestern Specialty Crop Production Susceptible to Climate Change Impacts.
Fruit and vegetable production in the Midwest is already experiencing economic losses from an increasingly variable climate. A recent study in Climatic Change, co-authored by the Midwest Climate Hub’s Director and Fellow, examined ongoing weather/climate-related vulnerabilities of Midwestern specialty crop production using a 25-year USDA-RMA crop insurance dataset and regional producer surveys. Observed and projected climatic trends indicate an increased risk of crop losses from excessive precipitation, frost damage, and drought events. This study highlights the need for crop-specific forecasting and financial risk management tools to help buffer Midwestern specialty crop production in light of climate change.

USDA Climate Hubs Announce New Website.
The USDA is very pleased to publicly launch this new web platform, which represents a collaborative effort including dozens of Climate Hubs and USDA program coordinators, scientists, technologists, and others. They have taken advantage of new technology to improve the look, feel, and navigation of their websites, and to make their product mobile-friendly.

USDA Climate Hub new website screen shot

Much of their original web-based content has been moved into the new online home, and you’ll see additional changes over time as existing information is updated, new resources added, and their content is made easier to find and share. Don’t worry – their original websites will remain available in an online archive, so users of the existing online resources can still easily access them. 

The Climate Hubs' new web presence truly upgrades the user experience. They invite you to tour their new website and share your feedback with them. Like all websites, these are living information resources, and the USDA looks forward to continuing to improve these tools so they can be most useful where it matters – on the land with agricultural decision-makers.

Midwest Specialty Crop Producers.
The Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC), the USDA Midwest Climate Hub, and National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) are partnering to determine data needs and develop additional tools, educational resources and other information for producers to better adapt to a variable and changing climate. 

Midwest Specialty Crop Producers banner imageChanging climatic conditions are having a wide-ranging impact on agriculture in the Midwest including changes in crop yields, season length, and soil health. To meet these changes, the partners will host several workshops with specialty crop producers and extension staff to determine specific data and tool needs, as well as climate change education needs this coming winter. To decipher what specialty crop producers are currently using, and to facilitate the adaption and creation of new tools, the following survey has been created to help gather information. From the results of this survey, we will be inviting producers to workshops in December, 2017. 

Please visit the Midwest Specialty Crop Producers website for more information, printable PDFs of our goals and objectives, and to access the survey. Feel free to share this among any networks that may be interested!

For more information on this article or the USDA Midwest Climate Hub, please contact Charlene Felkley via email.


A Colleague in a New Role

Molly WoloszynIn 2011, Molly Woloszyn came to the MRCC to fill a newly-created position that was envisioned by Steve Hilberg, the MRCC director at that time, and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) director Brian Miller.  For over 50 years, the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program has supported coastal and Great Lakes communities through research, extension, and education.  Climate plays a significant role for these communities, so IISG was interested in hiring someone with a strong climate background who could help fulfill IISG’s mission.  Meanwhile, for over 35 years, the MRCC has been a developer and provider of climate science resources and investigations for the Midwest, including the Great Lakes.  There was a need for the MRCC to engage more directly with stakeholders to identify their climate needs and help communicate climate science through education and outreach.  Merging those IISG and MRCC needs led to a shared position within the two programs.

This was not Woloszyn’s first experience with the MRCC.  When she was in high school, she job-shadowed and was mentored by the MRCC Service Climatologist as part of the school district’s Education to Careers Program.  As an undergraduate, she was selected for the MRCC’s competitive summer internship program and worked in the MRCC Service Office providing climate data and products to customers.  When she started full time with MRCC and Sea Grant, she already had a solid understanding of the programs.  She was given tremendous freedom to develop her position into what she felt would be best for both programs and she impressed everyone from the very beginning!

Molly’s strong work ethic and initiative made her and that position a critical component to both programs.  She introduced opportunities, collaborations, and ideas that went above and beyond the initial ideas envisioned by the program directors.  Her willingness to get involved, contribute where needed, and lead when no one else wanted to, meant she was noticed and respected across the region and nation.

Over the past few years, the MRCC has been increasingly engaged with the National Integrated Drought and Information System (NIDIS).  This program seeks to improve the nation’s capacity to manage drought-related risks by providing the best available information and tools to assess the potential impacts of drought, and to prepare for and mitigate the effects of drought.  For the Midwest region, the MRCC was asked to take a significant role in planning and reporting on the activities from eight separate workshops around the region.  Needing help with this large endeavor, Woloszyn stepped up and was the key MRCC representative that helped coordinate the workshops, invite participants, and continue the collaborative momentum across the region.

When the position for a new NIDIS coordinator in the Midwest became available, Molly was the perfect candidate. She was offered the position and started in her new role on October 1, 2017.  While the MRCC will miss her presence, positive attitude, effort, and teamwork, we were excited to learn that NIDIS wanted their Midwest coordinator to be co-located with the MRCC in Champaign, IL.  With this great news, the MRCC will continue to work closely with Woloszyn and continue to enjoy her collegiality, motivational spirit, and hopefully continue to be a part of her amazing future! 

We are so proud of Molly, wish her the best, and are confident she’s going to continue to do great things!

Midwest Climate at a Glance

Corn Harvest percent departure from 5-year average week ending October 15, 2017The fall got off to a cool start in early September, followed by a very warm latter half of September and first half of October.  In September, more than two thousand daily record high temperatures were set across the region.  Rainfall has been less consistent in the Midwest this fall.  Many areas have been affected by drought while others have battled heavy rains, and some areas have had to deal with both.  Heavy rains have been a big factor in the slow harvest progress in the region.  All nine states were behind the 5-year average for corn harvest, and soybean harvest in five states was behind average.  Soybean harvest was near or slightly ahead of average in the southern Midwest states, ahead by 17% in Michigan, and well behind average in Wisconsin (-10%), Iowa (-34%), and Minnesota (-37%).  Corn harvest progress ranged from just 2% behind average in Michigan to as much as 31% behind in Minnesota. See the Midwest Climate Watch pages for more …


MRCC Product Highlight

Accumulated Precipitation (in) DepartureWinter is coming to the Midwest.  Wondering when the first snowfall of the season usually happens?  Find out using the First Snow Climatologies maps on the Midwest Climate Watch!  These maps use data from the 1981-2010 period to find the median, earliest and latest first snowfall dates of the snow year in the north-central U.S.  Find this tool and many more winter tools under our new Winter Resources page on the Midwest Climate Watch.


Climate Cool Tool

CoCoRaHS Climate Monitoring ToolThe CoCoRaHS Condition Monitoring web map depicts local, community-level conditions and how recent weather and climate events have affected those communities. Volunteer observers provide weekly reports through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network website.

Observers use a sliding scale covering seven categories: Severely Dry - Moderately Dry - Mildly Dry - Near Normal - Mildly Wet - Moderately Wet - Severely Wet. This provides a standardized way of condition reporting to allow comparisons between different locations over time. Observers select a category based on their current conditions, and are able to include a narrative description on the conditions and how they are affecting the local area. Over time these reports can document the evolution, persistence, and recovery from drought in a region.

These reports are plotted on the map with a color-coded and labeled icon depicting the condition at the location of the report. The map interface allows the user to zoom in on an area. Clicking on an icon will display the latest report for that location. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map is displayed as a layer on the map so users can see any corresponding areas of drought. A slider bar at the bottom of the map allows the user to go back in time up to a year to view weekly reports and the corresponding U.S. Drought Monitor.


MRCC On The Road

On the Road CalendarLouisville, KY (October 26) – USGS 2017 Kentucky Cooperator Meeting
Mike Timlin will be attending to promote our data and products and to ascertain climate service user needs.  This meeting is the first for the newly integrated three-state entity, USGS OH-KY-IN Water Science Center.

Kansas City, MO (November 5-6) – Regional Climate Services Meeting
Beth Hall will be attending to explore strategic plans for the Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) and NOAA over the next 3-5 years.

Grand Rapids, MI (December 5-7) – Great Lakes Expo
Beth Hall will be attending this yearly expo to learn more about the climate impacts and service needs from specialty (e.g., fruit and vegetable) crop producers and distributors.

Austin, TX (January 7-11) – AMS Annual Meeting
Mike Timlin plans to attend the 98th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. This year's theme is “Transforming Communication in the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise”.


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National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationThe MRCC is a partner in a national climate service program that includes the
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Regional Climate Centers,
and State Climate Offices.
MRCC is based at the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Prairie Research Institute
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