Climatology

Purpose

The Climatology Program (also known as the State Climatology Office) exists to gather, archive, manage, and disseminate historical climate data in order to address questions involving the impact of climate on Minnesota and its citizens.

Description

Climate data are used to explain past events and to assist planners in defining future climate scenarios. The State Climatology Office ensures a contiguous and continuous supply of high-quality climate data by coordinating the activities of climate data suppliers, and by developing tools for the management and distribution of the data. The State Climatology Office is a member of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, a collaborative effort existing to study and describe the climate of Minnesota. In addition to the DNR-State Climatology Office, members of the Climatology Working Group include the University of Minnesota-Department of Soil, Water, and Climate; the University of Minnesota-Department of Geography; the University of Minnesota Extension Service; the National Weather Service; and others. Each member concentrates its efforts on specific topical areas in which climate plays a significant role. The results of such effort generally can be used as guidance in the many activities in which Minnesota's citizens are involved. By functioning in a group fashion, an efficiency in the use of data and other resources is achieved.

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Data Sources

The State Climatology Office relies heavily on the data-gathering efforts of others. Several public entities in Minnesota gather climate data. These entities serve missions relating to the use of such information on behalf of the citizens of the state. Collectively, these agencies have traditionally pooled resources and maintained activities specific to their disciplines and their respective clientele. Volunteer cooperators working with these agencies gather the majority of the climate data. The following agencies sponsor climate data-gathering efforts:

  • DNR-Division of Ecological and Water Resources
  • DNR-Division of Forestry
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • National Weather Service
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Metropolitan Mosquito Control District
  • Metropolitan Council - Environmental Services
  • University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Stations
  • Minnesota Association of Watersheds

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Clientele

The clientele of the State Climatology Office are varied and many. The primary clientele are DNR Waters staff requiring climate information to make decisions or to investigate events. Secondary clientele include staff in other DNR divisions, state agencies, federal agencies, local governments, private sector professionals, and members of the public needing climate information for planning or investigative purposes.

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Products and Services

The State Climatology Office serves its clientele by offering regularly prepared climate summaries, maps, and data sets. Also, the State Climatology Office produces customized climate data sets, summaries, and maps to honor specific requests. Data are distributed via the Minnesota Climatology Working Web Site, electronic mail, postal mail, telephone, and DNR and University of Minnesota publications.

Products provided by the State Climatology Office include:

  • Weekly precipitation maps
    This product depicts the total precipitation of the previous 7 days. Maps show the departure from normal since April 1 and historical ranking depict the relative dryness/wetness of the warm season.
  • Weekly snow depth maps
    This map is a simple compilation of observed depths around the state for the stated date. A ranking of the current depth relative to past years gives a measure of the rarity of the current condition.
  • Weekly ski/snowmobile trail report
    Each week, DNR personnel from around the state monitor snow depth and ski/snowmobile trail conditions. This information is relayed to the State Climatology Office, where it is compiled into a textual trail report.
  • Miscellaneous event summaries
    Flash floods and other extreme conditions require special products that depict geographical extent and some measure of absolute intensity or rarity.

Data services provided by the State Climatology Office include:

  • Long-term summaries of temperature and precipitation are available in map and tabular formats. The Climate of Minnesota series of technical publications provides an easily used distribution method for these products.
  • Long-term time-series of daily and monthly temperature and precipitation data are available in electronic format.
  • High spatial resolution daily precipitation data sets are available. More than 1500 stations across Minnesota observe precipitation during the warm months.
  • Special data sets are created for custom applications such as lake level and soil moisture modeling.

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Staff

The State Climatology Office is supported by one full-time climatologist positions and two part-time assistant climatologist positions. The state climatologist serves the lead administrative role, steering strategic plans, and heading technical development. The assistant state climatologists are responsible for providing user services, overseeing data acquisition and management, and technical development.

Program personnel

State Climatology Office
439 Borlaug Hall
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN 55108
tel. (651) 296-4214
fax. (612) 626-1276
email: climate@umn.edu
website: http://climate.umn.edu