HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Researchers at Marshall University are hoping to use a new weather observation system to better study climate change. A total of six weather monitoring stations have already been installed both on campus and throughout West Virginia. Researchers now look forward to using this new technology in the classroom, and maybe even the football field.
“The overlying theme of the project, which is a five-year project, is climate change,” said Dr. Tony Szwilski, the Chair for the Division of Applied Sciences and Technology at Marshall University.
It is thanks to funding through the National Science Foundation EPSCoR that Marshall University has spent the last four years studying climate change in West Virginia. Now, researchers want to create a mesonet using this technology.
“A mesonet is a network of weather observing stations, so it’s a really dense network, so that way we can see what the weather conditions are like over that fine scale,” explained Dr. Kevin Law, Professor of Meteorology at Marshall and State Climatologist.
Researchers have a hard time getting accurate data due to the fact that the Mountain State is so rural, and because there are no weather monitoring stations in those areas. The hope is that with these networks, researchers and students will be able to get more accurate weather readings and study the change in climate with real-time data.
“This data uploads every one minute,” said Dr. Law.
One of the six weather stations Marshall University researchers will be using to study climate change is housed on top of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium’s press box. This will also help coaches know key weather conditions prior to major plays.
“It’s very useful for the coaching staff to be able to predict or get directional wind, precipitation, the rate of precipitation, and the temperature changes in real-time,” said Dr. Szwilski.
Now, with plans to get more funding to install more weather monitoring stations, Dr. Law looks to give students hands-on research experience.
“The objective is to have these in place for a long period of time so that way we can definitely see how the climate has changed,” Dr. Law added.
Weather monitoring stations are currently in place on Marshall’s campus, Mingo Central High School, James Monroe High School, WVSU, and the Sissonville Public Service Building. Dr. Szwilski and Dr. Law say if you look at the effects of climate change in the last 100 years, West Virginia is getting more rain, but it isn’t increasing in temperature compared to other states. This is due, according to them, to the fact the Mountain State has a lot of tree cover.