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Northern Wisconsin Study Could Provide More Accurate Weather Forecasting

The National Science Foundation is funding a study, CHEESEHEAD19, which stands for Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors, 2019. (Pixabay)
The National Science Foundation is funding a study, CHEESEHEAD19, which stands for Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors, 2019. (Pixabay)
August 1, 2018

MADISON, Wis. – Researchers next summer will take to the plains of northern Wisconsin for a study that suits what the state is known for.

The study, dubbed with the acronym "CHEESHEAD19," will examine how plant growth and decline throughout the seasons affects the atmospheric climate in local areas. One of the biggest potential benefits is the improvement of weather forecasting.

Ankur Desai, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead researcher for CHEESHEAD19, said meteorologists can use the findings as an extra element to provide more accurate predictions.

"This is the type of data set that you can directly use now to say, 'Well, how well does my weather model actually pick up some of that spatial variability of vegetation and atmosphere? How does that influence my forecast?' " he said.

CHEESEHEAD19 stands for Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors, 2019.

Desai and his research team will not be short on high-tech equipment. The group received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to get the ball rolling and even more funding for instrumentation. For that reason, the study will include ultralight, climate-detecting aircraft, atmosphere-measuring flux towers and more.

In the end, Desai said, he hopes the research can correlate growth of vegetation, and the surrounding environment's weather patterns.

"The fact that one area is warmer than another, and another area is a little wetter than another," he said, "does that create circulations in the atmosphere, like the eddies in a river current, except in the atmosphere?"

The study will begin early next summer and extend into fall, when some plants begin to shed their leaves. The researchers at CHEESHEAD19 have said they are excited to receive a wide range of help. Two school districts in Wisconsin will send middle- and high-school students to take part in the study.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - WI