Dr Matthew Lazzara is a meteorologist, and is faculty and department chair for physical sciences at MATC as well as a senior scientist at UW-Madison. In both roles he is part of the team that works with the automatic weather stations for the US Antarctic Program. With around 60 weather stations across Antarctica, they are observing surface weather in an area bigger than the US and Mexico combined. He explains that while Antarctica may be a world away, many of the weather tools they use there can also be found on farms here in Wisconsin.
A basic rain gauge is a staple on farms, and advanced weather stations are becoming more and more common in farm houses. As farmers get more and more techy, they are using apps and programs to measure rainfall, right down to the specific field. The data coming back seems to be generally accurate. Dr Lazzara explains how these apps, with the help of local citizens, can pinpoint rainfall amounts so precisely.
In his research as part of the U.S. Antarctic Program, Dr Lazzara uses many tools. While many are specifically made for the harsh weather in the arctic, he says many of the weather monitoring items they use are no different than what anyone can buy off the shelf. Weather stations with the ability to be monitored remotely also have a tie back to the University of Wisconsin with early research being performed there.
While farmers may not always trust a forecast, especially 10 days out, the technology used to make those predictions is getting more and more accurate all the time. Part of the accuracy of weather patterns comes from having more data on weather patterns, including what the weather is doing in places like Antarctica, without weather data collection like the U.S. Antarctic Program is doing, the forecasts here in Wisconsin wouldn’t be as accurate.