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NDAWN Tackles Inversions (05/25/17)

NDAWN isn’t new, but it has a new tool to provide additional value to its users.

NDAWN isn’t new, but it has a new tool to provide additional value to its users.

The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN), the state’s mesonet that provides current data, climatological records, and crop models to the public and agriculture industry, is rolling out a new service: inversion alerts.

Inversions are areas of the atmosphere where temperature increases with height. This stable air mass results in low wind speeds and horizontal flow. When spray droplets are dispersed in this environment, the smallest drops may not make it to the ground and can end up floating for long distances before settling in an entirely different area, or someone else's field.

This meteorological phenomenon can be a headache for applicators, who often rely on wind data to determine if, and when, it is acceptable to spray. Even though most users are aware of the existence of inversions, they can’t readily determine if they are happening.

The network recognized a need for this service and has delivered.

After nearly a year of testing, NDAWN has begun distributing their inversion instrumentation across the state. There are currently three sites that are equipped for inversions, with six more being added during the remainder of 2017.

These sites consist of multiple temperature sensors at numerous heights in each location. The difference in temperatures will allow inversions to be recognized, and the corresponding data will then be instantly published on the NDAWN website.

To access, users should go to the “NDAWN Center” page and click on the “Show tower measurements” checkbox. Users will have access to the temperatures and be notified with a red number and “!” symbolizing that an inversion is in place and they should act appropriately.  The network’s real-time data stream will allow users access to these updates every five minutes.

Although the network can identify inversions, users still need to recognize the appropriate response. It is also important to note that this information is a decision-making tool and not a call-to-action.

Future work includes expansion of the inversion sensors across additional NDAWN locations, as well as developing an improved alert system to better serve and provide the state’s agriculture sector with this information.

Nicole Stone

NDAWN Technician

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