Are local precipitation variations critical for recent droughts?

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About This Project

We have recently (2012) experienced a significant drought. We have also experienced a short-term mild drought over the recent months. Precipitation (rain and snow) amount can significantly vary over an area and over time and plays an important role in development of drought. Drought can signficantly impact ecosystems and economy.

As a result, we will investigate local precipitation using data from the Kentucky Mesonet, the second network in the world of its type, providing a unique dataset.

Results will help to understand the nature and characteristics of local-scale precipitation in the mid-latitudinal areas of the world. We also build tools to help water managers during droughts for the Barren River Area Development District, covering a 10 county area in Kentucky.

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What is the context of this research?

Drought can be short or sustained, localized or widespread. Precipitation amounts can significantly vary over time and space. Hence, to cope with drought, it is essential that we understand the local-scale precipitation variability. This research will investigate precipitation characteristics over a 10 county area in western Kentucky using a unique observed data set from the Kentucky Mesonet. It is our expectation that results will provide significant insights in local-scale precipitation variability in the mid-latitude regions of the world. We are requesting for funding to conduct data analysis to fulfill this objective.

An added benefit will be web-based tools for water managers. These tools will help them better make decisions during drought, flood, and "normal" conditions.

What is the significance of this project?

The outcome of this research will significantly improve our understanding of local-scale precipitation variability, not only in Kentucky, but also in the mid-latitudes. We will also deliver web-based decision tools, based on the Kentucky Mesonet data for drought monitoring and management.

What are the goals of the project?

  • Understanding local precipitation. We will use data from the Kentucky Mesonet.
  • Analysis of 5, 15, 30 minute and hourly precipitation data.
  • Web-based tool development for the water managers in the area for drought management.


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Total requested budget is $5,300. $5,000 will be used as stipend for Mr. Bryan Knowles for Fall 2015-Spring 2016 when he will conduct this research. $300 is for local traveling to meet with the water managers. Bryan receives a tuition waiver through Western Kentucky University (WKU) and receives a partial stipend support from WKU. This requested funding will help complete Bryan’s needed stipend. Without this funding Bryan would experience futher hurdles which would make it difficult for him to finish the project.

Meet the Team

Bryan A. Knowles
Bryan A. Knowles
Dr. Rezaul Mahmood
Dr. Rezaul Mahmood
Dr. Scott Dobler
Dr. Scott Dobler
Thriving Earth Exchange
Thriving Earth Exchange

Team Bio

Hello everyone, I am a Masters student at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY. I have always loved how Climatology provides a constant stream of spatio-temporal data, and in light of recent droughts in Kentucky, analyzing that data is becoming increasingly important. As a data scientist at the Kentucky Mesonet, it is my job to understand the information we collect every five minutes at 60+ stations staggered every 20-30 miles across the state and to transform this understanding into user-friendly web-based tools.

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  • 5Backers
  • 15%Funded
  • $785Total Donations
  • $157.00Average Donation
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