Climate group collects weather data for public use

The free data covers everything from rainfall totals to average monthly temperatures dating back more than 100 years.

Raghav Mehta

Climatologists from the University of Minnesota and around the state are working together to catalogue Minnesota weather data in an online database accessible to the public. The data collected by the Climatology Working Group, working out of the department of soil, water and climate on the St. Paul campus, provides information for government agencies, the agricultural industry, businesses and residents. The website, found at www.climate.umn.edu, hosts a range of data, from historical listings dating back to the 1890s to the average date of initial soil freezing. Assistant state climatologist, Pete Boulay, handles calls from the public relating to the weather data. Some people come with questions about weather trends, others come seeking advice on issues like drought. âÄúPeople have been really thankful to get the data and I think theyâÄôre glad we provide such a great service for free,âÄù Boulay said. While providing the data is the first step in the process, University professor and climatologist Mark Seeley said education is also an important part in the groupâÄôs success. SeeleyâÄôs main role in the group is educating the public and working to improve the understanding of climate change issues. He writes the Minnesota Weather Talk , a weekly commentary on weather trends in Minnesota and new climatology research, for the groupâÄôs website. He also participates in a weekly weather chat on Minnesota Public Radio. âÄúMy role is to interface with the media and doing a lot of educational outreach,âÄù Seeley said. He believes more education is required as the society begins to confront emerging weather issues like climate change. âÄúI think in exploring the information that is presented by the Minnesota climate working group, a lot of citizens can gain access to that knowledge and observe how the climate is changing and what the observed consequences might be,âÄù Seeley said. While the group has existed in various forms over the years, soil, water and climate department head Ed Nater , thinks it will play an even more vital role in the years to come âÄúI think itâÄôs going to be one of our future, very important groups in the college,âÄù he said. âÄú[The group] is working on various aspects of climate change, atmospheric pollution and a number of key issues of the day.âÄù