Utah Climate Center

THE UTAH CLIMATE Center aims to disseminate climate data and information and to use expertise in atmospheric science to interpret climate information in an accurate and original way for the public. The mission includes the design of new products to meet the present and future needs of agriculture, natural resources, government, industry, tourism, and educational organizations in Utah and the intermountain region. It is part of Utah State University and has been recognized as a state center by the American Association of State Climatologists.

Much of climate information requested from the center comes from published records and computerized databases. Published records in print form extend through 2006 and are available at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Many original historical data records for Utah for the 19th and early 20th centuries have been transferred to and archived in the Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. The Utah Climate Center serves as an official repository for both published climate data records and official publications from the NCDC, encompassing several decades, as part of an official agreement with the NCDC.

The weather and climate data provided by the Utah Climate Center are elaborated with the cooperation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra tion, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal, state, and local authorities. The Utah Climate Center strives to provide quality climate data.

In the past, the Utah Climate Center has provided information through paper via the postal service, via fax, or via electronic mail, but it now uses a GIS search facility. The Utah Climate Center gathers and archives climatic data from 22 networks throughout the state. It also monitors and compiles information from networks used by the Forest Service, the University of Utah, the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Land Management, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and others. Data such as maximum and minimum temperature, precipitation, evaporation and evapotranspiration (a measure of water lost from the soil as a result of transfer to plants, rather than straight evaporation), and solar radiation are collected from various sites. The center collects 57,000 pieces of information from hundreds of locations each day. The earliest data at the UCC date back to the 1870s and 1880s, although most of the stations were put in place in the 1900s.

The center was initially timid in assessing global warming. In 1998, then-director Donald T. Jensen stated that any signals of global warming in Utah "have been lost in the noise of other temperature fluctuations. ... It's hard to find any real evidence here because temperatures here have always bounced up and down." However, with the passing years, the center has expressed views that are more attuned to the general opinion on global warming. Robert Gillies, the present director of the center, has pointed out that "the massive and growing scientific evidence has convinced the atmospheric science community that climate change is occurring, and is the result of human activities, specifically the release of greenhouse gases."

sEE ALsO: Carbon Dioxide; Climate Change, Effects; Greenhouse Gases; Utah.

bibliography. Robert Gillies, "Letter to the Editor: Statement on Climate Change From the Utah Climate Center," Hard News Café, www.hardnewscafe.usu.edu/archive/ feb2007/020707_climateletter.html; Utah Climate Center, www.climate.usurf.usu.edu/.

Luca Prono University of Nottingham

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