The installation of about 100 new weather stations throughout Hawai‘i, possibly including a few on Kaho‘olawe, is a game-changer for the state. The data generated from these new stations will allow farmers, ranchers, and others facing the challenges of climate change to better understand and forecast Hawai‘i’s complex weather patterns and make informed management decisions for their businesses, including crop planning, grazing, fire management, and flood risk.
The Hawai‘i Mesonet Weather Station Network project was funded through a $1.34 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), with additional funding from the Hawaiʻi Commission on Water Resource Management, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Significantly, according to UHM, this is the first time the NSF has funded a mesonet system under the Major Research Instrumentation Program.
A group of conservationists and business owners from across the nation were provided access to the initial installation of a new weather station at Pi‘iholo, Maui during the annual field trip of the National Association of Conservation Districts Pacific and Southwest Region. Upon completion, the mesonet network will be equipped to record invaluable climate data (e.g., rainfall rates, solar radiation, air temperature, humidity, wind speed, soil moisture) in 5-minute intervals that can be used for immediate applications or for future studies. For example, the UH team will be able to use the massive amount of information generated by the weather stations to predict the probability of thunderstorms and the risk of flooding in the state.
Chris Shuler, WRRC hydrologist, projected that with delays due to the pandemic, it will probably be six months before building the mesonet network begins in earnest. A long-term maintenance plan will include partnering with community members and a UH team will be available to provide technical expertise, training, and guidance. This new “tool” enables farmers, ranchers, and others plan for a more sustainable future.
News releases: The Maui News (September 9, 2022), by Dakota Grossman | UH News: https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/10/10/hawaii-mesonet-project/