Iowa Environmental Mesonet


The Iowa Environmental Mesonet [IEM] aims to gather, collect, compare, disseminate and archive observations made in Iowa. Unlike other mesonet projects, the IEM does not own or operate any of the automated stations. Rather, the IEM collects data from existing resources in the state. The result is a low-cost, high resolution mesonet for use in a wide range of disciplines.

One of the first questions we are often asked is, 'What does Mesonet mean?' Meso-net is a combination of two meteorological terms. Meso refers to a spatial scale on which Meteorologists define certain weather phenomena. In the context of an observing network, meso refers to a spatial scale at which a network of sensors can resolve mesoscale phenomena. Mesonet implies a spatially and temporarily dense set of observing stations.


The IEM would not be possible without the generous cooperation and support from federal, state and local agencies as well as the private sector. These groups have been very supportive of the IEM and responsive to requests made by the IEM. Among these include...

  • Iowa Department of Transportation [IaDOT]
  • Iowa State University & Department of Agronomy [ISU]
  • KCCI-TV8 Des Moines, Iowa [KCCI]
  • National Weather Service [NWS]

Data Networks

As of 1 April 2002, the IEM is gathering information from over 7 permanent observing networks in the State. These networks include...

  • Automated Surface Observing System [ASOS]
  • Automated Weather Observing System [AWOS]
  • Cooperative Observer Program [COOP]
  • River Gauges / Data Collection Platforms [DCP]
  • Iowa State Agricultural Climate Network [ISUAG]
  • Roadway Weather Information System [RWIS]
  • Soil Climate Analysis Network [SCAN]
  • KCCI-TV8 School Network [SNET]

Clearly, the aforementioned list provides a wide range of measurements for the state of Iowa. The networks have not been developed for similar purposes. The ASOS/AWOS stations are located at Airports in support of aviation and weather prediction. The SCAN site provides detailed information about soil conditions and has no direct application for use in aviation. The RWIS sites are located near major highways and provide pavement temperatures for frost forecasting and chemical application guidance. The ISUAG sites primarily monitor soil temperatures and augment precipitation observations in the state. The schoolnet sites, while located in poor meteorological locations, are intended to give public visibility to the local station and serve as a learning tool for students. The DCP network provides river gauging needed for flood prediction and observation. The COOP provides a daily weather record for climatological use.

If you put all of these networks together, you can see the value that each network brings. Combining them into one product is very difficult, hence the need for the IEM. Sites in different networks are not always similar in reporting routines. For example, many stations report wind information, but not every station is at the same height or not every station averages the same way or not every station reports in the same units. These issues are important to consider before beginning any quality control work.

Future of the IEM

Public response to the IEM have and continue to be very positive. It would be unproductive for the IEM to work on projects/products that the public has no interest in. Feedback from end-users of the data is always welcome. Currently, we are moving forward on these projects...

  • Back-filling the IEM data archive from times before the IEM came into existance.
  • Identifying locations in the state where new sensors/sites would be most beneficially placed.
  • Building climatologies of stations and networks in the state.
  • Maintaining/enhancing a meta-database of site information.
  • Creating data products in GIS-ready formats.
  • Meeting the data needs of end-users.
  • Quality control issues.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.