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A ribbon cutting on April 22, 2011 marked the official opening of USU's Environmental Observatory. The event was held in conjunction with Earth Day, which celebrates awareness and appreciation for the environment. The ceremony included talks by Larry Dunn from the National Weather Service, Paul Campbell from Campbell Scientific, Jay Monson from the Logan City council, and Rob Gillies, Director of the Utah Climate Center.

pic of the environmental observatory

"The new Environmental Observatory is a wonderful addition to our campus, providing people from all walks of life a glimpse of the technology and computations behind weather and climate predictions," said Noelle Cockett, dean of the College of Agriculture. I appreciate the efforts of those who have made this observatory a reality."

The observatory is a sophisticated solar-powered weather station and is the first of its kind in the state of Utah. It precisely measures 22 separate weather components, including carbon dioxide in the air. Measurements include a state-of-the-art atmospheric visibility sensor, which measures the clarity of the air in Cache Valley. Campbell Scientific, a local instrumentation company, generously provided much of the technology necessary to make these measurements.

"This project has required the combined effort of faculty and students over several years. We are honored to have the opportunity to assemble cutting edge technology to create an elegant environmental sculpture that may become a tourist destination for Cache Valley." said Bruce Bugbee, the faculty member who coordinated the project.

[Excerpted from a press release by Skyler Di Stefano, College of Agriculture Public Relations] See bottom of page.

pic of the environmental observatory
pic of the environmental observatory

Weather watcher: USU putting final touches on new station

Author: Kevin Opsahl, The Herald Journal (kopsahl@hjnews.com) Date: April 8, 2011 Page: Section: News

pic of observatory

Utah State University students are putting the finishing touches on a new weather station on campus, to be officially unveiled at a public ceremony on Earth Day. The new weather station — designed and constructed by the Department of Plants, Soils and Climate — is expected to be a piece of weather equipment unlike anything else in the state when it’s finished by April 22. The observatory will provide continuous real-time weather data for the campus and will be an educational resource for students in the environmental sciences. It will also serve as the department’s test platform for new innovative measurement sensors. A plaque placed in front of the station will be there for people to learn more about the weather station.

Each of the more than 20 instruments on the automated observatory produces a signal that is recorded by the data logger built into the station, transmitted by wireless signal to a computer, and graphically displayed on the Internet. This technology is fairly new and “provides cutting edge (environmental) measurements” for conservation of irrigation water, sustainable food production and monitoring air and ground water quality, said Bruce Bugbee, professor in the Department of Plants, Soils and Climate. Some of the technology has only been developed within the last six months.

“That really makes this unique,” Bugbee said. “It will be more accurate than anything previously ... and provide more comprehensive measurements. And the fact that it’s solar powered is very unique, because it’s challenging to power all of these sensors.”

pic of observatory

The station was not funded by the state of Utah. Instead, Campbell Scientific and other instrument companies provided donations valuing approximately $50,000. The project was several years in the making, Bugbee said.

“It’s not just a gizmo to measure the environment; it’s a piece of sculpture,” Bugbee said. “This isn’t going to look like a piece of junk. This is really going to look nice, like a piece of art. ... We needed to do that to justify having it in the middle of campus.”

One of Bugbee’s graduate students, Chris Parry, said of the station, “Anyone can use the data for their own research.”

Weather measurement is no stranger to USU. It began with the historic campus weather station, built in 1893, north of the Nutrition and Food Science building.

Copyright 2011 The Herald Journal

Photos by Alan Murray (amurray@hjnews.com)

April 18, 2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE/EARTH DAY RIBBON CUTTING FOR USU’S NEW ENVIRONMENTAL OBSERVATORY

Writer: Skyler Di Stefano, 435-797-7406 Contact: Bruce Bugbee, bruce.bugbee@usu.edu HIGH-TECH SCULPTURE ON CAMPUS TRACKS THE ENVIRONMENT

Logan — Utah State University’s sophisticated solar-powered environmental monitoring observatory is the first of its kind on a university campus and provides a model for self-powered observatories in remote locations. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the official opening on Earth Day, April 22, at 1 p.m. in front of the E.G. Peterson Agricultural Science Building on the USU campus. All are invited to attend.

This cutting-edge observatory measures all standard weather conditions, five components of solar radiation, carbon dioxide in the air, and seven conditions underground. A state-of-the-art atmospheric visibility sensor measures the clarity of the air in Cache Valley, a unique feature of particular interest to local residents. All of the data are graphically displayed on a dedicated website at weather.usu.edu.

This observatory continues a tradition of weather measurement at USU that began with the historic campus weather station, built in 1893. Campbell Scientific, a local company that designs and manufactures measurement and control instrumentation, generously provided much of the technology necessary to make these measurements.

Speakers at the ceremony include Kevin Werner from the National Weather Service, Paul Campbell from Campbell Scientific, Jay Monson from the Logan City council, and Rob Gillies, Director of the Utah Climate Center.

For more information about the environmental observatory visit weather.usu.edu.