High Plains Regional Climate Center


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©2019 American Meteorological Society. Used by permission.


The High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) is one of six NOAA Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) in the United States that aims to provide timely climate data and information to the public for cost-effective decision-making. As part of a three-tiered approach to climate services, the RCCs address needs on the national, regional, state, and local scales for a variety of sectors including agriculture, energy, natural resource management, research, transportation, and water resources. Working together, the RCCs develop and disseminate a wide range of valueadded climate products and services.

One of the HPRCC’s most popular products is the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) Climate Summary Maps, which have been in production since 2003 (Fig. 1; https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps .php?map=ACISClimateMaps). The maps are utilized by a variety of sectors and are often used in print and online publications. Over time, the maps have become a staple for climate and drought monitoring as they are updated on a daily basis using near-real-time temperature and precipitation data.

To provide quick and efficient access for users, all maps are pre-generated utilizing the Grid Analysis and Display System (GRADS) and its Cressman interpolation scheme, with static images appearing instantly when requested. The pregeneration process takes about 7 hours, using over 10 million data values, which are aggregated to create 18,576 maps on a daily basis. Each of these maps is created for a predefined list of time periods (last 7 days, last 14 days, last 30 days, etc.) and areas at individual state, regional, and national levels (https://hprcc.unl.edu/products /ACIS_Products.pdf). In a typical week, these maps are accessed over 20,000 times by visitors to the HPRCC website. Due to the volume of users and their changing needs, map offerings have expanded over the years to meet specific user requests. Since the inception of the project, new variables have been added, including the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), based on a two-parameter Gamma distribution (McKee et al. 1993), as well as new regions, such as the Missouri River basin and the Corn Belt. Most recently, all 50 states and U.S. territories were added as individual map options.