Austin College Weather Station Overview

The Austin College Weather Station (ACWX), located on Austin College's Sneed Environmental Research Area approximately 10 miles west of Sherman, provides unique opportunities to study weather and climate in North Texas.  Established in Spring 2001 by undergraduate physics students, the main objectives of the weather station are

The Austin College Weather Station records standard meteorological observations including air temperature, relative humidity, dew point, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, and precipitation.  In addition to these standard measurements, ACWX measures surface quantities such as soil moisture, soil temperature, solar radiation, infrared radiation, and soil heat flux.  These additional quantities are used to calculate the surface energy balance.  Typical weather stations do not collect these additional observations, making Austin College the only liberal arts college in the United States to record these important climate variables.  Further details can be found on the Instrumentation and Measurement Information web page.

Data from the Austin College Weather Station continuously document surface conditions in North Texas.  Prior to the establishment of ACWX, around-the-clock automated meteorological information has not been publicly available in Sherman and surrounding areas. This information is extremely valuable to the local community, including school children, farmers and ranchers, weather forecasters, and many others.  Updated every hour, the Austin College Weather Station web site provides current weather and surface conditions.  Historical observations are available upon request.

Involvement of undergraduates in high-quality research has become a top priority at Austin College. The Austin College Weather Station provides a natural opportunity for students to participate in research relevant to their daily lives.  ACWX utilizes state-of-the-art research instrumentation similar to that used by the National Weather Service, the Oklahoma Mesonet, and the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics.  Previous student projects have included comparisons of different types of temperature sensors, calibration of soil moisture measurements, and comparison of satellite precipitation estimates with Austin College rain gauge measurements.

As part of a long-term Environmental Physics Research Program, the Austin College Weather Station project contains three phases.  Establishment of the Austin College Weather Station constituted Phase I. Undergraduate physics students constructed the Austin College Weather Station in Spring 2001for a senior-level extended study course. The first measurements were taken on April 27, 2001.  Phase II of the project includes data quality assurance and control.  Student projects provide essential verification and calibration of instruments in this phase.  Public release of weather and climate data comprises Phase III of the project.  Phases II and III are ongoing portions of the ACWX project.

Austin College Faculty Startup and Austin College Cullen Grants have generously funded the Austin College Weather Station project.