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Scientists from UNL, WKU and UAH are part of team studying the connection between Great Plains precipitation and agricultural irrigation

To further understand how irrigation may be affecting precipitation, scientists from six partner institutions -- the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Western Kentucky University (WKU), University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Center for Severe Weather Research have teamed up for a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project known as the Great Plains Irrigation Experiment, or GRAINEX. Scientists began collecting data in late May across a 3,600-square-mile area in southeastern Nebraska. The data collection will continue through the end of July.

Doppler Grainex

The Doppler On Wheels 7 mobile radar deployed at a GRAINEX site near Dwight, Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Maiana Hanshaw, CSWR

The results of the study will eventually help agricultural planning and weather forecasting in the United States and other parts of the world, the researchers said.

Rezaul Mahmood, director of the High Plains Regional Climate Center at UNL, is leading the project. Other co-leaders are Udaysankar Nair of UAH, Eric Rappin of WKU, and Roger Pielke Sr. of CU.

"We designed this research project to take place over a two-month period to allow us to understand the impacts of irrigation right when it begins, and during its maximum application in mid- to late July," Mahmood said.

"The study includes the transition region between extensively irrigated areas and dry land or non-irrigated areas. The experiment's setting offers a unique opportunity to investigate the influence of these different land surface and land cover regions side by side."

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