Surface layer climatological analysis of meteorological data at The VCU Rice Rivers Center

Joseph Robinson


Air temperature, precipitation and wind direction are important atmospheric variables when developing a climatology for a certain region. A short-term climatology can be a useful reference for environmental and life science researchers to better understand the environmental conditions of their research. Data were acquired from the VCU Rice Rivers Center (RRC) bluff meteorological tower from 15 June 2008 through 21 July 2016 with a temporal resolution of ten minutes. Time series plots of daily average temperature were created for each year. Temperature and precipitation data were validated by comparison to similarly resolved weather data from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsored station in Hopewell, VA for the same time period. A two-sample t-test between the two data sets demonstrated that the RRC data were of high quality. Cumulative precipitation plots were produced for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Comparison of these plots to both Hopewell and the Richmond International Airport (RIC) showed high amounts of rainfall at the RRC in early 2016, which can be explained in part by strong positive phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other climatic teleconnections. However, further investigation needs to be done to ensure the validity of solely these data. Wind direction was also investigated to determine whether or not channeling along the James River as well as air pollution transport from Hopewell to the RRC occurred. While data did not suggest channeling along the James River, direct transport of air from Hopewell to the RRC was implicated by the data analyzed. Wind direction data analyzed further showed wind shifts associated with the passage of frontal boundaries. The short-term climatology produced by this investigation provides valuable insight to the environment of the RRC and its surroundings, and is a useful tool for researchers seeking environmental information for their work.


Climatology; ENSO Teleconnections; Surface Layer

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