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NMSU water lecture examines gap between climate forecasts, agricultural applications

Just because it usually rains in July in New Mexico doesn't mean it always will, and farmers who are affected by the Southwest's summer rains, fall freezes, winter snows and spring winds can use all the help they can get when it comes to knowing what to expect from climate and weather. Such variations in weather and seasonal climate are vitally important not only in New Mexico, but around the world for both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture.


Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service Grazinglands Research Laboratory have been working to bridge the technological gap between climate forecasts and agricultural applications. One of these diligent researchers is Jeanne Schneider, who will be presenting "Integration of Climate Variability and Forecasts into Risk-Based Management Tools for Agriculture" at the New Mexico State University Water Lecture Series.

Schneider, a research meteorologist for ARS in El Reno, Okla., will speak at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Room 105 of Wooton Hall on the NMSU campus.

Seasonal climate forecasts issued by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center appear to offer an important opportunity to reduce risks and maximize profits and sustainability in U.S. agriculture. However, these seasonal climate forecasts are rarely used in agricultural decision support, for some good reasons. Schneider's research at the Grazinglands Research Laboratory has been working to bridge the technological gap between the climate forecasts and agricultural applications. In her talk she will explore the issues related to forecast utility, including an agro-centric measure of forecast skill; when and how to use the NOAA/CPC forecasts; and possible alternatives to the forecasts.

She will discuss how to incorporate dependable forecast information in risk-based management tools for agriculture, understanding that decision support must be specific to ecosystem and crop.

Schneider moved to the Grazinglands Research Laboratory in 1999, joining a team developing decision support for agricultural and water resource management based on climate forecasts and multi-year climate variations. Her initial focus was on the NOAA/CPC seasonal climate forecasts, developing measures of forecast utility to determine where and when the forecasts might offer appropriate information for decision support. Presently she is pursuing prototype applications of the methodology, while also exploring alternative sources of forecast guidance for regions of the U.S. where the NOAA/CPC forecasts have limited utility.

Schneider holds a bachelor's in physics from the University of Nebraska, a master's in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma. Her graduate specialties were in modeling and observation of stable and convective planetary boundary layers, with an emphasis in remote sensing, measurement physics, and observational field programs.

For further information concerning the lecture series, please contact Leeann DeMouche, Water Resource Specialist, NMSU, at ldemouch@nmsu.edu or (505) 646-3973.