Since the Brooks E. Martner 1986 edition of the Wyoming Climate Atlas, weather sensor technology, data access and the general public's awareness of weather have gathered momentum beyond most people's expectations.
Sensors can now record and transmit weather observations continuously, automatically and in real time. The Internet allows anyone from anywhere to view the latest radar, satellite and station observations in graphic, text or Web cam formats. Looking at your computer monitor has become something equivalent to looking out your window - and seeing weather from anywhere in the world.
For those who don't have this access, cable and satellite TV provide current weather news 24 hours a day. Meteorology, the science of weather, was once only learned through attending higher educational institutions, but this knowledge is now available freely through the countless number of outreach Web sites that provide weather / climate related instructional material.
Weather is in the news every day because it affects just about every person in just about every way. World economies depend on the forecast of agricultural crop yields, efficient transportation and the ways national resource use and material consumption impact the earth's climate and ecology. Because of that, the study of climate and climate change has become a truly interdisciplinary science that bridges all interests.
In the spirit of Martner's original Wyoming Climate Atlas, Jan Curtis and Kate Grimes retain the format of this atlas but incorporate new data such as lightning strike frequency and wind profiler soundings. The blend of color charts and text makes this new atlas both functional and easy to use. Additionally, they attempt to show how these data could apply to public and commercial interests. For example, knowing the frequency of peak winds on buildings takes on new meaning when one considers air density at altitude. If one understands that droughts are cyclic in nature, then water resource managers can better prepare for the next inevitable drought. Also, understanding the reasons a 100-year flood can occur after just a year - and not in 100 years - can change the way a structural engineer builds a bridge. This atlas helps to explain how climatology uses statistics to determine long-period weather trends but, without a homogeneous climate data set, how these projections can be erroneous or misleading.
The revised Wyoming Climate Atlas is a tangible product of research sponsored by the Wyoming Water Development Commission and the United States Geological Survey in conjunction with the Water Resources Program and the College of Engineering, Civil and Architectural Engineering Department of the University of Wyoming. The benefits that Wyoming and its people will derive from the information contained in this book will prove that this investment in Wyoming's future was a worthwhile one.