Kansas Wesleyan University and the Salina Tree Board invite the public to attend a program presented by climatologist Mary Knapp. “Monitoring Kansas Climate” will explore various networks for monitoring the weather and how that data contributes to our understanding of changes in climate in Kansas.
As the state climatologist, Knapp occupies a unique position in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University. She is responsible for establishing and maintaining a statewide network of equipment for gathering weather data, and answering questions on climate and weather matters. She also maintains the website that provides a constant update and complete archive of weather-related data for Kansas.
Knapp’s degree is in Agronomy from K-State, but her career path back to the department was not entirely straightforward. The Weather Data Library started at K-State in 1976 in the Physics Department. Knapp started working at K-State after a stint in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic as a rice specialist. After a number of years as a research assistant in Entomology, she joined Computer Information Systems in Extension, working with the State Climatologist Dean Bark. When Dr. Bark retired, she became acting state climatologist. The Weather Data Library moved to Agronomy in 2002.
Knapp says that the best part of being state climatologist is being able to travel the state frequently, checking on weather data collection stations and giving talks. She also enjoys the interaction with other weather and climate specialists in the region and nationwide. She is especially proud that K-State recently received a 50-year recognition from the National Weather Service for continuous weather observations during that time.