The total solar eclipse of 2017: Meteorological observations from a statewide mesonet and atmospheric profiling systems

Rezaul Mahmood, Megan Schargorodski, Eric Rappin, Melissa Griffin, Patrick Collins, Kevin Knupp, Andrew Quilligan, Ryan Wade, Kevin Cary, Stuart Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A total solar eclipse traversed the continental United States on 21 August 2017. It was the first such event in 99 years and provided a rare opportunity to observe the atmospheric response from a variety of instrumented observational platforms. This paper discusses the high-quality observations collected by the Kentucky Mesonet (, a research-grade meteorological and climatological observation network consisting of 72 stations and measuring air temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed, and wind direction. The network samples the atmosphere, for most variables, every 3 s and then calculates and records observations every 5 min. During the total solar eclipse, these observations were complemented by observations collected from three atmospheric profiling systems positioned in the path of the eclipse and operated by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Observational data demonstrate that solar radiation at the surface dropped from >800 to 0 W m-2, the air temperature decreased by about 4.5°C, and, most interestingly, a land-breeze-sea-breeze-type wind developed. In addition, due to the high density of observations, the network recorded a detailed representation of the spatial variation of surface meteorology. The UAH profiling system captured collapse and reformation of the planetary boundary layer and related changes during the total solar eclipse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E720-E737
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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