ESRL Extends Partnership with Sinte Gleska Native American University

December 13, 2005

Scientists and engineers with the ESRL Global Monitoring Division are assisting Sinte Gleska University, (Rosebud Reservation, Mission, South Dakota), in establishing a meteorology/climate monitoring instrument network on the reservation. This network complements the establishment of atmospheric science courses at the university funded by a three year grant to Sinte Gleska from the NOAA/OAR Educational Partners Program.


In the late 1980s, James Rattling Leaf, a young Lakota Sioux student at the University of Colorado, was hired as a summer intern by CMDL, the predecessor laboratory to ESRL/GMD. Ten years later, Rattling Leaf, now a respected leader in the Sioux community, asked for help in establishing a program of meteorological measurements and related education at the young Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation. Working with ESRL staff, Rattling Leaf was successful in obtaining a three year grant from the NOAA/OAR Educational Partners Program to acquire high quality meteorological stations and support for faculty to teach atmospheric science courses at Sinte Gleska. The first high quality weather station, with real-time readouts in a Sinte Gleska laboratory, was installed by ESRL scientists in 2004. Two more stations will be installed at remote locations on the 6,000 square mile (15,000 square kilometer) reservation in 2006 in regions the Lakota Sioux would like weather and climate information. The first atmospheric science course was taught at Sinte Gleska in the fall semester of 2004.


Through an auspicious series of events initiated by NOAA hiring a Native American summer student, an atmospheric science program has been established at Sinte Gleska University and high quality meteorological data are being collected from a data sparse region of the United States. The data from the weather stations are being transmitted in near real-time to the NOAA/ESRL Meteorology Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS) in addition to being displayed and recorded at the university. In the summer of 2005 a student from Sinte Gleska University trained at ESRL; the student now monitors and maintains the meteorological equipment on the Sioux lands. Additional Sinte Gleska University students are expected to spend summers training at ESRL and it is expected that the meteorological measurement program and atmospheric science classes will continue into the future.