A few miles east of Park Falls on Highway 182 stands a very tall TV signal tower, looking oddly like a science-fiction structure stuck in the center of remote northern forests. Standing at 1,466 feet tall, the Wisconsin Public Television tower is the tallest structure of this kind in the upper Midwest, drawing in signals for people to watch on glowing TV screens. But the tower serves another purpose as well, quietly operating as a scientific data-collecting point for the past two decades with support from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
UW-Madison Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Professor Ankur Desai is one of the scientists who gathers information from instruments on the tower, using it to study changes in the atmosphere. He said, “This particular area is very representative of the landscape across Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula, so it gives us a good overview of the entire region.” Desai also works with the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research (CCR) and other groups to use the data gathered in the field.