|Automatic Weather Stations|
Automatic Weather Stations
An automatic weather station usually consists of a number of outdoor weather sensors which communicate with a display unit indoors, which can in turn often be linked into a PC to store and display data. The link between the instruments outdoors and the display inside can be wireless, although the range will be 100m at best.
What can I use my school weather station for?
Some specific lesson ideas:KS2/3 science: Use automatic weather station data together with the Met Office resources to study the difference between day and night and to look at the seasons .
KS2 geography/ science: An adapted London Grid for Learning resource using Automatic Weather Station data to record and interpret the weather.
KS3 geography: an introduction to weather maps, weather systems and automatic weather station data from Maiden Erlegh School
KS3 geography: An adapted London Grid for Learning resource using Automatic Weather Station data to look at links between weather variables, and to look at London's Urban Heat Island.
KS3/4/5 geography: An excellent GA resource investigating weather conditions needed for the various Olympic sporting events using weather station or WOW data.
KS3/ 5 geography or maths: Use automatic weather station data to see whether there is a relationship between air pressure and rainfall amount. Does most of our rainfall in the UK occur when the pressure is low?
KS4 geography: An adapted London Grid for Learning resource using Automatic Weather Station data to look at air masses and depressions.
KS 4/5 geography, science or maths: Does it rain more at weekends? An experiment trialled at Manchester Science Festival
KS3/ 4 science or geography: Investigating red sky at night.
KS3/ 5 geography: look at the current wind speed and direction (you could also use WOW data for this). How do they relate to the orientation and spacing of the isobars on the current analysis chart? This could be used in conjunction with the introduction to weather maps.
What are other schools using their weather stations for?
Have a look at the websites of
Why have an automatic weather station?There are many advantages to an automatic weather station. Weather observations can be made more quickly and conveniently. The sensors can be placed well out of the way and reduce the chances of vandalism - and (in the case of wind measurements, for example) in a better exposed location than would be possible with manual instruments. With a PC link, the data can be used for all sorts of projects, from simple averaging ones to looking at correlations between different measurements such as wind direction and temperature. The main disadvantage of an automatic weather station is that it removes the observer from the real elements being measured, and so the experience of what -5ºC temperatures or 30 knot winds feel like, is lost.
What sort to buy
The RMetS doesn't actually recommend specific instruments or manufacturers, but some well known makes are Oregon Scientific, TechnoLine/LaCrosse, Irox and (at the more professional end) Davis.
The price will depend upon how many weather elements are measured; for example, just outdoor temperature (including maximum and minimum) might be around £15, temperature and humidity around £40. Even a station which displays the six main weather elements (temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, rainfall and pressure), can now be bought for about £100. In addition to giving the basic measurements, quite often the display unit will also calculate quantities such as wind chill, dew point, etc. Sometimes it will also give a weather forecast, though based as it is on only local conditions, this must be taken with a big pinch of salt!