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Met Éireann’s Weather Observation Network
13 November 2015

Met …ireann has an observation network that gathers weather data across the country for use in weather forecasts, aviation, marine, agriculture, climate analysis, forecast verification and meteorological research. All weather observations record day-to-day changes of the atmosphere and are quality controlled and archived in Met …ireannís database to formulate long-term climate records.

These data comes in a variety of forms and are obtained from a number of different sources: human reports, in situ instruments and remote sensors. Met …ireann currently uses four different types of weather station to record data, all differentiated according to the range of instruments and measurement interval. Each of these is explained in more detail below:

1. Manned weather stations

There are five manned weather stations in operation. These stations†record meteorological elements on an hourly basis. Data are gathered by a meteorological observer and immediately translated into synoptic coding (which is the numerical code for reporting weather observations) and sent via computer to Met …ireann Headquarters (HQ) in Glasnevin, Dublin. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: 7441 form used by a meteorological observer to record synoptic coding for each observation.

These data are immediately used in the production of up-to-date weather forecasts. The elements recorded are:
-Air temperature
-Wind speed and direction
-Atmospheric pressure
-Relative humidity
-Soil and earth temperatures
-Past and present weather
-Cloud type and height

2. Automatic weather stations

There are 20 fully automatic weather stations across the country recording meteorological elements on a minute-by-minute basis. These data are transferred back at hourly intervals via PSTN/broadband line to Met …ireann HQ. They are then analysed by computer programs and an hourly observation is created and translated into synoptic code. These, like the manual observations, are put to immediate use in forecast model runs. The weather elements recorded are the same as those recorded at manned synoptic stations.

Figure 2: Automatic Weather Station at Malin Head, Co. Donegal.

3. Climatological stations

Data from manned and automatic weather stations are supplemented by daily observations made at climatological stations. There are currently over 60 climate stations scattered across Ireland. These stations are run by a combination of voluntary observers and state agencies who record one daily reading at 0900 UTC. This weather information is logged on a climate form, which is sent to Met …ireann HQ by post at the end of each month. These data are then inputted into the Met …ireann database and quality controlled by Met …ireann staff for use in climate analysis and meteorological research.

Figure 3: Stevenson screen at a climate site. This shields the meteorological instruments inside against precipitation and direct heat radiation.

All climate stations report air temperature and rainfall and some also report:

-Grass temperature
-Soil and earth temperatures
-Wind speed and direction
-Present weather

4. Rainfall stations

Distribution of rainfall over Ireland is extremely variable so it is important to have countrywide coverage of rainfall instrumentation. Currently there are around 500 rainfall stations across the country, strategically located. These stations, like climate stations, are run by a combination of voluntary observers and state agencies. There are two types of rainfall station; daily and monthly. Daily rainfall stations record rainfall data once a day at 0900 UTC. Rainfall readings at monthly stations are taken once a month at 0900 UTC on the first day of the following month. Both daily and monthly station data are logged on a rainfall card, which is then sent into Met …ireann HQ via post at the end of each month. These data go through the same process as the weather data received from climate stations by being inputted into Met …ireannís database and quality controlled before being used elsewhere.

Figure 4: Rainfall card for a daily rainfall station which is sent into Met …ireann at the beginning of the next month.

In the future, all stations will eventually become automatic, resulting in more data readings improving meteorological research and climate analysis.


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