WOW, Automatic Weather Stations and Crowdsourced Weather data
The Weather Observations Website (WOW) is a global platform where anyone can automatically upload data from their own automatic weather station to a free-to-use (and ad-free!) website (more information on automatic weather stations is provided later in this news item).
Met Éireann has been working to bring Ireland its own version of WOW, WOW-ie . There will be an official launch later this year but you can already access the site at https://wow.met.ie. If you own a weather station you are very welcome to connect it to the site. We’d love to hear how you get on and would value any feedback!
WOW is a great tool which allows weather observations to to be displayed in real-time. The observations are from different sources, the quality varies from source to source and the data are not reviewed or corrected. Data may be missing from time to time and occasional spikes may occur. WOW-ie has great potential for use as an outreach and education platform. It is not the official website for weather data from Met Éireann stations. Quality controlled data from Met Éireann’s official weather stations are available at https://www.met.ie/climate/available-data.
WOW-ie is run in collaboration with the UK Met Office and national meteorological services in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. Currently in Ireland there are about 15 private weather station owners uploading their weather observations to WOW-ie. Met Éireann uploads data from 20 of its official automatic weather stations and over 30 of its automatic climate stations.
We would really appreciate any feedback or suggestions about your user experience of the WOW-ie site. For example, if you have any suggestions about the text on the website, if there is anything you would particularly like to see in the FAQ section or if you find an error or technical difficulty on the site, please let us know. The address to contact us at is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the text on the WOW-ie site is finalised, we will make sure to have an ‘As Gaeilge’ version! We know that the WOW-ie homepage map loads slowly; this is due to the time it takes to receive information from the global WOW server.
Automatic Weather Stations
In the context of WOW, we have mentioned ‘Automatic Weather Station’. But what is an automatic weather station?
An automatic weather station (AWS) is a meteorological station at which observations are made and transmitted automatically. There are many different types of AWS available, and we would like as many of these as possible connected to the WOW-ie site.
Met Éireann already has 20 automatic weather stations recording minute-by-minute data in Ireland and we are installing another 80 around the country to grow the official Irish weather and climate observation network and get more real-time weather data. The automatic weather stations which Met Éireann staff install have a very high technical specification, and are maintained and calibrated regularly to ensure that the weather data recorded by them is as accurate as possible. We choose locations for weather stations that represent the
weather for a large area around them, are protected from the influence of industry and are on an open site as far from woods or buildings as possible. Because of this, Met Éireann stations are often located in rural areas. Met Éireann and other national weather services are part of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. The WMO gives guidance on how and where to install weather stations in their Guide to the Global Observing System. Because of this, national weather services record observations of temperature, wind, pressure, solar radiation (energy from the Sun) and other weather parameters in a similar way all around the globe. This makes it easier to compare weather data globally.
Many people have a great interest in weather and have their own automatic weather stations to see what the temperature is or how much rain falls in their garden. In the past 20 years, automatic weather stations have become more affordable and user friendly. Basic automatic weather stations can be bought which measure outside air temperature, humidity and barometric pressure and display it on an electronic device indoors. Many amateur weather observers have sophisticated automatic weather stations by companies like Davis, Oregon Scientific, La Crosse and others. These AWSs measure air temperature, humidity and barometric pressure like the basic models, but often have rain-gauges to measure rainfall, anemometers for measuring wind speed and direction, ground temperature and solar radiation sensors and more. Some companies, such as Netatmo, have their own website where the data from their weather stations can be automatically uploaded. Since most people live in towns and cities, the amateur weather observers’ stations are, unsurprisingly, clustered in urban areas.
Met Éireann would love amateur weather observers to upload data from their AWSs to https://wow.met.ie. By sharing your data you are helping to improve the Irish weather observing network and helping Met Éireann forecasters to get a better picture of weather around Ireland. Your data will also be shared with anybody who looks at the wow-ie website!
Crowdsourcing and Citizen science
Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Crowdsourcing is very similar, and is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet’.
Amateur weather observers in Ireland contribute to the field of citizen science through their monitoring of Irish weather and building up our store of weather data. Met Éireann and other national weather services use the WOW platform to crowdsource weather data to improve meteorological knowledge of the weather. The science of meteorology has a strong background in citizen science. The earliest weather observations were often taken by amateur and voluntary observers. There are many voluntary observers around Ireland who have been taking rainfall measurements every morning for many decades. You can find this data on https://www.met.ie/climate/available-data. Met Éireann is very grateful to our dedicated group of voluntary climatological observers throughout the country. Indeed some of our observers have given service which deserves special mention. One such is Brother James O’Hare of the Salesian Order and former principal of Warrenstown Horticultural College. This article describes the presentation in 2016 thanking him for his immense personal contribution to the national climate archive of Ireland.