Let's talk about the weather.
|Photo Courtesy: Ambient Weather|
My goal is to better understand the climate in my local area and how it relates to the many nature projects I'm also working in. As you've seen in this blog there are a huge number of nature-based citizen science projects and I've been participating in many of them. Over the last year information about all the plants and animals in my backyard is available to researchers studying those species and the environment. So if I can add detailed climate information to this data there may be many additional discoveries that can be made.
I'm also very interested in meteorology as a thriving arena for citizen science. I have not written much about it but there is a long tradition of everyday people providing weather data to professional forecasters. Not everything can be recorded at government science stations and much must come from widely dispersed people from all corners of the country. In addition, many people have begun sharing and using this data for their own weather studies outside of "official" channels. Much of it even exceeds forecasts from government sources. So it's an area long-deserving attention from this blog.
The only way to understand this field is to actually join in, and the first step is purchasing my very own personal weather station. So let's get started. When reviewing equipment options I had a few simple requirements.
- Affordable price. It had to be under $200 and preferably closer to $100. There are many good-quality weather stations for home use that are more expensive ($300 and up) but that didn't seem appropriate for the everyday person just getting started with weather-based citizen science.
- Scientifically reliable results: There are many consumer grade weather stations available at reasonable prices, but these seem mainly for personal entertainment and can't be used by professional researchers. I wanted this data to be meaningful and have the potential to advance true meteorological research.
- Measures all important weather conditions. Nearly all provide temperature with rainfall and barometric pressure also being quite common. But wind speed also seemed important, especially if I want to provide meaningful research data.
- Wireless capability. I can't afford a dedicated computer for this experiment and I can't run wires outside for it. So some wireless capability was needed.
- Widely available: My blog reaches a national (and dare I say it international) audience so any option should be available to the greatest number of potential readers.
In just a few short days it arrived on my doorstep. It was a small box inside a much larger box, but much was packed into it. But was it simple to set up? What does it look like? All that it tomorrow's post! So join me on Saturday as we set everything up and prepare for the big storm.
In the meantime I highly recommend following the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang for continuous updates on the storm. I follow this group closely not only for their highly local coverage and breaking news update, but because they have been strong supporters of meteorological citizen science and include much information from highly-informed, hard-working amateurs who provide a fresh perspective on the weather. Not only it's local impact, but the hows and whys written in a way that's accessible to professionals and lay-people alike. So if you don't follow them already this storm is the perfect chance to get acquainted!
FOR MORE ON THIS SERIES SEE: