What is a Weather Station?

Weather Station Tower

Weather stations measure meteorological quantities at given time intervals (for instance every minute). They then send the data to a central computer to be collected and displayed. The advantage of a weather station is that it can be automated. The measurements are taken without needing a human being! Human beings cannot be in the same place all the time to take weather measurements every minute.  Humans also typically make more mistakes than electronic instruments when taking measurements. It is easy to write down the wrong number or to misread the temperature on a thermometer. Furthermore, some places are uncomfortable or dangerous for human beings (too hot, too cold, bad weather conditions such as lightning or hurricane force winds). For these reasons, automated weather stations are used!

Weather stations have weather instruments attached to them. These are electronic devices that run on very low voltages. If the station is located in a remote location, the instruments can be powered by a 12 volt battery. A solar panel can be used to charge the battery during the day. Enough charge remains in the battery to power the instruments for several days. The data is collected in a small specialized computer called a datalogger. The datalogger has enough memory to store data for a month or more.

Finally an automated weather station has to communicate with a central collection point where it sends data to be archived and displayed. This can be done in several ways including: using a physical wire to send the data through, by satellite, by cell phone, or by radio.

To explore what weather instruments and other components a weather station consists of, click on the instrument icons on the schematic weather station shown on the left. How many instruments that measure weather parameters did you find? How many items did you find that help run the weather station and allow it to communicate with the outside world?