New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has completed the installation of a new automatic weather station (AWS) at Halfmoon Bay School on Stewart Island.
Prior to the new AWS, the instrumentation needed to be read manually once a day before the figures were emailed to NIWA. The job was shared by the school and local volunteers at the weekends.
The station was first installed in 1924 to monitor rainfall; it was upgraded in 1975 to include air temperature. Its replacement is powered by its own solar charging system and communicates via a cell phone link, recording rainfall, air temperature, grass temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure.
Adrian Aarsen, an environmental monitoring technician at NIWA, said, “The stations on Stewart Island are key stations within the climate network and have provided valuable long-term observations for tracking climate change.”
Commenting on NIWA’s 400 volunteer weather observers located around New Zealand, Aarsen said, “It’s an invaluable service and their efforts are very much appreciated. It’s a big commitment and I’d like to thank everyone who helped with the upgrade, especially the school and Bruce Ford [ward member on the Southland District Council] for their ongoing assistance.”
The manual and electronic stations will run in tandem for the next 12 months to compare the data recorded by both and check the quality and consistency of the records.