This site provides useful practical information related to global and national weather observing practices and instruments, including independent equipment reviews.
You will find much of the background in my book The Weather Observer’s Handbook (published by Cambridge University Press), details of which can also be found on this site, together with useful links and downloads.
Author, The Weather Observer’s Handbook
A nation obsessed with the weather? Yes, certainly, but which nation?
Tip of The Day
When choosing a weather station, or components of a weather station, carefully consider the key decision areas. Should the system be cabled, or wireless? Is it easy to set up and use? How many sensors are offered, and how accurate and reliable will they be? Are all the sensors mounted in one ‘integrated’ system, or can they be positioned separately for the optimum exposure in each case? Do the records obtained need to conform to ‘official standards’? Examples and suggestions are given in The Weather Observer’s Handbook.
Grass and earth temperatures are the most commonly observed temperature measurements, after air temperature. The lowest temperatures on a clear night will be recorded at or close to ground level. Where the surface is covered by short grass, the lowest temperatures are attained just above the tips of the grass blades. The so-called ‘grass minimum temperature’ (or ‘grass min’) is measured using a thermometer or electrical sensor freely exposed in this position. A ‘ground frost’ occurs when the grass minimum falls below 0°C.
Traditional louvred screens can accommodate both traditional liquid-in-glass thermometers and small electronic sensors, but small AWS radiation shields can be used only with electronic sensors. Aspirated units currently provide the best estimate of true air temperature (they are highly responsive and largely free of influence from the screen itself), but they provide a slightly different temperature record from other standard methods. Next-generation climate monitoring networks are increasingly using aspirated methods of measuring air temperature.
Site and exposure. Site refers to ‘the area or enclosure where the instruments are exposed’, while exposure refers to ‘the manner in which the sensor or sensor housing is exposed to the weather element it is measuring’.
Voluntary observers provide the backbone of most countries observing networks, and tend to do so for many years. There are examples within the UK and the United States of a few individuals completing 70 years or more of high-quality weather records. Without doubt, the longer the record, the more interesting it becomes to look back upon notable events.