Engaging schools to explore meteorological observational gaps

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  • 1 Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • 2 Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
  • 3 VITO, Mol, Belgium
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Abstract

Today, the vast majority of meteorological data are collected in open, rural environments to comply with the standards set by the World Meteorological Organization. However, these traditional networks lack local information that would be of immense value, for example, for studying urban microclimate, evaluating climate adaptation measures, or improving high-resolution numerical weather predictions. Therefore an urgent need exists for reliable meteorological data in other environments (e.g. cities, lakes, forests) to complement these conventional networks. At present, however, high-accuracy initiatives tend to be limited in space and/or time as a result of the substantial budgetary requirements faced by research teams and operational services. We present a novel approach for addressing the existing observational gaps based on an intense collaboration with high schools. This methodology resulted in the establishment of a region-wide climate monitoring network of 59 accurate weather stations in a wide variety of locations across northern Belgium. The project is also of large societal relevance as it bridges the gap between the youth and atmospheric science. To guarantee a sustainable and mutually valuable collaboration, the schools and their students are involved at all stages, ranging from proposing measurement locations, building the weather stations, and even data analysis. We illustrate how the approach received an overwhelming enthusiasm from high schools and students and resulted in a high-accuracy monitoring network with unique locations offering novel insights.

Corresponding author: Steven Caluwaerts, steven.caluwaerts@ugent.be

Abstract

Today, the vast majority of meteorological data are collected in open, rural environments to comply with the standards set by the World Meteorological Organization. However, these traditional networks lack local information that would be of immense value, for example, for studying urban microclimate, evaluating climate adaptation measures, or improving high-resolution numerical weather predictions. Therefore an urgent need exists for reliable meteorological data in other environments (e.g. cities, lakes, forests) to complement these conventional networks. At present, however, high-accuracy initiatives tend to be limited in space and/or time as a result of the substantial budgetary requirements faced by research teams and operational services. We present a novel approach for addressing the existing observational gaps based on an intense collaboration with high schools. This methodology resulted in the establishment of a region-wide climate monitoring network of 59 accurate weather stations in a wide variety of locations across northern Belgium. The project is also of large societal relevance as it bridges the gap between the youth and atmospheric science. To guarantee a sustainable and mutually valuable collaboration, the schools and their students are involved at all stages, ranging from proposing measurement locations, building the weather stations, and even data analysis. We illustrate how the approach received an overwhelming enthusiasm from high schools and students and resulted in a high-accuracy monitoring network with unique locations offering novel insights.

Corresponding author: Steven Caluwaerts, steven.caluwaerts@ugent.be
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