Schools weather station links to NASA

by Rose Barrett
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Since 2021, schools across Fingal have been receiving automatic weather stations as part of an effort by Fingal County Council to produce more detailed rainfall, wind speed, wind direction and temperature records for the county.

The information collected from the weather stations is visible on Met Éireann’s Weather Observations Website, WOW-IE, providing essential real-time weather data to the public and to Met Éireann, the OPW and FCC’s flood section. The project began in 2021 with FCC issuing 100 rainfall gauges to primary schools and further advanced with 27 automatic weather stations installed across Fingal throughout 2022.

Led by Executive Engineer Kevin Vallely, the project was funded by FCC’s Chief Executive’s Innovation Fund which covered the €5,000 start-up cost for rain gauges and supports.

The Office of Public Works supports weather stations for primary schools in Rush, Donabate and Portrane, while Our Balbriggan sponsors primary schools in Balbriggan. Dublin City Council, in partnership with Fingal County Council, will be sponsoring the St. Margaret’s/Coolquay area.

One immediate benefit of the new data on wind speed which has been collected from along Fingal’s coastline is that it shows the impacts of climate change, along with aiding data on rainfall/flooding and coastal erosion in the area – along with giving sport coaches and referees the heads up as to whether club sessions or games should be cancelled in heavy rain or high winds!

The weather stations also provide a key education resource for Fingal’s schools. Recently, Kevin Vallely ran workshops in schools across Fingal to show children what the weather station collects, what the data recording means, and how the council and the Meteorological Service can use this information. Since September 2022, over 1,000 children have attended these workshops.

This programme is sponsored by An Taisce in Ireland and NASA in the USA.

Rush and Lusk ETNS is the first Fingal school to have real-time weather data on GLOBE and went online on 24 December 2022. Other Fingal schools will join throughout Q1 2023 and this data will be available at https://www.globe.gov/web/rush-and-lusk-educate-together-ns

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