McMaster unveils new weather station

By Melyssa Morris, March 10, 2009

    An instrument used to measure wind speed and wind direction by the McMaster Weather Station. Photo courtesy of the School of Geography and Earth Sciences.
McMaster University recently unveiled its new weather station, which sits on top of the Burke Science Building. The McMaster Weather Station will serve the McMaster community by providing up-to-date weather information, such as temperature, humidity, precipitation, radiation, atmospheric pressure and wind data, every 15 minutes via website.

A wall monitor located outside the School of Geography and Earth Sciences' main office displays current weather details for passersby.

"The weather station has three functions: to provide real-time meteorological data to students to explore the basic physics of climate and its application, to serve the campus community and to deliver emergency weather information, if necessary," said Altaf Arain, associate professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences. "We have already received positive feedback from many of the graduate students using the station data for research."

The weather station is a valuable teaching tool for McMaster students, in particular for students in the Faculties of Science and Engineering. Providing students with real-time or recent meteorological data makes lab assignments and other projects in physical climatology and environmental science classes more relevant to the environment where students study and live, and of course, makes assignments more interesting.

The station will also provide the most accurate weather report on campus, which may be different from other locations in Hamilton because of topographic variations. More specifically, due to unique terrain and proximity to Lake Ontario, various parts of Hamilton experience differences in temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction. Temperature variations also occur between urban and suburban areas in Hamilton.

"The weather station will not only provide students with a better understanding of meteorological processes but also practical experience of how to collect, read, quality control and analyze data. Concurrently, the website enables members of the McMaster and Hamilton communities to track past and current weather trends and extreme events, for example wind storms and heavy rainfall," said Arain.

The McMaster Weather Station is operated by the Hydrometeorology and Climatology Lab in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences.