Non-traditional ‘smart’ devices for observing weather and air quality

Tuesday 03rd Mar 2015 by theWeather Club

Traditional weather stations have been popular with amateur weather enthusiasts for decades. There are an increasing number of low-cost, internet or smart device-enabled sensors now available to observe both weather and air quality. Here we take a look at a few of the options available.

Netatmo weather and air quality stations are already taking the world by storm. They measure temperature, pressure, humidity, and CO2, with a rain gauge add-on module. It now has the broadest network of weather sensors worldwide. A basic weather station retails at around £60.

Air Quality Egg is a similar community-led, network for air quality-sensing. It allows citizens to participate in the monitoring of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), temperature and humidity using a low-cost, internet-enabled sensor and web platform.  Tweets can be generated automatically from Air Quality Egg data

Other devices include the iCelsius thermistor, PlusPlugg weather sensors and AirCasting AirBeam Monitor.  

Furthermore, as a result of technological advances and the continued miniaturisation of technology, low-cost sensors are being increasingly and routinely incorporated into devices such as mobile phones, vehicles, watches and other gadgets (see tWC issue 7, p.6).

So, what can you do with this data once it has been collected? There are numerous websites that allow you to upload data obtained from these devices, in addition to the manufacturers ‘community’ network: the UK Met Office ‘Weather Observation Website’ (WOW see tWC issue 7, p.6), the Climatological Observers Link (COL), Weather Underground, and the NOAA Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP).  There is also freely available software (e.g. Weather Display; Cumulus), which can display live data from a variety of instrumentation, and stream data via websites. 

The quality of each device will, of course, differ, but this new generation is increasingly drawing the attention of both long-term amateur weather observers and new enthusiasts. With this new exciting array of devices who knows what the future holds?