Rhodes University is reviving its Weather Station following yearly requests by the Grahamstown community for weather data for various uses. The revived station has a new suite of graphics and data is made available on a web page, a first for South Africa. In due course, anyone will be able to download the raw data from the website.
This community outreach service is designed for farmers, lawyers, school learners, and educators doing projects that need data or just current information for teaching purposes – these would be provided online.
“Since it is raining right now, rain fall quantity is of great interest to people and everyone wants to know how much rain did we have, in particular when there is a drought like now,” explains Ian Meiklejohn, Head of the Geography department.
The station previously operated for a number of years under the custodianship of the Information Technology division until it was discontinued due to lack of adequate capacity.
The Geography Department took over the custodianship of the station to serve the interests of the Faculty of Science, university researchers, student researchers, and the greater Grahamstown community. Meteorological weather station data can also be used in climate matching studies of biological control agents.
The server that hosted the old weather station and the web information has been retained and additional funding was sourced through the Research Office to fund a new station to monitor the environment.
“We think you will find this a rich offering, including a range of information that was not possible with the old weather station unit,” said John Landman, Geotechnical Systems Specialist at the Geography department.
The station will eventually provide an archive of weather data. It is imperative to have a permanent facility available so that trends at a variety of temporal resolutions can be determined.
Other universities do have weather stations, especially those with Agriculture faculties, but do not necessarily make the information available on the internet for public use.
“In other towns and cities facilities are available for people to check current weather. However, this infrastructure is not readily available in Grahamstown,” said Meiklejohn.
The data presented on the landing page is for the previous 5-minute period and there is access to the past 30-days and one-year historical data. A How It Works button has been included on the website: www.weatherrhodes.ru.ac.za
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