Weather in­tri­ca­cies re­vealed

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Francesca Mann

About 20 peo­ple had the chance to find out how the weather is mea­sured and recorded at the Ger­ald­ton Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Of­fice re­cently, get­ting up close and per­sonal with the equip­ment.

The Se­cret Spa­ces tour was part of last week’s Good­ness Fes­ti­val, a week-long cel­e­bra­tion of sci­ence, sus­tain­abil­ity and in­no­va­tion.

Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy duty weather observer Pa­trick Rams­dale ran through how ev­ery­thing worked, from the high-tech au­to­matic rain gauge used for flood warn­ings to the low-tech evap­o­ra­tion pan where wa­ter is added or re­moved by hand each morn­ing.

The of­fice reg­u­larly al­lows vis­i­tors to have a sticky-beak at the equip­ment and Mr Rams­dale said the team was happy to ex­plain how ev­ery­thing worked.

“When you look on your phone or the web, that’s the end project,” he said. “You see stats quoted but don’t know the con­text. With this you can get an idea of the mea­sure­ments and see where it comes from.

“Ac­tu­ally be­ing able to hold or touch some­thing that’s op­er­at­ing, you can get the picture of some lim­i­ta­tions.” Dur­ing the tour, Mr Rams­dale re­leased a weather bal­loon, used to mea­sure above­ground wind speed, air temperature and hu­mid­ity.

The of­fice launches two weather bal­loons five days a week.

With a strong gust pound­ing the of­fice in Moony­oonooka, the weather bal­loon was barely vis­i­ble within a few min­utes.

At the Good­ness Fes­ti­val, peo­ple were taken be­hind the closed doors of Ger­ald­ton Ra­di­ol­ogy, the port and the river gaug­ing sta­tion.

With this you can get an idea of the mea­sure­ments and see where it comes from. Pa­trick Rams­dale

Pic­tures: Francesca Mann

Pa­trick Rams­dale­points to the low-tech evap­o­ra­tion pan. Ev­ery morn­ing, wa­ter is added or re­moved man­u­ally, de­pend­ing on the amount of evap­o­ra­tion and rain­fall.

Pa­trick Rams­dale uses an op­ti­cal tracker to find the weather bal­loon. This al­lows the radar to lock onto the bal­loon, feed­ing data back to the of­fice.

A par­tic­i­pant of the Se­cret Spa­ces tour looks at how much rain­fall was col­lected in the gauge.

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