Cit­i­zen sci­en­tists sought

Midwest Times - - NEWS - Tom Zaun­mayr

Storm chasers, flood fol­low­ers and wind watch­ers are be­ing called on to con­trib­ute to cli­mate science through a free app in­tro­duced to An­droid and iOS de­vices.

Re­searchers from Monash Univer­sity School of Earth, At­mos­phere and En­vi­ron­ment and the ARC Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Cli­mate Ex­tremes have de­vel­oped the WeatheX app to en­gage cit­i­zen sci­en­tists to re­port and pho­to­graph ob- ser­va­tions of hail, strong winds, tor­na­does and flood­ing.

Monash Pro­fes­sor Chris­tian Jakob said sparse ob­ser­va­tion net­works sel­dom cap­tured the full pic­ture of storm events as they un­folded.

“Ex­treme rain­fall events of­ten hap­pen in very lo­calised ar­eas — you can have a down­pour in one area and five min­utes drive away it is still bone dry — so it’s very hard to get use­ful ob­ser­va­tions when record­ing sta­tions are so far apart,” he said.

“If cit­i­zen sci­en­tists can help us fill these gaps, then we can get more de­tail of these ex­treme events and po­ten­tially im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of how they de­velop, which could im­prove our pre­dic­tion of se­vere weather events and their likely im­pacts.”

Once sub­mit­ted, in­for­ma­tion will be col­lated into a data­base where re­searchers can view data show­ing move­ment, devel­op­ment, changes and im­pacts from any ob­served storm sys­tem as it hap­pens.

WeatheX re­searcher Joshua Soder­holm said the project could pro­vide a “quan­tum leap” for­ward in doc­u­ment­ing and un­der­stand­ing ex­treme events in Aus­tralia if enough peo­ple used the app.

“If you’re a storm chaser, your ob­ser­va­tions could im­prove storm fore­casts, mean­ing your chances of cap­tur­ing pho­tos of ex­tra­or­di­nary storm events can only im­prove,” he said. Weather data will be made avail­able to the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Light­ning over Kar­ratha.

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