Citizen scientists sought
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.
Lightning over Karratha.