New weather station provides boost to climate tracking efforts

Niwa's new weather station will track Stewart Island's climate. Photo: File

NIWA is able to keep a much closer eye on Stewart Island’s climate after installing a new electronic weather station.

Previously, weather data was manually collected once a day from an older weather station at Halfmoon Bay School, by pupils, staff and residents.

The figures were recorded and emailed to Niwa.

Its environmental monitoring technician, Adrian Aarsen, said the station was installed as a rainfall station in 1924, and was upgraded in 1975 to include air temperature.

However, the new weather station, which is also at the school, was powered by its own solar charging system and communicated via a cellphone link, recording rainfall, air temperature, grass temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure.

There was the option of adding more features to the station in the future, Mr Aarsen said.

The new electronic weather station was recording data every minute and sending it to Wellington every hour, where it was stored in the National Climate Database.

“The stations on Stewart Island are key stations within the climate network and have provided valuable long-term observations for tracking climate change.”

The work was part of a programme of upgrades around the country.

Niwa had about 400 volunteer weather observers around New Zealand, taking daily measurements.

“It’s an invaluable service and their efforts are very much appreciated.

“It’s a big commitment.”

Mr Aarsen said the old manual station and the new electronic station would run “in tandem” for about 12 months, so Niwa staff could compare the data recorded by both and check the quality and consistency of the records.