Weather Stations as Educational and Hazard-Forecasting Tools

Friday, 19 December 2014
John Scott Gierke1, Emily E Gochis2, Rafael Dominguez3, Luke J Bowman1 and Alex S Mayer4, (1)Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, United States, (2)MI Tech Univ--Dow Bldg #630, Houghton, MI, United States, (3)Colegio Muñoz, Hermosillo, Mexico, (4)Michigan Technological Univ, Houghton, MI, United States
Small, relatively inexpensive (<$1000 USD) weather stations can be valuable tools for enhancing inquiry-based educational opportunities at all grade levels, while also facilitating compilation of climate data for longer term research. Weather stations and networks of stations have been installed both locally and abroad in mostly rural and resource-limited settings. The data are being used either in the classroom to engage students in place-based, scientific investigations and/or research to improve hydrometeorological hazard forecasting, including water scarcity. The San Vicente (El Salvador) Network of six stations monitors rainfall to aid warning and evacuations for landslide and flooding hazards. Other parameters are used in modeling the watershed hydrology. A station installed in Hermosillo, Mexico is used in both Geography and Ecology Classes. Trends in temperature and rainfall are graphed and compared to historic data gathered over the last 30 years by CONAGUA. These observations are linked to local water-related problems, including well salinization, diminished agriculture, depleted aquifers, and social conflict regarding access to water. Two weather stations were installed at the Hannahville Indian Community School (Nah Tah Wahsh) in Michigan for educational purposes of data collection, analysis, and presentation. Through inquiry-based explorations of local hydrological processes, students are introduced to how meteorological data are used in understanding watershed hydrology and the sustainable management of groundwater resources. Several Michigan Technological University Peace Corps Masters International students have deployed weather stations in and around the communities where they serve, and the data are used in research to help in understanding water resource availability and irrigation needs.