Automatic weather stations: definition and composition

What are Automatic weather stations?

Automatic weather stations (AWS) are an automated version of traditional weather stations that save manpower and enable online weather monitoring in remote areas. AWS typically consists of a weatherproof housing containing data recorders, rechargeable batteries, telemetry (optional), and weather sensors, with solar panels or wind turbines attached and mounted on the mast. The exact configuration may vary depending on the purpose of the system. The system can report in near real time through Argos systems, LoRa systems and global telecommunication systems, or save data for later recovery.

Automatic weather station

In the past, automatic weather stations were often placed where electricity and communication lines were available. Nowadays, the solar panel, wind turbine and mobile phone technology have made it possible to have wireless stations that are not connected to the electrical grid or hardline telecommunications network.


Most automatic weather stations have

Thermometer for measuring temperature

Anemometer for measuring wind speed

Wind vane for measuring wind direction

Hygrometer for measuring humidity

Barometer for measuring atmospheric pressure

Some stations can also have

Ceilometer for measuring cloud height

Present weather sensor and/or visibility sensor

Rain gauge for measuring liquid-equivalent precipitation

Ultrasonic snow depth sensor for measuring depth of snow

Pyranometer for measuring solar radiation

weather station sensors

Unlike manual weather stations, automated airport weather stations cannot report the class and amount of clouds. Also, precipitation measurements are difficult, especially for snow, as the gauge must empty itself between observations. For present weather, all phenomena that do not touch the sensor, such as fog patches, remain unobserved. The change from manual observations to automatic weather stations is a major non-climatic change in the climate record. The change in instrumentation, enclosure and location can lead to a jump in, for example, the measured temperature or precipitation values, which can lead to erroneous estimates of climate trends. This change, and related non-climatic changes, have to be removed by homogenization.

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