Tracking weather, the BU way

Tracking weather, the BU way

Weather as a topic of discussion, does not remain a mere ice breaker in conversations. In urban spaces such as Bangalore, the irregular fluctuations in the weather signifying an unhealthy impact on the climate, seeks the attention of its residents. Doing this job for the citizens’ benefit are two weather stations in Bangalore University.

The Physics department of the varsity has two functional weather stations, the observations of which are sent to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which in turn sends it to the Indian Meteorological Department. 

One of the stations is an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) and the other is a Mini Boundary Layer Mast (MBLM). The AWS at the university is a high-resolution system which gives an average sampling every three minutes. This is a six-metre tower set up in April 2012.

The MBLM here collects data every second, and updates the average data every four minutes. Installed right in front of the department along with the AWS, this is a 15-metre mast that began functioning in December last.

There are 25 MBMLs across the country, of which six are in Bangalore, monitored by the ISRO. Besides the one at the university, four others are stationed at Marathahalli, Yelahanka, Byalalu, Mysore Road and Koramangala.

The stations aid in measuring temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, sunshine durations, net incoming solar radiation, atmospheric pressure and rainfall within the limits of the particular station. These weather stations are also used to measure soil temperature and moisture up to 100 cm beneath the earth’s surface. 

Kamsali Nagaraj, Assistant Professor in the Bangalore University Physics Department, says the weather stations have helped gauge the urban climatology, climate change in the long run, onset and withdrawal of monsoon, cloud coverage and thunderstorm activity related to the City. The observations made at the two stations in the university can be used to determine weather for an area up to 30 km around the stations. For smaller towns, one station would be sufficient. For places such as Bangalore with different terrains and varied vehicular density, a number of stations are required, says Nagaraj.

The two stations were funded by ISRO as part of its Atmospheric Science programme in collaboration with the university. Students pursuing Atmospheric and Space Sciences use the observations for their study as well.

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