Weaver and one of the school weather stations.
University of Victoria climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver is one of the world’s foremost leaders on climate change and is among a handful of scientists working on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next assessment, due for release early next month.
But on top of his international duties, Weaver is devoted to an important mission closer to home—turning Vancouver Island public school students on to science through an educational network of weather stations.
Since 2005, Weaver and UVic colleague Ed Wiebe have installed the weather stations at more than 70 schools in Victoria, Saanich, Sooke, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum. Over the next few months, Weaver plans to install an additional 12 stations at schools in those areas, as well as in Port Renfrew and on Lasqueti Island.
“We’ve had requests from schools across the island,” says Weaver, who shows students how to use the weather station data and helps teachers integrate the weather stations into their curriculum. “It’s really rewarding to see the kids get excited with the science of weather.”
Each weather station consists of a series of small, solar-powered instrument packages mounted on the school roof. The instruments provide real-time measurements of temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, solar and UV radiation, and atmospheric pressure.
Wireless technology sends the data from each station to classrooms across the school district and to a central computer in Weaver’s lab at UVic. There, the information is compiled and displayed graphically via the Internet at www.victoriaweather.ca.
The network is catching on fast with web browsers looking for weather information more specific to their neighbourhood. During last November’s snowstorm, for example, the website logged 73,123 visitors in a week—that’s more than 10,000 visitors a day.
The Victoria Micro Meteorological Weather Network is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and NEC Corporation with in-kind support from Davis Instruments Corp and School Districts 61, 62, 63, 68, 69 and 79.