UPEI researchers install 39 weather stations to 'fill in the grid' for climate information

·3 min read
There are also recreational users hosting the weather stations, including golf courses, the ski hill at Brookvale and the Charlottetown Yacht Club.   (Don Jardine/UPEI  - image credit)
There are also recreational users hosting the weather stations, including golf courses, the ski hill at Brookvale and the Charlottetown Yacht Club. (Don Jardine/UPEI - image credit)

A team of researchers from the UPEI Climate Lab has spent the summer installing 39 new weather stations across the province, in the hopes of getting a fuller picture of how the climate varies across the Island.

The weather stations measure rainfall, temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity and solar radiation.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"The idea is to use these data that are necessary for climate modeling, to capture some of the local variability in climate models," said Stephanie Palmer, information specialist with the Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation at UPEI.

"Then also to use the data for other climate research projects, and different operational data products for farmers and fishers, and different users that might be interested."

Orchards and vineyards

Palmer said the climate centre put out a call for proposals, and they received a fair amount of response.

She said they tried to select a diverse range of hosts, and also wanted to cover as much of the Island as possible.

"We really are trying to fill in the grid of weather stations that existed on P.E.I.," Palmer said. "We're trying to get a station every 10 or 15 kilometres, so that was one of the main selection criteria."

"We're also trying to partner with organizations or individuals, businesses that would use the data in some capacity as well, just to make the most of it."

UPEI Climate Centre
UPEI Climate Centre

"The data are going to be publicly available, and we wanted to really make sure that it's being as used as much as possible."

"Farmers and growers, we've got a number of orchards, vineyards and they're really interested in all of the weather variables," Palmer said.

"But especially temperature, when it comes to things like pest forecasting, or growing degree days, for identifying different dates that they would need for their operations."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Useful tool

Patrick Murray of Bridgeview Acres Farm in Albany, P.E.I. will have two weather stations on his family's farm, not far from the Confederation Bridge.

One will be placed at Augustine Cove, the other has already been installed in Albany.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"It's a useful tool, I think, for farmers, to help with planting decisions, spraying decisions, when to irrigate," Murray said.

"It's also good for recording data, and help when you're doing yield predictions and go through past history, and see how yields are doing and why they may have been so good, or poor."

Nancy Russell/CBC
Nancy Russell/CBC

Murray said the ability to store weather data, and go back and track patterns, is especially important because of climate change.

"Our weather is so sporadic now," Murray said. "If we have more of these stations up, we can just get up in the morning and see where we can and cannot go, and help make decisions for planting and harvesting."

Recreational users

Palmer said there are also recreational users hosting the weather stations, including golf courses, the Charlottetown Yacht Club and the ski hill at Brookvale.

"This kind of information is used in a number of different ways," she said.

Palmer said there are still a few gaps across the Island, and they will be reaching out looking for a few more hosts in eastern and western P.E.I.

Don Jardine/UPEI
Don Jardine/UPEI

"We're going to put out another call for proposals, with a map of where we're looking for sites roughly, and then hopefully be able to partner up with with some good hosts in those areas."

The goal is to have the weather stations up and running for years to come, and Palmer said the future impact of climate change is on the minds of many of the hosts who applied for a weather station.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"It's been really, really interesting to see how motivated they are to have this data, how much they already foresee using ongoing data," Palmer said.

"Climate change has definitely been at the forefront. Everyone's very interested to see this kind of more high-resolution climate modelling to see what future conditions for the Island are going to look like, and how that's likely to vary across the Island, too."

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