Stewart Island gets new electronic weather station

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A closer eye is now being kept on Stewart Island’s climate thanks to the installation of a new electronic weather station.

The new station was installed in July by environmental monitoring technician Adrian Aarsen at Halfmoon Bay School. Up until now, the station needed to be read manually once a day, the figures recorded and emailed to NIWA. The job was shared by the school and locals filling in at the weekends.

The station was first installed as a rainfall station back in 1924 and upgraded in 1975 to include air temperature. Its replacement is powered by its own solar charging system and communicates via a cell phone link recording rainfall, air temperature, grass temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure – with the option of adding more features in the future.

Adrian says the new electronic weather station records data every minute and sent to Wellington via the cell phone signal every hour where it is stored in the National Climate Database (cliflo.niwa.co.nz).

“The stations on Stewart Island are key stations within the climate network and have provided valuable long-term observations for tracking climate change,” he says.

The work was part of a programme of upgrades around the country, but Adrian had the advantage of a friendly kaka to help him out this time around pecking at his tools and investigating his work.

NIWA has about 400 volunteer weather observers around New Zealand taking daily measurements.

“It’s an invaluable service and their efforts are very much appreciated. It’s a big commitment and I’d like to thank everyone who helped with the upgrade especially the school and Bruce Ford for their ongoing assistance.”

The manual and the electronic stations will be run in tandem for about the next 12 months to compare the data recorded by both and check the quality and consistency of the records.

And for the record here are some climate statistics recorded on Stewart Island:

  • Wettest day: 131.6mm of rain, January 26, 1984
  • Hottest temperature: 28.5ᵒC, February 2, 1998
  • Coldest temperature: -7.3ᵒC, June 21, 1980
  • Highest wind gust: 191 km/h, November 22, 2019 (recorded at South West Cape)