Upgrading the Fiji Met Service's rainfall network

NIWA has recently supplied and installed 17 automatic rainfall stations in the Fiji Meterological Service’s (FMS) new telemetered rainfall network. This rainfall monitoring network forms part of an upgrade to the FMS’s climate monitoring capability.

The new rainfall monitoring network is distributed across Fiji’s main islands, Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Ovalau. Each rainfall station is a cut-down version of the stations used in NIWA’s own National Climate Network. These use up-to-date, proven technology, and are successfully operating throughout New Zealand and around the Pacific.

The problem

The Fiji Met Service had a problem.

Its existing rainfall network relied heavily on daily manual data collection by volunteer observers. The demand for more timely information had grown rapidly, and FMS needed a new network that could:

  • automatically monitor and help forecast rainfall
  • help warn of impending floods
  • predict and monitor droughts
  • provide reliable climate change information
  • simply meet the needs of clients wanting to know how much rain falls on a particular day.

The FMS needed a rainfall network that would make up-to-date rainfall data easily available and in near real-time.  Any proposed solution needed to include a simple upgrade path, so that monitoring could be extended to include other climate parameters in the future.

Seventeen stations in two years

Now, two years into this three-year project, NIWA has installed a network of 17 telemetered rainfall stations across Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Ovalau.

At each site, any rainfall is accumulated over a five-minute period using a standard tipping bucket rainfall gauge. Every 30 minutes, the data is automatically pushed into a Tideda database via a NIWA Flosys telemetry system located at FMS headquarters in Nadi.  Flosys, a client/server data-collection system, allows FMS to manage and configure remote stations, view graphical rainfall information, and manage any alarms generated by remote stations or local data scans.

The FMS system is very flexible. Stations can easily be added to the network, so future changes in the monitoring regime can be accommodated. And later if required, a station may be upgraded to a full  Compact Weather Station (CWS), allowing other parameters such as wind, humidity, air temperature, solar radiation, and soil moisture to be recorded.

The data at each remote site is captured on a data-to-web-capable Neon data logger. This gives FMS a further option, to view climate information over the internet.   

Andrew Harper and Waisiki Tabua install a rainfall station at Lodoni, on the East Coast of Viti Levu. [Photo: A. Chandra, Fiji Met Service]