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BOM weather station's return provides archival database for Adelaide observations

Brett Williamson, Thursday June 15, 2017 - 09:01 EST
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The Bureau of Meteorology observation station returns to near its original site at West Terrace. - ABC

The return of a weather station to the Adelaide parklands will allow weather buffs to compare records with the time before the city's industrial revolution.

Weather observations from the West Terrace area are set to recommence under a project which will also give an insight into Indigenous culture.

The station began unofficially recording observations just two years after Adelaide was founded.

"Sir George Kingston began rainfall observations in 1838," John Nairn, from the Bureau of Meteorology South Australia, said.

Sir Charles Todd began full meteorological and astronomical observations in 1855, before the BOM began its official records at the site in 1887.

The observation site remained near West Terrace until the BOM moved its equipment to its Kent Town base in 1979. That station is expected to continue in operation for another two years.

"From that site we have one of the longest records in Australia, let alone South Australia," Mr Nairn said.

Pre-industrial revolution data

Mr Nairn said one of the great advantages of returning the station to the site was being able to compare records.

"[The data] goes back well before we would anticipate that there were any warming signals in the climate," he said.

"We can go back and compare how that temperature record has shifted over that time."

Mr Nairn said by creating the new site in a similar surrounding to the original, the new data could be of global interest.

Indigenous inclusion and seasonal calendar project

For the first time in South Australia's meteorological history an Indigenous seasonal calendar wheel will be displayed on the site.

The calendar, as explained by Kaurna elder Suzanne Russell, depicts the changes observed by the traditional owners of the land and their living adjustments to suit.

"We have a very close continued interconnection with our landscape," Ms Russell said.

"As Indigenous Aboriginal Kaurna people, we look to our skies as to [see] what is happening."

The new site was even named after the Kaurna word for sky observations, ngayirdapira.

Ms Russell said the Kaurna people were honoured to be a part of the new weather station and to be able to share their traditional ideas.

The site will become South Australia's first inclusion in the national Indigenous Weather Knowledge program.

Automated station provides minute-by-minute data

Unlike pre-automation days when the observations were carried out manually every three hours, the current unit will send data every 60 seconds.

Temperature, humidity, wind speed, gusts and direction, atmospheric pressure and rainfall would be monitored by the site.

"We'll probably also get a ceilometer, which is an optically safe laser that measures the height of clouds above the site," Mr Nairn said.

The move back will also mean the BOM will conduct a second two-year data overlap.

"That will connect our records to make them 120 years long," Mr Nairn said.


© ABC 2017

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