Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


640 people we couldn’t do without

14 March 2006

640 people we couldn’t do without

Each morning, every day of the year, a network of dedicated weather watchers record observations from rain gauges, thermometers, anemometers (for wind), and other instruments.

Most of the roughly 640 individuals and organisations are volunteers. Together, they add about half a million observations each year to the National Climate Database.

New Zealand’s climate network dates back to 1841 but records were sporadic until the 1860s. The earliest rainfall observations in the database were made by the Royal Engineers at the Albert Park Barracks, Auckland, in January 1853.

These days the database is run by the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA). The information is used extensively by scientists, students, engineers, consultants, insurance companies, real estate agents, planners, and others.

This week is New Zealand Volunteer Awareness Week and the coordinator of NIWA’s climate observer network, Andrew Harper, says volunteers make a significant contribution to further New Zealand’s climate knowledge. “Some people have been doing this for over 50 years, and some families have been involved for over a century,” says Mr Harper.

The observers come from all walks of life, including farmers, school teachers, market gardeners, and forestry workers. Organisations involved include local authorities, government departments, and some private companies. Though NIWA does not formally collect information about the age of volunteers, some of them seem to continue to a ripe old age. “We know of three volunteers who continued to record rainfall into their hundredth year, one of whom retired at 102,” Mr Harper says.

The volunteers all use standard instrumentation and methods, as recommended by the World Meteorological Organisation, to ensure the data can be compared from one place to another.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Half A Billion Accounts: Yahoo Confirms Huge Data Breach

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. More>>

Rural Branches: Westpac To Close 19 Branches, ANZ Looks At 7

Westpac confirms it will close nineteen branches across the country; ANZ closes its Ngaruawahia branch and is consulting on plans to close six more branches; The bank workers union says many of its members are nervous about their futures and asking ... More>>

Interest Rates: RBNZ's Wheeler Keeps OCR At 2%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2 percent and said more easing will be needed to get inflation back within the target band. More>>


Half Full: Fonterra Raises Forecast Payout As Global Supply Shrinks

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the dairy processor which will announce annual earnings tomorrow, hiked its forecast payout to farmers by 50 cents per kilogram of milk solids as global supply continues to decline, helping prop up dairy prices. More>>



Meat Trade: Silver Fern Farms Gets Green Light For Shanghai Maling Deal

The government has given the green light for China's Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire half of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand's biggest meat company, with ministers satisfied it will deliver "substantial and identifiable benefit". More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news