Scientists in Sri Lanka have developed mobile weather stations capable of capturing and transmitting near real-time rainfall data.
Equipped with atomic clocks for precise time and date readings the devices log on to global positioning satellites (GPS) automatically. The devices are based on open-source technology and rely on local materials. At US$250, they are far cheaper than standard, WHO-certified versions that can cost upwards of US$10,000.
Sri Lanka has high rainfall variability over short distances which make accurate predictions difficult, says Yann Chemin, designer of the device and scientist with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo. Each station is powered by a single solar panel and three of them are already active in the north of the country. IWMI will produce ten more in partnership with the Lanka Rain Water Harvesting Forum, says Tanuja Ariyananda, the forum’s director.