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Bringing the Crowd to the Cloud - Citizen Science Project

Bringing the Crowd to the Cloud - Citizen Science Project

Wed, 03/06/2020 - 11:50
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Researchers at Newcastle University are hoping to create a record of convective rainstorms this summer and they need your help.  

Rain during a convective storm is often very heavy in a small area. There are records of over 200mm of rain falling in just a few hours during these storms, which is more than the monthly average of even the wettest winter months in the UK. In built-up areas the roads, pavements and buildings stop rain soaking into the ground easily, and the large volume of water can overwhelm drains.  Flooding can happen very quickly, cause a lot of damage, and even put lives at risk. The Newcastle researchers are asking for support from Weather Club readers to help record this potentially dangerous summer rain.

How you can help us:

We are looking for a large distribution of rain records from across the UK during convective storms. Rain gauges are relatively easy to make at home and making a gauge is a fun activity for all ages. Making the gauge and keeping records is a great activity for children missing school. You will need a plastic drink bottle, some jelly, tape, a ruler, paper and scissors. When you put your rain gauge out make sure that;

  • The gauge is dry before you start recording
  • There is nothing overhanging the gauge like tree branches and bushes
  • That it is as far from hedges, fences, buildings and walls as possible
  • It is stable in a pot or a small hole to stop it being blown over in the wind


rain gauge rain gauge 2

rain gauge 3 rain gauge 4


You can find printable instructions from the Royal Meteorological Society here.  If you have an automated rain gauge, we would really appreciate it if you shared your records with us too.  When recording a storm using the home-made gauge, note the start and end time of rain and the amount of water collected. If you prefer a more traditional approach, you can also make a daily observation at 9am each day and upload those records using the same link. Whichever gauge you use, we are happy to receive your rain records. You can upload a photo of your gauge and your results here.

Convective storms can be hard to forecast but storm chasers at Convective Weather highlight areas where storms could arise at www.convectiveweather.co.uk, and weather forecasters issue warnings when the conditions are ideal for intense convective storms. Look out for storm warnings, the typical cumulonimbus clouds or the first few drops of rain, then make sure your rain gauge is in position. The shared observations will be available online, creating an open data set for anyone to look at and use.

Why we need your help:

Since rain records began, amateur weather observers have made a huge contribution to our understanding of climate and weather patterns. We now need you to respond to this new challenge of convective storms that cause localised flooding. As the climate changes we are finding that the air is getting warmer, which leads to more frequent and intense convective storms. We explain the importance of citizen science in weather observations in a short film available here.

Your data will help engineers and scientists produce models to reduce the risk of future flooding. It is important to have observations close together because the volume of rain changes significantly within a few miles during convective storms. We can often use radar to get the spatial pattern of a storm, but there are problems with radar, for example, hailstones often created in convective storms cause rain to be overestimated by radar.

The Environment Agency in England and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency are looking for volunteers to host rain gauges to fill gaps in their long-term climate monitoring record. You can find more information about volunteering here. If you have an automated weather station, you can share your data for use in wider researcher projects and flood forecasting via the Met Office WOW platform here.

We look forward to seeing your gauges and getting some rain results, although the outlook needs to change a little as we just experienced the sunniest May on record! We are working on a map to share the data you send us and will report our results to theWeather Club in the autumn.