There is new technology being introduced to the meteorology world and its base is either in your hand, your pocket or your purse. Cumulonimbus, a Canadian weather research company, is teaming up with meteorologists at the University of Washington to turn your smart phone and tablet in to a portable weather station. The team has developed an app for android devices equipped with internal pressure sensors. The app, called PressureNet, is free of charge and can be downloaded here.
PressureNet takes a pressure reading every hour and sends the data along with the location to atmospheric modeling software, giving forecasters a more accurate view of current conditions across an area. Privacy concerns associated with the location feature of the app can be addressed in the app’s settings. As of now, the data is viewable for Cumulonimbus, university researchers, and select commercial weather forecasters, but users can choose who exactly who is able to see the data.
“With the recent research [of Gilbert P. Compo, Jeffrey S. Whitaker, and Prashant D. Sardeshmukh], we have found that with sufficient surface pressure sensors and a sophisticated model-based data assimilation system, one can accurately reconstruct the three-dimensional structure of the atmosphere,” said Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. This accurate mapping of current atmospheric conditions will greatly reduce the error of future forecasts, especially with regards to small scale systems such as thunderstorms.
The data provided by android devices here in eastern Carolina will help forecasters more accurately predict thunderstorm formation and storm track. While the list of mobile devices equipped with internal pressure sensors is small (Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung Nexus tablet and Motorola Xoom tablet), the listed is expected to grow as companies update and upgrade their portable products. If you are able to download PressureNet on your device, you are encouraged to do so. The more observations forecasters get, the better their ability is to provide you accurate weather forecasts.