App developers have teamed with research meteorologists in a quest to turn your smartphone in to a weather data collection device and ultimately improve your local forecast.
Cumulonimbus, a Canadian based weather research team, and University of Washington researchers have created a new app called PressureNet that taps in to barometers housed inside select Android smartphones and tablets. The data is collected hourly and sent back to super computers where it is used to map out an accurate picture of surface pressure over a specific region.
OpenSignal, a London based app developer, has developed a similar app to collect air temperature readings. The app converts a thermometer, originally used to monitor battery temperature and to keep the phone from overheating due to excessive use, to an open air thermometer. Like the PressureNet app, the readings are sent back to a super computer to paint a picture of temperatures over a city. Many readings are required for accurate readings as a phone's battery can alter the air temperature data.
The more users these apps have, the better the weather modelling computers perform. As of now, most weather modelling computers use a 4 kilometer grid (one point of data every 4 km). The introduction of phones can produce a far more accurate picture of the environment, and thereby increase forecast accuracy.
(NOTE: Apps useable on new Android phones only)
Sources:Wiley Online Library