Prototyping Low-Cost Automatic Weather Stations for Natural Disaster Monitoring

Weather events put human lives at risk mostly when people might reside in areas susceptible to natural disasters. Weather monitoring is a pivotal task that is accomplished in vulnerable areas with the support of reliable weather stations. Such stations are front-end equipment typically mounted on a fixed mast structure with a set of digital and magnetic weather sensors connected to a datalogger. While remote sensing from a number of stations is paramount, the cost of professional weather instruments is extremely high. This imposes a challenge for large-scale deployment and maintenance of weather stations for broad natural disaster monitoring. To address this problem, in this paper, we validate the hypothesis that a Low-Cost Automatic Weather Station system (LCAWS) entirely developed from commercial-off-the-shelf and open-source IoT technologies is able to provide data as reliable as a Professional Weather Station (PWS) of reference for natural disaster monitoring. To achieve data reliability, we propose an intelligent sensor calibration method to correct weather parameters. From the experimental results of a 30-day uninterrupted observation period, we show that the results of the calibrated LCAWS sensors have no statistically significant differences with the PWS's results. Together with The Brazilian National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (Cemaden), LCAWS has opened new opportunities towards reducing maintenance cost of its weather observational network.


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