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How accurate is the ATMOS-41 weather station?

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The ATMOS-41 All-In-One Weather Station is a new, revolutionary design by METER Group for a weather station. The ATMOS-41 includes all common weather parameters in a compact, easy to install unit. This is the biggest difference between traditional weather stations that have large wind vanes, tipping buckets, Stevenson screen, and other bulky items.

In this article, we compare the sensor output from the ATMOS-41 against standard or common sensors. The results confirm a scientific study from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, that the sensor accuracy from the ATMOS-41 is as good, or better, than traditional sensors.

 

precipitation or rainfall

The ATMOS 41 employs the latest technology to improve upon traditional measurement approaches. A key innovation on the ATMOS 41 is the drop-counting rain gauge technology. It uses gold-plated electrodes to detect and count discrete drops from a nozzle precisely engineered to produce a highly repeatable drop size. This no-moving-parts technology is less susceptible to mechanical failure than traditional tipping-spoon gauges. Three tipping-spoon rain gauges (Texas Electronics and ECRN-100) were deployed at our Forks, WA USA precipitation testbed (rainiest location in lower 48 US states) alongside three ATMOS 41 sensor suites. All sensors were deployed within two meters of each other spatially at a two-meter height above ground surface. Over four months of data from the winter and spring of 2018 are shown in the figure below. Interestingly, the three tipping-spoon gauges represent the highest and two lowest accumulated rainfall totals, with all three ATMOS 41’s measuring accumulated rainfall totals between the tipping-spoon gauges. Although the scatter in the tipping-spoon gauges makes drawing solid conclusions difficult, all three ATMOS 41 units agree within 3% of the average of the tipping-spoon measurements.

Weather Rainfall Data

 

solar radiation

The solar radiation comparisons were made on the rooftop testbed at the METER Pullman campus. A Kipp & Zonen CMP3 was co-located with an ATMOS 41 for about a month in the fall of 2017. Readings were averaged over a 15-minute period, and the data show good agreement based on the 1:1 plot. A linear regression shows a 3% underestimation by the ATMOS 41 pyranometer.

 

air temperature

The ATMOS 41 uses a micro thermistor in the anemometer opening and corrects for effects of solar radiation and wind using a basic energy balance approach. Solar radiation and wind speed are combined to adjust air temperature measurement for solar heating and convective cooling instead of the common louvered radiation shield. This method was optimized and verified at the METER Pullman campus using a micro thermistor sensor housed in an Apogee TS-100 aspirated radiation shield as the air temperature standard. The verification results show a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.6 °C for the ATMOS 41 air temperature measurement, which is significantly better than the error expected for a typical sensor housed in a non-aspirated shield. More information on the air temperature correction can be found in our webinar “Stop Hiding Behind a Shield”.

 

relative humidity

The improved air temperature is used to accurately correct relative humidity. All METER relative humidity sensors are individually calibrated and verified at three humidity levels against a dew point hygrometer standard. Figure 5 shows data consistency between sensors. One to 16 sensors are calibrated at a time and are held to a pass/fail criterion of 2% relative humidity at all three humidity levels. Data show excellent consistency between sensors which are typically calibrated to within 1% of the actual humidity.

Data collected in the field use the integrated relative humidity and temperature sensor to calculate vapor pressure (kPa). The figure below shows sensor performance in the field over an eight-day period and gives an idea of what to expect in terms of consistency between vapor pressure measurements.

 

wind speed and direction

The ATMOS 41 wind speed and direction, which is similar to the ATMOS-22 wind speed and direction sonic anemometer, were tested by a third-party ISO 17025 certified lab. Wind speed is measured by an ultrasonic anemometer with no moving parts as opposed to a cup anemometer. Wind direction is also measured by ultrasonic anemometers since there are two sonic transducers located at 90 degrees apart. The engraved N on the unit must be pointed toward True North to record accurate wind direction. Data are shown in the figure below for wind speed.

 

barometric pressure

Each ATMOS 41 barometric pressure sensor is individually calibrated against a NIST-traceable pressure reference. The difference between the pressure reference and the pressure sensor must be within +/- 0.1 kPa. The difference is then stored on the sensor as an offset. The figure below shows the performance of seven ATMOS 41s at the METER test bed. Differences between the top and bottom pressure are around 0.2 kPa.

 

 

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