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Automatic Weather Station

and the weather in Campbelltown today is …

In November 2006, we launched Sydney’s latest Automatic Weather Station (AWS) at the Australian Botanic Garden, which is now the Campbelltown weather that is reported in news bulletins. The AWS is found in the southern part of the garden and continuously records all aspects of the weather, which you can see in summary by clicking here.

What is an Automatic Weather Station?

An Automatic Weather Station is a device used to monitor and measure the weather and climate change.  Weather is best described as the atmospheric variables over a short period of time whilst climate is the atmospheric conditions over a longer period of time.  If we want to see what the temperature currently is we are looking at the weather but if we look at the temperature over a couple of months we are looking at the climatie.

Why did we want an Automatic Weather Station?

Until recently, news agencies infrequently reported Campbelltown's weather and when they did the data was sourced from Camden airport, 10 km to the west, which doesn't adequately reflect the 'local' weather conditions in Campbelltown. Installation of this AWS provides a new window of opportunity for the media.

A rare partnership!

The AWS is a joint collaborative project between the Australian Botanic Garden, Campbelltown City Council and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and demonstrates all three levels of government working together. The Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS joins the Bureau of Meteorology fleet of 500 AWS’s operating 24/7.

What does it do?

The AWS, whilst based at the Australian Botanic Garden, is identified as the Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS. The AWS provides updates every 30 min to the Bureau of Meteorology via a radio-link and telephone. The data measured include air and soil temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and rainfall. Weather conditions are available live (within 30 minutes) to the public and news agencies for reporting on the daily weather updates. If you would like to see what the weather is like right this minute click here. We have also installed soil temperature sensors to see what happens below ground at 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 cm below ground level. You can see this infomation at the Bureau's Agricultural Observation Bulletin. Other parameters will be added in the future.

What do we use the climate data for?

Australian Botanic Garden

We use the data to improve our horticultural practices in the Garden helping to reduce water use. Understanding climate change helps us manage our extensive botanical collection. In addition our Horticultural Research and Ecology staff use the climate data to better understand the triggers that make seed germinate. In particular it benefits our studies on soil seed banks in the endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and improves our understanding of environmental weed species. This information is critical to our seed conservation, especially the seed we have already collected and stored in the NSW Seedbank

Campbelltown City Council

Campbelltown City Council benefits from greater public exposure through nightly news bulletins and local residents - 151,000 people spread over 312 square kilometres - will get a better picture of their local climatic conditions. The weather data support the Council's insurance teams and aids the local rural fire brigade.

Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau of Meteorology has added the Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS to its extensive network of AWS's throughout Australia. The data collected support the delivery of more timely and accurate weather forecasts and warnings for south western Sydney.

Automatic Weather Station standards

The Automatic Weather Station has been built to exacting World Meteorological and Australian Bureau of Meteorology Standards.  The standards are important to provide the accuracy and consistency required and expected by the Bureau of Meteorology's 500 AWS's across Australia. The accuracy is ensured by calibrating all the AWS sensors twice per year. The Bureau also ensures that devices are positioned to ensure the optimum conditions for collecting data. For example if you were to collect rainfall at 1 metre above ground you would collect only 97% of the rainfall at 30 cm above ground. Similarly the wind at 3 m is significantly less than that measured at 10 m above ground level. If you want more details about setting up an Automatic Weather Station click here.

Where else in Sydney can I find an AWS?

There are a number of AWS's doted all over Sydney and its surrounds. If you would like to find an AWS closer to you have a look and see if there is a station closer to where you live click here.

Why are historical records important?

The weather is one of those things that people love to talk about. When you are at a party and the conversation goes cold you can always pull out the 'It's been a hot summer!' or 'Did you see the frost out on the front lawn this morning!' comment to kick start it again. We use weather forecasts to help plan our day, choose what to wear or decide if we need to take an umbrella to work. If you're a farmer the weather is critical to your income and the safety of your livestock or crop. Almost every day most of us will make some use of the weather to guide our decisions.

The Bureau of Meteorology has been recording the weather somewhere in Australia for more than a 100 years. This recorded data forms the basis for our understanding of weather across the nation. You might have heard someone say 'it was the hottest November in 15 years' or 'this is the fifth consecutive year of below average rainfall.' These statements wouldn't be possible without accurate weather records from across the nation.

The weather isn't just recorded by Automatic Weather Stations. There are 1400 volunteers in NSW alone who record the weather and send it in to the Bureau of Meteorology to add to their existing records. This information is valuable for filling in the 'gaps' where no data is collected. An excellent example is the Downes family from nearby Brownlow Hill, just to the west of Camden NSW. The Downes family has, over three generations, recorded the rainfall daily for the past 125 years.

How can monitoring the weather help me?

If you have a look at some of the images in the right hand column of this page you will see some examples of images from the Bureau of Meteorology website. Here at the Australian Botanic Garden we are always checking the weather to see how it will impact on our plants, our visitors and our staff. If it is really hot we might need to increase our irrigation or if we have had 50 mm of rain we can leave our plants to enjoy it.

A couple of very useful features on the Bureau's website are the radar, severe storm warnings and rainfall maps. If we have a large event with many thousands of people in the Garden then we want to be sure that everyone is having a good time and is safe. Severe storms can build up and move very quickly so we regularly check the Sydney radar to keep an eye on the current conditions. In the event of a severe storm heading our way we can check the NSW Severe Storm Warning section on the Bureau's website. An example of a storm approaching Campbelltown in February 2007 can be seen in the right hand column with the Bureau's prediction of its intensity and direction in the image below.

Sustainable and green-powered!

The AWS is entirely green-powered using solar power and communicates to the BoM wirelessly. This is the first independent facility on a Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust site entirely powered by solar power and reinforces our commitment to sustainability.

Where is the automatic weather station?

The location of the Automatic Weather Station is just to the east of the Woodland Picnic Area at the Australian Botanic Garden. The best way to find the AWS compound is to park your car at the Woodland Picnic Area and follow the path down and past the picnic shelter. Follow the path through the trees, over the creek and as you come up the rise you will see the Weather Station a short distance in front.

Why does Sydney need another weather station and why here?

Well, Sydney, because of it size and complex geography, has quite variable weather patterns. Did you know for example that the Australian Botanic Garden has half the average annual rainfall received by the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney? (We know this from manual rainfall recording).

Over relatively short distances, for example between Camden and Campbelltown, the weather can differ dramatically. An example of the difference in rainfall over a short period of time between Camden and Campbelltown, 10 km apart, can be seen in the right hand column.

 Our funding sources

The AWS is jointly funded by Campbelltown City Council and the Friends of The Gardens. In addition Campbelltown City Council provides funding for support and maintenance of the AWS. Campbelltown City Council and the Australian Botanic Garden have a long-term commitment to this project.

Comments or questions?

If you have any comments or questions about this page then please send an email to John Siemon.

AWS mast and solar panel 
AWS mast and solar panel.  The mast measures wind speed and direction and communicates back to base via the attached antennae

AWS compound
Automatic Weather Station enclosure at the Australian Botanic Garden

Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS Location
Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS Location at the Australian Botanic Garden

Past 72 hours data from the Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS 
Example of 'Past 72 hours' data from the Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS (Click here for live data)

Example of AWS monthly summary data
Example of monthly summary data from the Campbelltown (Mount Annan) AWS for August 2007 (Click here for current month's data)

AWS localised differences
Example of localised differences in rainfall between Camden & Campbelltown

 Example of NSW rainfall map
Example of the NSW 24hr rainfall map (Click here for live data)

Example of Sydney basin rainfall map 
Example of the Sydney Basin 24hr rainfall (Click here for live data)

Example of Sydney Radar with storm approaching Campbelltown on 28/02/07 
Example of the 128 km Sydney Radar with a storm approaching Campbelltown on 28/02/07 (Click here for live radar image)

Example of a NSW Severe Weather Warning on 28/02/07
Example of a NSW Severe Weather Warning with a dangerous storm heading for Campbelltown on 28/02/07 (Click here to look for current NSW weather warnings)

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Foundation & Friends

We are grateful for the funding assistance and support of our partners