An automatic weather station (AWS) is an automated version of the traditional weather station, either to save human labour or to enable measurements from remote areas. The system may report in near real time via ARGOS and the Global telecommunications system, or save the data for later recovery.
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- Thermometer for measuring temperature
- Anemometer for measuring wind
- Hygrometer for measuring humidity
- Barometer for measuring pressure
Some of them even have
- Ceilometer for measuring cloud height
- Rain gauge for measuring rainfall
- Present weather sensor and/or visibility sensor
Unlike manual weather stations, automatic weather stations cannot report the class and amount of clouds. Also the rainfall measurements are a bit problematic, especially for snow, as the gauge must empty itself between observations. For present weather, all phenomena which do not touch the sensor (say fog patches) remain unobserved.
The first AWS's were often placed where electricity and communication lines were available. Nowadays, the solar panel, wind-generator and cellphone technology have made wireless AWS's easier to place.
The configuration of an AWS may vary due to the purpose of the system but typically consists of:
- A weather-proof enclosure containing the data logger, rechargeable battery and telemetry (optional);
- Meteorological sensors;
- Solar panel or wind generator;