Science

Project: Arid zone rainfall measurement upgraded

Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station
Monday, 2 September, 2013

Monitoring facilities at UNSW's Fowlers Gap Research Station in western NSW have been upgraded to provide rainfall, video and groundwater data feeds via the internet.

Rainfall has been monitored at the 400km2 arid zone research station since the early 1970s - providing a detailed long-term record that represents a unique set of rainfall data for the semi-arid zone.

Each paddock at the station had a representative total rain gauge that was monitored after each rainfall event. In all, there were 18 rainfall gauges distributed at a density of approximately 1 every 20 km2

Previously, a journey of 125km on a farm bike had to undertaken each time it rained to collect measurements from the gauges. To date, the total distance travelled to collect this data has been about 2.25 times the earth's circumference at the equator.

Now, the Fowlers Gap site is monitored using the Telstra 3G network. The 18 manual gauges have been replaced with tipping-bucket gauges linked to a data transmission network that makes it possible to view the daily data from the farm office - without having to take a bike ride - or remotely via the web.

Two stream-gauging stations and a network of nine groundwater observation bores have also been installed and added to the network.

The gauging stations have a remote video link so that flood events can be monitored. When it does rain at the station, the roads are frequently closed to vehicles.

The live data can be viewed at the Fowlers Gap data web site.

For more information see the Connected Waters website.

Media contact: Professor Andy Baker, a.baker@unsw.edu.au, 9385 9327.

UNSW Science media: Deborah Smith, 9385 7307, 0478 492 060, deborah.smith@unsw.edu.au