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Our Weather Station

26 November 2015

It’s a little known fact that BIS has its very own weather station upon the roof of An Phu Secondary.

The station is not only there for parents and visitors to find out about the temperature and general weather conditions in the city, but it also receives live data that is used in the Geography department. Additionally, the weather station now has its very own webcam! Head of Geography, Mark Hadley, tells us more.

How long have BIS HCMC had a weather station for? 

Went live Oct 27th 2014, and the webcam has been up for a few weeks.

Why did we get a weather station? And who organised it?

There used to be a weather station but it had fallen into disrepair. The station can provide a wealth of data which we have incorporated into many of our topics, such as the Y7 Extreme Weather, IG Weather and Climate topic. The station is also used by the Physics department – for example, it provides accurate Solar Radiation data that will change across the year, linking into the changing of seasons and the planets. We produce a summary of the month’s weather (except July and August as there were a few technical issues with the station), and we will now be looking to produce our annual review in January.

What does it tell us?

It provides us with the standard range of weather variables, including the THSW heat index – this tells us how hot it actually feels outside by using the Temperature, Humidity, Solar radiation and wind strength to calculate the heat index. The record was in May last year when this hit 51 degrees.

The data is uploaded to Weather Underground, where the data is automatically processed into live graphs. This is a fantastic way to compare the data variables. For example, just before it rains, the temperature starts to drop rapidly and continues to do so while it rains. We can also see how the atmospheric pressure decreases as the air becomes warmer during the day (indicating that it is rapidly rising and unstable). Another fascinating phenomenon is how the wind direction will change through 360 degrees as a storm passes. The rainfall rate also tells us how heavily it is raining. Our record is 411mm per hour – in other words, if it kept raining at that rate for 1hour, 41cm of water would have fallen. In HCMC, this would cause catastrophic flooding, far worse than the storm event seen on September 15th where 106mm of rain fell over the evening.

Is it accurate?

The station is a Davis Vantage Pro 2+ and is highly accurate. The siting of the station isn’t ideal as it is up on the roof of the main building, so the wind may be stronger and the temperature may pick up reflected heat from the main building. This is a minor issue as we will be able to see trends across the year. Ideally, the weather station should be situated in the middle of the sports field over at AP1, but that would never happen!

We have recently acquired a webcam that feeds images into our online weather station, what else can it do?

We have been making time lapses that have shown some great events. For example, the build of the clouds during the day leading up to a large storm rolling in, clouds at different altitudes moving in opposite directions, signalling the transition from the wet to the dry season, the moon setting, as well as the use of lights inside a nearby apartment block.

The Geography department have had a really busy few months, with your award, and the World’s Largest Lesson, what’s next? 

At the moment, the department is back to business as usual, inspiring students with a multitude of topical global issues. We are planning the next Y11 field trip ready for December, as well as trips to Chiang Rai (Thailand), Dalat for the Y12 IB fieldtrip, and if that wasn’t enough, we will be leading a FOBISEA JAWS (Teacher CPD workshop) in March.

To visit the live feed from the weather station <<CLICK HERE>>