Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Welcome to the new WOW Blog!

This blog has been set up as a space for the Met Office WOW team to communicate with the WOW community. Watch this space for updates on how WOW observations are being used to help improve weather forecasts and warningsamongst other things. 

WOW was launched in 2011, in partnership with the The Royal Meteorological Society. The WOW Engine project, completed in 2016, saw the website redesigned and some substantial changes were made behind the scenes to make it easier to ingest and extract observations. As of July 2018, 1,129,803,980 observations have been submitted to WOW. These observations are being used by Met Office Meteorologists in real time, and also by a number of our partners for research projects, so please keep them coming!  

WOW in the UK 

An important aspect of WOW is that it is the primary mechanism for the UK climate observers to submit their daily readings to the Met Office. The UK climate network consists of around 150 sites operated by volunteers, who are supplied with equipment and training by the Met Office. The voluntary observers record a daily observation at 9am GMT and submit to the Met Office via WOW. The observations then undergo a rigorous quality control process before being accepted into the official UK climate record. Some of these stations have records dating back over 200 years. The climate stations reporting via WOW can be viewed using the 'Climate Sites' filter. 

The Met Office also publish observations to WOW from 150 of it's official network of Automatic Weather Stations across the UK, these sites can be viewed using the 'Official Observations' filter. 

However the majority of UK WOW observations come from other weather enthusiasts, who host their own weather stations, and submit observations automatically up to every 5 minutes. These high resolution observations are very useful to our meteorologists, and are used to supplement our network of official sites.    

The International WOW community 

The Met Office’s WOW website is centred over the UK, but on zooming out on the map it soon becomes evident that WOW is a global community, with weather observations being uploaded all over the world. The Met Office works in partnership with a number of other National Meteorological Services, who host their own WOW websites, all observations feed into the same database.  Links to the websites of our international partners can be seen on the homepage of this blog.  

Another recent development is the visualisation of official observations from Africa on WOW. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) advises on best practice for its members, which includes the sharing of a proportion of weather observations with the global meteorological community. These observations are broadcast on the global telecommunications system, and WOW is now ingesting and visualising these shared observations from Africa every 6 hours. The motivation for providing these observations on WOW is two-fold: it will help provide additional access to observations within the region, and it is hoped that access to these observations in WOW will encourage other observations to be shared, including ‘informal’ observations.