PWS weather station
PWS Fire Management weather station near Davey Gorge (photograph: Cassidy Newland)

Increased weather intelligence from the TWWHA

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The installation of two new weather stations will greatly assist the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) fire management staff to both plan for, and conduct, prescribed burns in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). 

Weather 'intelligence' during a fire event will also be dramatically improved. The up-to-date data will reduce the reliance on forecast predictions based on data gathered further afield at Low Rocky Point and Scotts Peak.

The locations were chosen to fill holes in available weather data from across the TWWHA. 

Selecting the appropriate site is important as the station needs to be representative of conditions in the area and not obstructed by trees, crags or peaks.

One station has been placed in the Cradle Valley area. The site of an old Rivers and Water Supply Commission weather station near the Davey River proved the perfect spot for the second station. The existing base and anchor points were used to securely attach the new equipment. 

The PWS fire management section said the new stations will report weather 'intelligence' every ten minutes. 

The station includes: a tipping bucket rain gauge which logs every 0.2mm of rainfall; a 10m high anemometer for measuring wind speed and direction; a louvered shelter known as a Stevenson screen containing sensors to measure temperature and humidity; a soil probe to measure soil moisture content; a barometric pressure sensor to measure atmospheric pressure and a pyranometer to measure solar radiation. 

The stations are solar powered and transmit data via satellite.

Research recommendation

The installation of these new stations was a recommendation of the 2016 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Bushfire and Climate Change Research Project.

Accurate weather data assists in protecting the Outstanding Universal Value of the TWWHA from fire by increasing opportunities for planned burning and providing important information on weather conditions during a bushfire. 

Fire management weather station​

When it comes to planned burning, weather is crucial and it’s not only for the day of the burn. 

For each planned burn PWS fire management officers prescribe conditions for the introduction of fire. This includes an identified temperature range, rainfall, wind speed, direction and soil moisture - to ensure the set objective is met and the burn is manageable. 

Knowing the weather in the lead up to the burn helps to determine the state of the fuels - within and adjacent to the planned burn. 

The weather conditions on the day are then monitored to ensure they are suitable to undertake that particular burn.

The up-to-date weather data will be a game changer providing year-round weather coverage. 

This will greatly assist PWS Fire Management​ in planning for prescribed burns and during bush fire events – and in turn assist us to keep our remote area firefighters safe. 

Published 18/08/2020