Glacier climate | Automated weather stations (AWS)

Weather Station maintenance
AWS4 on the skyline
AWS3, looking down on Virkisjökull
AWS3 and wind turbine for seismometer at the Virkisjökull icefall

The BGS Virkisjökull Glacier Observatory operates three automated weather stations (AWS) around the glacier. These are positioned at different heights to determine changes in weather parameters with height, thus producing for example, temperature or humidity gradients.

The AWS are positioned as close as possible to the glacier at 156 m, 444 m and 885 m above sea level. They are situated close to the glacier to try to measure weather conditions that are as close to those on the ice as possible, to allow for better determination of actual glacier climate.

Weather stations: technical overview

The stations are mounted on tripods and have been proven to be very robust, standing up to the Icelandic weather (including wind speeds of over 210 km/h or 130 mph) in some cases for nearly three years. All of the stations are designed around a Campbell Scientific CR800 datalogger, and are powered by solar panels and gel cell batteries.

Each AWS has a slightly different sensor array, depending on the requirements of the site, but all have communication with AWS1 and this is in daily mobile phone communication with the BGS office in Edinburgh. This allows us to download the weather data each day during the summer (less frequently during winter to preserve battery life), enabling daily comparisons with our hydrological and seismic data.

Each AWS also carries a 2 megapixel camera, pointing at the glacier. These allow us to visually compare our weather readings with actual conditions at the glacier three times a day. They also allow us to create timelapse movies of the glacier, allowing fascinating insights into how the glacier and its surroundings are evolving over time. The Glacier timelapse movies page gives more details of this work.

Weather stations: specifications

Automated Weather Station 1: 156m asl

AWS1: 156 m a.s.l.
Campbell Scientific CR800 Datalogger
Scan rate: 5 seconds
Data rate: 1 hour
Temperature max, min and average
Relative humidity max, min and average
Wind speed
Wind direction
Precipitation
Solar irradiance
Battery voltage

Automated Weather Station 2: 444m asl

AWS3: 444 m a.s.l.
Campbell Scientific CR800 Datalogger
Scan rate: 5 seconds
Data rate: 15 minutes
Temperature max, min and average
Relative humidity max, min and average
Wind speed
Wind direction
Battery voltage

Automated Weather Station 4: 858m asl

AWS4: 858 m a.s.l.
Campbell Scientific CR800 Datalogger
Scan rate: 5 seconds
Data Rate: 1 hour
Vaisala integrated system: WXT520A
Temperature max, min and average
Relative humidity max, min and average
Wind speed
Wind direction
Precipitation
Atmospheric pressure
Battery voltage

Contact

Contact Jez Everest for further information