A Weather Station for UWFox – Grant Proposal

I recently submitted a campus improvement grant to the UW-Fox Valley Foundation for the purchase of a weather station. We’ll see how it turns out…

Update: We received the grant, and the weather station is installed.

Proposal for UWFox Weather Station

At UWFox, the campus has long owned a weather station, an important enhancement to the classroom experience for students in meteorology and physical geography courses, specifically MLG 101, GEO 123 and GEO 125. The unit, purchased in approximately 1980, is inoperative, beyond repair, and incredibly obsolete. I am proposing that we replace this old and broken equipment with a new weather station outfit. The new station will record temperature, precipitation, barometric pressure, sky cover, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. It will publish all weather data 24/7 to the web for public consumption. The goal of this proposal is to provide a substantial improvement to the learning experience offered in MLG 101, GEO 123 and GEO 125 courses, and additionally provide many benefits to students, the community, and institution.

Summary of Benefits Provided by Proposed Equipment

Station will greatly enrich student experience for all who take MLG 101, GEO 123, GEO 125

Station provides tangible example of equipment

  • Students can learn, hands-on, about the observation equipment and sensors used in a professional weather station suite and can see equipment in action.
  • Students can learn through demonstration how to properly install equipment

Current weather observations and archived data available 24/7 through web

  • Instructors can create exercises based on data from campus location.
  • Students can access data at all times, encouraging curiosity and engagement.
  • Reliable data for classroom discussion of weather events while or after they occur.

Provides reliable recording of conditions for proper comparison with NWS-run stations in nearby cities

  • Students can observe, predict when events will impact UWFox, check prediction with accurate data.
  • Students can see microclimate and micrometeorological differences by comparing station to others in area (short distances causing significant differences in observations and records).

Will create substantial data set that will allow for the hands-on student learning.

  • Faculty will create class projects based on weather observations at station.
  • Station data can serve as springboard for potential student independent research activities.
  • Station would provide accurate observations for entire UWFox community on hallway digital bulletin boards.

Summary of Benefits Provided by Proposed Equipment

Current weather observations and archived data available 24/7 through web.

Weather data more accurate and reliable than all non-NWS stations in Fox Cities.

Data and observations available to media regarding weather events.

All Menasha, Neenah users of WxUnderground, WeatherBug see UW-Fox Valley station, advertising campus.

Accuracy, dependability of station strengthens academic stature of institution to surrounding community.

  • Current weather conditions shown from weather station on UWFox website
  • Station’s website will feature UWFox links and logos, connected to campus.

Potential for media partners to mention station when reporting current weather from various cities in region.

Station suggests to area media outlets they can turn to UWFox for expert analysis of weather events.

Promotes campus to area students interested in weather and climate to consider UWFox.

Budgetary Concerns and Proposed Equipment Expenditures

The proposal for a UWFox Weather Station falls to an odd place, in terms of budget and bureaucracy. While it is intended that the weather station equipment will become a permanent fixture of the campus, it is not considered a permanent part of the campus physical plant and is therefore not considered the responsibility of the Winnebago-Outagamie County partnership for providing campus infrastructure. At the same time, because it is a permanent installation and a relatively large expense, the initial purchase is beyond the scope and means of the campus geography department’s budget. Given that department budgets are expected to further contract in 2012-13, it is unlikely that such a proposal would be funded in addition to normal items purchased for classroom supplies. Therefore, it seems that the UW-Fox Valley Foundation is the appropriate partner to approach for this kind of funding.

The equipment proposed for purchase is manufactured by Davis Scientific Instruments, and is considered the industry standard for automated weather stations. According to professional contacts in the industry, Davis instruments have a reputation for long life span, with many users still employing Davis equipment with over 30 years in service without significant repairs necessary nor problems encountered. This long life span is dependent, of course, on proper maintenance. Should the proposal be approved, then annual maintenance for the station – which should amount to not more than $100 annually – will be included in the geography department’s annual campus budget request.

Find on the next page a detailed budget and rationale for the equipment purchases proposed.

Item Rationale Cost
Davis
Wireless Vantage Pro2 with 24-Hour Fan Aspirated Radiation Shield  (link)
·Davis
products are the industry standard in weather station equipment. Their
products are used by many similar institutions.
$795.00
·The Vantage Pro2 model records temperature, humidity, wind
speed and direction, precipitation type, precipitation amount – all of
the most commonly used data for topics covered in GEO 123, GEO 125, MLG 101.
Davis
WeatherLink Software for Windows, USB (link)
·
Enables data logging for detailed 24/7 records on
PC.
$165.00
·  Connects weather station to
internet, allows reporting of current condition on station website, 24/7.
·  Links weather station to
Citizen Weather Observer Program, the GLOBE program and WeatherBug.
·  Allows student and public
access to database of saved records from entire weather station history.
Davis
Rain Collector Heater (link)
·
Heater to be attached to rain collection unit to
thaw frozen precipitation.
$195.00
·  Necessary in colder climates
(like Wisconsin) during winter months to ensure that frozen precipitation is
properly measured as a liquid equivalent.
Shipping ·  We have to get it to campus somehow! $55.00
TOTAL $1,210.00

Submission of Proposal

This proposal is submitted to the UW-Fox Valley Foundation as an application for a Campus Enhancement Fund grant. It is hoped that the committee and board will consider this proposal for the January 11, 2012 meeting, with possibility of funding the proposal in time to purchase and implement equipment for the Spring 2012 semester.

Please do not hesitate to contact the submitter of this proposal at any time for clarification, with questions or concerns, or for further detail regarding the information contained herein.

Respectfully submitted,
Andrew Shears
Assistant Professor of Geography
University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley
andrew.shears@uwc.edu
(920) 832-2851

Author: Andrew Shears

Andrew Shears is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. His research interests lie at an intersection of the human-environmental nexus, and includes branches of mapping, technological, memorialization and urban geographies. He lives in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania with his wife Amy, a professional photographer.