Meteorology Research Benefits from Weather Station

Tania Chatila
El Vaquero Staff Writer

With the GCC weather station now up and running, both students and meteorologists alike can gather useful information for academic and national use.

The automated weather station, first installed in 1997, continuously records wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and barometric pressure. The MetData 1 model also includes a data recorder that stores information for several days at a time.

With weather stations also set up in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Burbank, Pasadena and Cal State, Northridge, predictions can be made regarding how small changes in topography can affect temperature and other various aspects of weather.

According to Darren Leaver, a professor of geography and one of the key players in the maintenance and running of the weather station, the National Weather Service monitors the information collected twice a day by converting analog data into digital data, making it easy to integrate information into their computers through a modem.

While the station is only representative of the Glendale Foothills area, information provided by the station can be used to predict long-term trends in all of Glendale.

The National Weather Station is not the only institution utilizing the information however. According to Leaver, the collection of data also serves as an academic resource. In both the physical geography and lab classes, students collect information from the station to monitor and compare with data from the greater Los Angeles area.

“I think it is critical in the academic environment to use first-hand data to interpret long-term trends,” said Leaver.

“I feel for the geography department, the station is very useful,” said J.B. Wall, weather observer and technology manager of the CSUN geography department. “We have many classes call in and keep track of daily temperatures and climate. Most people have no idea how information is collected. That information comes from the weather station. We explain that in the classroom.”

The weather station has faced some problems. According to Leaver, contractors on campus in August cut the power cord leading to the station. From that time, up until last week, no data had been collected. However, with the station now reconfigured and running again, data is once again available.

CSUN, which maintains a network of 14 agencies throughout Southern California and has cooperative agreements with the U.S. Navy and other institutions, helped GCC build the station. Currently, CSUN also helps coordinate data with the National Weather Service and helps GCC maintain the weather station.

“We have some of the knowledge in maintaining the station that maybe GCC doesn’t have yet,” Wall said.

Wall and Kathryn Gerber, a geography lecturer at CSUN, both act as go-betweens for the National Weather Service and GCC.

“CSUN is a great source of help,” said Leaver. “They first prompted the idea for a weather station. They’ve been really great.”

According to Leaver, the administration and Associated Students first funded the weather station. Both groups allocated 50 percent of funds towards building the station. Leaver says most of the funding towards maintenance, which adds up to about $600 to $1,000 a year, comes from instructional equipment funds, administration, and ASGCC.

The low cost of maintenance is due to the highly effective “recycling” of parts. According to Leaver, for the next 20 years, parts from the weather station will be in rotation every two years. Spare parts, which have already been purchased, will rotate with parts being sent back for maintenance to Campbell Scientific, original vendor for the weather station, and then will be returned to GCC.
To get weather reports from the station over the phone, call (818) 551-5265.