The student-developed, versatile rapid-deployment 2.5 m meteorological observing platform are used to monitor storms and hurricanes as they happen and to relay information in real-time to decision makers. They are ideal for data collection of severe weather events that require a short timeline or preparation and are able to sustain high winds (as they are pegged to the ground in a similar fashion to tents).
Developed in 2005 and called "StickNet" for its resemblance to a stick figure, the 24 platforms function as autonomous mobile observing networks capable of gathering a variety of meteorological information including dryline properties, urban wind flows, density currents, synoptic wind events and terrain-induced flows. Each platform can be deployed by two individuals in the manner of minutes.
The StickNet platforms have traveled to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to observe multiple hurricane landfalls in more than 1,000 deployments across the U.S. The highest wind speed recorded by a StickNet platform to date is 115 mph during the landfall of Hurricane Ike, but researchers believe that they may be able to stand up to wind speeds of 140 mph.
Studying severe weather and tornadoes can be tricky as these weather events are often "small" enough to just fit between permanent weather observation stations which means that they can "slip through the net" data-wise.
StickNets and Ka-band radar trucks are able to "zoom" in and focus on these gaps in the data map whilst allowing other equipment and personnel to stay a safe distance away from the dangerous weather.
By filling in the data "gaps", both the Ka-band radar trucks and the StickNet platforms provide a much more in-depth picture of the storm/weather event evolution over a period of time. This can lead to more accurate storm forecasts which may mean reduced wind damage and lower loss of life.
The StickNet platforms measure temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, and wind speed/direction. To maintain power during longer deployments, the team adds a large battery to provide power. The StickNet platform provide both real-time and historical data collections.
StickNet observational platforms in the field.
The StickNet network is mobile and allows for quick deployment and effective implementation.
A close-up of some of the instrumentation on the StickNet platform.