Woods atmospheric sensors pick up Tonga eruption pressure wave

A photograph of a microclimate station situated in grassland at Wytham.

The pressure wave from the recent volcanic eruption near Tonga was detected on scientific equipment at Wytham Woods.

There are 24 weather and microclimate stations at various locations in the Woods, to monitor conditions and build up baseline data which researchers can access to inform their studies. The Tonga pressure wave was recorded by all the stations, which measure atmospheric pressure as part of their routine measurements taken every 10 minutes.

The pressure sensor is tiny, measuring only around 2 mm2, and is is found within the main control box (the black box mounted on the pole). The graph shows data recorded by the weather station at Upper Seeds, one of the rich grassland habitats within Wytham Woods. The station has been here since 2016, and because it is out in the open provides important comparison data against other stations located in the wooded areas.

Other measurements taken by the weather stations include air and ground temperature, rainfall, wind speed and direction, daylight, UVA and UVB. They also measure ‘skyglow’, essentially monitoring how dark it is at night. This data allows researchers to see, for example, how different intensities of moonlight affect the behaviour of small mammals within the Woods.



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