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Linking Communities with Environmental Data

Automated environmental data allows us to better understand and manage risks

A new term“ weather weirding” has captured public imagination succinctly summing up recent meteorological conditions and illustrating the very real problems of trying to manage water quantity extremes. In 2012 the highest ever March temperature was recorded as 23.6 degrees C at Aboyne NE Scotland  and water authorities in England declared drought conditions over much of Southern and Eastern England. In contrast, during April significant snowfall was recorded at Aboyne and flood warnings were issued as the month proved to be the wettest on record in parts of England.

European legislation (Flood directive 2007) requires that all members of the public should have direct and free access to information relating to flood risk and river basin planning. It also recognises  the benefit of effective consultation with stakeholders and strong community engagement when managing and mitigating flood risk.

The James Hutton Institute are working to provide a network of river level sensors, weather stations, web cams and other environmental sensors to allow communities to study how their local environment reacts to these weather extremes. Over the next year these live data feeds for the River Dee will become increasingly available through the Your Catchment website. Access to the current live data is through this link here.

Our established working relationship with the local community is enabling us to link together community led monitoring (the meterological stations located in primary schools) and the development of web systems such as this one to allow access to understandable, local environmental data. Close links between the scientists and regulators ensures that the location of monitoring stations are relevant when meeting the requirements of water quality policy such as the European Water Framework Directive. Our data is to be used to underpin a flood alert system under development by Aberdeenshire Council.

At our key flood risk sites we use a three step approach:

Capture information

Information is captured in a variety of ways including automated hydrological monitoring stations, meteorological data from local primary schools, annecdotal evidence and photographs from community members.

Present information

Where possible data is streamed live to websites so that it is immediately accessible.  Members of the public are encouraged to feedback so that the type and relevance of the information can be assessed.

 Interpret information

The information is interpreted in order to provide advice and guidance to interested parties. Illustrated responses are provided with respect to specific questions via the website.

If you go to the projects pages you will find examples of our projects aiming to gather and better communicate data on the environment.

For more information contact: Helen Watson, Yvonne Cook

Category: Live Data

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