In December 2016 and January 2017 the UK Partners set up weather stations at the three key sites within Mellor; the Bronze Age Shaw Cairn, the Iron and Roman site of the Mellor Hillfort and the industrial site of Mellor Mill. This was part of the development stage of testing a variety of sensor types in different geographical locations that might be used on the cultural heritage sites for the whole project.
These three weather stations have been transmitting data since then. Whilst it’s been good to have a stream of data, the point of getting the hardware installed at this stage of the project was to test its robustness and to help with the design of the software interface for the many streams of data that the project is dealing with.
A key requirement has been the ease of use of the software and the accessibility of the hardware, both of which will ultimately become part of the end of project toolkit and dashboard. We therefore chose a mid-range weather station, in terms of data collection quality (covering temperature, humidity, precipitation, pressure and wind speed) and price that could be bought ‘off the shelf’. So far the robustness of the hardware has seemed sound. The three locations vary from c. 90m above sea level in the valley location at Mellor Mill, and the hillside position of the hillfort at 210m, to the exposed upland location, at 327m above sea level of Shaw Cairn. It is worth noting here that Mellor is the only case study site to have this kind of geographical spread and the only partner located in the more temperate climate of northern Europe.
So far the equipment has functioned well, with extremes of temperature ranging from -10 degrees C to +31 degrees C and accumulated rainfall over the last six months ranging between 323mm and 358mm. We have noted a number of significant weather events such as intense rainfall over a short period, or prolonged rainfall, cold or heat over several days. Variations in the data testify to the local micro-climates at each of three sites, even though the sites are within 2km of each other. The only impact of human agency has been some minor damage to the most isolated of the weather stations, at Shaw Cairn, on the upland moors above Mellor. We have been able to demonstrate the success of real-time data collection from a variety of locations as a reasonable cost.
A major challenge for the project is how to integrate this data with the other information streams into a predictive warning system. This is perhaps the most novel part of STORM- research of other cultural heritage monitoring systems across Europe has shown that the focus is on disaster management rather than warning systems. That is why the weather stations are just part of a wider sensor network that the partners are testing on each case study site.
Author: Mike Nevell
Head of Archaeology & Co-Editor of Industrial Archaeology Review
Senior Lecturer, Archaeology
University of Salford