Impact story

Weather observations for a century: WUR and the history of meteorological observations

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) is celebrating its centennial in 2018. Even before WUR was founded as an academic institution, the first weather observations were already being recorded such as precipitation since 1914. Soon after, solar radiation and standard meteorological observations were also recorded. Thanks to the link between agriculture and climate conditions, Wageningen University has one of the longest records of solar radiation observations in Europe.

Weather station 'De Veenkampen'

The WUR Meteorology and Air Quality Group runs the weather station ‘De Veenkampen’, where state-of-the-art technologies and novel instruments monitor current weather and air quality conditions. In addition, unique observations of soil properties are also monitored. All these measurements are available to the public via their website. This data is widely used within WUR and used by public institutions and private weather companies like the Wageningen based MeteoGroup as well. Anticipating the weather and providing sound advice to companies so they can react in time to harsh conditions is at the core of Meteorology and state-of-the-art observations are indispensable.

Unraveling ongoing mysteries

The meteorological observations and facilities are obviously also used for education, and students learn to set up and run their own weather station, for example. Besides this, the observations are used for diagnosing weather trends and analysing climate change. Bert Holtslag and his chair group connect the local weather and air quality observations with the larger atmospheric picture for their research to unravel the ongoing mysteries of over-land atmosphere, including radiation processes and atmospheric turbulence. Wageningen University is leading in this field thanks to the early adoption of meteorological observations that were maintained and intensified over the last 100 years in combination with fine-scale atmospheric modelling studies in the last decade. In the future, these observations are also expected to play an important role in solar and wind energy resources.