3D Printed Weather Stations Now Installed in Zambia
In many developing countries, weather stations are scarce or outdated, often lacking the resources to update their equipment or replace broken parts, meaning that residents get very little warning as to impending natural disasters. As many of these areas are especially prone to flooding, the lack of forewarning can have devastating impact.
As is the case with so many other issues caused by a lack of resources, the solution lies in 3D printing. Last year, we covered an in-progress project being implemented through collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). The goal: expand the number – and quality – of weather stations throughout developing countries by building them with inexpensive 3D printed parts that can be easily replaced if they wear out or malfunction.
A year later, the first stations are in place. Five weather stations, mostly 3D printed, have been installed across Zambia: three next to radio stations that will broadcast the weather data to surrounding communities; one near a hospital; and one near the headquarters of Zambia’s meteorological department. At this time, the stations are beginning to gather and transmit data on rainfall, temperature, wind and more.
Not only do the stations potentially save lives through advance warning of natural disasters, but they provide much-needed information to local subsistence farmers, helping them to better plan the best times to plant, fertilize and harvest.