These are some of the projects interMET has worked on for the last years:
With the first station taking first measurements on 1998 at 2080 m height, this network was during a long time a pioneer in alpine automatic measurments. This project has been for interMET not just a project, it has been our workbench that made our human and technical skills to be taken almost to the limit.
Based on our experience in monitoring in alpine climates we were asked to design, install and maintain "the best" hydro-meteorological network that could be imagined in a mountain area. Considering how difficult it is to achieve reliable measurements in this environments we have proposed and installed a network base on gravimetric rain gauges, snow height sensors, 4 components radiation and specially designed sensors and systems for this environments.
The objective of this project was to have a rugged, compact housing for scientific quality meteorological sensors, data logging and telecommunication equipment. This housing should be easy to install and make minimum impact on the environment: no fences, no civil work and low visual impact.
Met masts with mechanical anemometers and wind vanes have being the standard for wind power assessment during many years. This measuring principle relies on the conversion of the wind energy into mechanical energy that anemometers and wind vanes convert to an electric signal proportional to wind speed or wind direction. Like any other measuring technique, anemometers and wind vanes have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the limitations of anemometers and wind vanes is that that they need a solid structure to be held at a certain height, the other is that they take samples of wind almost in a single point. In the last decades, size of wind turbines have grown considerably. With this increment on rotor height, a more precise assessment of the wind profile is then necessary in order to make a better production forecasting. It is possible to use tall towers with sensors all their way up to 100 meters or more, but the increase of the costs of such towers increase considerably. This fact along with others like reliability, installation and maintenance costs and environmental impact make necessary to consider other measurement techniques that do not need towers. One option is to use a SODAR (SOund Detection And Ranging). They use the heterogeneities found on air to reflect ultrasonic sound pulses and retrieve their velocity using the Doppler effect theory. SODARs are at ground level but can reach very high levels of the atmosphere, depending on their configuration. SODARs specially focused on the first hundreds of meters of the atmosphere have become in the last years very helpful on the wind energy resource area.
Laser based disdrometers seem complex equipment but are fantastic for measuring precipitation characteristics like size and velocity of water drops or snow flakes. Our client wanted to monitor precipitation very intensively in a small area and we were asked to install more than a dozen of these in an are of less than 8 km square! No problem on replicating the same system for several locations, but they wanted size and velocity of precipitation every minute!. Here the challenge was data logging and reporting taking into account the huge amount of data sampled. It was solved designing an ad-hoc logger that showed an excellent performance even being solar powered.
We had never been asked for a meteorological station inside a cave and at the beginning it sounded easy. No vandalism, no radiation interfering the temperature probes, no animals, no rain neither rime freezing or snow. It sounded like placing a weather station in the office!. But caves are not the easiest places to work in. Special precautions regarding security must be taken due to slippery surfaces and low ceilings with threatening stalactites. From a technical point of view the difficulties come from not having sun for powering systems, no GPRS signal for communications and the worst of all: humidity always close to 99.9%. Fortunately, working together with our client we found a great and robust solution.
We had imagined we would have to build a wind tunnel since we have been in the wind power sector, but never thought we would have to build a fireproof wind tunnel! One good thing was working indoors. We had to think hard to solve this client's needs. They wanted to reproduce and measure wild fires in a laboratory reproducing nature. It keeps working!
Our meteorological networks ussually have had spring, winter and fall as the “hot” season since it is when most interesting meteorological phenomena ocurrs at midle latitudes. Mostly of our skills and experience was earned to deal with winter related technical problems. For this network, it was the opposite. Wild fire risk is higher in late spring, summer and early fall, so concentration needs to be kept high all the year round.
We ended up in the midle of the field installing something closer to a spaceship than to a meteorological instrument. Looking at that wiper connected to a tank of water did not help much, but it worked! Results from this remote sensing instruments still have us thinking that the physics we learn at university really work!
It took some time for solving this, and at the end it was more than a project, it was a real challenge. Connect a met station to a central server, crossing the city of Dakar and with no direct sight seemed impossible, but we did it. We always had GPRS communications as plan B, specially for not having more extra trips, but nice equipment and the best antennas in the market where enough. We still cannot believe it when connect from here to the server and see the data getting there everyday on time. It a shame because we got used to the country!
Some years ago NRG plastic Maximum 40 anemometers were the standard for anemometric towers and most of the wind power assessment surveys were made with this kind of sensors. Considering their limitations, it is incredible how they performed with those data loggers with just a couple of 9V batteries, without solar power and no telemetry. Life was simple but it worked. With this project, quite a few of these sensors were installed at some dozens of anemometric towers. We started with a 10 meters tower and ended up with many 40 meter towers and even some 80 meters towers before the parks were installed.
CO2 fluxes determination at different locations in the planet is crucial for a correct evaluation of the carbon cycle. Our client wanted to install and operate three CO2 flux towers at a Mediterranean forest. We used the best sensors on market and had no problem. Our two main challenges were being able to take raw data sampled at 10Hz for post-processing which was uploaded using 3G network and working above the canopy. This was accomplished installing 8 and 10 meters scaffolding above the tree canopy.
Our client wanted to analyze meterological variables in relation with efficiency on olive tree crops and the relation between production and irrigation. This network was not a big problem to deal with, new things for us were to calculate ET0 that is done in our own data server and sent to our client in an almost online basis.
Sometimes some equipment are sold with not enough field testing. Our client wanted to monitor the voltages and currents out of panels, battery and regulador of its solar power unit in order to check data gaps and environmental conditions to give feedback to the manufacturer or to gain reliability. For this project we used our own data logger and embedded GPRS unit connected to our data server. Some innovative ideas were brought to this project like remote power on/off of the system.
We have a close connection with education and we know how important is to bring meteorology technology to students. For this reason we found this project specially interesting since here most of the components of an automatic based meteorology network: siting, exposure, installation, maintenance, data management and dissemination.
Sometimes having telecom equipment connected directly to the mains is not suitable. Problems with peaks or a cut down may interrupt the flow of data and that was a big thing for our client. It was clear for them the need for a renewable solar and wind power backup, but batteries are expensive...
When we were told that we needed to provide an instrument able to monitor temperatures of thousands of celsius since a real wild fire was going to pass over it, we thought it was impossible. Well, using convenient isolation materials and leaving this FireBox some time to cool off before opening and download the data, most of the problems are solved. These units behave pretty well and are surviving quite a few experimental man made wild fires. We provided more than 30 units of these and after some years, only a few of them did not survive and the rest only need button battery replacement every two years.
We did not have much experience on satellite Eumetsat image reception and we suffer a little bit before we had everything running. Aiming the antenna to the correct satellite was fun and setting up remote access to the receiving computer was not difficult. Results are amazing considering how far the information is coming from. Probably the longest distance telemetry project we will ever have.
Due to our academic background, we were familiarize with what a climate change scenario would look like in a simulation model, but never thought we would have to participate in building an "analog" one, this means a real one. We were involved in this project in designing and installing a control system for depleting a certain amount of pergolas that would be activated when rain was detected. This is to simulate an scenario of drought on a fired field in order to analyze plant regeneration. Well, this seems simple but powering a bunch of these in the field with power limitations since this was remote, needed a little bit complicated sequential procedure. Also, rain is sometimes intermittent adding some noise to the controlling system that was solved by using some hysteresis on the decision variables. It seems clear that it took us some more trips before the "model was tunned" but results lasted reliably and made possible some scientific progresses on this field.
There are some climatic Atlases about Iberian Peninsula. Some of them do not have enough resolution for decision making for certain purposes or do not include specific variables. Here we developed for our client a climatic Atlas of the Iberian Peninsula specifically designed for historical heritage conservation and risk assessment.
We have some years of experience on data importing, storage in data bases, validation and management. In this case our client wants their own system on their own machines. Not a problem. We are developing an open source system based on our experience that will provide our client full control of their tool. This will make them able to improve and grow in the way they want in the future.
Underground climate is the real unknown actor on the weather system considering its influence on the atmosphere. We have being asked to develop and manufacture a series of thermistor chains that thanks to multiplexers will allow to measure temperatures at some dozens of different distances underground.
Started as a simple project, things got complicated when wanted wind measurements at three locations some km apart. For this project we used our own developed data-logger with GPRS acting as gateway connected through radio modem to two towers at a distance of 5 km. Sincronization is then perfectly achieved and costs reduced. This data is after collected and stored by our data server that acts as a user interface for our client to get charts, graphs and reports from their desktop.
With several years of research on this area we are in a position to be able to use it as a benchmark for developing forecasting tools at a high resolution. We are still researching on this combining statistical and dynamical tools.
Not a commercial project, some of our staff is doing a scientific career on the field of precipitation assessment in mountain areas. As a result of this investigations a set of publications are already finished and others in their way. It is expected that this know-how will be eventually incorporated in our expertise as a company.
Always worried on determining snow height using high density of measuring sites we have experimented with underground measurements in order to retrieve this important variable for hydrology. We are experimenting with different techniques in order to get in the future a reliable and robust alternative.
Seasonal forecasting seen as an improvement of local climatology as a tool for decision making in energy production and consumption, logistics, demand of goods, health and other aplications is seen as a revolutionary tool. We really believe in the skill of some techniques at certain areas of the planet an we work on looking for financial sources. We have reached some goals but we are still in a previus stage.