Meteorological Technology World Expo 2017 sees more visitors and more new products than ever before!
Visitors to the 2017 edition of Meteorological Technology World Expo in search of the latest new technologies and solutions to enhance their forecasting abilities and observation accuracy were rewarded with more new product launches than ever before, from a truly global mix of exhibitors from Europe, USA, Korea, Japan, China and India.
The show, now in its seventh year, saw over 4,000 attendees from 100 countries, and was held at the RAI Amsterdam, Netherlands from 10-12 October. Some 180 exhibitors were present, taking the opportunity to unveil a host of innovations with more useful features than ever before. In particular, attendees showed strong interest in instruments and services capable of delivering ever more precise and individually tailored data suited to particular customer needs.
For example, Vaisala reported a particularly enthusiastic response to its Observation Network Manager NM10 solution, which enables remote monitoring and control of weather observation networks on one central, secure and automated platform. NM10 is an automated network management system that connects individual systems, sensors and devices so that customers can easily monitor and control their sites and access their weather observation data from anywhere. Vaisala says NM10’s advanced diagnostics and data analytics services, together with remote monitoring, ensure customers have easy access to field devices to quickly and efficiently identify and solve problems, providing continuous high-quality data and lower lifetime costs.
“This is a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution, which means it is available at a competitive price,” explained Olli Ojanperä, product manager, weather offering, Vaisala. “Customers can tailor it to fit their needs – they can start off small to try it out and then extend it as required. The pricing is very flexible, and Vaisala has been in the market for 80 years – we will not disappear. Once we provide a system, customers can rely on us to be there to support and maintain it, freeing up their resources to provide better, good quality weather forecasts, etc.”
Kisters and MeteoGroup chose Meteorological Technology World Expo as the ideal venue to unveil HydroMaster, a new cloud service for weather information, forecast and warnings. The product was developed in response to extreme precipitation events that are increasing in frequency and heaviness due to increased urbanisation, population growth and climate change. Such events pose a direct threat to life, health, infrastructure, production and assets. To limit the impact of heavy rain events, HydroMaster helps local authorities, cities and municipalities, infrastructure owners and utility companies be better informed and prepared, and take preventive actions in a more timely manner.
HydroMaster offers a live web service for viewing, analysing and archiving historical, current and upcoming precipitation events in a web browser. The service integrates observation and forecast data based on calibrated, high-resolution rainfall radar, and visualises information for individual hotspots in maps, graphs and tables. Customers can enter their own hotspots, zones and catchments, define their own alerts and create their own dashboards.
“You can really paint your own area of interest, where you type in your thresholds and get a very individual forecast, providing an individual visualisation and alarm status of your specific areas of interest – your own assets, catchments, etc. So if you are a football stadium, for example, you can get a warning before the cloud burst comes,” explained Michael Natschke, business development, BU Water, Kisters.
“Extreme cloud bursts can also cause sewage overflows, so this system is ideal for water utility companies in need of advanced warnings; and also water supply companies, as an extreme cloud burst could cause a huge wash-off of pollutants, which then requires a specific treatment of the water before you can supply it to clients.”
Radiometer Physics presented its new 94GHz FMCW Doppler cloud radar, following its first delivery last year. The operation frequency of 94GHz allows for higher sensitivity but with a smaller form factor than X- and Ka-band radars, and the system’s relatively small size and low weight make it suitable for mobile measurement platforms. Its short wavelength and high average transmitted power (1.5W) provide a high sensitivity of -45dBZe at 5km with 1.7 s averaging time, according to the company, which also claims the radar can reach a Doppler resolution of 1.7cm/s (512 FFT points) or even higher.
“Our new instrument provides very precise information about what is in the cloud,” explained Dr Alexander Myagkov, remote sensing scientist, Radiometer Physics. “It is ideal for the calibration of more general, low-frequency weather and cloud radars, including air- and space-borne systems; and it’s also ideal for providing flood warnings for specific locations, as required by individual customers. It’s also a very useful instrument for airports, because it can provide vertical wind profiles and detect aviation hazards such as wind shear, and it can detect super-cooled liquid water, which is important for warning of potential icing events, etc.”
The need for ever more precise and relevant information was echoed by Plair, whose purpose-built PlairGrid is designed for allergy professionals, as well as meteorological and environmental services, to provide a more affordable solution for the automatic detection of pollen. The solution leverages Plair’s all-optical Rapid-E instrumentation, which is powered by artificial intelligence, to automatically identify and count the most common allergenic pollen species in real time. Plair says Rapid-E is free of any software or dataloggers and is easy to use. Analysed real-time data is delivered to an online dashboard – PlairGrid – which enables users to view and manage hourly and daily counts of different pollen types together with total pollen and particle count. Plair’s real-time pollen information improves forecasting models with better predictions compared with current weekly forecasts, leading to a better quality of life for allergy sufferers.
The Swiss company has seen interest in its pollen detection solutions grow as more is understood about the impact of allergies on the general population. Svetlana Kiseleva, Plair’s chief marketing officer and co-founder, explained that better pollen detection is increasingly required in an ever more industrialised world. “Air pollution contributes a lot, as it aggravates pollen allergies, while climate change and a related increase in CO2, where plants produce more pollens, is also making respiratory problems worse,” she said. “Plants are also producing pollens earlier or later in the year as a result of climate change, so previous forecasting models are not as efficient.”
Another product making its debut was FT Technologies’ FT742-SM ultrasonic wind sensor, the smallest model in the company’s FT7 Series. Incorporating its own compass, the FT742-SM has been specifically designed for integration into weather stations, UAVs, buoys and ship-based meteorological systems. Reading windspeeds up to 75m/s (168mph), it is 71.2mm (2.8in) high, and weighs only 252g (0.55 lb). Powered by FT’s Acu-Res tech, the FT742-SM’s compact design makes it extremely rugged. With no moving parts to degrade or damage, it is maintenance-free and able to withstand considerable shock and vibrations. The anodised aluminium body is highly resistant to electromagnetic interference, corrosion, sand, dust, ice, solar radiation and bird attacks. The sensor is sealed to IP66 and IP67 standards and inherently compensates for changes in the air’s temperature, pressure or humidity.
Featuring a thermostatically controlled heating system, the sensor maintains its temperature at a user-specified heater set point between 0°C and 55°C. With the heaters switched off, the FT742-SM draws no more than 29mA at 24V DC. However, it can also run at 6V, making it ideal for use with batteries. The FT742-SM can be supplied with either an RS422 or RS485 interface with data in either ASCII or NMEA 0183 format, polled or continuous output modes. Wind speed measurements can be specified in m/s, km/h or knots.
Campbell Scientific presented a new weather station that enables data to be automatically collected and made available online almost instantly. The MET300E Weather Station is a new multipurpose, pre-wired, pre-configured weather station that can be purchased with a Konect Global Data Services subscription. This allows an installed station to simply be powered up, and for data to be automatically collected and made almost instantly available online. The company says Konect Global Data Services’ data gathering, archive and display system makes it ideal for any measurement or monitoring application. The company also displayed its new CR-PVS1 PV soiling index remote terminal unit (RTU), which provides solar farm operators with real-time information on photovoltaic (PV) panel soiling, allowing them to make informed maintenance decisions.
SONA & ZEN from Sieltec Canarias also made its debut at the show, offering a solution for monitoring clouds and atmospheric aerosol. The new system consists of two lines of measurements: real-time data and analysis by capturing and processing all-sky images with a high-resolution camera with a wide field of view, and a zenital radiometer to calculate real-time aerosol optical depth (AOD).
Sommer chose Meteorological Technology World Expo to launch its latest innovation – the IDS-20 ice detection system. The solution automatically and reliably provides data about icing on surfaces and structures by combining ice-detection sensors with meteorological sensors for temperature and humidity. This data can then be used to conduct an integrated plausibility check about the actual icing situation, thereby improving the reliability of the values distributed. “The IDS-20 is a highly efficient tool for various industries where the detection and measurement of ice is critical,” said Christoph Sommer, international sales, Sommer. “Examples include wind power stations, farming, high-voltage power lines, cable cars, and aviation and road traffic control, as well as civil constructions such as bridges, antennas, masts and buildings.”
Conference focuses on public-private partnerships
Conveniently situated on either side of the exhibition hall, Meteorological Technology World Expo’s free-to-attend Mainstream Conference and Breakout Conference generated heated debate and interest, with a noteworthy presentation from Dr Vladimir Jankovic, senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, titled ‘Atmosfear: Is the economy growing more vulnerable to weather?’ and a technology update on low-cost X-band weather radars from David McLaughlin, professor and associate dean at the University of Massachusetts, standing out as particular highlights.
Nearly 40 speakers presented their latest research, thoughts and findings across two streams running the full three days of the event.
The conference also provided a perfect opportunity for the discussion of another key topic: how to foster greater public-private cooperation. The second day hosted a dedicated panel discussion between the HMEI, WMO and the World Bank, focusing on the growing partnership between public/private sectors and the World Bank, with an emphasis on project funding and future plans. Another panel discussion on private/public global weather enterprise took place on the third and final day of the show.
“We’re seeing a change in global weather enterprise, where the public-sector elements are under financial stress, and not able to fund the programmes the way they should,” explained Brian Day, chairman of the Hydro-Meteorological Equipment Industry (HMEI) association. “We have to find a way for the public sector, private enterprise and universities to work better than they have in the past, when the relationship was based more on a ‘vendor-client’ model. We have to now start forming partnerships. There’s been quite a push over the last 18 months towards public-private partnerships, and discussion about that, being led by the World Bank and the WMO.”
Day admitted progress has been too slow, with the industry reluctant to embrace new ways of working: “People by nature don’t want to change; they like the way things are,” he said. “We need to find a common vision for global weather enterprise that encompasses the public, private and university sectors. We’re not there yet. We need to create a vision that everyone can grasp, so we can use it to start to figure out how to build better partnerships. It’s not about one organisation or one group dominating another. I know that is a fear of some of our members, but I think if we can spend the time and articulate what that vision of what a global weather enterprise looks like, we will be able to solve a lot of our problems.”
Call for action
Speaking live from the exhibition floor on the first morning of Meteorology Technology World Expo 2017, HMEI’s Day also used the show as a chance to call for urgent action from the hydromet industry and its customers to better address poorly written and ill-conceived tender specifications that could ultimately be costing nations millions of dollars in wasted resources.
“We’ve been finding over the years that specifications are not well written. They are not written for the purpose they are required, and as a result clients end up with the wrong kind of equipment that’s not fit for their purpose,” said Day. “As an association, we have decided to take on the role of writing tender specifications, working with the World Bank and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).”
The HMEI-led Tender Specifications Initiative aims to create a useful tool to assist WMO members, in particular from developing and least developed countries, in the creation of their tender documentation populated with vendor-neutral specifications from CIMO Guide-8.
“We have now completed the first phase of the first issue of tender specifications for synoptic weather stations,” confirmed Day, live at the expo. “That is now going to go to the WMO, which will work on the specifications and incorporate them – and the tender tool that creates the tender document – on its website, probably in the first quarter of 2018.”
Visitors to Meteorological Technology World Expo 2017 were quick to comment on the show’s unique ability to draw together so many diverse suppliers and innovations under one roof: “We’ve seen a lot of exhibitors that I do not see at similar shows in the USA – we’re very interested in seeing what Europeans, Asians and Australians have to offer,” said Hoover Hodge, operations program manager, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), United States Air Force (USAF). “We’ve seen a lot of new technologies – it’s very interesting, cutting-edge and it’s definitely piqued our interest!”
“We came looking for lidar and sodar devices to help with wind energy assessments for our offshore and onshore wind farms,” said Prateek John, procurement manager for renewable energy company, Vattenfall. “We’ve spoken to a lot of suppliers and we’ve seen a lot of new equipment and new technologies showcased here at the show – it’s been very interesting.”
“I’ve been impressed,” said Frank Clabby, senior meteorological officer, Met Éireann (Irish National Meteorological Service). “My main reason for coming is you have all sorts of meteorological instruments from around the world in one place, and you can see the new products and upgrades that the suppliers are making, and you can see the actual instruments and address company representatives first hand.”
After such a successful show in 2017, the bar has been set particularly high for next year’s expo: the world's largest meteorological event will take place 9-11 October 2018, at the RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands. The 2018 edition has already been boosted with the news that it will play host to the WMO’s CIMO-TECO conference.
To register to attend Meteorological Technology World Expo 2018, click here.
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