More automated weather stations installed in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 July) – More automated weather stations (AWS) will be installed in Mindanao this year: at least 11 in the Davao region — eight in Davao City and three in Davao Oriental this month; and nine more in Cagayan de Oro next month.

The project, a partnership of the Manila Observatory, Shell and SMART Communications with local government units and universities, is in support of the Manila Observatory’s expansion of its network of AWS, “an established system of standalone devices that can accurately record temperature and humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, as well as rainfall,” organizers said at the Seminar on Climate Resilience held at the Marco Polo hotel Thursday.

The project aims to install a total of 50 AWS nationwide, in Metro Manila, Iloilo, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, with Shell donating the AWS and offering its gas stations and oil depots as sites and Smart to provide technology in data transmission.

With the installation of the additional AWS, information gathered will enhance the Manila Observatory’s urban risk and resilience analysis, as well as its regional and local climate system research.

Based in the Ateneo de Manila University, the Manila Observatory has 40 AWS in Metro Manila. In Mindanao, the Manila Observatory has existing stations in Dahilayan, Bukidnon; Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro; Matina Hills in Davao City; Notre Dame of Marbel in Koronadal City; and Ateneo de Zamboanga in Zamboanga City.

The Manila Observatory-Shell-Smart’s first AWS in Mindanao was unveiled at the Shell retail station, Hi-Serve, along the Diversion Road in Davao City’s Barangay Cabantian at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 10.

The ten other AWS sites that will be installed this month are in Shell’s Sasa Depot; the Shell retail stations in Purok 16, National Highway in Calinan; Diversion Road in Langub; MacArthur Highway in Ulas, Talomo; Bago Aplaya in Talomo; Matina Aplaya; Carpenter St. in Agdao; and “three partner sites to be determined in Davao Oriental.”

The AWS network is intended to directly benefit the LGUs in their climate and disaster resilience planning.


Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, Manila Observatory’s Executive Director, said the project is “an effort to detect how rainfall and other weather parameters are actually impacting Davao City.”

She noted the trend in coastal urbanization, with Davao City identified by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as among 12 metropolitan areas for investment.

Loyzaga said it is important for the business community as well as the public to get a better understanding of “how climate is in fact impacting their current and future business and how this impacts economic development of Davao City.”

She cited the “need to establish a better basis for planning, implementing inclusive growth strategies decreasing the gap in income and actually building a resilience that is both social and physical for the city.”

In order to contribute resilience to the city and to achieve social stability, Loyzaga said they are looking at “development patterns involving the physical set-up which is your actual topography, your weather, your long time climate… health organization, economic and social sector altogether as one system, so hopefully the data that we are able collect can fit into the food security and agriculture needs of the city as well as other sustaining systems to the local economy but also to the response needs for certain communities, for example in terms of the need to evacuate preemptively because of understanding the thresholds of the rainfall in terms of flooding. These are just some uses of the data.”

Sankie Simbulan, Social Performance Manager and Leade for Shell Powering Progress Together Project, said the project is “a concrete manifestation of that collaboration” of various sectors, among them from government, business, academe, media, young leaders.

Localized weather measurements

Dr. James Simpas, head of the Manila Observatory’s Air Quality Dynamics Program, Instrumentation and Technology and Development Program, noted the importance of expanding the network of “localized weather measurements,” as he explained that “remotely sensed (satellite) rainfall cannot yet capture local rainfall accurately.”

Measuring the amount of rainfall through the AWS can help the public prepare for possible floods, among others.

“AWS allows us to understand why these things happen,” he said.

He also explained that “global observations via satellite provide the big picture but are difficult to downscale to capture local effects.”

The AWS that the project installs is a Davis Vantage Pro 2 Plus with solar and UV sensor, wind vane, anemometer, rain gauge, temperature and humidity sensor. It also has a console receiver and data display that is installed indoors, which transmits data from the AWS wirelessly to the Manila Observatory.

Accessing data

Data from the AWS can be accessed through the Manila Observatory’s Weather Watch Initiative, and lists 20 stations in Mindanao, including the Shell station, Hi-Serve. The other stations are Ateneo de Zamboanga University in Zamboanga City; PCIC-Dumingag in Zamboanga del Sur; Xavier University WS1 in Cagayan de Oro City; TM1 M2 in Butuan City; Jabonga Automated Weather Station in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte; Mainit in Surigao del Norte; Claver in Surigao del Sur; Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon; Parasat CATV, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon; HBC Guianga in Tugbok District, Calinan, Davao City; UM Weather Station 01 in Davao City; Vizacaya in Tagum City; TMI M1 in Davao del Norte; Pigcawayan in North Cotabato; lafrutera1 in Buluan, Maguindanao; Notre Dame of Marbel University in South Cotabato; Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat and D11 in Maasim, Sarangani.

Haydee Bernabe, head of SMART Communications’ Public Affairs office in Mindanao, said this is not the first time her company is a partner in the installation of AWS.

She said they have a tie-up with the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in the installation of nine AWS in Mindanao – in Sison, Surigao del Norte; Tago, Surigao del Sur; Rosario, Agusan del Sur; Magdum, Tagum City; Iligan City in Lanao del Norte; Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat and three towns in Bukidnon: Manolo Fortich, Talakag and Baungon.

Project NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH), launched by the Department of Science and Technology, also has a network of at least 30 AWS across Mindanao. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)