Freewave IoT kit weathers storms at Mount Washington Observatory
Mount Washington Observatory, New Hampshire (Credit: MWO)

Freewave IoT kit weathers storms at Mount Washington Observatory

At the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, rugged, low-power IoT kit from Freewave is helping scientists better understand weather and climate.

The 85-year old Mount Washington Observatory (MWO) is a private, non-profit organisation, that provides critical weather, atmospheric and climate research for national and global forecasting. The Observatory itself is located on the highest peak in the Northeast US, at 6,288 feet (1916m) above sea level.

Part of the Observatory’s role involves gathering daily weather information. This is easier said than done. In the summer, researchers frequently encounter winds gusting at up to 100 miles per hour and penetrating fog. In the winter, they have to contend with sub-arctic temperatures, winds of up to 140 miles per hour, freezing fog, and heavy glaze icing. Weather conditions change often and rapidly. Visibility is often compromised. Researchers have seen ice build at a rate of 12 inches per hour. They jokingly refer to Mount Washington as ‘home of the world’s worst weather.’

Power, distance, reliability

For over 13 years, Mount Washington Observatory has been using equipment from FreeWave, a specialist in machine-to-machine communications in industrial IoT (IIoT) environments, to help with weather monitoring across five remote weather stations.

The deployment of 900 FreeWave FGR and now FGR2 radios help transmit data from a network of 28 sensors and devices across five remote weather stations. These stations and sensors measure temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and ground temperature, and require continuous connectivity to provide real-time weather feeds.

The Mount Washington Observatory weather stations are solar-powered, but only get sun for 40 percent of the year. Consequently, there is a need for year-round, 24-hour connectivity, and the low-power requirements of the FreeWave radios make them well-suited to this harsh environment. “This unforgiving environment is exactly the type of deployment in which our solutions excel,” says Kim Niederman, CEO of FreeWave, which also works with companies in the offshore oil and gas sector, among others.

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Life-saving tech

“As you can imagine, there is little to no room for failure when it comes to our climate monitoring efforts that double as a resource to help save lives during search operations,” says Peter Gagne, ?IT Manager at ?Mount Washington Observatory.

“For more than 13 years, FreeWave’s radios have impressed us with their durability and reliability in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet,” he says. In fact, MWO is so pleased with their performance, he says, that it plans to stick with Freewave when it updates its weather stations in 2018.

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