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Climate Variability

Countries across the globe have experienced severe weather changes throughout the past few months.

The UK was affected by an extreme heatwave last week, with temperatures rising to a scorching 34 degrees Celsius. This prompted the government to issue a level three amber heat alert and place emergency services on standby.

Meanwhile, 4,255 miles away in the southern states of the USA there were reports of a tropical storm affecting millions of people. To date, this has caused two deaths as a result of the heavy rain and harsh winds.

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A Brief History of Munro

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Munro Instruments was founded in 1864 by Robert William Munro (1839-1912). The company quickly established itself as a world-leading developer and manufacturer of meteorological equipment.

R.W. Munro became particularly well known for his work on anemometers. After the Tay Bridge disaster in 1879, when a rail bridge collapsed during a violent storm, government authorities realised it was important to create an instrument that could reliably indicate wind force. R. W. Munro was commissioned to assist William Henry Dines, a meteorologist, in building the Dines Pressure Tube Anemometer.

Other equipment at that time included mechanical tide gauges, water level recorders and an early seismograph developed in conjunction with Professor John Milne. In 1907, using one of these devices Milne was able to pinpoint the source of a small tremor in London to the west coast of South America.

Outside of meteorology, R.W. Munro developed a range of innovative products for other industries. In 1880, the company was awarded a contract with the Bank of England to construct a machine capable of printing and numbering bank notes. Fourteen machines were made in total that produced deckle-edged banknotes varying from £5 to £1000. They were printed in batches of eight and the machine was capable of printing 3000 notes an hour.

Nowadays, Munro Instruments manufactures a range of environmental monitoring equipment and health-and-safety apparatus. Staying true to our origins, we continue to manufacture a range of anemometers, alongside air samplers pumps (to measure particulate mass concentration) and the British Pendulum Tester (to assess the slip/skid resistance of pedestrian surfaces and roads). We are proud to be continuing the important work of Mr Munro!

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IM159 Anemometer

The IM159 is a precision-built handheld anemometer made from non-ferrous metal. Wind speed readings are shown on an analogue scale calibrated in knots, metres per second or miles per hour. We use a wind tunnel to calibrate the device and can issue a certificate of conformity.

The IM159 Handheld Anemometer is a mechanical instrument and requires no battery or form of electricity. It is manufactured to British Meteorological Office specifications (ref. 23510) and is ideally suited for use as a contingency device in case automated sensors become unavailable. Its primary application is on offshore helidecks (see CAP 437: Standards for Offshore Helicopter Landing Areas).

It is advised that the IM159 is serviced annually to ensure it continues to function optimally and provide accurate readings.

If you would like to receive further information about the IM159 Handheld Anemometer, please get in touch via email ( or phone (+44 (0) 20 8551 7000).

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Airport Observation


Even though modern aircraft are built to withstand extreme weather, it is still important to monitor and forecast the weather in airfields and airports. The weather has a significant effect on their operation during taxiing, take-off and landing, and impacts the safety of all those on board.

Wind condition at airports

At ground level, wind observation helps to determine where, when and how aircraft take off and land. At times of high wind, it may be necessary to cease all air traffic and close the airport. This was the case in October 2016 during Hurricane Matthew when airports in Florida were forced to close.

Wind speed and wind direction should be measured using an automated sensor. The display unit should show instantaneous (real-time) measurements, as well as the 2-minute average, 10-minute average and max/min gusts. Sensors should be installed at multiple locations throughout the airfield. A back-up device, such as a handheld anemometer, is also needed in case of failure or unavailability of automated sensors.

It also necessary to measure temperature and humidity in airfields and airports, as these can affect engine performance.

Since the weather is susceptible to rapid change, meteorological observations must be recorded continuously. This should be done in accordance with national aviation standards.Using meteorological equipment

Airport Observation

If you would like further information our range of meteorological products, please get in touch via email ( or phone (+44 (0) 20 8551 7000).

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The Benefits of Agrometeorology

Productivity in agriculture relies on the weather. The growth and harvest of plants is a response both to genetics and the surrounding environment. With careful planning and research, agrometeorologists help farmers meet the world's demands for food and other agricultural products. Unpredictable weather patterns, because of climate change and other meteorological phenomena, has increased the need for precise weather data Using meteorological equipment

Farmers pay close attention to rainfall. Too much can overexpose and ruin a crop, whereas too little may cause it to dehydrate and die. By predicting the weather farmers can identify when to plant and water a crop. During rainfall they can cover their crop with plastic sheeting and postpone the sowing of other produce.

Measuring soil moisture using a humidity and temperature sensor

In reflection of this, Gambia typically stores their groundnuts outside and if the pods get wet they are highly susceptible to develop aflatoxin, which can completely ruin crop; to avoid this happening farmers cover the nuts with plastic sheeting. More rigorous ways of accessing rainfall link to irrigation which involves taking water balance calculations, estimating the infiltration of water within crop, measuring evapotranspiration and soil moisture. In particular, soil moisture can be measured by using a Soil Moisture & Temperature Sensor and this helps to deduce whether the soil has enough water retained in it to help the crops grow.

Impact on agriculture

Aside from the effects of rainfall, there are many other aspects of meteorology that affect agriculture. Wind and humidity can drastically affect crops through events such as forest fires and by observing these weather issues agriculturalists can control the burning and prevent the spread of fire. This in turn will allow for farming animals to graze on unharmed crops, providing more money to the economy. Moreover wind can also be measured in less endangering occurrences, such as strong gusts, and in such an event fixtures will need to be attached to crops to allow them to stay upright and not damage. Another basic practice which can be implemented into a farmers day to day routine is planting crops near shady areas, such as large trees, and by doing so they can ensure their plants are not overly exposed to sunlight and grow to their full capacity. Therefore, by applying this rationale to farming, farmers can increase yield and produce larger, quality harvests.

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Weather Preparedness

The naming of winter storms, introduced in 2015 as a communication aid, reminds us that the UK is by no means immune to the vagaries of the weather. The Met Office estimates that around £300 million is spent on repairing wind damage each year; in the case of flooding, that number is closer to a billion (source: Guardian).

Weather preparedness is more important than ever

Weather preparedness is more important than ever. We are in the fortunate position of being able to forecast the weather relatively accurately, so why does it keep catching us out? Damaged infrastructure, route impassability, transport delays and hub closures have a major impact on the economy, not to mention public safety. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the country’s ubiquitous flood plains. With plans to increase spending on flood defences, the government is certainly taking steps in the right direction, but there is still great deal more to be done.

warning systems in problem areas

A total solution to the country’s meteorological woes is unlikely. Choppy seas, turbulent skies and sub-zero temperatures will continue to wreak havoc on the nation’s transport systems, kill off livestock and hamper productivity in business and construction. But that is certainly no excuse for inaction. The weather cannot be controlled, but proper preparation and careful management can help mitigate its effects. One solution is to install early warning systems in problem areas. On roads and bridges, weather sensors can be synchronized with variable-message (matrix) signs to warn vulnerable motorists of high crosswinds and slippery surfaces. In agriculture, farmers can be sent SMS notifications from strategically-positioned sensors advising them when to relocate livestock. And in construction a similar set-up can be used to forewarn contractors of unfavourable conditions, preventing them from coming to work unnecessarily and helping to save costs (and lives).

The effect of the weather is felt by all, and it is certainly not enough to rely on forecasted data. Weather monitoring can be used to extremely good effect. Careful analysis of data (both past and present) aids decision-making and can be used by individuals and businesses to overcome dangerous situations and ensure maximum safety and efficiency.

Weather Preparedness

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Climate Resilience

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Gentle-sounding in name, Tropical Cyclone Pam was certainly not to be underestimated. As is so often the case, the weather’s random acts of terror hit the most vulnerable hardest. In 2015 Vanuatu crumpled under Pam’s weight: crops were uprooted, livestock killed, and buildings flattened. She serves as yet another reminder of how fierce and unpredictable extreme weather events can be.

Global climate changes

As the global climate changes, the frequency and intensity of these events is likely to increase. A report by the World Bank estimates that by 2030 325 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia could be trapped in poverty and at even greater risk of meteorological catastrophes [1].

But however disobedient the climate may be, steps can be taken to mitigate its effects. Increasing climate resilience – a buzzword in development parlance – is paramount in this respect. Climate services must be expanded and awareness raised at both local and national levels. In doing so, countries will be better equipped to deal with such catastrophes, helping to alleviate poverty, reduce costs and encourage more prosperous, sustainable living.

The role of meteorology

More effective dissemination of climate information and services is crucial to improve climate resilience. Meteorology is playing an increasingly important role in policymaking and should be integrated into both national and local infrastructure. Agriculture, water resources, health, aviation and tourism are but a small selection of weather-dependent sectors. Neglecting their meteorological ties is a threat to both human life and economic development.

Overcoming the data scarcity in underdeveloped areas is a formidable but essential task. Weather information – both past and present – allows for the creation of climate models, forecasts and early-warning systems, all of which are vital for improving disaster preparedness. For farmers, climate knowledge promotes more effective use of land and resources, thereby increasing food security. For the economy, it allows weather-dependent sectors to go about their business in a safer, more effective manner and, in many cases, bringing them into line with international standards – a prerequisite for industries such as aviation.


The benefits of developing meteorological services are plenty, but near impossible to implement without sufficient funding. The African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), a joint initiative of the WMO and the African Union Commission, is working at the very highest levels to develop a workable meteorological strategy for Africa. The intention is not only to increase sensor coverage but also to provide adequate training in the use of data. A number of charities are working on similar projects.

In many cases, particularly in remote farming communities where weather information is largely unavailable, there must be a suitable interface in place between providers and users of meteorological data. If it is not received in a timely manner or presented in a language and format that is understandable, its relevance is diminished. Projects should aim to supplement traditional farming methods with scientific data from locally managed monitoring equipment. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), to name one example, is working together with small communities, providing them with basic weather instruments to help improve productivity [2]. Data gleaned from these instruments is then used to create localised forecasts and climate predictions. The Met Office in the UK operates similar schemes elsewhere [3].

Crowdsourcing data in this way is an extremely good method of empowering smallholder farmers and spreading vital meteorological knowledge. It encourages transparency and collaboration, is mutually beneficial, and continues to honour traditional farming techniques whilst combining them with important advances in modern science.

Munro Instruments actively supports and participates in climate resilience improvement projects.

[1] ‘Building Resilience: Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk Into Development’, iii.

[2] ‘Traditional Forecasting Meets Science for Climate Risk Management’

Climate Resilience

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Wind Damage


Severe weather is having a devastating effect on ports and harbours around the world. Storm Yohan in Lebanon, to name a recent example, has forced multiple facilities to close. With wind speeds of up to 100 km/h, boats and machinery have been damaged, maritime transport cancelled and fisherman left unable to work. The effect of high wind speed on ports is felt around the world, including in the United Kingdom.

In August last year in the UK, small ports and harbours were given access to a £1.7m government package to help repair weather damage. This is in addition to an earlier £200m fund for weather-affected ports [1].

Two of the key issues in ports and harbours are quay cranes being blown over and ships breaking free from mooring lines. According to the TT Club (a leader in insurance and risk management), around one fifth of port insurance claims are related to high winds knocking over cranes, and 13% to broken mooring lines [2].

These figures illustrate not only how common weather damage to ports is, but also its financial impact – from lost output as well as damage costs. These figures also make for grim reading from a health-and-safety standpoint. Falling cranes and unruly ships are no laughing matter!

Ports and harbours must have procedures in place allowing them to monitor the weather and take preemptive measures. This will minimise the risk of injury and damage. They should aim to document these processes as proof of good practice should any incidents occur. This would satisfy health-and-safety standards and allow them to successfully defend insurance claims.

[1] Cornish Guardian

[2] Hellenic News, ‘When a Foul Wind Blows’

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Marketing the Weather


Imagine being able to use the weather to predict the future. This may sound like the plot of a bad science-fiction film, but this is exactly what retailers and other businesses are doing. The result? The ability to target the right consumer at the right time, increase sales and make millions of pounds’ worth of savings.

The retail industry has only recently started to use meteorological data to make informed decisions based on the connection between consumer spending patterns and the weather. The astounding thing about this is not that businesses are using this data but that it has taken them so long. This is particularly surprising when you consider the obvious relationship between the two. The British Retail Consortium has identified the weather to be the second most important factor to influence public spending. Although retailers have been slow on the uptake, those that have been analysing and using meteorological data have ended up saving millions.

These organisations mainly use the meteorological information available to them to decide what products to sell and how much of it they should stock. Arguably, retailers have been doing this for years. We can after all see that in the summer supermarkets stock more disposable barbeques and sun screen. The data which companies have now started to analyse, however, goes much further than this and looks beyond the more obvious relationships between spending and weather. Tesco, for example, use historic sales and weather data to identify the less obvious but equally valuable consumer trends. From their research they have, found that a 4°C rise in temperature will result in a 42% increase in burger sales. Similarly, a hot day on the weekend would result in a decrease in the sale of green vegetables. It is this ability to predict their stock requirements with such accuracy which has led to Tesco reducing the amount of stock they waste. This has led to savings of £100 million through good supply chain management in 2013.

The value of meteorological data to retail business goes much further than stock management. Meteorological savvy businesses are now using weather patterns to specifically target consumers through real-time advertising. For example, Dapper, a Yahoo owned advertising firm, have used weather predictions to display ads that match the weather in particular regions. If there is a rain storm in a particular area, a user browsing the web might see an advert for a pair of rain boots from their nearest shoe store. On the other hand, someone browsing in sunnier weather may be shown flip-flops. In a world where we are exposed to massive amounts of information, better consumer targeting is becoming increasingly important. Using the weather to provide more relevant marketing messages, in real-time, is a great way to help cut through the white noise.

That the retail sector is now better using meteorological information to its advantage is exciting. However, there is still a lot more work required to understand the true scale of potential benefits to business. Nonetheless, at a time where an in-depth understanding of consumer behaviour means the difference between success and failure, it is clear that the demand for accurate meteorological data is one which is here to stay.