Sydney's population is predicted to grow by 30% within the next twenty years, bringing the city's total population to nearly 7 million people (Australian Bureau of Statistics  Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101). This rapid population growth, anticipated to be predominantly focused on Sydney's semi-rural fringes, promotes increasing urbanisation which can adversely impact regional temperature and air quality.
Urbanisation can modify the climate in cities resulting in the urban heat island (UHI) effect, where urban areas are often warmer then their rural surroundings. Consequently, city residents may experience the effects of both global changes (e.g., climate change) and regional changes, such as the UHI. Poor air quality can also be a significant problem in many cities. However, both temperature and air quality can vary greatly within cities themselves (even within an individual suburb) due to differences in land-use, transport infrastructure, architecture, and the overall geography of the city. Currently there too few meteorological and air quality observational sites to adequately monitor the effects of urbanisation on local weather and air quality or to capture the variability from suburb to suburb.
SWAQ will equip schools across Sydney with research-grade meteorology and air quality sensors, enabling students to collect and analyse research quality data through curriculum-aligned classroom activities. The data will be freely available to the public, students and researchers alike, helping to maintain awareness of local weather and air quality conditions, and to contribute cutting-edge research into cleaner and healthier cities.
installing weather and air quality monitoring stations
Participating schools in targeted areas will have state-of-the-art weather and air quality monitoring equipment installed in a safe and accessible location on or near school grounds. Each weather station is fitted with temperature, humidity and wind sensors along with WiFi networking capabilities to transmit data. The project will provide a combination of weather station networks and hands-on outreach activities with sensors to optimise data collection and STEM engagement impact.
Promoting STEM education and learning
Having a community based project creates opportunity for all to learn. From data collection, technical, science and information sheets, to urban weather maps and data visualisation tools hosted on our website, this project gives people from all walks of life the ability to learn about their changing urban climate.
providing data for urban climate research
Collecting high-quality data means that researchers can use it to perform rigorous analysis for publication in leading international scientific journals. Everyone from students to professional scientists will be able to contribute to innovative research that contributes to positive change to our cities.