Hydrometeorological monitoring using opportunistic sensing networks in the Amsterdam metropolitan area

L.W. De Vos*, A.M. Droste, M.J. Zander, A. Overeem, H. Leijnse, B.G. Heusinkveld, G.J. Steeneveld, R. Uijlenhoet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Several opportunistic sensors (private weather stations, commercial microwave links and smartphones) are employed to obtain weather information and successfully monitor urban weather events.
The ongoing urbanisation and climate change urges further understanding and monitoring of weather in cities. Two case studies during a 17-day period over the Amsterdam metropolitan area, the Netherlands, are used to illustrate the potential and limitations of hydrometeorological monitoring using non-traditional and opportunistic sensors. We employ three types of opportunistic sensing networks to monitor six important environmental variables: (1) air temperature estimates from smartphone batteries and personal weather stations; (2) rainfall from commercial microwave links and personal weather stations; (3) solar radiation from smartphones; (4) wind speed from personal weather stations; (5) air pressure from smartphones and personal weather stations; (6) humidity from personal weather stations. These observations are compared to dedicated, traditional observations where possible, although such networks are typically sparse in urban areas. First we show that the passage of a front can be successfully monitored using data from several types of non-traditional sensors in a complementary fashion. Also we demonstrate the added value of opportunistic measurements in quantifying the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect during a hot episode. The UHI can be clearly determined from personal weather stations, though UHI values tend to be high compared to records from a traditional network. Overall, this study illustrates the enormous potential for hydrometeorological monitoring in urban areas using non-traditional and opportunistic sensing networks.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Early online date29 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020


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