Scottech have been involved with fire weather monitoring since the first automatic weather stations were installed in the mid-80s.
These systems use an algorithm based on air temperature, humidity, wind speed and rainfall to calculate the fire risk for an area. This then allows rural fire officers to manage their resources efficiently for rapid deployment in the areas at most risk. In addition, real time data provides instant information on changes in wind direction and speed during fire events. Hand held devices also provide portable readings of wind, humidity and temperature.
Data is collected over telephone by forestry companies, the National Rural Fire Authority and other interested parties. This data is then processed to calculate the fire risk for each area and forwarded to Bernie, the little guy who races around the country changing the fire danger signs every day. (Bernie says that this now gives him time to sink back and enjoy a couple of cold ones while the computers do all the number crunching.) In addition to these parameters, additional sensors have been added to gather information of interest to other groups in the area, namely: earth and soil temperature - solar radiation (for PET calculation) - soil moisture
Adding a solar radiation sensor makes it possible to calculate potential evapotranspiration (PET) (using the Penman-Monteith Equation for you soil buffs). This is a useful value to use for irrigation scheduling. Adding the Aquaflex soil moisture sensor allows us to compliment this PET value by measuring the changing actual soil moisture.
When the values are negative the storage is above field capacity and drainage will occur. Field Capacity denotes the soil moisture storage that the profile drains to quickly after saturation has occurred.