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Start of nationwide digitization of analog rain gauging stations in NRW

Since May 2021, the “Water Infrastructure and Digitization” research group at the Institute for Water and Energy Management at Hof University of Applied Sciences (iwe) has been working on a highly topical issue: the aim is to investigate how old rain measuring stations in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, some of which are up to 40 years old, can be brought into the digital age so that forecasts for rain events become more accurate. On the one hand, the technology of modern switching stations that comes into question will be evaluated. On the other hand, it has to be investigated whether the present spatial distribution of the measuring stations will meet the future requirements for an accurate recording of precipitation, which is of high importance especially for dealing with increasing heavy rainfall events and dry periods

Prof. Günter Müller-Czygan, head of the research group “Water Infrastructure and Digitization” and
Dr. Julia Frank, research associate of the research group; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences and private;

In addition to water management, agriculture, for example, should also benefit from the research results. The data collection and processing to date does not allow any statements to be made with regard to the water requirements for a dynamic use of agricultural land that is adapted to local conditions. However, this is necessary in order to make the best possible use of the available agricultural land and at the same time to sustainably protect water resources and avoid pollutant inputs into groundwater

The creation of the necessary data basis is part of the new project “DMeStHyA” (development of a digital measurement and control system for hydrometeorological applications, application-related upscaling with practical testing in the field) with its almost five-year duration. The kick-off meeting already took place at the end of May. Project partners are the State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia (LANUV NRW) and HST Systemtechnik GmbH from Meschede.

Expansion of the measuring network with the latest measuring technology

The hydrometeorological measuring network of LANUV NRW already consists of 300 measuring points and the lysimeter facility in St. Arnold. Lysimeters are used to record parameters of the water cycle and to balance them under standardized conditions

Model of the lysimeter facility in St. Arnold (North Rhine-Westphalia); Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Among other things, the lysimeter is used to determine the seepage rate for the determination of the groundwater and soil water balance as well as the material balance as a function of soil, rock, vegetation, local climate and other boundary conditions. In addition, the lysimeter data are used to record interactions and mass transports between the atmosphere, plants, soil, fauna and groundwater. Climatological measurement data recorded at the same site are also required for this purpose

Recording the amount of leachate; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences

The measurement network not only provides the data for the flood information service, but also has potential for the collection of basic data that will enable the balancing and evaluation of nitrate input by agriculture into groundwater and thus sustainable nitrate management. The data obtained will be transferred to a cloud-based decision management system, where it will be made available to authorities, farmers and other decision-makers.

A view of the system from above; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

The lysimeter facility in St. Arnold – something very special

The aim ofDMeStHyA” is, on the one hand, to standardize the setup and operation of hydrometeorological measuring stations. First, the digital equipment of the measuring network with the latest measuring technology is carried out by HST. The lysimeter facility in St. Arnold is to be upgraded to a climate reference station according to the standards of the German Weather Service (DWD)

The lysimeter facility in St. Arnold is something very special: Not only has data been collected almost without interruption for 60 years, there are only six such lysimeter facilities of comparable size in the world. Two of them are in Germany, the rest in the USA and Canada.

Prof. Günter Müller-Czygan, Research Group Leader

In the project, the lysimeter data will be used to build and verify artificial intelligence (AI) models. On the other hand, the acquired data will be tapped directly at the sensor and transferred to a cloud by generating an interface via SDI12 transmission to optimize digital data acquisition and its provision. This represents an initial prototype development. This requires the development of a concept for the design and equipment of the measurement points as well as the entire measurement network. The potential of upscaling to other measurement networks will then be assessed in a next step as well as the possible integration of further measurement networks. All work performed will be transferred to a digital operating system for documentation.

The iwe is in the thick of it

InDMeStHyA”, the Water Infrastructure and Digitization Research Group is responsible for scientific support. This includes, among other things, the evaluation and economic assessment of digitization standards, the evaluation of the measurement network density and the data plausibility check as well as analysis of organization-related efficiency gains as a result of digitization. On the other hand, the project tasks also include the preparation of reports and the transfer of knowledge from other R&D projects, the organization of quarterly status meetings including the taking of minutes, and the preparation of annual interim reports.

Dr. Julia Frank
Prof. Günter Müller-Czygan

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