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Public-images-osm logo.svg monitoring:weather
Mildura Airport Weatherstation.jpg
Facility that monitors weather. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: man made
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: in use

monitoring:weather=yes is used in combination with man_made=monitoring_station to indicate a facility that monitors weather. Meteorological monitoring networks are often operated by government agencies, but there is also an increasing number of stations operated by private agencies or even by hobby-meteorologists. While private monitoring stations may not adhere to the on-the-ground or verifiability rules of OSM, official stations do. In the following the focus lies on official stations.

Locating stations

Government stations can often be found near government facilities such as schools, government and infrastructure facilities, airports etc.  WMO recommends to conduct temperature measurements above cutted grass with no close significant thermal radiation sources (sealed ground such as concrete or asphalt, glass facades, heating facilities, cars and trucks) nearby. Often stations can be found at open spots with grass surface a bit away from other facilities. Often stations have a fence around them, which is visible on the aerial imagery.

It is sufficient to mark the station as node (areas are also possible, relations should be avoided) matching the  Stevenson screen, which is visible as big white spot on the aerial image. It is not necessary and often counterproductive to tag every single measurement instrument as separate monitoring station.

Finding station identifiers

WMO recently launched OSCAR/Surface (Observing Systems Capability Analysis and Review Tool) that aims to replace the old WMO Volume A station inventory. You can search for stations and get their metadata. Please note that the identifier displayed there under "WMO index No" represents the ref:wigos=* identifier but not the old WMO station identifier ref:wmo=*. The WMO station identifier is often part of the WIGOS identifier as last 5 digits.

Mandatory Tags

These tags are essential to define this station as monitoring the weather.

Important Tags

If known, these tags should definitely being added as they add valuable information.

  • name=* - stations normally have the name of the city/town or facility (airport) where they are located, this name should be always in the country's language and alphabet (e.g. Палић for Serbian station 13067)
  • int_name=* - provide a transliteration/romanization for name=* if necessary (e.g. Palić for Палић), in addition add a proper name:lang_translit tag to specify the transliteration scheme used (see also Multilingual_names)
  • ref:wmo=* - WMO associates a unique  id to each registered station (e.g. 11035). To each country a range of ids is allocated. This id makes it possible to map transmitted weather data to a particular station.
  • ref:wigos=* - The above mentioned WMO station identifier is currently phased out and being replaced by the WIGOS (WMO Integrated Global Observing System) identifier.
  • ref=* - if no ref:wmo is available, other identifiers used to associate data with the station.
  • ref:icao=* -  ICAO associates a unique  identifier to each airport (e.g. LOWW). The first two characters identify the region and often also the country. If the station is located at an airport this identifier should be added since  METARs contain this identifier and this allows to map them to a particular station.
  • ele=* - elevation information helps in performing reducing pressure values to mean sea level for comparability (see  Mean sea level pressure for details).

Note on callsigns: Some agencies use callsigns for their non-airport stations that mimic the ICAO codes. These should NOT be tagged with ref:icao=*. Instead another key ref:*=* should be used, if these callsigns need to be added. Often this is not necessary as they have only local importance.

Note on elevation information: Often station listings mention two different types of elevation information (WMO calls it Hp - elevation of the station - and Hha - ground elevation or altitude of aerodrome). Often the barometer is located within the Stevenson screen so the two values deviate only by few meters (as temperature is measured 2m above ground). Sometimes the barometer is somewhere else e.g. on the roof of a building, so there could be more deviation. For ele=* always the ground elevation (or Hha) should be used as this corresponds to the normal usage on OSM.

Helpful Tags

  • operator=* - mentioning the operating agency helps in classifying stations, abbreviations should be used
  • fixme=* - indicating necessary improvements, if data is missing or if position is not precise etc. (e.g. fixme=resurvey if position is not exact).


Weather monitoring stations normally monitor more than one parameter at once. There are  radar stations, dedicated stations for monitoring precipitation (often operated by hydrological agencies and often measuring also temperature for differentiating between rain and snow),  radiosonde locations and normal weather stations (which often measure temperature, humidity, pressure, precipitation, wind and sun duration). Standard monitored parameters may differ between countries. An overview over instruments of a common U.S. airport station can be found  at wikipedia.

Atmospheric Pressure

Cloud Base

  • weather:ceilometer=yes - a  ceilometer is used to monitor the height of a cloud base (it is also possible to monitor aerosol concentration). This instrument is often used at airports.


  • weather:humidity_sensor=yes - to measure relative humidity, often capacitive or resistive sensors that are cheaper than psychrometers (see below) are used in private weather stations. Psychrometers are often used in official monitoring stations.
  • weather:psychrometer=yes - a  psychrometer is used to monitor dew point temperature and compute relative humidity, mostly located within the Stevenson screen; most sophisticated automated solutions use  chilled mirror dewpoint psychrometers, cheaper humidity sensors include capacitive or resistive sensors (see above).


  • weather:lightning_detector=yes - a  lightning detector monitors lightning activity by observing the arrival of electro-magnetic waves produced by lightning at the detectors and calculating runtime differences to compute locations. Lightning detectors are often separate from normal weather stations and are also often operated by different agencies (e.g. ALDIS in Austria is a joint venture of the Austrian power transmission grid provider and the Austrian electrotechnical association).


  • weather:rain_gauge=yes or weather:ombrometer=yes - a  Rain_guage monitors rain fall. The words 'rain gauge' are readily recognised by an English speaker, where as 'ombrometer' is rarely used (ref Oxford English Dictionary). For these reasons weather:rain_gauge=yes should be preferred over weather:ombrometer=yes
  • weather:precipitation_indicator=yes - stations often use infrared beams to determine if there is currently falling precipitation. Some instruments may also be able to distinguish between types of preciptiation. Precipitation indicators can be necessary in cases where precipitation amount is too low to be recognized by ombrometers.
  • weather:radar=yes -  weather radar is used to monitor the horizontal and/or vertical distribution and/or rate as well as the type (rain, snow, hail) of precipitation.
  • weather:snow_height_sensor=yes - automated snow height sensors operate with ultrasound or laser.

Solar/Direct/Atmospheric radation (Sun Duration)

  • weather:pyranometer=yes - a  pyranometer is used to monitor solar irradiance. This instrument is often mounted on a pole or tower. Sunshine duration can be computed from irradiance values (exceeding 120 W/m2).
  • weather:pyrgeometer=yes - a  pyrgeometer is used to monitor atmospheric infra-red radiation. It measures downward long wave radiation and so a radiation balance between surface and atmosphere can be computed.
  • weather:pyrheliometer=yes - a  pyrheliometer is used to monitor direct beam solar irradiance. This instrument is often mounted on a pole or tower and has to track the sun's path. Using this instrument for monitoring sunshine duration is more exact than computing it from pyranometer values (see above).
  • weather:sunshine_recorder=yes a  sunshine recorder is used to monitor sunshine duration either by burning a slip of paper or by using photodiodes.

Air/Ground/Soil Temperature

Vertical Layering of Atmosphere

  • weather:radiosonde=yes -  radiosondes are basically weather balloons to monitor the vertical layering of the atmosphere. Radiosonde locations are often at airports as the vertical structure there is important for landing or starting aircraft. Radiosondes monitor different variables at once (such as temperature, pressure, wind speed/direction). Often they are tracked through GPS or radar. Radar for tracking radiosondes may look like precipitation radar on aerial imagery (like the radiosonde radar at Wien-Hohe Warte).



  • weather:anemometer=yes - to monitor wind speed and wind direction (not necessary to differentiate between wind speed and wind direction as the professional standard are now  ultrasonic anemometers which monitor both variables by design). Often located on a pole or tower as wind is monitored 10 m above ground.

Naming and instrument used

There are two ways of indicating the equipment of a weather station: naming the instruments or naming the variables that are monitored.

The variable measured is of primary interest, easily determined by a local mapper. Advances in technology may find the instrument replaced but the variable measured remains the same. The resultant update is in general of little interest to the general community.

However naming variables (e.g. precipitation) it may be difficult to distinguish between precipitation indicators, ombrometers and also precipitation radars. Second, naming instruments captures also quality differences as e.g. psychrometers are more exact than capacitive or resistive humidity sensors. For indication of equipment used possibly instrument:technology=capacitive/resistive/laser/* and others could be used. Or in place of using the value 'yes' the instrument could be stated e.g. weather:humidity=psychrometer. There are possibilities to map both.

This should be discussed on the Tagging mailing list. or on the discussion page. See for an example of rain gauge discussion.

Other possible keys