Scientists researching weather and climate are always banging on about the need for more rain gauges. And with good reason. With more information about where it rains, and how much, we can better understand climate variability and change, improve weather forecasts, and be more prepared for flood and drought.
Now there might be an answer....umbrellas! In this article, Jonathan Amos shows off an invention from Rolf Hut, to measure rainfall using sensors in umbrellas.
If they work, these umbrellas could dramatically increase the amount of rainfall data available for urban areas. And umbrellas aren't the only way to crowdsource the problem. The article also mentions the possibility of monitoring rainfall using car windscreens, and researchers at Oxford have recently been discussing the potential of DIY rain gauges in developing countries.
Rolf Hut, from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, plans to turn our umbrellas into rain gauges. His prototype smart brolly has a sensor that detects raindrops falling on its canvas, and uses bluetooth to send this information via a phone to a computer.