Rainfall

Rainfall monitoring provides valuable information that helps protect Scotland’s environment and the health and safety of its people.

Recording rainfall is crucial to a number of national services, including weather and flood forecasting.

It involves measuring and recording the amount of rainfall at a network of fixed points over a period of time.

In addition to informing us in our day-to-day work in protecting and maintaining our water environment, the information gathered by measuring rainfall over long periods helps us to form a better picture of what is happening to Scotland’s climate and to plan accordingly for the future.

Why is rainfall monitored?

Rainfall can provide vital information about short and long-term local, national and international climate trends and predictions.

Short-term rainfall monitoring helps inform decisions such as the issuing of flood warnings and notifying the public of water quality conditions at bathing beaches. Other possible uses include informing farmers and growers when to water their crops.

Reliable long-term records help scientists to build computer models that then inform the work of governments, agencies and organisations working to manage and protect the environment, learn about climate change, develop policy, secure our water supplies, and ensure the health and safety of communities on a long-term basis.

How is the information gathered?

Our team of hydrologists plays a key role in monitoring rainfall levels around the country.

We manage a network of 390 rain gauges throughout Scotland which produces over 142,000 days of rainfall data a year. This time series data is essential for understanding trends and environmental change.

How is the information used?

Our hydrologists use the data collected from this network of stations for applications such as water resource management and flood forecasting.

The information we gather feeds into the Met Office’s national rainfall archive, which provides a valuable source of data from across the UK relating to rainfall.

This data is then used to inform weather and flood forecasting, climatology and water resource management.

Rainfall monitoring also adds to our body of work on water levels.

Can I get involved?

Of the 390 sites within our current network, 130 of these sites are currently run by voluntary members of the public, known as ‘rainfall observers’.

Observers measure and record the accumulated rainfall from their gauge daily and return the data to us every month for processing and entry into our database and the national archive.

Several of our rainfall observers have been taking measurements and contributing to our records for many years.

Contact us

For more information about rainfall monitoring or how to become a volunteer rainfall observer, please contact us.