Manual precipitation monitoring network

In addition to its automatic precipitation measurements, MeteoSwiss also operates a manual precipitation monitoring network. The network comprises more than 300 locations. Due to their long-series measurements, they are of great climatological significance. In mountainous areas that are difficult to access, around 50 totalisers are used which record the volume of precipitation for an entire year.

As precipitation as a parameter exhibits a very high level of spatial and temporal variability, an especially dense monitoring network is required. In addition to the automatic precipitation measurements, which are taken every ten minutes, precipitation readings are therefore also taken on a daily basis. The stations in the manual precipitation monitoring network are of great climatological significance, as many of these measuring points have existed for many decades. They are particularly valuable for long-term statistics. In the high mountains, measurements are taken using totalisers; these values are usually only recorded once a year.

Due to the increasing need for measurements in real time, automatic precipitation measurement devices are being set up in especially important locations within the monitoring network and operated as part of SwissMetNet, the Swiss ground-level measuring network.

Precipitation monitoring network – daily readings

Im Vordergrund ein Pluviometer, im Hintergrund schneebedeckte Wälder und Berge
Pluviometer which can be used to measure the amount of solid and liquid precipitation.

At these stations, the amount of precipitation is read on a daily basis. The observers record the relevant data every morning at 7:30 a.m. and send this data via SMS to MeteoSwiss, where it is immediately fed into the data warehouse. The following are measured and observed:

  • Amount of precipitation during the last 24 hours in mm
  • Depth of fresh snow during the last 24 hours in cm
  • Total snow depth in cm
  • Type and intensity of precipitation
  • Degree of cloud cover
  • Totaliser monitoring network – annual readings

Totaliser monitoring network – annual readings

Im Bild eine Person beim Leeren des Totalisators, im Hintergrund Berggipfel, die aus dem Nebelmeer ragen
Emptying of a totaliser in the mountains at the end of September.

Totalisers are primarily used in mountainous areas that are difficult to access, and they record the volume of precipitation over an entire year. In the case of some totalisers, semi-annual interim measurements are taken. The amount of precipitation is measured over a 12-month period from the end of September until the end of September the following year (hydrological year). After the annual measurement has been taken, the totalisers are emptied, cleaned and re-filled with a pre-defined volume of water, calcium chloride (frost protection) and Vaseline (evaporation protection).

List and map of locations

The precise locations where manual precipitation measurements are taken can be viewed as a list or on a map of Switzerland:

Further information