Scottish weather is often dreich, but never dull. We subconsciously include a daily weather observation in our pleasantries, which is not surprising considering its bearing in all aspects of life and the general mood of the nation. Taking this obsession a step further, there is a long tradition of measuring rainfall by the public. As well as being an interesting hobby, the data is very useful and SEPA is keen to encourage members of the public, schools and businesses to begin rainfall observing to help capture Scotland complex rainfall patterns.

Grant Kennedy, Hydrometric Specialist, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
April 11, 2018

SEPA and the Met Office now coordinate this network of public rainfall observers and each individual raingauge contributes to developing a complete picture of rainfall. The data has many uses. For example, it helps inform decisions about licencing water abstraction from rivers ensuring that river ecology isn’t affected. The data also feeds into the Met Office’s national rainfall archive and the maps they publish, which show changes in rainfall through time. This archive is used by government bodies, industry and researchers to inform weather and flood forecasting, long-term climate research and water resource management.

Get involved

Anyone can start rainfall observing. All that is required is a raingauge and access to some open space such as a garden or allotment. You’ll also need to register on the Rainfall observer portal, which is open to any person, school or organisation that is interested in collecting rainfall data. On the portal you’ll find all the information you need to get started along with information about recording, sharing and analysis of your rainfall observations. There’s also some top tips for rainfall observers on the SEPA website.

Rainfall observing is an excellent way to get engaged with science. It’s an easy activity, suitable for all ages and involves a number of skills that can be incorporated into school teaching plans. And the commitment and interest demonstrated by participants is a positive avenue for personal development.

For more information about becoming a rainfall observer, please contact

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