Chichester Harbour Education has two weather stations, which monitor conditions in the middle of the harbour (Cambermet) and at the harbour entrance.
You can see what conditions are like today, but there is also an archive so you can collect information about previous days too. Chimet monitors wind speed and direction, the height of the tide, the size and frequency of waves, the temperature of the sea and the air and the barometric pressure.
Wind speed is measured in knots. These are nautical miles, and slightly longer than a land mile. The Beaufort Scale is also used for describing wind strength. It starts at Force 0 which is when there is no wind and goes up to Force 12 which is a hurricane.
Why is weather so important to sailors?
For the South Coast of England, average temperatures are predicted to rise in the next 75 years by up to 4.7 C. Winters will be wetter, but summers might only get half the normal rainfall resulting in more droughts. Sea level may be up to 84cm higher on the most extreme tides. Thunderstorms and gales may become more frequent.
However, this is just a prediction and it is dependent on the Gulf Stream (a current of warm water) continuing to flow up the west coast of the UK. If it stopped then our climate might become much colder.
The change in climate will be reflected in the types and quantities of plants and animals found in the harbour, such as more blanket growths of weed and green algae causing problems, or exciting visits from unusual birds or marine life. Changes can already be seen in the seasons, with spring flowers blooming earlier and leaves staying longer on the trees in autumn.
Over 1,142 hectares of low lying land are at risk of flooding. As sea level rises many of the coastal habitats such as mud flats, saltmarsh will be ‘squeezed’ against the sea defences and the erosion at East Head is likely to increase. There will also be problems for businesses and land owners around the harbour with the inevitable conflict between manmade coastal defences and the conservation of the natural environment.
Global warming is happening. If we can reduce the amount of energy we use from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) then the earth might not warm up quite so much. However, this will need big reductions. Cars, lorries, and aeroplanes make a big contribution to global warming. Unfortunately warmer weather might encourage more visitors to the coast!