There was an interesting story in Tuesday's New York Times about a unique weather station in upstate New York next to the Mohonk House resort. Most cooperative observer stations move over time, or the area around them is built up, or the observers and observing methods change. Not so at Mohonk.
At Mohonk, the weather observations are done as they were 112 years ago, and only a handful of people have recorded the over 41,000 readings. Plus Mohonk has an extensive database of wildlife sightings, a 77-year record of Mohonk Lake water quality, and an 83-year record of local phenology (the timing of events such as frost, blooms and migrations) – all observed by the same handful of people. This makes the site's data uniquely valuable:
- Mohonk House's records were used in Environmental Defense Fund's successful effort to reduce acid rain.
- In the 1950s, Mohonk House stopped using the pesticide DDT, because careful daily observations suggested it was killing local wildlife. (Winning a national ban on DDT was Environmental Defense Fund's first campaign.)
- The phenological data lets researchers track the effects of climate change on various species. (For more, see Bill's post on shifts in lifecycle timing.)
Local phenology records are extremely valuable, and can be fun to collect and explore. Project Budburst is a network of "citizen scientists" observing phenological events. Do you participate, or would you like to? Share your thoughts and stories here!
This post is by Lisa Moore, Ph.D., a scientist in the Climate and Air program at Environmental Defense Fund.