Our System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) is important for so many reasons and we all understand and value the data we get from it. However, what happens when SWMP stations are in the path of some monumental natural events? Turns out that gets really interesting!
Research Coordinator Jude Apple from Oregon’s Padilla Bay Reserve was fascinated by the real-time data feeds coming in during the solar eclipse and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He did the fantastic work of compiling the most interesting data stories and sharing them through Twitter because as he says, “real-time #NERRS data provides another eye into the storm.”
Over half of our reserves were in the path of the SOLAR ECLIPSE on August 21 and the SWMP data for PAR (sunlight) and air temperature tell a very interesting story.
- Effect of eclipse on PAR (sunlight) and temperature at Padilla Bay.
- You can also see a consistent mid-morning dip in PAR. Any guesses what caused this? Hint: It’s not clouds.
- The effect of the eclipse is also seen in air temperature among the west coast NERRS, but not as pronounced.
HURRICANE HARVEY made a near direct landfall over the Mission-Aransas Reserve on August 25th and brought with it some intriguing data that the reserve’s meteorological station collected before it was damaged. The reserve suffered serious damage to its buildings and facilities but thankfully no one was hurt. To help them recover, please visit our Giving Page.
- Wind speed and barometric pressure at Mission-Aransas during Harvey before their meteorological station stopped collecting data, max wind speed recorded was 120 mph.
And as HURRICANE IMRA passed by/over Jobos Bay, Rookery Bay, GTM and Apalachicola reserves. You can see the signature of this event by the changes in barometric pressure, wind speed, and sometimes water level captured at the reserves’ meteorological stations. Thankfully, all of the reserve facilities were spared serious damage and everyone is safe!
- Effect of Irma on the Jobos Bay Reserve, with a drop in barometric pressure and elevated wind speed as Irma passes to the north of the Reserve:
- Irma passes Rookery Bay Reserve (almost a direct hit) and wind speed peaks at 60mph before data collection fails.
- Later that day, Irma heads north through Florida to the GTM Reserve.
These natural events are harrowing. From a data perspective they are also intriguing. Thanks to SWMP and (and folks like Jude) we have this data and these stories to tell. He points out that this data and looking at these trends can provide the basis for students to explore online data, learn more about relevant issues and build data literacy skills. We couldn’t agree more—thank you, Jude!