Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Center-City Baltimore Weather Observations: Opportunities and Challenges
Heisler, Gordon
Co-Authors: Gordon Heisler, Ian Yesilonis, Kenneth Belt, Richard Pouyat, Katalin Szlaecz, Yuliya Savva, Peter Groffman, David Nowak, Claire Welty, Emma Noonan, Hang Ryeol Na, Andrew Lee, Dan Dillon, and Bess Caplan
Abstract: Weather observations in central Baltimore interest BES investigators in several related studies. Data such as precipitation, air temperature and humidity are important in studies of human thermal comfort and health, biogeochemical processes in soils and water, urban stormwater runoff, microbiological growth and survival, ozone formation, and tree planting and mortality. Some of these issues are studied in the Watershed 263 project, a partnership of Baltimore Department of Public Works with Parks & People Foundation (PPF), the Forest Service (USFS), and BES. In other research, the USFS is developing methods to model the pattern of air temperatures across the Baltimore region, and observations within the city are critical to developing and validating the models. In collaboration with IES and the Forest Service, Johns Hopkins University is using weather data, some from their downtown Baltimore campus, in the development of statistical models of soil temperatures. BES is collaborating with the PPF in the after-school education program, KidsGrow, in which study of weather is part of the curriculum. The KidsGrow schools, Franklin Square Elementary School and Harlem Park School are within Watershed 263. Weather instrumentation installed and maintained by the Forest Service at Franklin Park School will add both knowledge and excitement to the KidsGrow program. This poster will display some comparisons of weather variables between locations and some trends in long- term observations of weather including data from the National Weather Service, BES precipitation measurements, Weatherbug school-weather stations, the USFS instruments at Franklin Square E.S., and a station recently installed at Johns Hopkins. Some of these are new, inexpensive instrument packages, and it is a challenge to determine whether durability and accuracy are sufficient for research purposes. The poster will compare the performance of some inexpensive systems with more robust but also more expensive instruments. It will also point out the challenge of choosing representative sites for weather instruments and understanding the wide range of distances over which urban structures influence atmospheric conditions.