aspirated shields at the Climate Reference Network station

Environmental Monitoring Program

Our program is designed to understand how the environment changes over time. Long-term monitoring lets us evaluate legislation aimed at controlling pollution and climate change. We monitor temperature and precipitation, as well as variables related to air pollution, such as acid rain, air quality, and streamwater chemistry. We also measure solar radiation (including UV).

Weather & Climate

Weather & Climate

According to NOAA’s, National Weather Service climate is the composite of weather conditions of a region, while weather is the state of the atmosphere at a given point in time. In order to understand climate for a region, weather data must be collected in a consistent manner over a long period of time. The Cary Institute maintains a fully outfitted weather station at its campus in Millbrook, NY. The long-term data from this station can be used to understand our changing climate.

For access to data go to Archived Data, Data Summaries or Real Time Data.



Our Weather Station

The Cary Institute monitors weather data at a state-of-the-art weather station. The station was installed in 1983 and expanded in 2004 with the addition of a NOAA Climate Reference Network (CRN) station. In addition to temperature and precipitation data, we collect a diverse array of solar radiation data as well as relative humidity, wind speed and direction at 10 meters height and atmospheric pressure. Our most recent addition is a CO2 monitor, which allows us to track changes in atmospheric CO2 on a fine scale. The CRN station provides temperature and precipitation data as well as soil moisture and temperature, surface temperature, wetness, solar radiation and wind speed at 1.5 meters.

For a complete description of measurements, please see the meta data. In addition to the CRN, we also host the NY DEC for ground-level ozone monitoring and CUNY NOAA CREST Program for Remote Sensing of Hydro-Meteorological and Land Surface Processes.


Solar Radiation

Among the important measurements we make to understand our climate and atmosphere are measurements of solar radiation including ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Excess UV radiation can cause sunburn and skin cancer.  It is controlled by a very important layer of our upper atmosphere called the Ozone Layer.  We often refer to ozone as good ozone or bad ozone.  We need the ozone layer in our upper atmosphere to block UV radiation, but ozone that forms in the atmosphere around us from automobile and industrial pollution, exacerbates asthma and other breathing problems. 

At the Cary Institute, we monitor ground-level ozone as well as ozone in our upper atmosphere via UV radiation. We monitor other solar radiation in wavelengths that are important for photosynthesis and energy dynamics of plants and natural ecosystems.  All of this gives us an understanding of our climate and the environment around us.


web cam

Image from the webcam mounted
on the Cary Institute's
Plant Science Building


The effects of climate change can be seen in the timing of development  and regular changes  in plants and animals. This timing of this development is called “phenology”.

The phenology of leaves, flowers and seeds of plant species varies from year to year. To understand how climate change affects the phenology of plant species, The Cary Institute participates in two programs, the USA National Phenology Program (USA-NPN) and the PhenoCam Project

We monitor the leaf, flower and seed development as well as leaf color development  and leaf fall in the autumn for five tree species at the Cary Institute.  In addition, a camera mounted on our main research building provides real-time automated, near-surface remote sensing of canopy phenology at the Cary Institute.

View latest image from Web Cam >>.

Citizen Science

We've expanded our phenology monitoring to include a citizen science-based program in our Fern Glen. This program is a collaborative effort with the New York Phenology Project (NYPP) and the Environmental Monitoring & Management Alliance (EMMA).

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer citizen scientist, please contact Vicky Kelly at or 845-677-7600 ext. 174.



Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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