The Cary Institute Environmental Monitoring Program is a long-term research program. The purpose of the program is to monitor environmental parameters that are affect natural ecosystems. The program includes monitoring of weather and climate, air, precipitation and streamwater chemistry, solar radiation and water, including stream flow and temperature, soil moisture and temperature and sap flow in sugar maples.
The Cary Institute also hosts sites for three additional programs:
- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Ambient Air Monitoring Program, for ground level ozone.
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- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), a program designed to provide long-term homogeneous observations of temperature and precipitation that can be coupled to historical observations for the detection and attribution of climate change.
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- The City University of New York NOAA CREST program for Remote Sensing of Hydro-Meteorological and Land Surface Processes for monitoring soil moisture and freeze/thaw state of surface soils as well as regional soil moisture variability and sap flow in sugar maples.
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The program began in 1984 with collection and chemical analysis of precipitation and stream samples. Equipment to measure stream temperature and height was installed in 1987 although data for most years prior to 1993 are incomplete. Temperature, relative humidity, wind and solar radiation instruments were added to the program in 1987.
Air sampling using low-volume filter packs similar to those used in the US EPA CASTnet program began in 1988. The New York State DEC began measuring ground level ozone at the Cary Institute in 1988. Ultraviolet radiation measurements began in 1999. And the USCRN program began making air temperature, surface temperature, precipitation, wind speed, wetness and solar radiation measurements in October 2004; relative humidity, soil temperature and soil moisture measurements were added in April 2011.
The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is located in the Hudson River Valley near Millbrook, New York, roughly 113 km north of New York City and 24 km east of Poughkeepsie.
Data are often compared with a long-term database from Millbrook School, which is 13 km east of the Cary Institute or with the 1981-2010, 30-year normal data from Poughkeepsie, which is 24 km southwest of the Cary Institute. The precipitation and air chemistry sampling equipment as well as the meteorological and solar radiation instruments are located in a flat, open field at an elevation of 128 m. GPS coordinates for the site are: N41.785823 W073.741447. The station has a small building (9 ft. x 20 ft.), which is shared with the NYS DEC Ambient Air Monitoring Program.
Stream gauging equipment is located on the East Branch of Wappinger Creek in the Fern Glen on the Cary Institute property. Stream samples were collected from 4 locations on the East Branch of Wappinger Creek on the Cary Institute property from 1985 to 1995.
Sample collection was reduced to two locations in 1996. One site is located in the Fern Glen with the gauging equipment (GPS coordinates N 41.78707, W 73.73317) and one site is located in the Lowlands (GPS coordinates N 41.79235 W 73.74937).