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).

Solar Radiation

Solar Radiation

Among the important measurements we make to understand our climate and atmosphere are measurements of solar radiation. We have been monitoring solar radiation since 1988 with a diverse array of sensors including diffuse and global photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), diffuse and global shortwave radiation, net radiation and UV.

Long-term monitoring of solar radiation provides us with an understanding of energy dynamics and the atmosphere. These parameters affect natural systems and humans.

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. All of this gives us an understanding of our climate and the environment around us.

Ozone tester at our weather station.

Our solar radiationdata consists of PAR, shortwave and net radiation data in hourly and daily increments from 1988 to present and in 3-minute increments since 2011. Our UV data are in 3-minute increments from 1999 to present.


For a complete description of measurements, please see the Meta Data | For monthly and yearly summaries go to Data Summaries | For access to data go to Archived Data


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