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).



To understand the behavior of water at the landscape scale we monitor water in several ways. In addition to precipitation and stream flow, we monitor soil water content and temperature as well as sap flow in sugar maples in a multi-agency collaborative project that includes USCRN, NOAA, USDA, CUNY-CREST and others.


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


We have monitored precipitation volume since 2004 with the USCRN. From 1988 to 2004 we used a mechanical weighing bucket rain gauge and from 1983-1988 we used the volume of precipitation in the precipitation collector used for chemistry monitoring. Data are available in hourly and daily increments and 5-minute increments from the USCRN. 

Precipitation collector.

Stream Temperature, Flow and Conductivity

Our stream gauging station is located on the East Branch of Wappinger Creek at a site called the Fern Glen where we monitor stream height, temperature and specific conductance. Data are logged every 15 minutes using a microcomputer called a datalogger. Using stream height measurements and an estimate of the cross-sectional area of the stream, we estimate the volume of water flowing in the stream. We have continuous data from 1993-present.

Soil Moisture & the Freeze/Thaw State of Soil

The soil water content, soil temperature and the freeze/thaw state of soil are critical for understanding droughts, floods and movement of water through the landscape. In addition, production of CO2 from the earth’s surface is dependent on these key parameters. To understand these critical processes, we support colleagues from US Climate Reference Network, City University of New York NOAA Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology, and the USDA ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory to monitor soil moisture and temperature at the landscape scale using sensors located at 8 sites within a 40 km grid square, including the Cary Institute.

In addition, a Multi-Frequency Microwave Radiometer, a prototype of an instrument that will monitor soil moisture and temperature from space, is located at our station as part of the NASA-Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) calibration/validation program. All of this work will help us understand landscape scale soil moisture and carbon balance, important components of our biosphere.

Sap Flow In Forest Trees

The movement of water in trees is another key component of our understanding of water movement through the landscape. A large tree can transport 380 liters (100 gallons) of water from the soil to the atmosphere in a single day. To understand this important process, we have sugar maple trees and their root zones instrumented with sap flow sensors, dendrometers and temperature sensors. This long-term project is being conducted by scientists from CUNY-CREST

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

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