A key component of our program is long-term monitoring of the chemistry of our environment. Our monitoring allows us to understand the dynamics pollution produced in industrial processes, especially pollution from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline. Our program includes several methods that cover a broad range of pollutants.
We collect precipitation chemistry data with an instrument that uses a sensor that causes a cover to open, revealing a clean bucket when precipitation occurs and closes when the precipitation ceases. The instrument collects rain, snow and ice. Samples are collected after every event and analyzed at the Cary Institute for pH and a suite of other constituents that are important for understanding our atmosphere. This is our longest data record; we have continuous data from 1983 to present.
Our air quality is monitored with a system similar to that used by the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET). We collect air samples with low-volume filter packs, which allow us to monitor particles and gases that are important components of acid deposition. We also monitor ammonia concentration as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), Ammonia Monitoring Network. In addition, we monitor ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, in partnership with the New York State Department of Conservation and continuous carbon dioxide with a Licor LI-840 CO2 analyzer. Our filter pack data and ozone data are from 1988 to present and our ammonia and CO2 data are from 2009 to present.
Our stream monitoring program is a long-term data collection program that allows us to understand local as well as regional changes in the environment feeding our stream. The program began in 1985 and is the longest continuous chemistry dataset about the quality of streamwater in our region. Our program includes monthly grab samples collected at 2 sites on the East Branch of Wappinger Creek on the Cary Institute property. Stream samples are collected at the end of every month at low flow and are analyzed in our analytical lab for a suite of constituents that are important to ecosystem function. Additionally, we collect continuous temperature, stage height and specific conductance data at 15-minute intervals at one of the 2 sites.
The stream is a tributary to the main branch of Wappinger Creek, which flows into the Hudson River at Wappingers Falls. The creek as it passes through the Cary Institute property is a relatively clean, unimpaired forest stream. It harbors reproducing populations of brown trout as well as other important native fish and is habitat for breeding birds including common merganzer and wood duck. About 1.6 km upstream from our monitoring site is the Village of Millbrook sewage treatment plant. The Village of Millbrook (population 1400) and the roads in the watershed of the stream are important sources of road salt to the stream.