For the past couple of days, BFREE Board Member, Rob Klinger has been working hard to ensure that the weather station onsite is functioning and continues to collect valuable data. Weather and climate are among the most vital data a field station such as BFREE can collect and make available to its users. In 2005, the Norcross Wildlife Foundation provided funding for our present station. Prior to that we had been collecting basic temperature and precipitation data by hand with a high-low thermometer and plastic rain gauge. But increasing needs of researchers, conservation planning, and education groups created the necessity to expand the data we were collecting. Moreover, there were no personnel dedicated to collecting the data, which had the potential to introduce observer variability and gaps in the data. Finally, there was no systematic management of the records or a computer dedicated to be available for researchers and education groups to access the data on-site. The weather station virtually eliminated these problems and, to the best of our knowledge, has enabled us to collect the longest time series of climatic conditions in southern Belize.
BFREE recently applied to the Norcross Wildlife Foundation again to replace the original weather station – and are thrilled that they awarded us the funds to do an upgrade! Immediate benefits will include continuity in a systematic process for collecting, managing, and accessing short-term weather and long-term climate data. Data on seven weather variables are collected hourly and stored in a logger, then downloaded weekly to a personal computer. Our science staff and groups from several colleges have managed and summarized the annual data as an ongoing, long-term project on climate patterns in the region. Over the last eight years the weather and climate data has been integrated with many ecological research, inventory and monitoring programs. At present, the weather station remains the only permanent one in the southern Maya mountains of Belize, making this the only data on climate patterns in this ecologically significant region.
Thanks to Norcross, Rob Klinger, Steven Brewer and Jamie Rotenberg for their work on the grant and in keeping the station going!