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-Cary Institute,

Page history last edited by Madame Curious 13 years, 8 months ago



Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY


I just finished my first two days at the Cary Institute, where they study ecosystems from all over the world.  I wanted to help the scientists with measurements in New York, so they took me along to visit their Environmental Monitoring stations on the property.  This is part of a long-term monitoring project, which is really important if you want to understand how the ecosystem is changing over time.  Here is a picture of me riding in the car to the research site! 


After we got there, we had to examine our notebooks to find out what information we needed to collect. 

Then, we examined the air pollution and water pollution sampling equipment.  One bucket collects dust particles in the air that might have pollution in it.  When it rains, a sensor on the equipment moves a lid over the dry bucket and then the "rain" bucket collects the rainwater.  We measure this rainwater for pollution, such as acid rain. Here I am, standing in the location of one of the buckets. 


There is also other equipment at the site that government agencies like the EPA use to measure air pollution, such as ground level ozone.  When you watch the weather report they usually tell you about pollution such as ozone, using a brightly colored scale.  Look for it the next time you watch the weather!  Here I am, next to the sampling equipment. 


For lunch, I met with the president of the Cary Institute, Dr. William Schlesinger.  He is one of the top researchers on climate change, and has written a lot of books and articles about this problem.  His newest work involves talking about mountain-top removal of coal, which destroys a lot of ecosystems in the Appalachian region of our country.  If you want to see what this kind of mining does to the environment on the internet, just look up "Appalachian coal mining". 


I went out with a group of field researchers in the afternoon, who are studying the relationship between the loss of biodiversity and the increase of Lyme disease.  Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, and it is a big problem here in New York.  Scientists believe that as the diversity of animals decreases, the numbers of animals infected by Lyme disease decreases, so this is a great reason to protect all different kinds of living things!  Here I am, looking in a trap for small mammals.  The researchers catch the animals, then count all the ticks on them, and then figure out how many of those ticks have Lyme disease. 



The next day, I helped in a lab where they are studying the impact of an invasive species, the zebra mussel, on the Hudson River ecosystem.  Here you can see me with a big rock that has hundreds of zebra mussels on it.  We had to count and measure all of the zebra mussels on the rocks!



On Wednesday, I spent the day in the lab, looking at different samples that had been collected by a bunch of different scientists.  The first samples are from Hubbard Brook, a forest where Dr. Gene Likens discovered acid rain.  These are water samples that we will analyze to see if they have pollution in them. 



Then, I helped figure out the level of different greenhouse gases that are coming from samples, using this machine. A computer tells you the results, and then you can make graphs or charts of your data. 



Finally, I got to help analyze some soil samples, both for greenhouse gases and for overall carbon content.  This helps scientists understand how global warming is impacting ecosystems. 



On my last day at the Institute, I got to go out on the Hudson River to collect information about the river and the organisms that live in it. It was a beautiful day! One of the instruments we used is called a "SONDE", which stays in the river all the time, and sends data to a satellite for us to see instantly.  We had to move it to a new location. 



I had a great time at the Cary Institute! 


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