Impacts of Microclimate on Precipitation: A GPM GLOBE Investigation

The Palmyra Cove Nature Park is a 250 acre open space in New Jersey. The park is located on the Delaware River about 7 miles north of Philadelphia, PA. You can check the site out by using Google Earth … (40 N, 75 W).

There are various land cover types, resulting in varying ecosystems within the park. There is a tidal cove (with wetlands), forest, river/beach, and an Army Corps of Engineers dredge cell. The South Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware region, known as the Delaware Valley, is an interesting and often tricky forecast region, even for the National weather Service (NWS). It has been observed that many precipitation events, whether rain, snow, or mixed, vary greatly along what is referred locally on Broadcast Media as “the I-95 corridor”. Forecasting is tricky in this region because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, Philadelphia (urban heat island) and the Allegany Mountains (Poconos) all within approximately 100 miles of each other. The Delaware Valley has been studied as a microclimate by meteorologists and climatologists.

The purpose of this project is to set up rain gauges in these various ecosystems and determine if there are any, or significant differences, in rainfall amounts, thus a “microclimate study”, or it may be viewed as a microclimate within a microclimate. A microclimate is defined by the National Weather Service as “a local climate that differs from the main climate around it”. That’s simple enough. We know from past GLOBE Atmospheric Investigations and observations at “the Cove” that temperature and humidity vary between these different ecosystems. During the GPM Field Investigation we will monitor 4 rain gauges that have been deployed. This project will also look at the regional area through other sources of remote sensing … including satellites and Doppler radar.

Over the course of the GPM GLOBE Field Investigation we will look into topics such as satellites, remote sensing, and discuss educational strategies to incorporate this topics into your classroom. At the present, we are experiencing record low temperatures and wind chills following a snow event that happened Monday evening (2.16.15).

I encourage you to think about your area and make similar observations … sharing of data and information is highly encouraged!




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I also live in a region that gets a real mixture of rain, sleet, and snow in the winter months. Our school district will sometimes have a few inches of snow up in the northern section, while it is only raining in the southern section. Sometimes school will be closed because the buses can't navigate through the snow-covered streets up north, while kids are only counting the raindrops in the south. That is a really neat idea to look at four different microclimate regions in the same geographical area. Look forward to seeing the results!