Friday, September 27, 2019

Nuqui-Team (second shift): From the heart of the rainiest place on earth
Nuquí is a coastal town, located over western Colombia. It is a very isolated and unusual spot where tropical forest over the Andes and the sea converge to create a paradise. The absence of roads from the big cities such as Medellin or Bogota led you only two options to get there:  air or sea. Everything here is big in Nuqui: the amount of food in a plate, the rainfall during a storm (ranking as one of the rainiest places on earth) and the size of the humpback whales that come yearly to breed their babies in the Colombian Pacific warm waters. The town has limited utilities such as frequent power outages and waste management issues. However, the inhabitants (mainly from Afro-descendant and indigenous communities, called Emberas) has managed to make a life close to nature.
Despite the limited utilities services, people here are happy and their particular warm-hearted attitude motivated the Nuqui team to go back to the only school in town. On September 16th OTREC-Nuqui team visited the Institución Educativa Ecoturistica Litoral Pacifico for the third time.  Our main goal was to improve our outreach by covering grades that had not yet listened to what OTREC project was about.
The school has one nice room setup with audiovisual equipment. However, the day we visited the school the room was engaged with another activity and we ended up moving projector and laptops grade by grade. We started with the energetic second to fifth graders but our teacher host managed to stuff many more kids from other classrooms. Rooms were packed and hot with temperature exceeding 27°C and humid sticky air with relative humidity higher than 90%. Despite such harsh learning conditions, the more kinds were in the room the more welcoming and enthusiastic they were.

This outreach activity was amazing, the kids were excited and eager to learn, and we believe they enjoyed our presentation. Each OTREC team member managed to capture children's attention and we felt in love with the school and how they connected to our activity.
When we visited second grade, we asked the kids why do we use Helium to inflate the balloons? Unexpectedly, one of the kids replied “Helium always wants to be above the air”. Days before, this little kid learned from David, one of our undergraduate volunteers, the odds and ends of the launching balloon process and it seems he assimilated the information pretty well.
We discovered that children know very much from their own experience about Nuquí weather.  They answered each question about rainfall variability and related to the annual and diurnal cycle.  It was nice to see that regardless of their grade, they had similar answers.
We also raised some awareness about trash and waste management Nuquí. We shared some alternative solutions to make handy-crafts, chairs, tables and even houses from recycled material. Kids tend to agree it is necessary to keep clean beaches for the tourists and for themselves.

In the end, we invited kids to visit our launching place.  Later that day, some kids showed up even with their families. They were able to watch first-hand the process to inflate the balloon, calibrate the radiosonde and even had the chance to release the balloon. This experience was very fulfilling for us as we perceived children's interest in science.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

ECO-Lodges Supporting OTREC, Education, and Climate Research

Reserach partners of the ground station monitoring portion of the OTREC field
campaign have found eco-lodges to be most hospitable for hosting meteorological
and global positioning system stations.

The ground station network portion of the OTREC field campaign provided by the National 
Center for Atmospheric Research, Reserach Applications Laboratory (NCAR|RAL) and the
 National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) with support from the CIGEFE and
the University of Costa Rica completes a cross-country transect for meteorological
monitoring from the Caribbean to the Pacific. The stations primarily support OTREC
hydrometeorological research and GPS retrievals of atmospheric water vapor. 

The met. stations measure precipitation, air temperature, wind, humidity,
air pressure and soil moisture. These measurements will be used to build better data
sets for use in the WRF-Hydro modeling system during the field campaign to analyse
changes in atmospheric conditions associated with the rainy and dry periods. 

The Met. stations also support the OTREC atmospheric sounding measurements 
which look at the flow of moisture from the Caribbean across central America to
the tropical pacific.

One scientific motivation among many for these sites was to capture the sea-breeze 
and how it relates to convection that develops inland on theelevated terrain.  
There is a really strong gradient in elevation, the mountains basically run
down to the coast, where the ‘Jacó’ and ‘Dominical’ stations are located. 
Sea-breeze convection has a unique behavior in terms of precipitable water vapor 
which is calculated with GPS and Met. station data and in turn can identify 
convective events.

In order to create the cross-country transects the stations needed hosting locations.
At least two eco-lodges stepped up to support the climate research.


Jack and Diane of the
Hacienda Baru Lodge are gracious hosts
of the ‘Dominical’ meteorological (Met.) station. Similar to the
John Mellencamp song,
“Jack & Diane” Ewing were originally from the
American heartland (Colorado to be exact) but instead of becoming
football stars Jack and Diane moved down to Costa Rica
50 years ago and have been running the
Hacienda Baru Lodge
just south of Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast.
Read more about their environmental interests
on their website:

Likewise and north of the ‘Domincal’ station also along the Pacific coast,
Alvaro Lorenzo, director of
Origenes Lodge is hosting the ‘Jaco’ Met. station.
Origenes is a sustainable holistic center.  Read more about
Origenes Lodge
and their environmental interests on their website

Nuqui-Team (second shift):  From the heart of the rainiest place on earth Nuquí is a coastal town, located over western Colombia. It i...