In this issue: Weather Data Guides Forest Research
GMF: 90 Years of Continuous Weather Data
Forester Russell Russ:
A Daily Dose of Weather

GMF has its own version of the inscription high atop the New York City Post Office at 8th Avenue. Ours goes like this: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays Russell Russ from the swift and accurate recording of the weather.

Since 2003, every morning at 8 a.m. Russ records the low and high temperatures and precipitation for the preceding 24 hours as an independent weather observer for the National Weather Service.

While these measurements are precise and regular, the data is not official until it is received and approved by the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y. 

This observation practice technically doesn't belong to GMF operations but over the years the Forest has subsidized the volunteer hours necessary for it. For Russ, “Weather observation is critically tied to forestry and tree growth. It enhances research studies of insects, disease, and maple syrup production.”

Importantly, Russ explains, “The forest area hasn't changed much in the past 100 years, reducing the effect that a changing landscape has on temperature. Our conditions have remained constant, and that makes GMF attractive to researchers and others who use our weather data."

There are about 165 volunteer National Weather Service observation stations in Connecticut and 12,000 in the U.S. According to Russ, what makes the weather station at GMF unique is "its accuracy, consistency and longevity. We have recorded daily observations every day for nearly the last 90 years.” In addition, Russ describes that GMF’s higher altitude distinguishes it from most of Connecticut. 

The Forest’s weather code name is “Norfolk 2SW”, which signifies that it's two miles southwest as the crow flies of the post office. (A town's post office is the anchor for the naming of cooperative weather stations across the country.)

GMF’s weather station is an archival station, so the information doesn’t usually make it to the nightly news. However, Russ shares his weather observations through the GMF website, a regular column in Norfolk Now and social media, attracting the attention of passionate weather amateurs and professionals.

One use of the weather data is long-term climatological studies for infrastructure projects such as roads, buildings, bridges, and dams, where temperature and precipitation play a role in their design. Another is scientific research, a staple of Great Mountain Forest's mission.

Russ continues a 90-year tradition of weather observation begun by GMF founder Ted Childs and carried on by his father, former Forest Manager Darrell Russ.
 
Russ ponders why he’s a National Weather Service observer and has been recording data every day for the past 17+ years, "I’m interested in the weather. It’s also an important part of GMF for research and education--and it respects the dedication of past observers.”  
Forest Notices

  • Keep your dog on a leash and if you pack it in--pack it out!

  • Sign in at kiosks at the East and West Gates.

  • Except for Sundays, GMF will be closed to recreational users from November 18 to December 8. From Monday to Saturday during that time vetted and permitted hunters will be serving as wildlife monitors, keeping the deer population balanced. For your safety, please adhere to forest regulations.

If you have any questions, email info@greatmountainforest.org
Weather Data is Critical to Forest Research


I am a research entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station studying invasive species and biological control for 26 years. 

It was on a sunny October day, two decades ago, when weather observer Darrell Russ, keeper of some of the most important and continuous daily weather records known in Connecticut, showed me Fraser firs at GMF infested with balsam woolly adelgid, which I had been seeking for a study. This was the beginning of a long and invaluable research journey that has continued with Forest Manager Jody Bronson and Forester and weather observer Russell Russ.

My research has mainly focused on eastern hemlock and its most serious threat: non-native hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). With some of the highest elevations in Connecticut, GMF offers the opportunity to study pristine hemlocks growing in diverse sites in a climate that more closely mirrors that of northern regions. 

Comparing the healthy hemlock stands at GMF with other sites impacted by HWA is an important component of my research.

Daily winter temperature records at GMF have enabled me to predict lower critical limits at which 90 - 99% of HWA are killed during winter extremes. A recent discovery uniquely ties the past with the present: a mature stand of hemlocks, propagated over 60 years ago from seed collected throughout its natural range, exists in fine condition at GMF, thanks to excellent forestry management and records. 

I hope to study the climate impacts on the survival and growth of these genotypes and uncover the potential of future adaptive hybrids through seed collections. 

Perhaps GMF findings may help enhance the survival of this beloved native conifer in an unpredictable and changing climate. 
Are You Thinking About the Weather?

If you're curious about the weather data collected at GMF, visit our website weather page for Russell Russ's unofficial weather readings and Norfolk Now narratives. For official readings, go to NOAA and explore! See how GMF has helped make weather history!
Who's that masked man? It's Heath Hughes, GMF's Office Manager.

Heath brings with him a diverse array professional and life experiences--all of which make him perfect for keeping the office running smoothly and generating creative solutions to the unique challenges of office work in the Forest!

Read more about Heath and the rest of the GMF team here.

Thanks, Heath for all you do for GMF!
Yoga @ the Forest
A misty Saturday morning cleared to sun as 13 yoga students took to their mats on the GMF office lawn. Yoga instructor Theresa Sheremeta guided them through the poses. Executive Director Tamara Muruetagoiena welcomed participants and thanked them for attending the Forest's first yoga offering. More to come!
Stand with the Trees!
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GMF is critical to the environmental and economic sustainability of the region as well as an important contributor to research and education about climate change and environmental health. Help us support the forest as a vital natural resource.