Conservation trends

Counting Raindrops

It’s really been the best of times and the worst of times….

A puddle of rain clings to the edge of this artificial leaf that is tracking how wet it is on the forest floor.

A puddle of rain clings to the edge of this artificial leaf that is tracking how wet it is on the forest floor.

I’ve spent the last few days visiting my Fern Watch weather stations that are collecting temperature, humidity, soil moisture, and leaf wetness data in 10 forests in Northern California. On the “worst of times” side of things, half of the weather stations had dead batteries, a critter nibbled on one of the soil moisture sensors, and aphids covered my leaf wetness sensor at Samuel P. Taylor in honey dew so it was falsely registering a multiweek rain event. Sigh.

But on the “best of times” side of things, yesterday at Big Basin Redwoods State Park I observed the weather station working just as it was supposed to! The forest was still wet from rain earlier this week and the leaf wetness sensor had a beautiful puddle of residual rain on its surface just as the nearby leaves of tanoak and sword fern did.

Dripping rain off the leaves of tanoak.

Dripping rain off the leaves of tanoak.

The sensor was perfectly tracking how wet it was in the forest understory and to me, this is a lovely methodological miracle! This is a method I’ve used for many years to track if fog or rain is in the forest and dripping to the forest floor.

Scientists get really happy when their equipment works, so a super happy Friday to you all.

Sword fern loves having wet leaves and soaks this water up.

Sword fern loves having wet leaves and soaks this water up.

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