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Dr. Robert Hellström, Professor of Geography

Microclimates’ Impact

Through field expeditions and by installing and monitoring automated weather sensor networks on rooftops, in trees, in the mountains of Peru (at right) and at local K-12 schools, I study the impacts of different landscapes on trends in microclimates. Microclimates refer to very localized climates that are impacted by landscapes. The climate changes globally, but the one a person lives in is a local climate. This is what climatologists, like me, study.

When we think of the future of society and our need for fresh water or food security, I think that understanding how microclimates impact our resources can be even more important than understanding global climate changes. As for the impact, my work helps identify the climate trends and extreme weather that local communities must deal with. Also, I believe my work is useful in improving the accuracy and reliability of future climate change projections.

The other type of work I enjoy is citizen science, which involves citizens taking observations of climate and using simple measurements of rain, temperature or using apps to report them. This allows microclimatologists to get more detailed information within a given area.

Finally, this coming semester, I will be collaborating with scientists at The Ohio State University and institutions in Peru and Chile to work with farmers who themselves are citizen scientists. The goal is to learn about their local farming practices in the face of climate change and ways to make their farms more resilient.

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