USGS Indiana Dunes Microclimate Existence Exploration

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Grover, Maxwell A; Jewell, Cullan D; Levandowski, Benjamin A
article description
Some years ago, the USGS at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore started to collect data to study the climate of the park and search for the existence of microclimates. A microclimate is defined as the climate of a very small or restricted area, or when that differs significantly from the area around it. A benefit of finding whether or not a microclimate exists is the ability to identify which areas of the park are better suited to particular animals. At the Dunes, the Karner blue butterfly is only able to withstand certain conditions in nature in a particular microclimate. At the Dunes National Lakeshore, there is a unique geographical area created by the sand dunes. Certain sides of the dunes receive more sunlight or more wind than other areas. Also, some areas are grassy, whereas others are more sandy. The difference in soil aids in creating different microclimates within the park. In order to verify the existence of microclimates and which specific microclimates exist within the park, we must have data. Over these years, the staff of the USGS has placed sensor stations to collect light and temperature data. Each station has four sensors, and each collected data readings every thirty minutes. The sensor data is then retrieved and manually checked for errors and cleaned. For this project, we will be doing many analyses with this same data that they have collected, which they have provided to us. Some of our responsibilities include bringing the data together into one uniform dataset, analyzing this data to provide environmental information around the park, and providing graphs and data counts to test the quality of the data.