December 6th, 2017
There was a lot of excitement this past week about the partial Solar Eclipse. Being scientists, we were full of anticipation here at the Reserve as well. As it happened on a Monday, we still had work to do, so continued with our plan to do some maintenance on our water quality station on Gallinas Creek, just North of China Camp. We thought we’d capture some good photos from the canoe that we use to paddle out to the station. The fog unfortunately was not our friend. It was so thick that we never even saw any indication of shadow or darkness. We did however get to experience something rather exciting, at approximately 10:13, two minutes pre eclipse, we heard a cacophony of birds. The Ridgeway Rails, an endangered marsh bird that lives in the marshes around Gallinas Creek, started their typical pre-sunset calls. We’d heard about plants and animals responding to the unusual solar disruption, and they sure put on a great performance.
Meanwhile at Rush Ranch, our meteorological station was collecting some interesting data for us, as you can see in the graphs below. All graphs show date and time along the horizontal x-axis. We collect our data in Pacific Standard Time (PST), so the eclipse period, shown with a blue bar, is from ~8-10am PST on 8/21 in the graphs below, with the max eclipse time happening at 8/21 at 9:15 PST (10:15 PDT). The first graph shows PAR, which is photosynthetically active radiation or a way of measuring light levels. On 8/20 and 8/22, you can what a normal day looks like: values read zero at night in the dark, and, during the day, values increase to maximum levels toward the middle of the day and decrease toward evening as the sun starts to set. On 8/21, you can see a dip in PAR levels during the eclipse period, decreasing as the sun became increasingly eclipsed by the moon and with a low point right at 9:15 PST (10:15 PDT) when the eclipse was at its max. In the second graph, air temperature normally increases during the day, and decreases during the nighttime. You can see that air temperature dropped slightly as the air became cooler during the partial eclipse. In the third graph, relative humidity usually decreases during the day and increases overnight. You can see that there is a rise in relative humidity during the eclipse time.
Were you fogged in for the eclipse, or did you get a good view? Did you experience any changes in light or temperature?