• Caly

Weather and climate up here in the Waianae mountains

Wow, time sure flies when you’re an endangered plant hanging on the brink! Scientists have already collected one years’ worth of data at the weather station they set up in close proximity to me. With this much data, they can now begin to learn what the climate is like where I live. But what exactly is climate, and how does it relate to weather?

Well… weather is the ‘day to day changes in atmospheric processes’. My plant friends often ask: "Is it going to be rainy or sunny today? How warm or cool is it going to be tomorrow? Is another hurricane approaching? Really, again...?"

Images shown below from the context camera demonstrate various weather conditions (cloudy, mostly sunny, rainy). The weather can get pretty wild up here.

On the other hand, climate is the ‘long-term average of daily weather’. Climate informs us of the weather we may expect during a certain time of the year. For example, climate tells us that it would more likely be cloudy than sunny up here during the winter rainy season. However, we may experience a sunny week in the middle of the rainy season, or an unusually heavy rainfall event in summer. Understanding what climate is really like requires averaging many years of weather data. The images below from the Climate of Hawaii website show how temperature and rainfall vary across the island of Oahu over the course of a "typical" year.

To plants like me, climate is very important because it determines where we can survive, and changes in climate may affect where we can live in the not so distant future..

By looking at the first year’s weather data, we can begin to understand what climate is like where I live. What can you see in the graph below? Are there particular times of the year that were warmer or rainier than others?

The images below show the instruments used to collect the data shown above, a rain gauge above the tree canopy and the temperature sensor near me! 

*Note: The data shown above are preliminary and for demonstration purposes only