Schools to serve as database for climate change study

By Passang Norbu

Come July, students and teachers in 20 schools will get the opportunity to monitor climate change in the country using scientific instruments worth USD 150,000 donated by Karuna Foundation in the United States.

Schools using the instruments will serve as database for the climate change study, the first of its kind, carried out by Ugyen Wangchuck institute for conservation and environment (UWICE) in Bumthang, in partnership with ministry of education and department of hydromet services.

“We are visiting 42 schools located in different regions and ecological zones but will select only 20,” UWICE’s Changa Tshering, who is currently touring schools in the east, said.

On June 10, Changa’s team started the study from Gyalpoishing School in Mongar. Another group is touring schools in the western region. Once the study ends weather stations at the schools will be set up along with distribution of computers and global positioning system (GPS), to store information like temperature and rainfall data throughout the year.

“Our objective is not only to carry out the study but make it a citizen based climate change monitoring system, involving students and teachers, who will be trained in data generation,” Changa said. “Students need to be made more aware on climate change and we are identifying focal teachers from schools, geo-locating tree species and accessing sites for weather station installation.”

The weather station facility will be equipped with scientific measuring instruments like thermometer (temperature), barometer (atmosphere pressure), hygrometer (humidity), anemometer (wind speed) and rain gauge (precipitation).  Through it people can observe atmospheric condition to provide information for weather forecasts and to study weather and climate.

GPS is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions anywhere on earth. “So far response from both teachers and students have been very impressive with everyone very interested and excited to be part of the project,” Changa said.

UWICE officials said while some of these schools are located in far and remote places without any access to motor roads, given the importance of having representative ecological zones, the institute is determined to include these remote schools in the study.

The data generated will be submitted to UWICE by year-end, which will conduct all analysis and publish the findings.

With no study done on climate change, officials said, understanding climate change dynamic through plant and animal phenology is crucial, especially at a time of increasingly unprecedented climate change related events of national scale.

The project, through the schools and communities based monitoring program, will generate baseline data and share critical information among scientists, researchers, educators and citizens on impact of climate change on the ecosystem.

Bhutan Foundation applied for funds for the project.

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