PhenoCam to be installed at Nine Mile Prairie

PhenoCam to be installed at Nine Mile Prairie

Rick Perk (left), assistant geologist, and Brian Wardlow, director of CALMIT and associate professor, stand with the PhenoCam on the roof of Hardin Hall. The camera is being moved to Nine Mile Prairie as part of a survey of North American landscapes.
Bryan Levitt | Courtesy photo
Rick Perk (left), assistant geologist, and Brian Wardlow, director of CALMIT and associate professor, stand with the PhenoCam on the roof of Hardin Hall. The camera is being moved to Nine Mile Prairie as part of a survey of North American landscapes.

A camera atop Hardin Hall’s roof will soon find a new home at Nine Mile Prairie.

But it’s not your average camera.

It’s a PhenoCam – and it belongs to a network of automated cameras set up to survey landscapes throughout North America.

“It is currently being tested at Hardin Hall because the system needed to be tested outside,” said Bryan Leavitt, research systems analyst in UNL’s School of Natural Resources. “The roof is easily accessed, it is secure and its height allows for distant views.”

The PhenoCam is part of a larger project, “Monitoring Phenology in the North Central Region of the U.S.,” and involves the North Central Climate Science Center, AmericaView, USGS and several states in the northern Great Plains including Montana, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

In Nebraska, the project is led and supported by the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT) and the Nebraska View program. Brian Wardlow, CALMIT director and associate professor, is the principal investigator. Milda Vaitkus, GIS manager at the School of Natural Resources, is the program coordinator.

“The objective of the project is to establish a network of PhenoCams across the region for monitoring the seasonal development of vegetation, and linking that information to climate and satellite observations so the impact of inter-annual climate variations and other environmental changes can be characterized and monitored at local and regional scales,” Wardlow said.

Images taken by the PhenoCam on Hardin Hall’s roof can be viewed at http://go.unl.edu/y76s.

After the test run at Hardin Hall comes to a close, the team will relocate the PhenoCam to Nine Mile Prairie where it will begin taking photos and collecting data to contribute to the PhenoCam Network.

Nine Mile Prairie is a 230-acre relict tallgrass prairie owned by the University of Nebraska Foundation. It’s located near the northwest edge of Lincoln in Lancaster County. The prairie’s name is derived from its location – it is five miles west and four miles north of UNL’s City Campus.

“Nine Mile Prairie is one of the few areas of virgin prairie remaining in the United States,” Leavitt said. “It is an exceptional site for the PhenoCam.”