January 1, 2008

New large-size digital images available from visibility cameras at the Cabrillo National Monument

By Susan Teel, Director, California Mediterranean Research Learning Center, National Park Service

The High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) collaborated with Cabrillo National Monument and the California Mediterranean Research Learning Center (CMRLC) to design and implement a wireless cyberinfrastructure which expands access to natural and cultural resources for researchers, educators, and the general public. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Navy, and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) coordinated with HPWREN and the CMRLC to expand the system by installing two new cameras and a controlling mini-computer behind the visitor's center. These cameras collect air quality data to complement and continue the existing data set, which spans 11 years. The images from the cameras are available to the general public, via the HPWREN web site ( http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/cameras/), thus expanding Internet access to the fabulous San Diego Sky-Line views for which Cabrillo National Monument is famous.

NPS CNM San Diego skyline day visibility
NPS CNM San Diego skyline night visibility
Almost 20 megapixel day and night time collages of the San Diego skyline from the new cameras at the National Park Service's Cabrillo National Monument. These composites are automatically generated for web presentation from the two component images.

Visitors to Cabrillo National Monument frequently want to know "Is that fog or pollution?" "Why is it foggy now when it is sunny inland?" "Is the view clearer now than it used to be?" Because Cabrillo National Monument is situated close to large urban areas of San Diego and Tijuana, visible haze is frequently apparent to visitors. The new cameras will be paired with an interpretive explanation on the web site and a wayside exhibit near the cameras, providing visitors with qualitative air quality measures associated with the views. This project will help visitors gain understanding of air quality measures and the associated public health values, why air quality is important to protecting ecosystems, and how the general public can help improve air quality.

NPS CNM San Diego skyline cameras
Dan Ludington from SMMNRA Buildings and Utilities installed the electrical wiring to power the system. Cabrillo maintenance staff and the CCC crew members prepared the trench. NOAA and Mediterranean Coast Network Computer Specialist, Mike Maki, installed the Ethernet cable and pull boxes. Mike assisted with final installation of the computer which operates the camera and repaired the NOAA weather data display in the Visitor Center.

The effects of urbanization, smog, and diminished air quality on wildlife and their habitats threaten some of the best examples of Mediterranean type ecosystems remaining on earth. In the face of urbanization, National Park Service management recognizes the effects of habitat fragmentation; however we do not have adequate data to make management recommendations associated with improving impairments to visibility or reduced air quality. These cameras will complement the existing data collected and are a step toward improving our understanding of quantifiable relationships between visibility, air quality, and ecosystem impacts.

NPS CNM San Diego skyline cameras
HPWREN Programmer, Jim Hale, completed the hard wire connection to HPWREN, assisted Dan with the electrical wiring, and installed the second visibility camera. HPWREN Principal Investigator, Hans-Werner Braun, programmed and installed the mini computer system. This collaborative effort culminated in a science product which will provide educational and stewardship opportunities for audiences around the world to learn about air quality and enjoy the views from Cabrillo National Monument.

The new cameras are housed near the Visitor Center and co-located with NOAA sensors. The cameras are controlled by a small computer, and connected via Ethernet to HPWREN. The computer regularly collects images and forwards them on for processing and storage, particularly for web presentation. the images are available at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/cameras/CNMVCSD/.

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