The Himalayan Environmental Rhythms Observation and Evaluation System (HEROES) Project
It is important for communities to understand climate change in a manner that they can relate to, so that appropriate mitigation of the causes of climate change (namely reduction of greenhouse gases) and adaptations to changes in climatic conditions can be devised accordingly. The Himalayan Environmental Rhythms Observation and Evaluation System (HEROES) project, implemented by the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER) in partnerships with schools and nature clubs across Bhutan, employs a combination of weather data collection (through a network of weather stations) and citizen science to help understand climate change. While the high-tech weather stations provide an uninterrupted flow of weather and climatic data (temperature, humidity, and wind speed) across Bhutan’s varied ecological and elevation gradient, the citizen science component of the project encourages hundreds of students to actively engage in observing their immediate environment to detect changes in how plants and wildlife respond to climate change.
Using Citizen Science to Collect Climate Data
In its second year of implementation, the HEROES project has already succeeded in mainstreaming plant phenology observation and climate change as a topic in the high-school environmental science curriculum. Bhutanese students will soon be learning about this very important topic that affects us every day. The project supports a network of 23 weather stations (20 in schools, and 3 in remote mountain locations). Some 34 teachers and 1,000 students have been trained and are now participating in the project. The numbers continue to grow.
Glaciers in Bhutan are receding at a rate of almost 30-60 m per decade
17 schools across Bhutan have been implementing the HEROES
The highest weather station for Bhutan is at 4,900 m
This project is implemented by the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER) in partnership with nature clubs from selected schools. The weather data collection is implemented in partnership with the Hydromet Department, and the citizen science part of the project with public schools throughout Bhutan. Support for this project is provided by the Karuna Foundation.
For the first time, a wide ecological and elevation gradient will generate climate and phenological data to better inform climate change models. This will give a realistic and much better understanding of how climate change could affect our environment. Equipped with this knowledge, policy makers and citizens can make better decisions for climate change adaptation and mitigation responses.