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Team name: Vianu Climate Detectives

Country: Romania

School name: Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science

Age: 12-13, 14-15

Number of team members: 11

Project Title: The regular four seasons, deforestation, and rainfalls

Research Question: Given that the normal four climate seasons seem becoming just two, we intend to investigate whether there is any connection between deforestation and the disappearance of the “classical” four seasons.

PURPOSE https://vianuclimatedetectives.com/our-purpose/

In our project last year, we investigated how the massive deforestation in Romania is affecting the climate. Now, we see it as an important challenge to study whether these changes of temperature do influence the existence of four distinct seasons. Considering that the usual four seasons typical for a temperate climate seem to gradually turn into just two, with sudden temperature changes instead of moderate transitions, we have investigated whether there is any connection between the aggressive deforestation, the precipitations, and the modifications of the seasons.

The project that we made last year was a wonderful opportunity to learn and explore the world of climate change for the first time. However, we felt the limits of data processing only with the help of the tools offered by Excel. We realized that the 20-year interval considered was not enough. We collected information from a single weather station.

Therefore, our goals for this year were to:

  • Create our own script that would help in processing the data
  • Extend the analysed period to 60 years
  • Collect data from all meteorological stations in Romania
  • Give more importance to the data quality
  • Make our own website where we could post the research

DATA PROCESSING SCHEME https://vianuclimatedetectives.com/data-processing-scheme/

We tried to improve our analysis by applying the advanced programming skills obtained as students at a computer science high school.

The data processing was done with the help of a C ++ program made by our team together with the facilities offered by Excel for charts. Using our script, the analysis has a high degree of generality, and can be applied to other countries as well. Within the project, generality is important  considering that the data collected from the stations in the nearby countries can be analysed in order to see other causes of internal phenomena. In addition, we created our own website at vianuclimatedetectives.com where we shared the gathered data, processing, and results.

Moreover, we extended the period to 60 years and dedicated a special chapter to data quality. Therefore, we processed  data from all 26 meteorological stations in Romania, eliminating a number of 7 stations that did not pass the data quality test.

The rover was a challenge, because we wanted to measure the temperature very, very accurately and since in the previous project we used thermometers, we thought of using a temperature sensor, especially since we participated, a year before, in the Astropi Mission Zero project where we sent a message to the International Space Station.

The rover was useful especially in the preliminary stage of the project when the latest meteorological data posted by the weather stations were not available (posting is done with a delay of 1-3 months). It also helped us to explore a very technical area of ​​climatology, leaving our comfort zone – algorithms / automatic data processing, which we consider a great gain.

DEFORESTATION https://vianuclimatedetectives.com/deforestation/

From the total of 42 counties of Romania, we studied the deforestation in the top 11 counties with the biggest deforested area, so that each of the 11 detectives could analyse in detail the evolution of deforestation for the territorial administrative unit allocated and provide the team relevant information to the analysis of the change of seasons (deforestation dynamics, structure at subnational level 2, and recent images captured by the Sentinel 2 A Satellite).

We have improved the use of advanced tools such as Sentinel EO Browser. We gained knowledge about the syntax of Sentinel Hub EO Browser scripts. We want to apply these skills that allow people to browse, analyse and view satellite data in real time in future projects and by participating in the Sentinel HUB Custom Script Contest in the field of analysis of this project.

TEMPERATURES

Yearly Average Temperature https://vianuclimatedetectives.com/yearly-average-temperature/

We plotted the data in Excel charts and studied the average annual temperature between 2001 and 2019 compared to the average of the period 1961-1990. We observed a significant rise in temperature, almost all the averages of the years 2001-2019 being higher than the temperature of the reference period.

We analysed the charts made for each station and noticed that the moment that marked the beginning of this climate change was the year 2007 with the biggest deforested areas from the analysed period. Thus, there is a correlation between the rising temperature and massive deforestation.  Also, the growth is sustained in the last 4-5 years, without fluctuations.

Summer-Autumn Transition https://vianuclimatedetectives.com/summer-autumn-transition/

Then, we decided to study the problem in detail and analysed the months that involve transitions between two successive seasons: February-March, May-June, August-September, November-December.

For instance, for the Summer-Autumn transition, where we observed important changes, we compared the average temperature of the second half of August of the period 1961-1990 with the average temperature of the first half of September in every year between 2001 and 2019.

After studying all these transitions, we came to the conclusion that, in the last few years, the average of the first half of September exceeds the average of the second half of August from the reference period. Therefore, we could be witnessing an extension of Summer with 15 days, the seasons no longer being the classical ones.

PRECIPITATION https://vianuclimatedetectives.com/precipitation/

Another concern of ours was to find a correlation between the massive deforestation in 2007 and the shift of the seasons in terms of the amount of precipitation.

For this purpose, we analysed the rainfall amount collected from the nearest meteorological station to the county where the most important deforestation in Romania was registered (Station ID: 2056, BOTOSANI, Latitude: +47:40:48, Longitude: +026:40:12, Height: 161)

The analysis of the Summer-Autumn transition period (August and September) shows that after 2007 the difference between the quantity of precipitation in August and September is obviously smaller than the differences in 1961-1990. This evolution is suggestively captured in the radar chart showing a concentration and equalization of the monthly precipitation recorded in August and September in the ring corresponding to the amount of 80 mm whereas the maximum amplitude of a ring in 1961-2019 is 180 mm. Thus, there is an extension of Summer with 30 days using the monthly amount of precipitation as a criterion.

ACTIONS TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT

Firstly, we are going to contact sponsors from the companies that are directly affected by the climate changes caused by the aggressive deforestation, such as the insurance industry, agriculture, the energetic industry, and many more. Then, together with non-profit organisations, we will continue our “Save the forest” campaign, plan tree planting events that will be advertised on our website, as we have already created a blog component where we promote our events and interact with interested people.

Moreover, we are planning a special day in our high school every year on Earth Day (the 22nd of April) when we are going to invite important climatologists and meteorologists. However, this year, due to the pandemic, our event was moved online, as we had a Zoom conference, also posted on our Events blog, where we raised awareness about the current major climate issues and discussed how we can preserve the environment. Lastly, we could organize fun games and make lemonade stands to make everything look more appealing and fun! All the leftover funds from our activities are going to be donated to associations that help save our planet by planting trees.

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