Bondville Environmental and Atmospheric Research Site - Background, Illinois State Water Survey

Climate and Atmospheric Science

BEARS - Background


For almost three decades, the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) has had ongoing research and monitoring activities at a rural site in Champaign County, Illinois. These activities include evaluation and application of equipment and methods to measure climate, meteorological, precipitation, and air quality parameters. The site is operated by the ISWS on a University of Illinois Foundation (UIF) farm four miles south of Bondville, Illinois.

The site location and facilities provide atmospheric scientists with a unique and near ideal location for environmental measurements and sample collection. Therefore, ISWS scientists and numerous colleagues from other organizations (both local and national) use the site. The number of projects active at the site increased greatly in the 1990s, with several national and global monitoring networks now represented.

The Bondville Environmental and Atmospheric Research Site (BEARS) location is shown on the maps link. This 14 acre rectangular (220 meter by 260 meter) plot in a central part of a 253-acre farm owned and managed by UIF. The UI Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (UIECE) has carried out various radio propagation experiments extending back to World War II. The remnants of a circular antenna 1/8 mile in diameter are still present at the site, which was used in part for pioneering research into global submarine communications.

Research projects underway at BEARS generally have an atmospheric chemistry or global climate change theme. The first measurements at BEARS - daily aerosol and event-based precipitation chemistry measurements begun by Stensland, Semonin, and others at ISWS in summer 1978 - have continued uninterrupted to the present. A list of all current BEARS projects is available and includes measurements for national scale long-term monitoring projects related to wet deposition (acid rain), dry deposition, and, most recently, global climate change. The scope and longevity of these activities demonstrate the commitment of ISWS to use of BEARS for long-term environmental measurements.

Development and maintenance of utilities and roads on the 253-acre farm have been conducted and funded jointly over the years by UIECE and ISWS. This has included more than $50,000 in electrical power and telephone system upgrades. Maintenance related specifically to BEARS has been the sole responsibility of ISWS. The electrical power distribution grid on the site was designed and constructed by ISWS scientists and technicians.

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