New instruments at the “Italia Costa Rica” Research Station – January 2021

The Biological and Meteoclimatic Research Station “Italia Costa Rica”, at the Karen Mogensen reserve of Asepaleco, is enriched with new tools for environmental measurements. Thanks to funds raised with donations in favour of Foreste per Semper OdV, a low cost system for air quality and atmospheric CO2 measurements was purchased and installed. The sensor apparatus was supplied by the Meteoproject company in Medicina (Bologna), in the version powered by a solar panel. The sensor provides measurements of fine particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM10 as well as CO2 concentration. Connected to the station’s Wi-Fi network, the sensor sends data every 15 minutes that enriches their history which can be consulted in real time at

The new instrument was installed by prof. Dario Sonetti, who is currently in Costa Rica, with the supervision of the meteorologist Luca Lombroso for the positioning, setting and configuration aspects. The support provided by Stefano Guerra, owner of Meteoproject, is also precious, both for practical advice and for the preparation of the database and web pages. The complete data and the archive are in fact available on this page, kindly hosted by Meteoproject.

The CO2 and air quality sensor apparatus, currently installed on the railing of the terrace of the Biometeoclimatic Station. This is currently the best compromise between sensor exposure, sunshine for the panel and sufficient WiFi signal for the connection. It will be verified for the advisability of installing the sensor on top of the building, with a special support pole.

The purpose of the tool is primarily informative, to have comparative data available from a place that, from the first measurements, is confirmed to have truly pure and uncontaminated air. Despite the limits of the type of instrument, we will therefore try to carry out initial assessments on natural particulate matter, on any phenomena of transport of pollutants, on the CO2 cycle and its absorption processes in the Karen Mogensen Reserve, as well as verify the trend over the years long term of these data. The current low cost measures are the basis for future expansions and improvement of the existing meteorological and environmental instrumentation. The concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 measured in the first days are very low, close to the minimum detectable by the instrument, sometimes even lower than 1  µg/m3 in the concentrations of PM10, rarely reach 10  µg/m3 while the more harmful, PM2.5, almost always remains below 5  µg/m3. To give an idea, the city of Modena rarely sees, only on very clear and windy days, concentrations below 15-20  µg/m3 of PM10 while in days of smog emergency they also exceed 100  µg/m3 in both parameters. We also remind you that the Italian legal limit for PM10 is 50 µg/m3 of average daily value not to be exceeded for more than 35 days a year.

Moreover, it is reasonable to believe that in addition to the low concentrations of particulate matter, they are almost entirely made up of components of natural origin, such as pollen, dust from the soil, transported marine particulate and other organic and inorganic material. Of course it is a hypothesis that we hope to be able to confirm one day with measurements from more advanced instruments. Regarding the concentrations of carbon dioxide, better known as carbon dioxide or CO2, the discussion is more complex. CO2, remember, is not a pollutant but a greenhouse gas, and its dynamics mean that it spreads everywhere, so much so that the main detection stations are in remote places such as the island of Mauna Loa in Hawaii or at the top of mountains. such as Monte Cimone on the Modena Apennines, far from direct anthropogenic sources. In the forest, the behavior of concentrations is made complex by the cycle of the vegetation itself. To these are added the weather effects, in particular the diurnal and nocturnal evolution of the mixed layer.

Thus, the first data showing concentrations ranging between about 500 and 700 ppm should not surprise and are not comparable with the concentrations of the reference stations mentioned above, which are around 410 ppm. On the other hand, the sensor for practical reasons is installed at the station itself, under the forest canopy. The trend of the first few days of measurement that we show you in the following graph is still very interesting. In fact, a diurnal cycle is noted, with minimum concentrations in the hottest hours and maximums at night.

Trend of the concentrations of CO2, PM10, and PM2.5 in the days 27-28-29 December 2020. There is a diurnal cycle, rather marked in CO2, and to a lesser extent also in particulate matter.

This “breath of the forest”, as we like to call it, is due to two factors, one weather, linked to the diurnal atmospheric mixing and stagnation of the air at night, and the other the vegetation cycle itself.

Aspects that will be studied in depth over time, continuing the measurements and supporting high-precision instruments in the future, together, we hope, with study and research activities dedicated to these complex aspects, fundamental for the study and fight against climate change and the conservation of biodiversity.

Text by Luca Lombroso and Dario Sonetti

November 2020 monthly weather summary at Karen Mogensen Reserve

November was very rainy as measured at the “Italia Costa Rica” Biological and Meteorological Experimental Research Station. Due to the landfall north of Costa Rica of two catastrophic hurricanes, Eta and Iota, which also gave an indirect influence on the Nicoya peninsula in November 2020, a total of 325.6 mm fell.

From the climatological data reconstructed with the Meteoblue reanalysis, in the period 1986-2015 the average rainfall in November was 191.0 mm. Our station has only been in operation since 2016 and fully operational since February 2017, in this period we had never seen so much rainfall.

The average monthly temperature was affected by heavy rain and scarce sunshine and is therefore 25.0° C, the lowest value in our short series of data, but still higher than the 1986-2015 average obtained from the renanalysis which is 24.6 ° C.

The wettest day of the month was the 22nd, with 51.6 mm, the lowest minimum temperature of 19.3 ° C on the 19th and the highest maximum temperature of 31.7 ° C on the 26th.

The anomalous rainy situation had as a consequence the delay in the arrival of the dry season, in the month there are in fact 26 days with measurable rainfall, also given the first data of December, the rainy season seems to have ended with the showers of 27-28 November.

So far we had observed rains until day 22 in 2017, until 17 in 2018 and until 11 in 2019, in these two years some rains followed even at the end of the month, but of an isolated character while in this 2020 the rainfall was substantially daily until the end of the month.

Trend of temperature (red line) and rainfall in 24 hours at the Karen Mogensen reserve, Costa Rica in November 2020.

Karen Mogensen Reserve Meteorological Station Bulletin of November 4, 2020

In the video you can see the time lapse of the webcam of the Karen Mogensen Reserve from 1 to 3 November 2020, with the formation and circulation of clouds and the wind induced by the indirect effects of Hurricane Eta, which impacted the coast of Nicaragua on the border with Honduras. Hurricane Eta did not hit Costa Rica, but its indirect effects were affected by continuous rains, especially on November 3. In the timelapse on day 1 we note the formation of mainly convective clouds, superimposed on bank transits of stratocumulus and nimbostrati. On day 2 the continuous changes of direction of the clouds are interesting, while on day 3 the cloud cover was uniform for nimbostrati and with continuous but overall not extraordinary rains.

effects of hurricane ETA on the Italy-Costa Rica station

On November 3, thanks to the coverage, the maximum temperature did not go beyond 23.7 ° C, which is the lowest maximum temperature recorded in 2020.
In detail, these are the rains that fell at Karen Mogensen at the Italia Costa Rica Station:

01/11/2020: 0.2 mm
02/11/2020: 20.4 mm
03/11/2020: 48.0 mm

the total is 68.6 mm, and now, November 4th, it is still raining.

Luca Lombroso – meteorologist

Can planting trees save the climate?

A post was recently published in the international magazine Realclimate, taken up and translated on the Climalteranti website, very current for the question that comes from a study conducted by the famous polytechnic of Zurich and which allowed us once again to confirm that what our association Foreste per Semper has been conducting for years it is part of a correct action and therefore to be supported, even with your help. For those who wish, we refer you to reading the entire article on the Climalteranti website while here we want to pass some data in a summary that is in any case very significant. According to this study, planting trees could reduce the increase in anthropogenic CO2 by two thirds. Researchers estimate that 200 billion tonnes of carbon would be sequestered… provided that more than one trillion trees were planted!

Too good to be true? This statement has been revised and evaluated more correctly, also considering other facts.

Some data: humanity emits 11 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year
(gigatonnes, abbreviated to GtC) which in the form of CO2 correspond to 40 gigatonnes, because a CO2 molecule is 3.7 heavier than the carbon atom alone. From 1850 to today, total emissions have reached 640 GtC of which 31% due to land use (deforestation above all), 67% to fossil energy and 2% to other sources, and the trend is growing.

The result is that the amount of CO2 in the air has increased by 50% compared to an equilibrium emissions / natural sequestration, and is greater than it has ever been for at least 3 million years. To deny that this is the main cause of the ongoing warming is to want to deny stubbornly the evidence and above all that this increase is entirely caused by humans ..

In reality, we find “only” 300 GtC in the air, even though we have issued 640 GtC. It means that only less than half of our emissions remained in the atmosphere, the rest fortunately. it was absorbed by the oceans and forests.

The authors of the new study say it would take fifty to one hundred years for those trillion trees planted to seize the desired 200 GtC – with an average of 2-4 GtC per year, but the problem is that there are still few to cope. to current emissions of 11 GtC per year! We would therefore still be far from the prospect of solving two thirds of the climate problem. And precisely because reforestation takes a long time, cutting down mature and species-rich forests, which are large reserves of carbon and precious biological diversity, should be absolutely prohibited today.

There is also another problem related to climate change, without effective climate protection, global warming will lead to a massive loss of existing forests, especially in the Tropics.
Unfortunately, current models are unable to reliably simulate how forests are they will be able to withstand new extreme events: fires, permafrost melting, insects, fungi and diseases in a changing climate.

Planting huge quantities of trees all over the world undoubtedly becomes a project to be tackled and implemented as soon as possible and certainly not by planting only monocultures but by recreating the natural state as much as possible in a context of ecological sustainability, so as to reap further benefits of forests not only for the local climate, but for the conservation of biodiversity, the protection of the water cycle and even as a source of food, improving the living conditions of those peoples who still live in close contact with forests.

FpS has been acting for years in this perspective, not forgetting, however, that the fundamental strategic move will be the abandonment of the use of fossil fuels which must end soon precisely because we want to safeguard the existing forests in the world.

Weather: Rainy October in Karen

It is with some satisfaction that we continue to receive uninterrupted weather data from the meteorological station installed at the Karen Mogensen reserve, near the Italia Costa Rica station.

Contact had been lost for a few days, probably due to a hardware block of the data logger due to power cuts, as in the rainy season the solar panels are not always able to charge the batteries sufficiently. Fortunately, however, the data flow was resumed regularly, and no data was lost.

Thus we see from the Weatherlink software where the data is received, at the Geophysical Observatory of DIEF UNIMORE, that the month of October has a substantially normal trend for the season, with abundant and frequent rains, but in fact in line with the climatology obtained from the Reanalysis.

Trend of temperatures and rainfall from 25 September to 25 October 2020 at the Karen Mogensen Reserve. Source software Weatherlink at the Geophysical Observatory of DIEF UNIMORE

To date, October 26, 2020, 362.7 mm of rain have fallen in the month, only one day, the 17th, has not recorded any measurable precipitation.

Yesterday, October 25, in particular, the maximum daily rainfall in the month was recorded, with 36.8 mm concentrated in two intense showers, one around noon local and one around 03:00 pm.

The weather situation of these days in fact sees the presence of the intertropical convergence zone just near the Nicoya Peninsula, with the passage of frequent tropical waves. There are no tropical storms or hurricanes near Costa Rica, but a marginal influence of Hurricane Zeta, which heads towards the Yucatan and the Gulf of Mexico, draws humid and warm air from the Pacific Ocean. However, this system will not affect or impact Costa Rica.

To give some comparison, last year in October the rains totalled 380.0 mm in total, with a maximum of 80.8 mm on 13/10/2019, and in the month the temperatures were substantially in line with those recorded in this month of 2020. .

On the other hand, it was much wetter in October 2018, when 647.8 mm fell, with three days of truly torrential rain, from the 3rd to the 5th of the month, with a daily maximum of 244.4 mm.

False color satellite image in the Central America area, hurricane Zeta can be seen, distant but drawing humid air towards Costa Rica. Source and credit

The next few days will still be often rainy, due to the presence of the Monsoon Trof, defined as an enlarged low pressure zone along the ICTZ, a zone of intertropical convergence.

From climatology, in the month of November the rainy season should be thinning out, on average next month it sees about 180 mm, the middle of October, while only from December the rainy season will end, leading the area to the dry season.

We continue our weather monitoring, useful to understand the behaviour of biodiversity and, over time, to build a climatological database and better understand how the local climate changes.

Curated by Luca Lombroso, AMPRO Meteorologist

Experiences of Tropical Biology

If I were asked to describe my experience in Costa Rica in a few lines, I would certainly find myself in great difficulty.

This is because in addition to being a Field School it has also been a journey to discover what surrounds us, an opportunity to make friends with fellow travelers and above all it was, for me, an important introspective journey and a great source of inspiration. .
What we have lived, what we have seen and heard are not easy to explain to those who have never had a similar experience.
In fact, we found ourselves immersed in a luxuriant, lively and above all left to itself nature, without major anthropic interventions. Spending all those days in those magical places, never silent, makes me feel lucky and releases within me the great desire and determination to protect what remains and restore what has been lost.
There, in the reserves, the night is alive as I had never experienced it. Silence does not exist. When the sun leaves the horizon, a myriad of different life forms emerge, waiting patiently for their moment, the darkness. Wandering at night with torches in search of the strangest beings was an emotion that I will never forget.
It had never happened to me to feel so alive and in contact with what surrounds us, part of that whole from which we have slowly separated ourselves over the years.
Nothing should be taken for granted, every step is crucial.
Out there, at night, you are both prey and predator and you have the perennial feeling that anything could happen. Anything could appear or never appear and in that case you just have to keep looking for it.
After all the kilometers covered, after all the dust inhaled during the journeys, after having sweated for a long time, the message that I take home, tightly to my heart, is a message of hope. Meeting so many professionals, hearing them talk and seeing them move on the field was like watching an orange flame of a tired candle that despite the intense breeze continues to burn, undeterred.
They don’t care that many things are going wrong.
They continue to fight, sweat and live so that Nature is preserved.
I realized that feeling sorry for yourself is in fact wasted time.
This experience has also allowed us to put our heads out of the shell and see on a practical level what the advantages and disadvantages of life in the field can be, as well as the main difficulties that often, sitting in front of a bench, you are not able to fully grasp. It also allowed us to understand the potential specialist fields in which a naturalist can end up, the different topics that can be dealt with.
Walking with 25 kg on the shoulders with all the equipment, with little water and some snacks to reach the various goals is, for example, something that we can say that we have experienced at times on our skin. Or even more trivially we experienced the heat, the hordes of mosquitoes, humidity and insects to avoid.
But they are all memories that we will carry with us, all sensations that I already miss now. The final balance of the experience is obviously positive, but giving it a numerical value would be more than reductive.
I cannot quantify how useful this experience has been to me because if I can cultivate the ideas and emotions it gave me inside, its benefits could potentially last for many years to come.
It’s up to me to go back to my desk, go back to my exams, go back to libraries and feed myself with knowledge, science and knowledge. To then one day, perhaps, return to that distant land and take part, as a protagonist, in the defense of the planet.


There are firsts times that they never forget,
There are first times that impregnate the memory
and leave indelible memories and sensations.
And this is one of them.
We have been thrown across the globe,
transported by the vehicle that best embodies man
and his ability to go anywhere.
To then find ourselves, after a steep staircase, in the reserve.

The reserve impresses with its noisy silence,
because even when, the night is deep
and everything seems to be silent, it teems with life.
When illuminated, the darkness reveals a fertile life,
so far from what we’re used to,
which becomes difficult even to conceive.

There are experiences that open your eyes, mind and soul.
There are experiences that make you feel part of a whole,
that always surrounds you, but of which we often forget.
So go, investigate, discover, toil and above all open your eyes.

Liam Vezzani

Weather Report from the Karen Reserve

It is full rainy season in Costa Rica and our weather station is providing valuable data. Thanks to the development last February with maintenance of the rain gauge, clogged with leaves and more in the dry season, and to the cleaning of the temperature and humidity sensor where hives and other insects had found hospitality, the instrumentation also thanks to the subsequent interventions of prof. Dario Sonetti, who remained at the Italia Costa Rica Station until July, and at the controls of Mr Arnulfo, now collects very interesting data.
We knew, from climatology reconstructed by reanalyses (a method for reconstructing past data based on modeling) that October is a very rainy month both in quantity, 348.8 mm on average from the reconstructions of the period 1985-2015. both for frequency of rain, in October on average 25 days out of 31 are rainy. This year the trend is in line with the climatology, as you can see in the last 31 days the rains are almost daily, consistent overall, 217.4 mm from 1 October to today, 322.6 mm in September, but typical of the season, those in September, however, slightly below the climatological average.
The more experienced in meteorology can then note how the dynamics of the tropical circulation is completely different from ours in the middle latitudes, as can be seen from the atmospheric pressure trend, which does not see significant variations in value and has no evident correlation with the presence of rainfall. the reason is in the tropical circulation, and in the dynamics of precipitation, governed not by the passage of cold and hot fronts as in the middle latitudes, with adjoining depressions alternating with anticyclones, but everything is triggered by convective processes and even more in detail by the release of heat latent in the condensation process of the air masses. Humidity in particular can be transported from the sea, by evaporation processes, but also come from the forest itself. We do not go further into the details, also because it is precisely among the purposes of our monitoring to deepen these processes and the role of the ongoing climate change on the one hand and of the forest itself on the other.

Luca Lombroso

ACE-2 receptors and Coronavirus

To complete Prof. Di Renzo’s article about what we learned from the experience of CoViD-19, in which he listed a series of clinical manifestations of the new virus and other valuable information about behaviors to be taken, I would like to add the role of ACE-2 receptors that appear expressed and over-expressed to varying degrees in those who have been infected.

These receptors, mainly located in the pulmonary alveoli, are important co-receptors for the entry of the virus due to the specific interaction with the viral spike proteins. The ACE / AngII / AT1R intracellular axis that is activated then causes the release of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha with the serious damage that results.

The most interesting and alarming thing is that the overexpression of ACE-2 in the lung alveoli has been related to a chronic exposure to environmental pollution, in particular from PM 2.5. The expression of ACE-2 develops “normally” consequently and in protective and remedial terms against this chronic exposure to airborne contaminants, but unfortunately it involuntarily also becomes a key to the entry of the virus. The following considerations are evident, the virus has consistently affected more in those populations that are more exposed to environmental contamination by PM 2.5 because they already overexpress the ACE-2 receptor in their lungs. This may explain the high variability in the clinical presentation ranging from asymptomatic patients to patients who present a mild, moderate or severe form of the disease.

This may also explain the low incidence of the most severe syndrome in children, the limited exposure to PM 2.5 due to their young age may have exempted them from overexpression of the ACE-2 pulmonary receptor.

I remember that also the chronic nicotine exposure of tobacco smoke causes overexpression of ACE-2 and not for nothing a high morbidity to CoViD-19 is present in chronic smokers.

The above, obviously, does not want to exclude other possible causes that are still under study.

The avian community of the Karen Mogensen Reserve

The avian community of the Karen Mogensen Reserve, a wealth of biodiversity within the poorly investigated and threatened environments of northwestern Costa Rica
expand article info Matteo Dal Zotto, Giuseppe Romeo, Luis A. Mena Aguilar, Dario Sonetti, Aurora Pederzoli

Despite being characterized by some of the most threatened forest ecosystems of Mesoamerica, the Nicoya Peninsula is among the least known regions of neotropical Costa Rica in terms of its birdlife. Within this region, in the framework of an ongoing international cooperation program between Italy and Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to investigate the Karen Mogensen Reserve, a protected area distinguished by the presence of a variety of habitats, including tropical dry forest and moist forest. Species richness in the Reserve was relatively high compared with similar areas in northwestern Costa Rica. A series of surveys carried out over a 20-year period documented an avian community consisting of 207 species, of which 115 were breeding in the zone and another 14 were potentially breeding. We recorded five IUCN globally Vulnerable or Near-Threatened species, along with six species reported for the first time from the Nicoya Peninsula, each representing range extension of more than 100 km. Twenty-six species, mostly breeding in the area, are at their southernmost range borders, and are likely susceptible to global environmental alterations, such as the effects of climate change. Furthermore, our study revealed the presence of two species endemic to a restricted area of Central America and four subspecies endemic to Costa Rica, along with breeding populations of two species that are geographically isolated from the main ones. The present analysis led to the ecological characterization of the resident avian community, showing that 65% of the species are strictly associated with forested environments, and especially with the understory or middle tree level, hence more vulnerable to environmental change (climatic, anthropogenic, etc.) and susceptible to local extinction. These results underscore the importance of the Karen Mogensen Reserve for bird conservation within a vulnerable environmental context, and warrant the continuation of periodic bird surveys, taxonomic study of isolated populations or endemic taxa, and improvement of local conservation measures. The data collected will be an important tool for future studies aimed at evaluating the consequences of habitat fragmentation and to monitor the effects of climate change on the resident avifauna. We exhort the creation of programs that integrate bird monitoring, ecological research, conservation initiatives, and the involvement of the local communities, by promoting environmental education, capacity-building, and income generation. To this purpose, the Karen Mogensen Reserve may represent a convincing model and valuable example to apply in similar neotropical contexts.

Full article on the ZooKeys website:
“The avian community of the Karen Mogensen Reserve, a wealth of biodiversity within the poorly investigated and threatened environments of northwestern Costa Rica”