Archive for the ‘Climate & Weather’ Category

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs and CoCoRaHS Wants to Know Where and How Many Fell

By March 11th, 2017 at 9:31 am | Comment

You may have noticed some strange weather recently where you live. For example, in February, it reached 100o in Mangum, Oklahoma when 56o is the average. For the first time ever, temperatures in Antartica rose to the high 60s. And when was the last time you saw a headline reading Hawaii Has Had More Snow than Chicago or Denver in 2017? Some may link these strange events to a changing climate, and although climate influences weather patterns, it’s important to make a distinction between the two to fully understand the impacts of global climate change.

Neil Degrasse Tyson communicates this distinction with an analogy of a man walking his dog, and another common analogy states: “weather influences what clothes you wear on a given day, while the climate where you live influences the entire wardrobe you buy.” Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Science to track weather and climate change

By March 2nd, 2017 at 11:05 am | Comment

Photo: NASA

Photo: NASA

Many scientists rely on “small data” from  volunteers to understand local and global weather patterns and climate change. Collectively, the data are used to calibrate weather instruments on NASA satellites, or by the National Weather Service to refine forecasts or flood warnings.  Below, we highlight five projects turning small data into big impacts.  You can find more projects on SciStarter to do now or bookmark your favorites for later.  Learn more about small-to-big data in citizen science.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

CoCoRaHS
Install a rain gauge and start measuring precipitation with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. The data are publicly available and used by weather forecasters, scientists, farmers, and more.
Get started! United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photo: Osvaldo Sala
International Drought Experiment
This ambitious global experiment is attempting to measure drought effects in different ecosystems. You’ll need to build or purchase “drought shelters” making this an ideal, long-term project for schools and community groups.
Get started! Global

MIT Climate CoLab
Climate CoLab uses collective intelligence and creativity to find ways to counteract climate change. When you join the project, you collaborate with people from across the world to develop proposals to combat climate change.

Photo: USFWS
Picture Pile
A huge array of online photographs awaits you. By sorting and classifying the images, you will help researchers study issues including global climate change.
Get started! Online

Photo: USFWS
NASA Globe Observer: Clouds
Satellite images convey important information about the earth, but on-the-ground data are also needed to “ground-truth” satellite data. You can help by taking photos of clouds and sky conditions, identifying the types of clouds you see, and sharing the information with NASA.
Get started! Global


Excited about urban nature? The City Nature Challenge will be happening in cities across the United States this Spring. Find one near you in the SciStarter Event Finder!  Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Coming to Consensus on Classifying Cyclones

By November 8th, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Comment

Cyclone. Image Credit: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone#/media/File:Cyclone_Catarina_from_the_ISS_on_March_26_2004.JPG

Cyclone. Image Credit: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone#/media/File:Cyclone_Catarina_from_the_ISS_on_March_26_2004.JPG

For years,  weather-monitoring agencies around the globe have collected data to help determine whether and how tropical cyclones — called hurricanes in the US — change over time.

But another thing that changes over time is the technology used to record storm data. This, combined with changes in record keeping standards has created an inconsistent dataset that is difficult to analyze collectively. Climatologists are left with two options: limit their research to a subset of the data and risk of a less representative analysis, or reorganize the data into a consistent format, a time- consuming task.

Cyclone Center, a collaboration between academic, non-profit and government organizations, is enlisting citizen scientists to attempt the latter. Through its website, volunteers are helping Although image classification is a common task in crowdsourced projects across multiple science fields, Cyclone Center is the first project to tackle such a massive meteorological dataset.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Poetry of Science at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

By October 26th, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Comment

Carl Sandburg Home National Historical Site stretches over 246 rolling acres in Flat Rock, N.C. The writer and poet Sandburg moved to the property in 1945 for the solitude the natural landscape provides. Today, it is a place where nature, science, and creativity intertwine.

By measuring tree canopy cover, visitors to the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site citizen science trail contribute to research showing how differences in sunlight affect the ecosystem. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

By measuring tree canopy cover, visitors to the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site citizen science trail contribute to research showing how differences in sunlight affect the ecosystem. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

Five miles of trails meander throughout the site – some leisurely strolls on walking paths, others intense climbs that summit onto a bucolic overlooks. One trail in particular offers a new and innovative experience that marries the beauty of the setting with the investigative opportunity that inherently exists in nature. The first Kids in Parks Citizen Science TRACK Trail, a program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, was designed to create and interactive trail experience for children and the adults with them to stop, observe, and reflect on their surroundings.

A canopy of hemlock, maple, and pine shade the mile-long loop that encircles a lake. The citizen science trail guides participants through a series of interactive stations where visitors can measure the age of a tree by counting the rings, test the quality of the water, and observe the weather by reading a thermometer and making observations. Another station provides a bench for visitors to look out across the lake and simply record whatever nature they see. There’s also a place to record your own poem–a nod to Sandburg and the recognition of this site as a tribute to American literature and a reminder of the inexorable link between nature, science, and art.

The view from Little Glassy Mountain, part of the citizen science trail at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Credit: Russ Campbell

The view from Little Glassy Mountain, part of the citizen science trail at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

Administrators at Kids in Parks collect the data, explains director Jason Urroz. “It’s a great way to get kids to collect data and be involved in the science learning process,” he says.

As Carl Sandburg wrote, “Nothing happens unless first we dream.” Park staff themselves had a dream to create a new citizen science trail that would engage visitors in all aspects of what the park has to offer. Supported by the National Park Foundation, they turned this dream into an opportunity to discover the rich and unique environment of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

 


Russ Campbell heads communication at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a private biomedical foundation located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. He is a volunteer with the Turtle Rescue Team, based out of the North Carolina State University Veterinary School. He is the cofounder of the Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC).

Whenever, wherever, you and citizen science are meant to be together

By October 13th, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Comment

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If you can see this, you can advance scientific research right now!
Below, our editors highlight five, digital citizen science projects you can do online now!  Find more with the Scistarter Project Finder.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Read the rest of this entry »