Photo via John Norton via Flickr CC
If you dreamed of being a scientist but took a different career path, here's your opportunity to do some side work to save the planet as a citizen scientist. Here's the skinny - volunteers from all over the nation are needed to get outside and start paying attention. The USA-National Phenology Network will use observations made by the volunteers about seasonal events, like the flowering of plants and when trees fruit, to track the effects of climate change.
"This program is designed for people interested in participating in climate change science, not just reading about it," said USA-NPN Executive Director and U.S. Geological Survey scientist Jake Weltzin. "We encourage everyone to visit the USA National Phenology Network Web site and then go outside and observe the marvelous cycles of plant and animal life."
The data collected will be important in understanding how climate change is effecting seasonal cycles and therefore human life. Using volunteers from all over the place will greatly increase how much data comes in to be analyzed.
You might be wondering exactly how scientific the data from armatures might be. The program provides easy-to-follow methods for volunteers to utilize, so the data can be a bit more organized and trustworthy. Plus, it's usually a good thing to listen to observations coming from people who know their home areas well. Avid hikers, campers, bird watchers and outdoorsy types can provide a lot of input about what they notice from season to season.
Among other uses, data collected by USA-NPN will help resource managers predict wildfires and pollen production, detect and control invasive species, monitor droughts, and assess the vulnerability of various plant and animal species to climate change.
So, if you want to be a citizen scientist, Check out the USA-NPN website, and make your next hiking trip an activist activity.