Looking for a new project? Fall is a great time to join a citizen science program, where you can share your own observations about nature with scientists. Citizen science volunteers can collect far more data than science researchers can alone, playing an important role in scientific discovery!
Viewer Tip: Make discoveries where you live. Here are just a few projects you can participate in as a citizen scientist:
- Monitor Weather: Every drop counts! Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) volunteers learn how to measure precipitation using a rain gauge and hail pad, record their data and report their measurements online. Data collected by volunteers complements observations made by the National Weather Service and is used by local meteorologists, researchers, emergency managers, farmers, outdoor enthusiasts, teachers and others. Sign up to become a volunteer observer with CoCoRaHS at www.cocorahs.org.
- Monitor Water Quality: How healthy is your local stream or lake? World Water Monitoring Challenge volunteers measure key water quality indicators by using a simple test kit to measure water temperature, acidity (pH), clarity and dissolved oxygen levels. All of these indicators can impact aquatic wildlife - high water temperature or extremely acidic water can make it hard for some fish, insects and plants to survive. Clear water with ample dissolved oxygen will support a wide variety of plants and animals. The official World Water Monitoring Day is September 18 each year, but you can monitor and report your findings throughout the year. Learn more, register a site and get a test kit at www.worldwatermonitoringday.org.
- Monitor Monarch Butterflies: Drought conditions along the migration trail of monarch butterflies means less available nectar - could this impact the monarchs' fall flight to Mexico? Recent reports from Journey North are showing that monarch roosts (clusters of butterflies spending the night in trees) are smaller in size and forming later compared to other years. Contribute your observations to help scientists track the butterflies and learn how weather and environmental conditions impact migration. www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/.
Learn more about citizen science and its impact in this infographic.
(Sources: CoCoRaHS Program; World Water Monitoring Challenge; Journey North)