18
Mar
13

3.18.13 … I would love to be a spring watcher …

science, spring, National Phenology Network, WSJ.com:  I would love to be a spring watcher.

While satellites can capture the global sweep of seasons across an entire hemisphere, there is no substitute for field work when it comes to gauging the local effects of pollution, urban development and greenhouse gases that most scientists say contribute to climate change. The aim is to create a reliable technical daybook of seasonal change that researchers can use to better calculate the response of crops, forecast the onset of allergy seasons and manage wildlife.

Among nature’s most sensitive climate sensors are flowering plants. Long-term botanical records could show trends that yearly swings in seasonal weather don’t, as when unusually warm springs alternate with cooler ones, which has been the U.S. pattern for the past five years.

To enlist an army of observers, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation set up the National Phenology Network in 2007. This year, the network has more than 2,000 people tracking variations among 600 species of plants and animals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. So far, the group has logged almost two million data points through a public online program called Nature’s Notebook and hopes to add an additional million observations this year.

The federal project joins efforts by groups such as Project Budburst, which has collected seasonal data from more than 15,000 volunteers across the country, and an educational project called Journey North, funded by the Annenberg Foundation, which every year mobilizes students in some 6,000 schools to report sightings of migrating birds, butterflies and flowering plants.

“We want to capture the changes day-by-day throughout the seasons,” said geographer Mark Schwartz at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who monitors lilacs at a thousand U.S. locations.

via A Science of Signs of Spring – WSJ.com.


0 Responses to “3.18.13 … I would love to be a spring watcher …”



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