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Climate Change and Citizen Science (East)
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Climate Change and Citizen Science (East)

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Observations by interested individuals help us better understand local impacts of climate change. Science researchers work with volunteers through citizen science projects to track changes in annual ...

Observations by interested individuals help us better understand local impacts of climate change. Science researchers work with volunteers through citizen science projects to track changes in annual plant blooming, frog calling, bird ranges, and other natural phenomena. This version opens with an example from the North East United States. A similar version is available highlighting the US Southwest.

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  • On a rainy night in 1970, on her farm in southern Massachusetts, Mrs. Kathleen Anderson heard the first spring peeper calls and marked in her notebook, “March 27th”.http://www.flickr.com/photos/furryscalyman/433269300/
  • Over the next thirty-two years, Mrs. Anderson’s peepers began calling earlier and earlier. In 2002, her notebook read: “Spring peeper, March 3rd”.
  • It wasn’t just the frogs starting their season early. When Mrs. Anderson shared her journal observations of birds, insects, amphibians, and plants with researchers at Boston University, they realized that twenty two different species were arriving or becoming active earlier and earlier each year.
  • And Mrs. Anderson is not alone. Across the country and around the world, people in their backyards, neighborhoods, and parks have been observing and recording changes.
  • Scientists now recognize the importance of these records. Careful observations made by interested individuals help to fill in details about how people, plants, and animals respond to a changing climate
  • Observations by Mrs. Anderson and others suggest that species in some places are changing their habits as the climate changes. http://www.flickr.com/photos/genista/6898950/
  • When we say climate change, we mean a recent and unusual rise in global temperature. Carbon dioxidetraps heat and warms the earth like a greenhouse. When we started burning fossil fuels in the late 1800’s, our blanket of carbon dioxide grew and trapped more heat.http://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/3202552999/
  • Volunteer and professional researchers have watched temperatures suddenly and steadily rise. With rising temperatures, severe weather events around the world have also increased.
  • We are just starting to look at how these changes impact the living things around us. To be certain thatchanges are related to climate, scientists must have observations from across continents and over long periods of time. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ontdesign/692369952/
  • Instead of working alone, some researchers now invite volunteers to join large-scale citizen science projects.
  • In citizen science, people everywhere use basic, scientific protocols to report observations of natural events.Hundreds and thousands of participants, all across the landscape, can contribute millions of observations every year, allowing scientists to ask questions they were never before able to answer.
  • Here’s an example. Bird enthusiasts like Vivian Pitzrick and Betsy Brooks searched for bird nests every spring in New York state. As part of the Nest Record Card Program, they carefully wrote down details about each nest throughout the season.
  • Their routine and regular observations, combined with thousands of others across the US and over time, allow scientists to compare details about nesting behaviors. Researchers also use these records to see how behaviors are changing. For example, scientists see that tree swallows now nest on average 9 days earlier than they did in 1959. (Dunn and Winkler 1999… could add more detail from Winkler et al)
  • There’s more.Observations by volunteers in the New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project show that four species of frogs are calling 10-13 days earlier now than in the beginning of the 1900s.(Gibbs and Breisch)http://www.flickr.com/photos/furryscalyman/433247980/in/set-72157594364089472/
  • Just since 1974, Christmas Bird Count volunteers across North America have seen many species of birds expand their northern ranges.(La Sorte and Thompson 2007)http://www.flickr.com/photos/furryscalyman/3840427877/in/set-72157594364089472/
  • Networks of observers across Europe show that blooming, leafing, and fruiting of plants is happening earlier and earlier. (Menzel et al 2006, could get more specific than this if needed… do they say anything about asynchronicity?)http://www.flickr.com/photos/cocreatr/2290237545/in/pool-whiteground
  • And the observations of participants in the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project have helped researchers predict that the butterfly’s ideal breeding conditions will be found farther north in the future. (Batalden et al 2007)http://www.flickr.com/photos/anitagould/46701075/
  • Each story on its own is important. Together, they suggest that large-scale changes are taking place. (Parmesan and Yohe 2003, Root et al 2003)http://www.flickr.com/photos/genista/6898950/
  • But these observations also suggest new questions to ask:What other natural events are changing, and how?Are the changes we’ve seen here continuing to take place?Are plant blooming, animal migrations, and other events all changing their timing together, or in different ways?Do changes mean species are adapting to climate change, or are they hurt by its effects?And…
  • Changes are happening everywhere, and volunteers are needed to help answer these questions.
  • Observations that may seem small can be of huge importance. We might not immediately see the importance of, for example, the date of the first frog call. But over time, and with the help of others, a step outside to notice what’s happening in your neighborhood can help us better understand how we all respond to a changing world.

Climate Change and Citizen Science (East) Climate Change and Citizen Science (East) Presentation Transcript

  • Climate Change and Citizen Science
  • On a rainy night in 1970, on her farm in southern Massachusetts, Mrs. Kathleen Anderson heard the first spring peeper calls and marked in her notebook, “March 27th”.
  • Over the next thirty-two years, Mrs. Anderson’s peepers began calling earlier and earlier. In 2002, her notebook read: “Spring peeper, March 3rd”.
  • It wasn’t just the frogs starting their season early. When Mrs. Anderson shared her journal observations of birds, insects, amphibians, and plants with researchers at Boston University, they realized that twenty two different species were arriving or becoming active earlier and earlier each year.
  • And Mrs. Anderson is not alone. Across the country and around the world, people in their backyards, neighborhoods, and parks have been observing and recording changes.
  • Scientists now recognize the importance of these records. Careful observations made by interested individuals help to fill in details about how people, plants, and animals respond to a changing climate.
  • Observations by Mrs. Anderson and others suggest that species in some places are changing their habits as the climate changes.
  • When we say climate change, we mean a recent and unusual rise in global temperature.
    14.6
    380
    Parts per million
    Degrees C
    13.6
    260
    1880
    2000
    Carbon Dioxide concentration
    Average surface temperature
    Temperatures have been increasing since the late 1880’s, along with a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • Carbon dioxide traps heat and warms the earth like a greenhouse.
    We have added to the natural blanket of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.
  • Volunteer and professional researchers have watched temperatures suddenly and steadily rise.
    With rising temperatures, severe weather events around the world have also increased.
    ~37%
    % Area with Hot Daily High Temps
    Heatwaves
    % Area with Hot Daily Low Temps
    ~15%
    ~10%
    ~4.5
    ~3
    Hurricane Power Index
    Atlantic Hurricanes
    27.6°C
    27.2°C
    Sea Surface Temp.
    Heavy Rain Events
    15%
    -13%
    0%
  • We are just starting to look at how these changes impact the living things around us.
    To be certain that changes are related to climate, scientists must have observations from across continents and over long periods of time.
  • Instead of working alone, some researchers now invite volunteers to join large-scale citizen science projects.
  • In citizen science, people everywhere use basic, scientific protocols to report observations of natural events.
    Hundreds and thousands of participants, all across the landscape, can contribute millions of observations every year, allowing scientists to ask questions they were never before able to answer.
  • Here’s an example. Bird enthusiasts like Vivian Pitzrick and Betsy Brooks searched for bird nests every spring in New York state.
    As part of the Nest Record Card Program, they carefully wrote down observations of each nest throughout the season.
  • Their routine and regular observations, combined with thousands of others across the US and over time, allow scientists to track details of nesting behaviors.
    Researchers see that tree swallows now nest on average 9 days earlier than they did in 1959.
  • There’s more.
    Observations by volunteers in the New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project show that four species of frogs are calling 10-13 days earlier now than in the beginning of the 1900s.
  • Just since 1974, Christmas Bird Count volunteers across North America have seen many species of birds expand their northern ranges.
  • Networks of observers across Europe show that blooming, leafing, and fruiting of plants is happening earlier and earlier.
  • And the observations of participants in the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project have helped researchers predict that the butterfly’s ideal breeding conditions will be found farther north in the future.
  • Each story on its own is important. Together, they suggest that large-scale changes are taking place.
  • But these observations also suggest new questions to ask:
    What other natural events are changing, and how?
    Are the changes we’ve seen here continuing to take place?
    Are natural events all changing their timing together, or in different ways?
    Do changes mean species are adapting to climate change, or are they hurt by its effects?
    And…
  • …how do things compare in your neighborhood?
    Changes are happening everywhere, and many of these questions can’t be answered without the help of volunteers.
  • Observations that may seem small can be of huge importance. We might not immediately see the importance of, for example, the date of the first frog call.
    But over time, and with the help of others, a step outside to notice what’s happening in your neighborhood can help us better understand how we all respond to a changing world.
  • Climate change in your backyard?
    Join a citizen science project and find out!
    http://www.citizenscience.org/climatechange/citsci
  • Supporting research by…
    Ledneva et al 2004
    Dunn and Winkler 1999
    Gibbs and Breisch 2001
    La Sorte and Thompson 2007
    Menzel et al 2006
    Batalden et al 2007
    Parmesan and Yohe 2003
    Root et al 2003
  • Images courtesy of…
    Kathleen Anderson
    Cornell Lab of Ornithology
    NOAA
    ZooFari
    Flickr and Creative Commons:
    furryscalyman , anitagould, ontdesign, genista, cocreatr, batintherain, mattlemmon
    AMC’s MountainWatch
    Prairies Across Kansas
    Beaver Creek Reserve
    OPIHI
  • Funding and support provided by…
    National Science Foundation (NSF)
    Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
    Communicating Climate Change (C3) project and partners
    Cornell Lab of Ornithology
    NOAA
    Kathleen Anderson and family