As the climate changes, the four seasons do not always arrive when expected. And because climate scientists cannot be everywhere at once, they need help tracking these changes.

Citizen science observer

To help fill that gap, the National Phenology Network created a citizen science project called “Nature’s Notebook.” The project asks regular citizens with a passion for nature to record and contribute their own observations of plants and animals in their backyards.

Assistant director Theresa Crimmins says participants have identified changes such as lilacs leafing out earlier than normal, bees buzzing before there are flowers …

Theresa Crimmins
Theresa Crimmins

Crimmins: “Or migratory birds coming north after the winter and their food sources already being past their prime.”

Scientists then combine the information with climate models and other data to answer real-world questions.

Crimmins: “A group of researchers looked to see whether the range of an invasive plant, ragweed, was likely to change in the future. And they showed that ragweed is only going to spread and get worse.”

”Grab Click To Tweet

Crimmins says contributing is simple. You select which plants or animals you want to observe on a weekly basis, and answer yes-no questions about them.

By taking part in Nature’s Notebook, you can help advance climate science.

Reporting credit: Les Vonderlin/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Nature’s Notebook (Brian Powell).

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Nature’s Notebook

Jan O'Brien was assistant editor and website manager at Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. She brought more than three decades of experience in environmental publishing and policy research and more...