Archive for the ‘climate change’ tag
On Tuesday, July 26 at 9pm ET, The Weather Channel will air the “Changing Planet” Town Hall focused on clean energy and green jobs. Science for Citizens is a partner in this three-part series.
Here’s more information from NBC News:
This town hall broadcast is the second in a 3-part series that brings together scientists, thought leaders and students for a discussion on the issues of climate science.
The Weather Channel announced that it will air a “Changing Planet: Clean Energy, Green Jobs, and Global Competition” on Tuesday, July 26th at 9 PM/ET. NBC News Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson moderated the event, which was hosted by George Washington University. The town hall meeting is the second in a three-part series produced under a partnership between NBC Learn (the educational arm of NBC News), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Discover magazine.
The “Changing Planet” town hall series is intended to encourage student learning and to open a dialogue about climate change by gathering scientists, thought leaders, business people, and university students to discuss the facts of climate science, understand their implications, brainstorm solutions and even get involved in real research through citizen science projects on ScienceForCitizens.net.
“Today’s technology allows us to think about new energy options that impact the planet less and help the economy more,” said Thompson. “It is critical that we have these important discussions about how clean energy and the economy can go hand in hand, in order to bring the best solutions to the spotlight.”
This edition of “Changing Planet” brings together over 100 students and features four leading experts from the science and business communities: Chris Busch, Director of Policy and Program at Apollo Alliance; Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Chief Executive Officer of Green For All; Timothy Juliani, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Ken Zweibel, Director at the GW Solar Institute.
How are museums getting young people involved with citizen science? Guest blogger Katie Levedahl tells the story of how her museum, the Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY, is helping kids become citizen scientists while they learn about climate change.
It is becoming more apparent that people of all ages want to learn more than just the facts about climate change—they want to know what they can DO to address this problem.
The Sciencenter in Ithaca, New York, has been working on projects that go beyond learning the facts about climate change, empowering children to use science to shape a better future. Sure, we still encourage kids to save energy by turning the lights off and riding their bikes whenever possible, but a recent collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) has allowed us to start exploring citizen science as an avenue of climate change education.
Three years ago we embarked on a project to engage middle school students in CLO’s NestWatch program, which contributes to our understanding of how climate change affects nesting birds. Studies have already shown that some bird species are nesting earlier in the year, which impacts important timing considerations such as food availability. With funding from the National Science Foundation, great support from scientists at CLO, and a group of middle school volunteers, we began using citizen science to explore the link between climate change and nesting birds.
After building and installing our nestboxes around school grounds and in our backyards, we waited for the birds to arrive. Within days, the middle school volunteers were observing and recording bird behavior, including adhering to NestWatch data collection protocols such as discretely sneaking up on the nestboxes. We recorded our observations on the NestWatch data sheet and entered them online into the growing continent-wide database. We also completed activities and research that helped us understand our own local ecosystem and its vulnerability to climate change.
In general, citizen science, or “regular, normal, average people helping with science” as our middle school participants would say, involves people of all ages learning how to collect data, make observations, and contribute to research projects. There are many citizen science projects with implications for understanding climate change — from monitoring frogs through FrogWatch to observing the timing of plant behavior with Project Budburst.
The Cloned Plants Project needs citizen scientists to observe the leafing and flowering of cloned plants, like lilacs and dogwoods, and submit their findings to researchers. These observations will help researchers better understand the interaction between the atmosphere (weather and climate) and the biosphere (living organisms).
The project is part of the USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)’s nationwide effort to make phenology data available to researchers and decision-makers. Phenology is the study of life cycle events of plants and animals and how these events impact the climate. Science for Citizens is currently offering a phenology project on Robins through our partnership with USA-NPN, NBC Learn, the National Science Foundation, and Discover Magazine. (If you spot a robin, let us know here!)
I had a chance to chat with Erin Posthumus, an outreach assistant at the USA-NPN’s National Coordinating Office. She gave me all the details on the Cloned Plants Project, including how you can contribute and what will happen with all the data. Off we go!
First things first: what’s a cloned plant?
Erin: Cloned plants are genetically identical individual plants.
Why would you use a cloned plant to conduct a study?
Erin: Making observations on plants that have the same genetic make-up (clones) allows us to separate environmental responses from genetic responses. If we monitor a cloned lilac in New York and a cloned lilac in Georgia, we can look at differences between them, such as later bloom time, and better detect the climate change signal.
Researchers need YOUR help tracking the presence of American robins, so they can compare your observations with other environmental data, including climate and weather changes. American robins are arriving in the Colorado Rockies 14 days earlier than they did 30 years ago and have been spotted in parts of Alaska for the first time. Because robins consume a wide variety of foods, an increase or decrease in their population may indicate (or impact) changes in other animal and plant species. It’s time for you to get involved and help the planet!
All you have to do:
1. Spot a robin
2. Record the date and location
3. Take note of its activity (what is it doing? what is it eating? is it near other birds?)
4. Share your results
This project is part the Changing Planet series, presented by the National Science Foundation, NBC News, Discover Magazine, Science For Citizens and Planet Forward. Changing Planet” is a series of three televised Town Hall meetings, hosted by Tom Brokaw of NBC News, on what climate change means. The first event, held at Yale, airs on the Weather Channel tonight at 8pm ET. We’ll also post the video here on Monday, April 25.
Here are four other awesome projects to start on Earth Day:
|Earth Day Photo and Essay Contest: Celebrate Earth Day with middle school students (grades 5-8) across the country by taking a photograph of something changing in your local environment. Then, research and write an essay about the photograph. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies will award a variety of prizes, including a digital camera, digital photo frame and digital photo keychain, and more. Send in your pictures by April 29, 2011!|
|Sound Around You: Help researchers build a sound map of the world as part of a study into how sounds in our everyday environment make us feel. Just use your mobile phone (or other recording device) to record 10 to 15 second clips from different sound environments, or “soundscapes” – anything from the inside of a family car to a busy shopping center. Then, upload the clips to a virtual map!|
|Cloned Plants Project: Plant a lilac and contribute to a phenology monitoring project over 50 years in existence! Participants plant a lilac clone and record observations of recurring life cycle stages such as leafing and flowering on the USA National Phenology Network webpage. Observations of cloned plants help predict crop yields and bloom dates of other species, control insects and disease, and assist with monitoring the impact of global climate change.|
|BeeSpotter: Get out there with your camera and capture some good pictures of bees! Researchers need your help better understand bee demographics in the state of Illinois. You’ll help BeeSpotter researchers establish a baseline for monitoring bee population declines and learn about bees in the process.|
The festival promises to be an event like no other, with over 80 exhibitors offering non-stop family-friendly experiments, interactive activities, games, and a packed line-up of live entertainment. Best of all, the event is free, open to all ages, and requires absolutely no pre-registration.
The Science for Citizens team will be there to host our own exhibit (Booth 62), featuring two different opportunities for you to participate in hands-on scientific research. Come and join the fun. We hope to see you this weekend!
|Researchers need YOUR help tracking the presence of American robins, so they can compare your observations with other environmental data. If you spot a robin at the festival, record the time and note its activity. Then visit our booth to log your data. The person who logs the most robin sightings wins a prize!|
|Did you know that you can contribute to science by blowing bubbles? It’s true! We’ll be creating our very own “bubble cones” and launching bubbles into the air. Then, you’ll simply record in which direction and how far the bubbles travel. All of this data will be submitted to the Open Air Laboratory in support their larger effort to study how obstacles in our environment affect the speed and direction of wind around us.|
Energy is a strange thing. It floats around you, fills you up until you’re about ready to burst, and then it skips off, leaving you to keep up as best you can. Last Thursday and Friday were two full days of such energy, when 60 professionals from such exotic places as Alaska, Colombia and New Jersey got together to discuss why and how public participation in scientific research (PPSR) is necessary if we are to save the world’s biodiversity. The amazing thing about this workshop wasn’t so much that these people had a similar goal (after all, who doesn’t want to save the world?), but rather that the participants brought such a diversity of backgrounds, academic disciplines and institutions to the table.
Although the participation of citizens in scientific research goes back centuries, it is only very recently that there has been a push and pull from many different areas, leading to an amazing expansion of this kind of research and a demand for new ideas, ways to engage, and methods to understand how and why this can ultimately lead us forward in conservation. The 50+ projects that were represented during this workshop illustrated this expansion not only by what they had in common – citizen engagement, data collection, and links to better conservation management – but also by what they didn’t. While some projects, like FrogWatch USA or Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, invite participants from across the United States to collect data on a wide geographical scale, other projects such as Ndee bini’ bida’ilzaahi (Pictures of Apache Land) and the Fresno Bird Count are place-specific, uniquely adapted to the needs of their local community and natural environment. Read the rest of this entry »
What does it mean to think scientifically?
If you asked me this question when I first moved back to New York three years ago, I’m quite positive I would have said something like, “What do I know? I’m not a scientist,” and pointed the questioner in the direction of the nearest pocket-protecting nerd in the vicinity.
Science was never one of my best subjects (I can still remember my high school physics teacher, Dr. Moroni, speeding out of the parking lot in his Pontiac Aztek to avoid telling me that I had failed the final exam). In fact, it was the very last thing I thought I would get involved in upon settling into my artsy Brooklyn neighborhood in 2008 to write my first novel. However, since my discovery of citizen science through the Earthwatch Institute and WildMetro, I now consider myself an unofficial member of the super hip NYC science community, whose events on such sexy topics as the dark matter and neuroscience are more likely to be full of trendy 30-somethings sipping beer out of plastic cups than pale, lab coat wearing individuals with microscope indentations around their eyes.
To begin a journey into the realm of the scientific mind, let’s go back in time about 177 years ago, when the word “scientist” first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary. Before this transitional moment in human history, people we would now think of as scientists were called “natural philosophers” – those who studied the workings of nature. Some of these philosophers, such as Anton van Leeuwenhoek and Michael Faraday, had little formal training in their chosen subjects, but came to learn about science through a personal desire to come up with answers to their individual questions about the universe. Science was less a profession or an academic field as it was a way of thinking about the world and understanding its mysteries through direct observation.
In some ways, the study of science was more accessible two hundred years ago than it is in today’s science classrooms, where students are typically tested on their ability to remember the answers to hundreds of questions that have already been answered, rather than being encouraged to look up at the sky or at a blade of grass and come up with questions of their own.
Did you know that you can contribute to science by blowing bubbles? It’s true! The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is asking citizen scientists in England to use bubbles to calculate wind direction and speed.
All you need to do is create a “bubble cone” using a piece of paper and some tape. Then, with some bubble solution, you’re ready to start launching bubbles and recording in which direction and how far they travel. Researchers on OPAL’s Climate Survey will use this data to investigate how human activities affect the climate.
This is just one of five easy ways that you can help scientists study the state of England’s natural environment. OPAL’s projects offer a wide range of opportunities to study biodiversity, soil health, air and water quality, and the impact of humans on climate.
The best part: people from all age groups and skill levels can participate, and the project website offers easy step-by-step instructions. It usually doesn’t take more than an hour to make an important contribution to science.
iPhones, Androids phones, and other mobile devices are making it incredibly easy for citizen scientists to make observations and share their findings with researchers. Mobile apps are already aiding the study of wildlife, invasive plant species, and even acoustics, just to name a few. You could say that apps are the hottest thing in citizen science!
In spring 2011, the Maryland Science Center is set to release the hottest mobile phone app of them all — one that will allow the public to submit temperature measurements and contribute to climate change research.
I recently had a chance to chat with Felicia Savage, an informal educator with the Maryland Science Center and institutional lead for the Communicating Climate Change (C3) citizen science project. Felicia gave me a primer on C3 and an exclusive look at Temperature Blast, the soon-to-be-released citizen science app. Enjoy!
What the C3: Communicating Climate Change project all about?
Felicia: C3 a project undertaken by twelve Science Centers nationally with the shared objective of involving the public in climate change research.
Our C3 project, while not directly researching anthropogenic global warming, invites users to participate in a study of Baltimore’s Urban Heat Island. The hope here is to informally educate them on the difference between climate and weather and the real need for long-term observations to accurately model climate.
What’s the difference between an Urban Heat Island and climate change?
Felicia: An Urban Heat Island is a phenomenon classified by temperature differences between a metropolitan area and more rural landscape nearby. An Urban Heat Island is not an effect of climate change, but rather of human activity shaping the environment around us.
Part of this connection is that steps taken to reduce the Urban Heat Island also have a negative effect on the use of fossil fuels. For instance, a home with a green roof will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter due to the evapotranspiration and insulating properties of its vegetation. This cooling effect will lower the temperature of the surrounding air in the summer and also reduce the use of energy in cooling or heating a home.
How do you decide where to make temperature measurements?
Felicia: We worked with urban climatologists at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study to decide where to make measurements by first narrowing down sites from the region’s collection of WeatherBug stations. To be considered as a possible site, stations were evaluated for tree cover, development, and location within or outside of Baltimore.
So what do citizen scientists actually DO in C3?
Felicia: Citizen scientists participating in C3 collect data for use in climate studies. With the Maryland Science Center’s project, this data will be submitted to urban climatologists at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study for use in modeling the region’s temperature patterns. Previously, this data was collected by local resident volunteers who stepped outside theirs doors once a month after sundown to measure air temperatures at their location. The development of an application was actually inspired by an experience as a citizen scientist in this former iteration. I was outside slinging a psychrometer when it came to mind to simultaneously check the air temperature reported at the nearest WeatherBug station through my new Motorola Droid. The whole idea grew from there.
As record levels of snow blanket much of the United States this year, Science For Citizens is collaborating with an important climate research project at the University of Waterloo called Snow Tweets. We’re pleased that this is the first of many scientific projects that you’ll be able to do on Science for Citizens.
To help researchers track climate change, we’re requesting that you find a ruler, put on a warm coat, go outside, and measure the depth of snow wherever you happen to be. And then report the depth to us right here. That’s all there is to it! You’re simple action will help the planet. Your data will advance climate science, and you’ll get to see your depth report appear on our world map of snow tweets.
To help you get started, we put together this “How To” video complete with some empirical evidence from your fellow citizen scientists. Enjoy, and please share wildly on your social network of choice.