Archive for the ‘England’ tag

Treezilla: A Monster of a Citizen Science Project

By September 12th, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Comment 1

This post is part of this week’s featured projects about other tree projects. Take a look!

treemap

Maps are everywhere these days. They have become as ubiquitous in our daily lives as they have in the science community. Citizen science projects that utilize maps are instantly familiar, easy to use, and enrich scientific data with a valuable spatial component.

Treezilla is a tree-mapping project based in Great Britain and hopes to enlist citizen scientists to map every single tree in the UK. Many of the trees in Britain’s forests have already been mapped (nearly 3.8 billion, in fact). However, the estimates of urban trees in cities, parks, and people’s yards have been poorly catalogued. These trees, although in much smaller number, still have a significant ecological value and are important to study.

Like other tree mapping projects, Treezilla offers an easy to use mapping website that allows citizen scientists to identify tree species and enter measurements, descriptions, and photos online. Treezilla even offers teaching materials, identification guides, and tips on how to measure large trees. If you don’t know the exact species of a tree, other community members can log on and help out based on your descriptions and photos. This allows for a very comprehensive set of data and gives participants a chance to interact with the scientists using the data.

In fact, the potential scientific contribution of this project is quite grand. The site offers built in tools for calculating the amount of CO2 captured and what total economic benefit is gained from the different types of species for a given area. Ultimately, the data will be used to help scientists identify important trends in certain tree species in response to climate change, disease, and land use patterns. You can help by heading to the SciStarter Trezilla project page.

Mapping is an increasing trend in citizen science. Many of these projects are easy – log on, add points to a map, enter your data, and that’s it!


Nick Fordes is a science enthusiast who enjoys doing, teaching, and communicating science. Nick recently graduated from the University of Idaho with an M.S. in Water Resources. His research involved creating a web-based participatory GIS application for use in watershed management. He has a true love for technology and appreciation for what the web-based communications can do for promoting science and increasing science literacy. Nick most recently worked with the Council for Environmental Education, developing K-12 environmental science based curriculum. In his spare time, Nick enjoys biking the bayous in Houston and fishing as often as he can. He has been known to use his scientific knowledge to make a pretty mean brisket.

Image: Treezilla

6 Ways to Study England’s Natural Environment

By January 19th, 2012 at 7:46 am | Comment 1

Explore your surroundings!

From searching for invertebrates to measuring wind speed, everyone can gain new knowledge and skills and play their part in protecting the natural environment. This is the philosophy of Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), a project based in England that encourages the public to explore their surroundings, record their findings, and submit their results to the OPAL national database making their contribution available to scientists and others involved in environmental science and policy.

OPAL has created six surveys that the public can use to collect data and all are important areas of research:

OPAL Soil and Earthworm Survey
OPAL Air Survey
OPAL Water Survey
OPAL Biodiversity Survey
OPAL Climate Survey
OPAL Bugs Count

Each one of these surveys has been designed so that anyone can use them – no specialist knowledge is needed to take part and equipment is either provided or is easy to make or find. The instructions are simple to follow and each survey contains a ‘workbook’ for recording results. Once people have completed their survey, they upload their results onto the OPAL website or send them by post.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to contribute to science by blowing bubbles

By March 19th, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Comment 1

Contributing to science is as easy as having fun! (Photo: State of Oregon)

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 biodiversitysoil 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.

Check out the full list of projects! For more information, visit the official OPAL website.