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NASA's SMAP Satellite Mission

NASA recently launched the SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite which is orbiting the globe every three days to measure soil moisture levels. This data will be used to improve weather forecasts, detail water/energy/carbon cycles, monitor droughts, predict floods, and assist crop productivity.

How accurate is the big data from the satellite? There's only one way to find out and it depends on you to report local data! SciStarter's citizen science community has been called on to help calibrate the accuracy of NASA's satellite mission and to learn more about your soil quality in the process.

Participants from every state will collect and analyze soil samples from September through June.
In this project, you will:

-register your location(s)
-receive alerts when the SMAP satellite is scheduled to fly over you
-scoop a handful of soil, a few times a month (when the satellite is flying over), weigh it, dry it for a day or two, and weigh it again. After some simple conversions, you'll send the data to NASA and be able to compare it to what NASA's SMAP satellite is reporting.

Sign up as an individual or team. One team in each state will receive equipment from NASA needed for this project including a heat lamp and graduated cylinder. SciStarter will sell and loan full kits including a heat lamp, graduated cylinder, and balance. A complete list of materials is available on the sign up form, here: http://www.goo.gl/forms/rnUEuAJ4Tu .




GeckoWatch

GeckoWatch is a citizen science project to map the fine-scale distribution of nonnative geckos in the United States. The primary interest is in mapping the rapidly increasing range of the Mediterranean House Gecko, Hemidactylus turcius. However, we are interested in all nonnative gecko species.

There are at least 18 species of nonnative geckos that have established populations in the United States. Although many of these species are known only in Florida, others are showing up with increasing regularity in multiple states. At the most extreme end is the Mediterranean House Gecko, which has established populations in at least 24 states in the U.S.

To undertake any research on these nonnative geckos, scientists must first understand where these geckos occur. As we learn about the rapidly changing distributions of these nonnative geckos, we can then ask:

1. What are the impacts of these nonnative geckos on our native species?

2. What makes some species successful colonizers?

3. What are the likely routes of colonization?

Observations from citizen scientists are essential to answering these questions and allowing us to learn about the biology of these nonnative geckos.




RASCals (Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California)

RASCals is designed to improve our knowledge of native and non-native reptiles and amphibians in southern California. This region is home to 22.5 million people and has experienced dramatic urbanization and habitat modification. We need your help in documenting reptiles and amphibians throughout the region so that we can examine how various species have responded to these habitat changes. We are interested in native and non-native species and in observations in all types of habitats, from relatively pristine habitats to heavily modified, urban habitats, such as backyards, schoolyards, and urban parks. This project is conducted in collaboration with iNaturalist.




Salamander Crossing Brigades

As the earth thaws and spring rains drench New Hampshire, thousands of amphibians make their way to vernal pools to breed. Many are killed when their journeys take them across busy roads. Each spring, the citizen science arm of the Harris Center for Conservation Education (www.aveo.org) trains volunteers to serve on Salamander Crossing Brigades at amphibian road crossings throughout the Monadnock Region of southwestern New Hampshire. These citizen scientists move migrating amphibians across roads by hand during one or more “Big Nights,” keeping count as they go.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, over 600 volunteers have helped nearly 25,000 amphibians survive the most dangerous journeys of their lives. In addition, the City of Keene purchased land – previously slated for development – to protect a migratory amphibian corridor that was documented by our volunteers. As our efforts grow, the data our citizen scientists collect could be used for land conservation or road improvements that protect amphibians in other places, too.




FrogWatch USA™

FrogWatch USA Chapters are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and are hosted and managed by zoos, aquariums, and like-minded organizations.

At training sessions hosted by a local chapter, volunteers learn to identify local frog and toad species by their calls during the breeding season and how to report their findings accurately. By mastering these skills, volunteers gain increased experience and control over asking and answering scientific questions which, in turn, augments science literacy, facilitates conservation action and stewardship, and increases knowledge of amphibians.




Precipitation ID Near the Ground (PING)

The National Severe Storms Laboratory needs YOUR help with a research project!

If you live in the area shown on the map, the Precipitation Identification Near the Ground project (PING) wants YOU to watch and report on precipitation type.

PING is looking for young, old, and in-between volunteers to make observations—teachers, classes and families too! We have collected tens of thousands of observations since 2006, already making PING successful because of your help.

PING volunteers can spend a little or a lot of time making observations. The basic idea is simple: the National Severe Storms Laboratory will collect radar data from NEXRAD radars in your area during storm events, and compare that data with YOUR observations.

Why? Because the radars cannot see close to the ground, we need YOU to tell us what is happening. Scientists will compare your report with what the radar has detected, and develop new radar technologies and techniques to determine what kind of precipitation—such as snow, soft hail, hard hail, or rain—is falling where.





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