Public participation in climate science research: Plant phenology, climate change, and Project BudBurst

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Monday, 18 January 2010: 4:45 PM
B214 (GWCC)
Sandra Henderson, UCAR, Boulder, CO; and K. Meymaris, P. Alaback, K. Havens, and J. Schwarz

Providing opportunities for individuals to contribute to a better understanding of climate change is the hallmark of Project BudBurst (www.budburst.org). This highly successful, national citizen science program, now in its second year, is bringing climate change education outreach to thousands of individuals. Project BudBurst is a national citizen science initiative designed to engage the public in observations of phenological (plant life cycle) events that raise awareness of climate change, and create a cadre of informed citizen scientists. Citizen science programs such as Project BudBurst provide the opportunity for students and interested laypersons to actively participate in scientific research. Such programs are important not only from an educational perspective, but because they also enable scientists to broaden the geographic and temporal scale of their observations. The goals of Project BudBurst are to 1) increase awareness of phenology as an area of scientific study; 2) Increase awareness of the impacts of changing climates on plants; and 3) increase science literacy by engaging participants in the scientific process.

From its 2008 launch in February, this on-line educational and data-entry program, engaged participants of all ages and walks of life in recording the timing of the leafing and flowering of wild and cultivated species found across the continent. Thus far, participants from all 50 states have submitted data that is being submitted to the USA National Phenology Network (www.usanpn.org) database. Project BudBurst has been the subject of almost 300 media outlets including NPR, national and regional television broadcasts, and most of the major national and regional newspapers.

This presentation will provide an overview of Project Budburst and will report on the results of the 2009 field campaign and discuss plans to expand Project BudBurst in 2010. Project BudBurst is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the University of Montana in collaboration with the USA –NPN, NEON, National Geographic Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, NSF, and NASA.