Friday, October 21, 2011

Tracking Climate Change with Your Nature Journal

Backyard nature-watchers are teaming up with scientists to track the relationships between climate and plants. This isn’t something new – about 60 years ago Aldo Leopold, who observed the plants and birds and insects on his farm, combed through ten years of journals to see how things had changed over time. He found a correlation between temperature and flower blooming.

Later, his daughter moved back to the family farm and resumed nature journaling. When scientists compared her observations to those of her father, half a century earlier, they discovered that over those decades some plants had begun blooming earlier, and some migratory birds returned earlier. Over that same period of time the earth warmed about two degrees.

The study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events is called “phenology”. It doesn't take much to be a "phenologist" - just a pencil, a notebook and a desire to look closely at the world. You can keep track of plants and animals in your back yard. Who knows? Maybe the notes you keep will help scientists in the future. If you're interested in helping scientists collect data for climate research right now, check out Project BudBurst

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful idea.

    I have found my blogs can be used this way, too. I usually post pictures of events within a few days of seeing them, so I can look back and figure out when I saw that ant or those cicadas last year.