The great thing about contributing data to citizen science projects is that they often provide tools to summarize and compare your data. I love data!
The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you. Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers. All are worthy additions to the bucket. Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
At the end of the water year, the CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow) Network
, provided a summary for each station.
We signed up partway through October 2012, so it's not a full water year for us (the October bar is not for the full month). It's still pretty neat to see the summary. This shows what we recorded at our station here on the NE corner of the Olympic Peninsula compared to a 30-year average based on data from PRISM
Follow me below the convoluted line graph to see more data.
The next summary graph from CoCoRaHS shows the cumulative precipitation over the year, again compared with PRISM data. This confirms that calendar year 2013 (as opposed to the October through September water year) was relatively dry until we started making up for it in September.
CoCoRaHS has a cooperative relationship with PRISM for analysis to help connect our daily observations (weather) to long-term seasonal patterns and variations (climate). Average values of temperature and precipitation are computed over the preceding 30 years. PRISM's current set of 30-year normals cover the period 1981-2010 and have previously been based primarily on data collected by the NWS Cooperative network (but now includes observations from CoCoRaHS as well). In order to create a continuous map of precipitation across the country, even for locations for which no historical data exist, available data are fed into a computer model that estimates precipitation for a grid of square cells, measuring 0.5 mile across, covering the entire country. This model is the basis for the averages shown in the personalized summary graphs.
Another citizen science project in which I participate is Project FeederWatch. This will be my 4th year. They just revamped their website this year and added new visualization tools to look at your data in a couple of different ways. The first graph shows the number of species seen at each FeederWatch session during the 2012-13 season. It suggests that the number of species visiting my feeders grows a bit over the course of the winter.
Another visualization available allows the observer to compare years for a single species. For example, the following graph shows that my counts of Chestnut-backed Chickadees have grown over the years. This confirms my perception that my winter flock has been growing in size (to the point where it is difficult to count all the chickadees flitting in and out at one time).
The next graph for Townsend's warblers explains why I haven't seen one yet this season. They usually don't show up until mid-December, so I shouldn't be concerned about their absence just yet.
Those are graphs of just my own previous observations. But there is a lot more data available at FeederWatch. I had this vague feeling that Anna's Hummingbirds are becoming more prevalent here in the Pacific Northwest during the winter. I know my counts have increased over the years. But is that because my feeders have become well-known among the neighborhood ANHUs or is there a bigger trend? So I went to the overview data. Look at how the percentage of feeders visited by Anna's have grown in the North Pacific region! I guess I'm not the only participant in the PNW seeing more overwintering Anna's.
Yet another project to which I contribute is Nature's Notebook
. Nature’s Notebook is a program that engages observers across the nation to collect phenology observations on both plants and animals. Last spring, they specifically asked for observers for vine maples and I signed up. They recently sent out some results of dates of breaking leaf buds which was just the first of the stages we were asked to track. I just finished up the season when my vine maples dropped the last of their leaves.
It is fun to see how one's local observations, combined with the data from other citizen scientists, can contribute to a bigger picture. This graph is rather sparse. They need more observers so consider signing up next spring.
I'll be responding to your comments as soon as morning arrives on the west coast.
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