Citizen Scientists Mobilize!

2019-06-04 20:41:37.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist

 

Every time I stepped out last night to a scene of snow and rime, I found myself double-checking my smartphone’s calendar to make sure that it was indeed June. Especially since just a night or two earlier I had done my shift in shorts and a t-shirt and now I am bundling up hourly to step outside to take on the “June-uary” weather. However, I know from working here as long as I have, snow in early June is not unusual and in a day or two, our observations will merely be a memory for all of us up here experiencing it. And those that don’t follow our feed will come up to the summit without a clue that any of this ever happened as it all quickly melts off. Such is the nature of the mountain.
 
Short description of imageSunrise view of Mt Washington, 4 June 2019
 
The good news though, as we head deeper into summer, milder weather will prevail allowing more and more people to get out and explore the various natural environments of New Hampshire and other points in northern New England. If the White Mountains are on your list of places to explore, many of you will likely be snapping pictures of your journey with your smartphone; I know I do when I go hiking. But did you know that your smartphone can also aid in expanding scientific research and knowledge by utilizing a few select apps? And inputting data is typically quick and easy typically only taking a few seconds here and there. If this sounds like something interesting to you, here are three apps I have on my smartphone to get you started:
 
1. iNaturalist (Android or iOS): This nature app helps you identify the plants and animals around you as you are on the trail. However, this summer, you can use this app to in on providing data to the Northeast Alpine Flower Watch which will aid in documenting flowering times of plants in northeast alpine areas. By being a volunteer in this study, you will join the combined efforts of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), Baxter State Park (BSP), and Green Mountain Club (GMC) in documenting flowering plants in the mountains of Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. For additional information, you can check out the project page HERE, the AMC resource page HERE or an instructional video HERE.
 
2. mPing (Android or iOS): This app is your portal to providing observations to the research meteorologists at National Severe Storms Laboratory that will aid them in developing and refining algorithms that use the newly upgraded dual-polarization NEXRAD radars to detect and report on the type of precipitation that you see falling.
mPING volunteer observers can spend as much time as they want, from a little to a lot, making observations. The two focus areas are winter precipitation and thunderstorms (hail). If it is precipitating in your, just open the app and report what is falling at your location. Or if radar is showing precipitation but it isn’t, you can open it and report that no precipitation was falling. Easy to use and beneficial to meteorologists.
 
3. eBird(Android or iOS): If you are a birder or maybe someone that likes to view/photograph birds, this app makes it easy to record the birds you see in the field. The app then provides your observations to eBird–a global online database of bird records used by hundreds of thousands of birders around the world. This free resource makes it easy to keep track of what you see, while making your data openly available for scientific research, education, and conservation.

 

Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist

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