8 Apps That Turn Citizens into Scientists

These mobile tools help you become a citizen scientist, whether you’re documenting wildlife or measuring the effects of light pollution


8 Apps That Turn Citizens into Scientists
Image: mPing


mPing: Created as part of the Precipitation Identification Near the Ground project, the mPing app asks citizen scientists to report on precipitation. The goal is to aid meteorologists at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in developing and refining algorithms that use the newly upgraded dual-polarization NEXRAD radars.

Price: Free

Platforms supported: iPhone, Android

How it works: Using mPing, participants select the precipitation type observed. The app focuses on winter precipitation, including rain, freezing rain, drizzle, freezing drizzle, snow, ice pellets and mixed rain. It also asks users to make observations of “none,” at times when precipitation has stopped. Users are encouraged to measure their findings, such as the depth of hail from thunderstorms with a ruler, and record data in the app. By telling NSSL what hits the ground, scientists can compare reports from the field with radar detections, and use the data to develop new technologies to determine precipitation patterns and types.

Additional features: The project was recently broadened and renamed Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground. Accordingly, the app has been expanded to accept reports of wind damage, tornadoes, flooding, landslides and reduced visibility.

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