Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.
Over its first two years of operations, NEPTUNE Canada has recorded thousands of hours of video, both during installation dives and from underwater cameras installed across its subsea network. All this video needs to be studied, but the organization’s software is not yet sophisticated enough to automatically identify a wide variety of animals and other features. By playing Digital Fishers, citizen scientists help researchers gather data from video, and unveil the mechanisms shaping the animal communities inhabiting the deep.
NEPTUNE Canada and the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies (CFGS) developed Digital Fishers with help from $1 million in funding from CANARIE, Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network.
The National Severe Storms Laboratory’s (NSSL) Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING) project is looking for citizen scientists who can report on certain weather conditions—hail and winter weather, in particular—from the ground. NSSL, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), collects weather information from Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) during storm events. However, these Doppler radars cannot see close to the ground. Through PING, NSSL wants to compare its radar findings with citizen-science observations.
Citizen scientists can report their findings using iPhone or Android apps, or via a Web browser. The mPING apps were designed as a scientific tool to help us fulfill two very specific applied research missions: winter surface precipitation type and hail occurrence/size.
Canadian herpetologists (scientists who study amphibians and reptiles) are studying declines in various species, hoping to determine causes and possible solutions. Volunteer monitoring programs such as FrogWatch Canada are important because they are often the first signal that a particular species is declining. If such programs were up and running in the late 1970s we would have a much better idea why Northern Leopard Frogs declined across the prairies.
Around the world amphibians are declining. This is occurring in pristine wilderness areas as well as severely modified suburban wetlands. It is unlikely that there is only one global cause of this decline, rather amphibians are being affected by a variety of causes, including increased UV radiation and chemical pollutants. Some species, such as the Golden Toad of Costa Rica and possibly as many as seven species from Australia are now extinct. The loss of the Golden Toad is particularly sobering as it became extinct despite the fact that its habitat was protected in a large nature reserve.
FrogWatch Canada—not to be confused with FrogWatch USA—is part of the NatureWatch program managed by the University of Ottawa Laboratory for Integrated Environmental & Policy Change in collaboration with Nature Canada.
Hummingbirds at Home is a new citizen science project from the National Audubon Society designed to help scientists understand how climate change, flowering patterns and feeding by people are impacting hummingbirds.
On the Hummingbirds at Home website citizen scientists can track, report on and follow the spring hummingbird migration in real time. There is also a free mobile app to make it easy to report sightings, share photos and learn more about these birds.
Citizen Scientists can participate on a number of levels--reporting a single sighting or documenting hummingbird activity in their community throughout the life of the project, for example. Help Audubon scientists document the hummingbirds' journey and direct change in the future to ensure these birds do not disappear.
University of Delaware researchers working with mid-Atlantic scallop fishermen invite citizen scientists to help survey the scallop population in the New York Bight, off the coasts of New York, New Jersey and Delaware by analyzing undersea images captured by a robot submarine named Dora. The SubseaObserver approach is designed to cover more terrain in less time while leaving the undersea environment undisturbed.
Citizen scientists view images of the seabed taken by Dora and submit their observations to project scientists, who in turn send information compiled from many citizen-scientist reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies to manage the mid-Atlantic’s scallop population.
The Snowtweets Project provides a way for people interested in snow measurements to quickly broadcast their own snow depth measurements to the Web. These data are then picked up by the project’s database and mapped in near real time. Snow and ice researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada, are especially interested in using Web-based digital technologies to map snow depth data; currently, the project uses the micro-blogging site Twitter as its data broadcasting scheme.
Visualization of data is a key aspect of the project. To view the snow depth measurements (or tweets), the Waterloo researchers have developed a data visualization tool called Snowbird that lets you explore the reported snow depths around the globe. You can also click on the navigation link (visualization) at the top of the page that will take you there. The viewer shows where the reports are located and how much snow there is at each reported site.
The researchers have also developed a near real-time satellite data feed so citizen scientists can see how the tweets compare with the satellite view. Snowbird will allow you to toggle real-time satellite NASA MODIS data which gives snow cover extent. You can also look at some historical maps for north America.
IceWatch USA, a program of nonprofit Nature Abounds, brings citizen scientists the opportunity to help professional researchers study how our climate is changing. In as little as 10 minutes, citizen scientists can report information that will help to analyze how climate will change in different regions of the United States, and how ecosystems are reacting to the change. IceWatch USA is modeled after and a proud partner of Ice Watch Canada.
Due to the increased emissions of greenhouse gases, among other factors, the climate is changing. Accurately recording and analyzing "ice on" and "ice off" events (also known as ice phenology) as well as other factors like snow depth, air temperature and wildlife observations offers a practical way to learn how climate change affects our environment. Even if you live in a Southern State that doesn't experience ice, your winter observations are still important for the "big" picture, including air temperature, precipitation and wildlife viewing.
Here’s one for hockey fans. In 2012, scientists in Montreal warned there will be fewer outdoor skating days in the future. Their predictions are based on the results of data taken from weather stations across Canada over the last 50 years. In some regions, they warn there may one day be no more backyard rinks at all. Remember the story of how Wayne Gretzky learned to play hockey on the backyard rink his father made for him in Brantford, Ontario? The scientists’ report says some day that will no longer be possible – at least, not in Brantford.
This prompted a group of geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, to create RinkWatch. They want outdoor rink lovers across North America and elsewhere to tell report on their rinks. Pin the location of your rink on the researchers’ map, and then each winter record every day that you are able to skate on it. The researchers will gather up all the information from all the backyard rinks and use it to track the changes in climate.
The ruffed grouse is a forest species widely distributed across New York State. While some grouse are found in more mature forests, the greatest population densities are in younger-aged forests. These species prefer habitats in an early stage of succession such as young forests, shrublands, and old orchards and fields. As New York's forests grow older, these preferred habitats are declining, resulting in a decline in grouse and woodcock numbers since the 1960s. Turkey hunters in pursuit of that wary gobbler this spring are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) currently monitors grouse populations in the fall through the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log where hunters record the number of birds flushed per hour of hunting effort. The Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey provides a harvest-independent index of grouse distribution and abundance during the critical breeding season in the spring. Grouse and woodcock share many of the same habitats, so the information you provide will help monitor populations of both of these great game birds as habitats change both locally and on a landscape scale.
The Geo-Wiki Project is a global network of volunteers who wish to help improve the quality of global land-cover maps. Because large differences occur between existing global land-cover maps, current ecosystem and land-use science lacks crucial accurate data (for example, to determine the potential of additional agricultural land available to grow crops in Africa).
Citizen scientists are asked to review hot spot maps of global land-cover disagreement and determine, based on what they actually see in Google Earth and their local knowledge, if the land-cover maps are correct or incorrect. Their input is recorded in a database, along with uploaded photos, to be used in the future for the creation of a new and improved global land-cover map.
The project works with a global network of volunteers to help classify land cover and improve satellite maps and data for research in climate, food security, and biofuels. The team has a number of related projects including a new mobile phone app, and a Facebook game, which function both as social networks and to provide data for the effort to improve land-cover data.
Description: NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN in the 1970s with partner organizations as a volunteer program to help keep local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.
SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States.
NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.
The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) is a long-term, volunteer-based project designed to monitor the breeding success of loons on lakes across Canada. Its goals are to help conserve loons by engaging participants in monitoring and education activities, and use loon productivity as a long-term indicator of the health of freshwater lakes.
The CLLS was initiated in Ontario in 1981 by Bird Studies Canada, and expanded nationally in 1989. Human disturbance and development are ongoing threats to loons. Loon surveyors tell us they observe many activities that are detrimental to loons including: disturbance of nesting sites (as a result of boats, canoes, jet skiis, and water level changes); discarding of entangling debris (fishing lines and domestic garbage); inadvertently attracting and supporting nest predators (raccoons, skunks, and gulls); and displacement of loons through habitat loss.
Ultimately, local human disturbance can be minimized when people are sensitive to needs of loons. As more people move into loon country, promoting loon-friendly activities is increasingly important. Loon surveyors' continue to play a key educational role through distributing brochures, creating informative displays, erecting signs, building nest platforms, addressing local concerns, and, of course, tracking loon chick survival over their first, critical summer.
Citizen Scientists are needed to promote Loon-friendly lakes, build floating Loon nesting platforms, collect Loon eggs and carcasses and identify threats to these birds.
Putting names to species is fundamental to biodiversity science, conservation and education, yet it is a skill largely absent from formal biological education at all levels. Knowing the correct name of an organism is the key to learning about it, to sharing your observations with others and to contributing to the corpus of scientific knowledge. Un-named species are effectively invisible and impossible to conserve.
The social networking Web site iSpot is designed to remedy this. Our 20,000 citizen scientists share their observations and get help identifying what they've seen, building up reputation as they learn and making good identifications with the help of experts from more than 80 natural history societies.
We also have a sister site in South Africa that the South African National Biodiversity Institute use to engage the public in the process of identifying and mapping the unique flora and fauna of that region.
iSpot.org.uk is supported by the Big Lottery Fund for England, as part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project, and by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
NASA scientists are interested in learning how clouds affect our atmosphere, particularly because clouds play a role in affecting Earth's overall temperature and energy balance. The space agency's Students' Cloud Observations Online (S'COOL) Project involves students (ages 5-20+) in real science, making and reporting ground truth observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) satellite instruments.
Citizen scientists participating in S'COOL 1) obtain satellite overpass schedules, 2) observe and report clouds within +/-15 minutes of the satellite's passage, 3) compare and classify the agreement between the ground and satellite views.
Participation is available either as a classroom project or individually. Citizen scientist observations help NASA validate satellite data and give the space agency a more complete picture of clouds in the atmosphere and their interactions with other parts of the integrated global Earth system. Observations are sent to NASA for comparison to similar information obtained from satellites. Reports from a wide range of locations are helpful to assess the satellite data under different conditions.
After being parasitized by the Apocephalus borealis fly, infected zombie-like bees abandon their hives and congregate near outside lights, moving in increasingly erratic circles before dying.
In response to this odd phenomenon researchers have launched ZomBeeWatch.org, a citizen science project to report possible sightings of the parasitized bees. The researchers hope to find out how far the parasite has spread and how many honeybee hives might be affected. So far, the Zombie Fly has been found parasitizing honeybees in California and South Dakota. Help researchers determine if the fly has spread to honeybees across North America.
The ZomBeeWatch site asks people to collect bees that appear to have died underneath outside lights, or appear to be behaving strangely under the lights, in a container or in a glassine envelope. They can then watch for signs that indicate the bee was parasitized by the fly, which usually deposits its eggs into a bee's abdomen. About seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax and form brown, pill-shaped pupae that are equivalent to a butterfly’s chrysalis.
National Moth Week brings together everyone interested in moths to celebrate these amazing insects. This summer, groups and individuals from across the country will spend some time during National Moth Week looking for moths and sharing what they've found. To get involved during National Moth Week: attend a National Moth Night event, start an event, join friends and neighbors to check porch lights from time to time, set up a light and see what is in your own backyard, or read literature about moths, etc.
With more than 10,000 species in North America alone, moths offer endless options for study, education, photography, and fun. Moths can be found everywhere from inner cities and suburban backyards, to the most wild and remote places. Their colors and patterns range from bright and dazzling, to so cryptic that they define camouflage. Moth shapes and sizes span the gamut, with some as small as a pinhead and others as large as a hand.
Most moths are nocturnal and need to be sought at night to be seen, but others fly like butterflies during the day. Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.
Humans' inborn "number sense" improves during school years, declines during old age and remains linked throughout the entire lifespan to academic mathematics achievement. So says a Johns Hopkins University study that has used the Web to collect data from more than 10,000 people ages 11 to 85. "Number sense" describes human and animals' inborn ability to intuitively size up the number of objects in their everyday environments.
Citizen scientists can take the same test used in this experiment by visiting the Panamath Web site. During the test, participants see a random number of circles on screen for 600 milliseconds (0.6 seconds). Their job is to decide whether there were more yellow circles or more blue circles.
Panamath measures a participant's Approximate Number System (ANS) aptitude. The simple task of deciding whether there are more blue dots or yellow dots in a brief flash says a lot about the accuracy of one's basic gut sense for numbers. Participants can view the results of their test immediately afterward and compare their performance with others in their age group.
Alan Turing, perhaps best known for helping crack Germany's Enigma Code during World War II, was fascinated by how math works in nature. Turing noticed that the Fibonacci sequence, often occurred in sunflower seed heads. (By definition, the first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.) He hoped that by studying the plant it might help us understand how plants grow but died before he could finish his work.
MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester), the Manchester Science Festival and The University of Manchester are paying tribute to Turing in a mass experiment to grow 3,000 sunflowers. If enough people grow, researchers can collect sufficient data to put Turing's and other scientists' theories to the test.
All participants in the Turing's Sunflower's project need to do is grow a sunflower, keep the seed head and take part in the head count in September and October. For that, participants will be able to take their seed head to one of our special counting locations, or post their 'spiral counts' online. Researchers at The University of Manchester will then collate the data, and the results will be announced during the Manchester Science Festival, which runs from October 27 through November 4. Everyone who submits data from their sunflower will be included as part of the Turing's Sunflowers group and referred to in academic publications that result from the experiment.
Citizen scientists can help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, a network of coastal waterways located between the southwestern tip of Canada's British Columbia and the northwestern tip of Washington State.
The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network is looking for volunteers to help monitor the critical habitat of endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring ambient noise levels. Volunteers are especially needed to help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, which encompasses the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding area.
Sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Whale Museum in Olympia, Wash., the network consists of five hydrophones, microphones used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sounds. Each hydrophone is hooked up to a computer to analyze the signal and stream it via the Internet.
Even though software is used to distinguish animal from other underwater sound, human ears do a better job. So volunteers monitor the network from their home computers anywhere in the world, and alert the rest of the network when they hear whale sounds. Sometimes boats or onshore monitors are deployed to observe the whales while they are making sounds. Researchers hope to learn more about the uses of orca communications and whale migration patterns.
The Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) is looking to engage the ever-growing and technically sophisticated amateur astronomy community in some exciting research projects with astronomers at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.
LARI brings together professional and amateur astronomers in a way that affords interested amateurs an opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research and potentially make significant contributions to science.
Lowell astronomers are conducting several projects that would benefit from the participation of amateur astronomers and citizen scientists. These projects span a broad range of technical skills and knowledge from taking very deep images of galaxies to monitoring small stars for transient events to data mining. After getting a sense of your skills and interests, we will do our best to match you with the appropriate researcher and project.
The next transit of Venus occurs June 5 or 6, 2012, depending on your location. Observers in North America see it the evening of June 5. This will be the last transit of Venus to occur in your lifetime. The next transit of Venus occurs in December 2117.
Mercury and Venus are the only planets closer to the Sun than Earth, both moving faster in their orbits and passing us regularly. But rather than crossing directly between us and the Sun, these planets are usually slightly above or below the Sun as we see them. When they line up just right we see the round, black silhouette of the planet slowly crossing the Sun, an even referred to as a "transit." Mercury transits the Sun 13 or 14 times each century. But Venus transits happen in pairs—two transits eight years apart—with more than 100 years between each pair.
When Venus passes directly between earth and the sun, we see the distant planet as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.
Astronomers Without Borders has some special plans for this rare event, which will be seen by most of the world's population. The coming Venus transit offers a chance for modern-day stargazers to repeat the experiments conducted by expeditions around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries—with a modern twist. The free phone app created by the Transit of Venus Project allows every observer with a telescope to record timings of this rare event. Available for Apple and Android devices.
WildObs (from "wildlife observations") captures memorable wildlife encounters, and puts them to work. Record your encounters for your own studies, or enjoyment, via your smart phone (apps are available for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices). Use these records to develop your own wildlife calendar for the year. Maintain and grow your life-list, learn about new species and connect with nature.
As a wildlife community we help each other find the nature we want (for a photograph or close encounter), and we can learn about the species in our neighborhoods.
Additionally, WildObs is a partner of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watch, and works with a number of other scientific studies to extract citizen science from recorded encounters.
The Wildlife Health Event Reporter (WHER) is an experimental tool that hopes to harness the power of the many eyes of the public to better detect these changes. WHER is part of the Wildlife Health Monitoring Network, a Web-based open source system with interchangeable modules that support data entry, storage, reporting, analysis and exchange in collaboration with many partners, including the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and University of Wisconsin Division of Information Technology (DoIT).
Currently in a public Beta release, WHER is a Web-based application launched to record wildlife observations by citizens concerned about dead or sick wildlife. After being recorded, these observations are joined with other wildlife sightings and are viewable in tabular reports or on a map, enabling people to see where similar events are happening. Natural resource managers, researchers, and public health officials use this information to protect the well-being of all living things and promote a healthy ecosystem.
Nature's Notebook is a national plant and animal phenology observation project that lets citizen scientists record observations that scientists, educators, policy makers and resource managers can use to understand how plants and animals are responding to climate change and other environmental changes. The project has more than 900,000 entries covering 16,000 individual plants and animals at 5,000 sites.
Scientific American added Nature's Notebook to its Citizen Science listings a year ago, and researchers at the USA-National Phenology Network, which manages the project, want the data to keep on coming, particularly as they study the weak winter of 2012.
Launched in October 2006, STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). It consists of two nearly identical observatories—one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind—that have traced the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth. STEREO has revealed the 3-D structure of coronal mass ejections; violent eruptions of matter from the Sun that can disrupt satellites and power grids, and help researchers understand why they happen.
With this new pair of viewpoints, scientists can see the structure and evolution of solar storms as they blast from the Sun and move out through space. In fact, the probes have produced so many images that researchers are looking to citizen scientists to help them study all of the data that's being produced. This work will give astronauts an early warning if dangerous solar radiation is headed their way, and it may even lead to new scientific discoveries.
Solar Stormwatch—created by The Royal Observatory Greenwich, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Zooniverse—isn't just about classifying data. Citizen scientists can talk to other members on the project's forum, sign up for space weather forecast from Twitter, and learn about the latest discoveries on the project's blog. Volunteers can also see how solar storms affect Earth at the project's Flickr group Aurora chasers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging individuals and community groups in New York City to apply for grants that will allow citizen scientists to collect information on air and water pollution in their communities and seek solutions to environmental and public health problems. The EPA will award a total of $125,000 for five to 10 New York City projects related to air or water pollution.
Projects receiving funding through the citizen science grants will be expected to promote a comprehensive understanding of local pollution problems as well as identify and support activities that address them at the local level. Proposed projects must also consider environmental justice and should engage, educate and empower communities.
All applications are due no later than April 20, 2012, at 5:00 P.M. EST.
Thousands of FeederWatchers in communities across North America count birds and send their tallies to the FeederWatch database, creating a treasure trove of statistics that FeederWatch scientists analyze to draw a picture of winter bird abundance and distribution. FeederWatch data show which bird species visit feeders at thousands of locations across the continent every winter. The data also indicate how many individuals of each species are seen. This information can be used to measure changes in the winter ranges and abundances of bird species over time.
FeederWatch data provide a picture of weekly changes in bird distribution and abundance across the United States and Canada. Importantly, FeederWatch data tell us where birds are as well as where they are not. This crucial information enables scientists to piece together the most accurate population maps.
FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. They have provided an instructional video on the FeederWatchers Web site.
Wildlife Sightings offers nature enthusiasts a way of contributing information and photos of wildlife sightings to a global public citizen science database. One of the project's goals is to lower the technical barriers and costs for organizations to set up and run local citizen science projects.
PigeonWatch participants observe pigeons and send their data to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where scientists compile the information and use it to examine questions of scientific interest. Citizen scientists participate by counting pigeons and recording courtship behaviors observed in their neighborhood pigeon flocks.
PigeonWatch is an international research project that involves people of all ages and locations in a real scientific endeavor. It combines real "hands-on" science with neighborhood-based education. Although PigeonWatching can be as easy as observing pigeons along a city street, the data are crucial for scientific research, and PigeonWatchers learn about birds and how science and scientists work.
Texasinvasives.org is a statewide partnership to manage non-native invasive plants and pests in Texas that includes state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, green industry, academia and other private and public stakeholders who share in the common goal of protecting Texas from the threat of invasive species.
Because this is no small endeavor Texasinvasives.org has established a citizen science program called Invaders of Texas. Volunteers participating in the program are trained to detect the arrival and dispersal of invasive species in their own local areas. That information is delivered into a statewide mapping database and to those who can do something about it.
The Invaders of Texas Program supports the creation and perpetuation of a network of local citizen scientist teams who seek out and report outbreaks of selected environmentally and economically harmful invasive species. These teams, coordinated by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, contribute important data to local and national resource managers who will, in turn, coordinate appropriate responses to control the spread of unwanted invaders.
The National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of citizen scientists across the US, Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24 hour period to count birds.
Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 24-kilometer diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. All CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14 to January 5 each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.
The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
There is little solid scientific knowledge about how influenza, the common cold and stomach flu spread and how to protect against them because the necessary research has not been done, according to researchers at Interdisciplinary Scientific Research, a research and consulting firm in Seattle. As a result, in rigorous evaluations, strategies recommended by medical experts to avoid these illnesses have not consistently reduced rates of illness.
Interdisciplinary Scientific Research launched the Health Tracking Network in April 2011 with the following goals:
1) Identify factors related to common illnesses.
2) Promote members' health by enabling them to track their personal health, fitness, and other variables easily.
3) Generate donations to charities chosen by members.
4) Provide researchers access to a high-quality sample of respondents for scientific survey questions at low cost.
Participation is anonymous.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is a project of international collaboration between ESA and NASA to study the Sun from its deep core to the outer corona and the solar wind. SOHO is the most successful comet discoverer in history, having found more than one thousand eight-hundred comets in more than thirteen years of operation. The majority of these comets have been found by amateur astronomers and enthusiasts from all over the world, scouring the images for a likely comet candidate from the comfort of their own home.
To participate in SOHO Comet Hunting, citizen scientists need an Internet connection, photo-editing software and an understanding of what SOHO comets look like. For help with the last item in that list, a guide is available online. Citizen scientists need the ability to display gif images and find the pixel value of any given point in the images. If you don't have the software, you can use the java tool on the LASCO javagifs page to measure positions. Latest images and movies are also available from the LASCO site.
If you think your object is a comet, measure its positions, read the instructions on how to use the report form, and report your object.
North Caroline State University (NCSU) researchers are studying the species living with us on our bodies as well as in the other biomes of our homes. As humans have moved from mud and thatch huts into pre-fab houses and highrise apartments, the biggest change has been our web of ecological connections. We have gone from lives immersed in nature to lives in which nature appears to have disappeared. It has not. What has changed is which species live with us.
In the Wildlife of Your Home Project, NCSU researchers propose to study that change and more specifically to ask, "To what extent do the species around us, particularly those microscopic species of which we are scarcely aware, differ as a consequence of how we live?" As of now, the answer, particularly as it relates to small species, is unresolved, though frequently speculated upon.
The project needs volunteers to take very simple samples of their houses. The researchers will send a sampling kit (composed of vials, cotton swabs, directions and some questions). Citizen scientists take the vials and swab dust from key biomes of their homes, including door frames, refrigerators, couch cushions and themselves. Participants will then be able to compare their results to those of more urban and rural houses across North America (and, ultimately, the world).
The Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) launched a citizen science Web site called Morphology Analysis Project for Participatory Exploration and Research (MAPPER) in conjunction with the 2011 field season.
The PLRP has been investigating the underwater environment of Pavilion and Kelly Lake in British Columbia, Canada with DeepWorker submersible vehicles since 2008.
Now with MAPPER, citizen scientists can work side-by-side with NASA scientists to explore the bottom of these lakes from the perspective of a DeepWorker pilot. The PLRP team makes use of DeepWorker subs to explore and document freshwater carbonate formations known as microbialites that thrive in Pavilion and Kelly Lake. Many scientists believe that a better understanding of how and where these rare microbialite formations develop will lead to deeper insights into where signs of life may be found on Mars and beyond.
Dragonfly researchers know that dragonflies swarm. They also know that there are two different kinds of swarms: static feeding swarms (the dragonflies fly repeatedly over a well-defined area and fairly close to the ground, usually feeding on clouds of small insects) and migratory swarms (hundreds to millions of dragonflies flying in a single direction in massive groups, often 15-30 meters above the ground). However, these swarms are very difficult to study because they are incredibly ephemeral events. You have to be in the right place at the right time to see one and many people will go their entire lives without ever witnessing a swarm.
The Dragonfly Swarm Project uses the power of the internet to allow everyone to participate in a large-scale study of dragonfly swarming behavior. Participants observe dragonfly swarms wherever they occur, make observations of the composition and behavior of the swarm, then submit a report online. Data is compiled from the reports by an aquatic entomologist with a passion for dragonflies.
After the March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting radiation leak at Fukushima Diachi in Japan it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available about the earthquake, resulting tsunami and damage to nuclear power facilities. Through joint efforts with partners such as International Medcom and Keio University, Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan—both near the exclusion zone and elsewhere in the country.
Safecast is a non-profit group building Geiger counters, measuring radiation levels and making the data available to the public through maps, a Web site and data feeds to citizens, scientists and the public. Safecast is releasing data openly and pushing the Japanese government as well as universities and researchers to share their medical, sensor and other data. Open data is a very important trend and pushing people to release their data instead of just their results and findings is essential and adding a new layer of robustness in research that the Internet and data science enables.
While Japan and radiation is the primary focus of the moment, this work has made us aware of a need for more environmental data on a global level and the long-term work that Safecast engages in will address these needs.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a Facebook application called PiggyDemic that allows users to "infect" their friends with a simulated virus or become infected themselves. The resulting patterns will allow researchers to gather information on how a virus mutates, spreads through human interaction, and the number of people it infects.
Scientists use mathematical algorithms to determine which virus will spread and how, but this method has some flaws. It assumes that a virus has equal distribution across populations, but that is simply not the case, the researchers say. Patterns of social interaction must also be taken into account.
Once added to a user's Facebook account, PiggyDemic follows the user's newsfeed to determine the people they interact with. Users are deemed "susceptible," "immune" or "infected" with various simulated viruses, and can pass them on to their online contacts. Researchers then follow these interactions using network visualization software, and watch the links between users as the "viruses" are passed on.
Have you seen a jellyfish, red tide, a squid, or other unusual marine life recently? If so, tell us about it! JellyWatch marine biologists need help from citizen scientists to develop a better understanding of the ocean. If you've been on the beach or in the ocean lately, you can contribute to a long-term dataset by telling us about the animals you saw or the conditions of the beach. You can help us even more by submitting a picture of what you saw.
Nonprofit SkyTruth, in conjunction with the Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Conservancy, Gulf Oil Spill Tracker in early May 2010 as a way to give people a way to participate in tracking the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and its aftermath.
Citizen scientists submit their observations online. When out in the field, they can take with them an information card reminding them of the information they need to include in their report: contact information, incident information and description, GPS location, etcetera.
In May 2010, Alabama Coastal Foundation and Mobile Baykeeper worked with Coalition of Active Stakeholders Team (COAST) partners to develop and implement the Volunteer Field Observer (VFOB) Program in response to last year's Deepwater Horizon oil release. The program's goal is to train volunteers to serve as citizen scientists, documenting shoreline conditions along Alabama's shoreline using GPS coordinates and alerting officials and COAST partners to the presence of oil and/or affected wildlife.
Rainlog.org is a cooperative rainfall monitoring network for Arizona developed at The University of Arizona by SAHRA (Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas) and the school's cooperative extension. Data collected through this network will be used for a variety of applications, including watershed management activities and drought planning at local, county and state levels.
Official rain gauges in Arizona are few and far between. The large gaps in coverage are a particular problem where precipitation amounts are highly variable due to topography and seasonal weather patterns. This is especially true during the monsoon season, when thunderstorms can produce heavy rainfall that is very localized.
All data posted by volunteers is available in real-time in maps useful in tracking high-resolution variability in precipitation patterns and potential changes in drought status. As more people participate and more information is gathered, the resolution of the maps will improve.
Citizen scientists are asked to track daily or monthly precipitation amounts. Daily observations should ideally be recorded as close to 7 a.m. as possible. Each daily observation will cover the previous 24 hours and represent the previous calendar day. This is consistent with the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program monitoring protocol.
In 2007, the Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution and Biodiversity Heritage Library joined together to initiate the Encyclopedia of Life, an ongoing collaboration among its cornerstone institutions and international partners, with the common goal to gather and share knowledge about all forms of life. The Encyclopedia of Life is a global effort to document all 1.9 million named species of animals, plants and other forms of life on Earth and make that information freely accessible.
EOL welcomes image and video contributions from the public. The easiest way to get images up on EOL is through our Encyclopedia of Life Images group at the photo-sharing site Flickr. You can also share short video clips (up to 90 seconds) through EOL's Flickr group. For longer videos, EOL has an Encyclopedia of Life Videos group on Vimeo. You can also share organism images through Wikimedia Commons.
Redwood Watch is a citizen science project created by Save the Redwoods League scientists to help learn in what climates redwoods can survive and track the redwood forests' migration over time. Redwoods can grow taller than 100 meters and have been known to live for more than 2,000 years.
Redwood forests once grew in North America and beyond but their territory, which has shrunk due to changing landscapes and climates over millions of years, today stands at about 1.9 million acres along the coast of Northern California. Researchers believe that climate change will continue to impact the survival of these trees and are seeking help to map the areas where redwoods are currently thriving.
Redwood tree observations can be made anywhere redwood trees are found and recorded using the Redwood Watch iPhone application. By submitting observations citizen scientists will help their professional colleagues track the migration of redwood forests over time and learn what climate redwood trees can survive.
Project Noah was launched out of New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) in early 2010. "NOAH" is actually an acronym that stands for Networked Organisms And Habitats. The project started off as an experiment to see if the researchers—including founding members Yasser Ansari, Martin Ceperley, Peter Horvath and Bruno Kruse—could build a fun, location-based mobile application to encourage people to reconnect with nature and document local wildlife.
Project Noah, which launched its iPhone app in February of 2010 and has since added an Android app, has the ultimate goal of building an online platform that can be used by citizen scientists to document a wide variety of wildlife—spiders, birds, moose, you name it.
Project Squirrel was originally created by Wendy Jackson and Joel Brown, and has been operating since 1997. During this time, more than 1,000 people have participated, provided observations, and filled out the project's survey. Participants have been able to learn a great deal about these squirrels, at first in the Chicago Metropolitan Region and now throughout the U.S.
Squirrels are worth studying because they are active during the day and everyone has an opinion about them. Additionally, squirrels can be important indicators of local ecology because they are resident in small territories and active year round, they require a range of resources that are also important to many other urban animals, and their populations rise and fall with the same predators and environmental conditions that affect our neighborhood wildlife.
No matter where you live, if there are squirrels in your neighborhood, you are encouraged to join Project Squirrel and become a squirrel monitor. Fox squirrels and grey squirrels are two of the most familiar species of wildlife in many neighborhoods and natural areas. To gain this insight, we must gather data about as many individual squirrels in as many places as possible.
FrogWatch USA is the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' (AZA) flagship citizen science program that allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. Frogs and toads have been vitally important in the field of human medicine and compounds from their skin are currently being tested for anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties. Frogs and toads also play an important role, serving as both prey and predator, in wetland ecosystems and are considered indicators of environmental health.
Many previously abundant frog and toad populations have experienced dramatic population declines both in the United States and around the world and it's essential that scientists understand the scope, geographic scale, and cause of these declines.
FrogWatch USA volunteers learn to identify local frog and toad species by their calls during the breeding season and how to report their findings accurately. By mastering these skills, volunteers gain increased experience and control over asking and answering scientific questions which, in turn, augments science literacy, facilitates conservation action and stewardship, and increases knowledge of amphibians.
For a related citizen science project, see iNaturalist.org's Global Amphibian Blitz
The Shark Observation Network is a partnership of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG), the Shark Research Institute (SRI Canada) and the BIOAPP. The network supports the collection and organization of data as well as the development and dissemination of information concerning the state of shark and elasmobranch populations and their worldwide distribution. The information serves to support environmental awareness, assessment and policy making, and public participation at a global level. Citizen scientists can help by reporting their own shark observations on a regular basis.
The broadnose sevengill shark, Notorynchus cepedianus, is the only extant member of the genus Notorynchus, in the family Hexanchidae. It is recognizable because of its seven gill slits, while most shark species have five gill slits, with the exception of the members of the order Hexanchiformes. The shark is gray or brownish with spots, and its top jaw has jagged cusped teeth and the bottom comb shaped. This adaptation allows the shark to eat sharks, rays, fish, seals, and carrion. The sharks live in temperate areas up to 135 meters deep and have attacked humans only while in captivity. This shark is ovoviviparous, bearing live young. It grows up to three meters long.
Project organizer Michael Bear is the Science Diving columnist for California Diver Magazine and an AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) Science Diver with 1000 cold-water dives in California. Bear says that sevengill sharks did not start appearing in the San Diego area until 2008, but that the population has since grown steadily. The Shark Observation Network is looking for citizen scientists and experienced divers to help them study sevengill sharks by contributing data, videos and photos to an online database.
NestWatch is a nest-monitoring project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in collaboration with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and funded by the National Science Foundation. Global environmental monitoring must include monitoring of biological organisms if we wish to understand the causes of and solutions for species declines. As a result, the need for large, continent-wide databases tracking survival and reproductive success of a wide range of species is increasing.
NestWatch teaches people about bird breeding biology and engages them in collecting and submitting nest records. Such records include information about nest site location, habitat, species, and number of eggs, young, and fledglings. Citizen scientists submit their nest records to our online database where their observations are compiled with those of other participants in a continentwide effort to better understand and manage the impacts of environmental change on bird populations.
Once fully populated, the database will house nearly 400,000 stored nest records spanning more than 40 years and 500 species.
New Jersey Audubon (NJA) is recruiting volunteers for shorebird surveys. Participants must have some prior experience in shorebird identification and be willing to commit three days a month in August, September and October to conducting bird surveys.
These ongoing shorebird surveys, initiated in 2004, have provided current information on migration stopover sites along New Jersey’s Atlantic coast for Red Knots, American Oystercatchers and other shorebirds. These data are raising awareness among state and federal agencies in New Jersey about the cumulative importance of many smaller stopovers and the growing impact from human disturbance. Citizen Science surveys are having a significant positive effect on the conservation of migrant shorebird habitats in New Jersey.
Shorebird citizen scientists are needed for the New Jersey Meadowlands and coastal sites, especially ones in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. Shorebird volunteers are required to survey their site every 10 days (and at least 5 days apart) during southbound (fall) migration: July 15th to October 31st. Training in identification and count methodology will be provided by NJ Audubon during two workshops in late July, one in the NJ Meadowlands (tentatively scheduled for July 23rd) and one in South Jersey (tentatively the week of July 18).
This project is a collaborative effort of New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS), New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife/Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Science, aimed at assessing status and changes in populations of shorebirds to better manage and conserve stopover areas. The data collected by volunteers will be incorporated into the national database of the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM), whose overall goal is to monitor trends in shorebird populations. In addition, the information will help identify areas important to southbound shorebirds, and define shorebird management goals for New Jersey.
Deadline: Jul 15 2013
Reward: $5,000 USD
SciBX: Science-Business eXchange, a joint publication from the makers
Deadline: Jun 30 2013
Reward: $1,000,000 USD
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