ADVERTISEMENT 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.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gary Woodward, Associate Director, Hydrology and Water Resources
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: The University of Arizona Institute of the Environment
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: Arizona -
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: $20-$50
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Less than 1 hour per week

    Just go to, click on the "register" button in the upper right, and follow the instructions. All you need to participate is a rain gauge and access to the Internet. We are asking volunteers to select a rain gauge that can hold at least 15 centimeters, install it at home, and report daily total rainfall amounts through the online data entry form. These type of rain gauges are relatively inexpensive ($10-$30) and can be found at most hardware/garden centers or online. Tipping bucket gauges ($40-$60) are also perfectly appropriate for

See more projects in Arizona$20-$50ObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

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.

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