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Climate Change and Citizen Science

Citizen Science Central, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This animation describes how citizen observations can document the impact of climate change on plants and animals. It introduces the topic of phenology and data collection, the impact of climate change on phenology, and how individuals can become citizen scientists.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This is a good entry point to a unit on phenology.
  • This animation can be used to stimulate participation in student projects in climate change and phenology, to get students collecting data at school or community.
  • Students can be engaged in citizen science projects like "Project Budburst" http://neoninc.org/budburst/.
  • There are two slightly different versions of this slide show - for eastern US and western US - with different examples. See http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/climatechange/c3-sciencentral-videos for both.

About the Science

  • Produced by Citizen Science Central, Cornell Lab of Ornithology; it is also on the website of the National Phenology Network.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It provides several concrete examples of changes likely due to a warming climate that have been documented by interested citizens who were simply taking note of their surroundings over long periods of time. It does so in a fairly simple way, which is easy to understand, and may even inspire people to look around a bit more. All the literature cited is >5 years old. It also presents the warming trend as constant and fairly steep. While that's true at large scales, there isn't any acknowledgement that year to year weather is still variable and so long time periods are required to document species range change due to climate, not just one year.

About the Pedagogy

  • By giving examples of citizen science with a focus on seasonal changes observed in plants and animals, this slide show will encourage students and other citizens to develop and share their own quality data sets.
  • This is a great opportunity to introduce the concept of Citizen Science to students.
  • The National Phenology Network website has training videos and resource materials on how to become a citizen scientist and gather and contribute data to their database.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent technical quality.
  • The slide show can be expanded for projection in a classroom.

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