Volunteers Scrutinize "Ten Most Wanted" Plants for Clues to Climate Change
NSF PR 10-061 - 19 April 2010
Project Budburst citizen scientists find that plants are blooming unusually early
Students, gardeners, retirees and other volunteers across the nation who are taking part in a nationwide initiative--Project BudBurst--are finding hints that certain plants are blooming unusually early, perhaps as a result of climate change.
The citizen scientists are recording the timing of flowers and foliage, amassing thousands of observations from across the nation to give researchers a detailed picture of our changing climate.
The project, which started as a pilot program in 2007, now focuses on a list of the "10 most wanted species"--flowers and trees such as the common lilac, red maple and Virginia bluebell.
Such widely distributed plants can provide important early signs of the impact of warming temperatures on the environment, according to the scientists who designed the project.
"Project BudBurst empowers people living anywhere in the country to make a contribution that will lead to better understanding of our environment," said Project BudBurst director Sandra Henderson of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Office of Education and Outreach. "This is needed data to help scientists who are studying the impacts of climate change."
Project BudBurst is operated by UCAR and the Chicago Botanic Garden, and is a partner in the USA National Phenology Network.
Funding comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF), along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, National Ecological Observatory Network, NASA and the National Geographic Education Foundation.