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Monitor climate change in your backyard

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Have the sneaking suspicion that the daffodils (or fritillaria) are cropping up earlier in your yard? Prove it. Project BudBurst--a joint effort of several national science organizations, including the USGS and UCAR as well as institutions like the Chicago Botanic Garden--aims to enlist "citizen-scientists" to monitor blooming, or to give the activity its scientific name, phenology. Starting today (which is good because there are already buds on my cherry tree, I cannot lie) citizen scientists can record their observations online at www.budburst.org. And thus begins an ongoing effort to track the seasons, communally. The animals aren't left out either. Phenology covers them too, of course. The organizers hope to gather info on migrations, hibernation and the like. Ultimately, the work will feed into a map depicting the shifting seasons in the U.S. As BudBurst coordinator Sandra Henderson observed: "Climate change may be affecting our backyards and communities in ways that we don't even notice." On the other hand, it's kinda hard to miss those cherry blossoms... What have you seen?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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