If you’re concerned about climate change and into gardening, Project Budburst is for you. They are soliciting “citizen-scientists” to participate in a huge nationwide study on phenology, which is the timing of seasonal events, like the first bud or the first full leaf. (Not to be confused with phrenology, the study of bumpy heads.)
Phenology sounds obscure, but it’s absolutely critical to healthy ecosystems. For example, many insects are evolved to hatch at a certain time of year, just in time to eat freshly grown plants. If they hatch too early or too late, no food for them, and that year’s whole generation can be die of starvation. This also happens in the ocean, where seasonal plankton blooms feed tiny crustaceans which feed fish we like to eat, like pollock.
Each volunteer will select at least one plant to observe, and enter all the seasonal data online. Eventually, all the data from Project Budburst will be combined in a big map, and data will be free to download. Here’s a news release with more info.