News & Notes


The Demonstrated Value of Citizen Scientists

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
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Winter is near and our citizen science project activity is in the reporting phase, and once again we thank the many, many volunteers, partners, interns, and patrons who make our science based conservation efforts possible throughout the seasons. We found a story worth highlighting which further illustrates the importance and power of citizen science.

Have you heard of oldWeather.org? This is an online citizen science project to transcribe the log books from about 280 Royal Navy ships from around WWI. The captains of these ships logged weather observations six times a day by hand in their ship’s log book. From the efforts of thousands of people there are now 1.6 million verified transcriptions of six daily weather observations recorded into a database. You can learn more about the sheer volume and value of the numbers from this oldweather.org post.

Sandy with float tube and fly rodAt Maine Audubon we rely on citizen scientists in the field, across the state, to complete annual observations of amphibian, bat, loon, and trout populations, as well as road-side and road-killed wildlife to help us conserve the wildlife and wildlife habitat of Maine. The value of this is simple: we couldn’t do our work without the help of many, many volunteers. Building data sets from this participatory ecology is key to informing and supporting our science based conservation. To learn more about the range of wildlife and habitat conservation visit our site. Each conservation page has recent news posts and calls to action, and, you can check our volunteering and internships page for participation opportunities as they arise (also available from our Facebook page).

Although during late fall and winter we are busy analyzing and building reports from the data and preparing for the next season of data collection, we look forward to working with returning volunteers and welcoming new volunteers who are interested in helping us with our efforts!

In the meantime if you want to assist the oldWeather cause, they have a new project: “Help scientists recover Arctic and worldwide weather observations made by United States’ ships since the mid-19th century. These transcriptions contribute to climate model projections and will improve our knowledge of past environmental conditions. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and tell the stories of the people on board.” This is a great effort to help out with during your down time from data collection for Maine Audubon! http://www.oldweather.org