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Backpacker Magazine – September 2007

I, Citizen Scientist

Learn how you can help combat climate change by researching everything from Alaska's Bering Glacier to tracking pumas in Argentina through citizen scientist programs

by: Bruce Barcott

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

The Outdoors as a Classroom

Want to become a citizen scientist? Here are several ways to jump in.

Join a research team
Earthwatch Institute
What it does Sends teams to a variety of locales as part of a massive global study of climate change's effect on forests and rivers.
What you'll do In Manitoba, for example, you'll use ground-penetrating radar and soil core samples to measure carbon levels in melting Arctic permafrost.
Info (800) 776-0188;

All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory
What it does Inventories the 100,000-plus living organisms in the Smokies to create a baseline for detecting ecosystem changes.
What you'll do Volunteers collect specimens, hunt for rare lichens, and sketch new finds for publication, among other activities.
Info (865) 436-3293;

Oceanic Society
What it does Researches marine environments, including climate-change impact.
What you'll do From Belize's Blackbird Caye, you'll snorkel the vast reef network, learning sampling techniques to identify and record stressed fish species.
Info (800) 326-7491;

Do it yourself
Appalachian Trail Mega-Transect What it does Tracks the effects of rising temperatures and other pressures on the AT's surrounding wilderness, using data on air and water quality, wildlife habitat, flora, and overall forest health.
What you'll do First, sign up with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for training. Then you'll monitor and report on key indicators along a designated section of trail.
Info (304) 535-6331;

Mountain Watch
What it does The Appalachian Mountain Club is collecting data on plants, weather, and air quality to measure climate change. What you'll do In the Adopt-a-Peak program, you'll periodically visit a Northeast trail section to check plants and visibility. Info (617) 523-0655;

National Audubon Society
What it does Monitors shifts in migration patterns, an early indicator of global warming.
What you'll do Spot birds on the trail and enter them into to help track species distribution and movements.

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