The Outdoors as a Classroom
Want to become a citizen scientist? Here are several ways to jump in.
Join a research team
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; earthwatch.org
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; dlia.org/atbi
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; oceanic-society.org
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; appalachiantrail.org
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; outdoors.org
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 eBird.org to help track species distribution and movements.