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Photographing wildflowers and fighting climate change

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 14:30

Climate change can seem like a problem too big for any one person to bother tackling. But that doesn’t mean that people are just sitting on the sidelines waiting for the inevitable. There are kids who have sued the U.S. government. More than a million students and other people worldwide took to the streets in a one-day strike on behalf of the climate. And scientists, of course, do research to help inform the public about what’s happening to the world around us.

Many of those scientists could use some help. And sometimes they don’t need scientific experts. Average citizens can supply what they need. Experts refer to these helpers as citizen scientists.

“There [are] really great volunteer programs,” says Janneke Hille Ris Lambers. She’s an ecologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. And she runs one of these many projects. Called MeadoWatch, it focuses on a phenomenon called phenology (Feh-NOLL-uh-gee). This term refers to the fact that the timing of many life events, such as when flowers bloom, is seasonal. Scientists want to know if that timing is changing as the planet warms.

But research into other, non-climate-related areas of conservation also can help, says Hille Ris Lambers. That’s because climate change often isn’t the only type of stress that organisms have to deal with. There are other factors, ranging from the illegal wildlife trade to overfishing and pollution. If scientists can figure out how to eliminate those other factors, then species should have a better chance of being able to deal with climate change.


This project, out of the University of Washington, is looking at how climate change is affecting wildflowers on Mount Rainier. Volunteers collect data along hiking trails about when wildflowers bud, flower, fruit and produce seed. The project is also collecting photos of wildflowers from across Mount Rainier National Park.

Read the original article on Science News for Students.

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