Tracking global warming, one garden at a time

The Internet’s so great for taking the observational expertise and puttering potential of hobbyists and letting it easily be converted into hopefully useful scientific data … one wonders what other reserves are waiting to be tapped.

Participants in BudBurst monitor one or more plants, native or non-native, throughout the growing season. Along the way, they record and report the dates of events such as the first flower or first seed. Like many citizen science programs, BudBurst is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, an annual volunteer effort that has provided ornithologists with a century’s worth of data.

Though some plant experts already have noticed certain species popping up unseasonably early, gardeners may be ideal for observing the subtle waxing of summers or waning of winters. They fill their plots with plants best suited to the weather, so for many, responding to climate change is simply a matter of common sense.

“There’s something about being in the dirt that puts things in perspective,” said Gina Garrison of Forest Park, who plans to monitor plants for BudBurst next spring. “Since planting my garden, I’ve looked into climate change more, looked into what would happen.”

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