Do you take notice when the apples fall off the trees in your backyard? Do you pay attention to the the birds, bees and bugs in your environment? Have you been wondering why it's so stinking hot this summer?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may just be the kind of citizen scientist that NASA is hoping to recruit. With the help of an app called "I See Change," NASA scientists hope to pool data from people all over the world, data that will give them real-time information about what's happening on the planet.
With the app, you can sign up to document what's going on in your area. From investigations into this summer's extreme heat wave to comparisons of the animals seen each season, scientists can use this data to figure out how climate change is really affecting our world.
This photo was taken in Salton City, California, on a dry lake bed where the water used to be. (Photo: Lily Bui/I See Change)
You can also use the app to document things like which trees are growing in your backyard, what a particular view of a nearby forest or field looks like from season to season and year to year or the effects of a wildfire in your community.
An eerie photo of the sky at sunset near a fire currently blazing near Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Heather T Roy/I See Change)
On its own, each documented sighting posted to "I See Change" may not seem that important, but together they form powerful pieces of data that can help scientists spot trends in weather patterns that may affect plants, wildlife and humans. One person's interesting observation might just help scientists explain a natural phenomenon that occurs as a result.
Take, for example, this poster's observation about the immature acorns she saw all over the ground near her home. She noted that this was very unusual for this time of year and wonders what effect this might have on the squirrels that need these acorns to survive the winter. This observation could alert scientists to a potential problem affecting oak trees in Connecticut and help them understand a dip in squirrel populations that may occur as a result next winter.
This person noted a cluster of immature acorns on the ground in Windham, Connecticut, that might explain why squirrels in her area go hungry this fall. (Photo: Judy Donnelly/I See Change)
Interested in learning more about how you can become a citizen scientist for your community? Download the "I See Change" app to get started.