Collaborative Citizen Science

Did you know that there are millions of everyday citizens across the world that are helping advance science in a wide variety of disciplines? These citizen scientists (a term that refers to everyday citizens who are intrigued by and passionate about science, but don’t necessarily have a formal scientific background) collaborate with scientists to expand opportunities for scientific data collection and to advance research in nearly every field! Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, notes that “By encouraging everyday Americans to engage in scientific research, our citizen science authorities benefit communities and the country as a whole, as well as advance our science and technology enterprise.” Whether you are interested in public health, astronomy, biology, ornithology (the study of birds!), meteorology, or pretty much anything you can think of…there is likely a project for you!

Three citizen scientists strolling along a sidewalk in Boulder, Colorado to gather data on Earth’s magnetic field using the CrowdMag cellphone app. Photo courtesy: Jennifer Taylor, CIRES
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National Parks and Severe Weather

At this point in midsummer, it is hard NOT to have the outdoor bug, and many of us in the U.S. will head to our National Parks to enjoy the outdoors in a variety of ways. Did you know that Yellowstone was the first National Park, established in 1872? President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) is possibly the most well-known supporter of the development of the National Park System; during his terms in office, the number of National Parks doubled. The legislation known as the Antiquities Act, which he signed into law, gave him and future presidents the ability to declare historic landmarks and national monuments, many of which are part of the National Park System today. At our wide array of National Parks, Seashores, Reserves, Battlefields, Monuments, and Historic Sites, visitors can learn about the history and culture of our country, as well as enjoy and appreciate the huge variety of climates and beautiful scenery that exist in the United States.

Canyonlands National Park. Credit: NPS/Neal Herbert.
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Scorching Heat Stretching from the Plains to the East Coast

A strengthening upper level ridge across the Central and Eastern United States is resulting in sweltering heat and dangerous conditions across the eastern two thirds of the country. Widespread excessive heat warnings, watches, and heat advisories are in effect, with daytime highs in the 90s to above 100 are expected. These high temperatures, combined with dewpoints soaring into the mid to upper 70s will result in over 70 million people experiencing heat indices over 100 degrees! The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored into the actual air temperature.

Warmest heat indices expected through Monday, July 22.
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Gulf of Mexico Tropical Disturbance/DC Floods/Flood Safety

You may have heard on the news this week that there is a potential tropical system which is forecast to form in the Gulf of Mexico over the next day or two. Satellite imagery shows a broad area of convection over the Florida panhandle and southern Alabama. This convection will be drifting slowly westward over the northern Gulf of Mexico.

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Surveying the Storm

Imagine that it’s late in the evening, the sun has set, and you’re a meteorologist or the National Weather Service (NWS) exhausted from working a 13–hour day providing forecasts and warnings for a significant severe weather event that moved through your forecast area. Although the powerful storm system has exited the region, the event is not completely over. As severe weather reports filter into the office, it becomes evident that the storms caused significant damage and you’ll be heading out to conduct a damage survey first thing in the morning. Get some rest…another long day lies ahead.

Damage survey team members (Jim Belles and Benton County officials) inspect homes destroyed in the December 23, 2015 tornadoes in northern Mississippi. Credit NOAA WRN
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This Week’s Roundup of Interesting Weather Stories

A massive plume of dust from the Sahara Desert has made its way all the way across the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean and the southeast United States! Known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), this very dry mass of dusty air normally forms over the Sahara Desert between late spring through early fall and moves out over the North Atlantic Ocean every 3-5 days. The SAL can cover an area as large as the size of the continental United States (!), and extends between ~5,000-20,000 feet in the atmosphere.

This geocolor enhanced imagery was created by NOAA’s partners at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.  Its multi-band imaging capabilities provide high-resolution visible and infrared imaging of atmospheric aerosols, such as dust and sand. Photo courtesy NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.
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NOAA: Building A Better Future

Did you know that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does more than forecast the weather? NOAA is a scientific agency that observes and predicts conditions in our ocean and atmosphere. From daily weather forecasts to long-term climate monitoring and from fisheries management to marine commerce, NOAA provides communities, decision-makers, and people across the country with the information they need when they need it. NOAA also understands that the agency must do more than study the ocean and atmosphere; they need to take what they learn and educate individuals, so that citizens are empowered to support their own economies by building resilient communities and healthy ecosystems. An informed society has access to, interest in, and understanding of NOAA-related sciences and their implications for current and future events.

NOAA Marine Debris Program Outreach and Communications Specialist, Asma Mahdi, shows curious zoo-visitor microplastics and explains how animals can easily mistake it for food at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s World Ocean Day event. (NOAA)
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Lightning Science and Safety

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous experiment in which he flew a kite during a thunderstorm during this week in 1752? Benjamin Franklin was looking to demonstrate the connection between lightning and electricity. In fact, we know today that lightning is a discharge of static electricity from the atmosphere. Lightning can strike from cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-ground, and even intra-cloud (inside one cloud) discharges can occur. Let’s look back into history to see how this experiment worked…

Courtesy: Franklin Institute.
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A Brief Recap of the May 2019 Severe Outbreak

Just two short weeks ago we posted a blog that looked into the severe weather that occurred on May 20, 2019. Little did we know that this was just the beginning! Over a 12-day period that stretched from May 17 through May 30, more than 285 tornadoes touched down across 22 states. The May storms also included hailstorms (including grapefruit-sized hail in Wellington, Texas!) and frequent heavy rainfall, sometimes at record levels, over areas that were already saturated. This led to extensive flooding and flash flooding, which frequently interfered with emergency efforts related to tornado damage.

Map of tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service between May 17 and May 29, 2019 over the eastern United States and tornadoes confirmed and surveyed by the National Weather Service. Map produced in QGIS with border outlines from the United States Census Bureau. National Weather Service warning outlines available from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet and tornado data available from the National Weather Service. Credit: TheAustinMan
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So….What is a Satellite?

According to NOAA, a satellite is a moon, planet, or machine that orbits a planet or a star. Usually the word “satellite” refers to a machine that is launched into space and moves around Earth or another body in space, but there are also natural satellites. For example, Earth is a satellite because it orbits the sun, and the moon is a satellite because it orbits the Earth. This blog will look into a variety of man-made satellites that orbit Earth.

NASA has multiple satellites that orbit the Earth.
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