USA National Phenology Network — Partner to Advance Science Decisions

SPEAKER 1: There’s
so many questions that need to be answered. There’s more natural disasters. There are more extreme droughts. There’s more extreme
weather events. There’s an urgency within
the climate community and in climate scientists. THERESA CRIMMINS: The USA
National Phenology Network is a science and
monitoring initiative that’s national scale. We exist to collect, store,
and share data and information about phenology. Phenology is all about
when things happen. It pertains to the timing of
events that occur seasonally in plants and animals. [MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: I’m interested
in how climate change is impacting our forests. With climate change, we’re
seeing warmer winters. We’re seeing warmer springs, and
we’re getting this earlier bud burst in the spring. And so these leaves
are coming out, and oftentimes they’re at a time
when these late spring freezing events can still
be really damaging. So by watching
changes in bud burst, we can observe how the
climate is changing over time. So it’s a great tracker or
proxy for climate change. This is frost damage. This is pretty
standard look of what freezing damage looks like. It smells like it
was hit by a frost, and what probably–
ideally I want to get data from tons of species. Every species is different. So the more information I
can get on bud burst and leaf out across as many species as
I possibly can would be ideal. I use the Nature’s Notebook. We have a whole slew of
volunteers called the tree spotters. Almost every day
someone is going out, sometimes multiple
observers a day. So that’s really
high quality data that I can access quite easily. THERESA CRIMMINS:
The data that have been coming in through
Nature’s Notebook have slowly and steadily
been growing in number. Those data can be
used by researchers and non-professional
for exploring patterns in how things are occurring
over the course of the year as well as changing
from year to year. MICHAEL DIETZE:
Phenology happens rapidly in many places at the same time. Can we predict phenology
accurately three days in advance, five days in
advance, two weeks in advance? So in my own lab,
we’ve been focusing on is this idea of iterative
ecological forecast. We have some new information
that’s coming in continuously. We want to update
our understanding on a closer to real time basis. There’s a question of– we’re starting to see the
actual green out in bud burst in early leaving– my
graduate student who’s making these phenology
forecasts wanted to validate what she’s doing in the field. Though, she could
not move across all of these different
locations in real time. Some of that large
data is coming from formal observatories
and observation networks, but also the community science
represents a real untapped gem for what we’re doing. JAKE WELTZIN: What
we really need to do is use the army
of observers that are part of the
phenology network to help collect the data to not
only build the models but then also to validate those models. We are moving
towards implementing phenoforecasts or phenological
forecasting, which is a new and exciting area
where we are really truly being able to deliver real
time and forecasted information directly to the
hands of users who are using that to make natural
resource management decisions. THERESA CRIMMINS: A
projection or a prediction about where we think
buffel grass will be green and therefore he should
go out and treat it. BEN WILDER: One
of things I think that’s fantastic
about this product you launched in June is it’s
already giving me real time information where
it matches what I’m seeing on the
landscape it tells me when I can go out and control
the invasive species buffel grass on the land I manage. JAKE WELTZIN: We are sort
of on the cutting edge of trying to apply new theory
about how do we as scientists work with resource managers
to better understand what their needs are and
to more effectively and efficiently deliver the
information that they need. THERESA CRIMMINS: Through
these phenoforecasts, we’ve started to
deliver products that are seemingly valuable to
decision-makers and folks who are making decisions
on the ground. And we’re really
excited to continue to grow in this direction and
expand the suite of products that we can offer
and really identify where is phenology information
valuable and important and in what format can we
deliver that that can really make a difference.

Stephen Childs

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