Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Project BudBurst - my forsythia offers up data for climate change

Last year I registered the forsythia bush in my back yard with Project BudBurst. I of course completely forgot about my commitment to follow the plant's yearly leafing and flowering cycle and let a whole growing season go by without logging in any data. This year I have vowed to keep a closer eye on the plant and log my data as soon as I notice the first leaf unfold.

Project BudBurst is a wonderful "citizen science" campaign that's collecting data from around the country about when plants are doing their thing. So you, yes YOU, get the data, log it into your site and it will go directly towards mapping climate change. 2008 was the inaugural year for the project so it will be a few years before general trends can be mapped. But there are data from previous years before the project was opened to citizen scientists. Most interesting to me and my little forsythia tree is the following from the 2008 report:

"...in Chicago, Forsythia opened it first flower from April 23 – 25 in 2007 and from
April 17 to 19 in 2008. In both years, the reported observations indicated the first flower for Forsythia occurred in two days, however in 2008 the first flower was a week earlier."

Two years of data does not provide definitive trends. But this year I will definitely remember to log in my data to help the project compile a long-term climate picture. I just went out in the back yard and looked at my forsythia: there's buds about to burst, but no leaves yet....I will keep you posted.

To participate log into Project BudBurst's participation page and get started! There's 75 common tree, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers that you can register from your very own patch of earth.


  1. I don't know how much help I will be, cause I just live on the other side of the river, but I in!
    Is it bad that I want them to open now?

  2. you guys should register something in your yard! it has to be native, even the tree out front would be cool!

    the buds are literally about to BURST in our yard, yay spring!!!!


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