"Citizen Scientists" Support Alpine Research!

By Charles J. Zimmerman

Sep 27 2019

Increases in temperature and changes to the availability of moisture and snow cover over the past few decades have already been observed at high-elevations, and climate models overwhelmingly predict these patterns will continue and intensify over time. Less is known about individual responses of Alpine organisms to these changes in their environment, but some plants are expected to adapt by shifting their seasonal timeline of flowering and fruiting (known as phenology).

Researchers based at the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) station near Mt. Washington in New Hampshire are asking hikers to help make real-time scientific observations of plants living in Alpine regions in order to generate an abundance of new geospatial data about plant life-cycles as they exist today (visit the "Northeast Alpine Flower Watch" project to learn how to participate). To fully understand how patterns have already shifted since before the era of Climate Change, NYBG has partnered with the AMC to launch "Islands in the Sky", a virtual expedition dedicated to uncovering historic data from Alpine plant specimens collected during the past 200 years. Anyone with a computer and access to the internet can participate in this research by viewing photographs of preserved plants and their collection labels, and observing when, where, and by whom each plant was found in the wild.

A Closer Look