Tag: citizen science

Civic Science Precipitation Monitoring with CoCoRaHS, and a volunteer opportunity with LRWP!

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), a national network of volunteer rain monitors, recently added some important new spatial and historical rainfall data mapping products by watershed at the HUC 10 level.

To access this data, go to https://www.cocorahs.org/Maps/

You can then click on the Watershed Maps, enter you address or zip code, and access the subwatersheds in the vicinity of your address. You can then click on your target watershed, and that watershed will come up with its area in acres and square miles, and a button for precipitation reports.

CoCoRaHs Watershed Map for Watershed Management Area 9

Click on the precipitation reports, and a “Configure Precipitation Report” box pops up. Click the drop down arrow, and you can choose between Daily Precipitation and Monthly Precipitation.

Daily Precipitation provides the Average Precipitation in inches for the pervious 24 hours for that subwatershed, along with the number of CoCoRaHS stations in the subwatershed. This data can be very useful for monitoring large rain events that can impact stream flows, flooding, and drought.

Choose Monthly Precipitation, and you can then choose monthly accumulated precipitation in inches for any month going back to 1998, and get the number of stations for that month.

Help track climate trends for the LRWP!

Can you help the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership better understand climate trends? Let us know! We need a volunteer to extract historical rainfall data by month from CoCoRaHs data source and develop a monthly rainfall baseline so we can compare present and future monthly rainfall for climate trends analysis. We intend to eventually triangulate these data with our pathogens monitoring data.

Join CoCoRaHS!

The LRWP supports the CoCoRaHS ongoing campaign to recruit volunteers. Anyone can volunteer to report rainfall by signing up here and then purchasing and installing a $35 required rain gage.

April 20 Bacteria Monitoring Workshop – Virtual Training

NEEDED!! Volunteer Water Quality Monitors to assist with bacteria monitoring during Summer 2020

WHAT: Virtual Training Workshop for Water Quality Sampling and Bacteria Monitoring

WHEN: Monday April 20, 4:30-6:30 PM

WHERE: Online! (…the comfort of your own home)

WHY: Every Thursday from mid-May through the end of September the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County will be in the field taking water samples from five public access (non-bathing, fishing, and recreational) sites along our Raritan River. We need volunteers to help us with this important work!

Volunteers will help project coordinators with sample collection, sample preparation and delivery, and analysis. See here for more info on our monitoring program.

Raritan River pathogens report for 9.12.2019

Raritan River Enterococci results for 8.1.2019, for six non-swimming beach public access sites. Enterococci results are reported in Colony Forming Units or CFUs. Suitable levels for enterococci should not exceed 104cfu/100mL. **Please note: these results are preliminary and awaiting Quality Control.**

Know before you swim/paddle/fish! See here for more information about our citizen science program, and to get involved.

#NYNJCitizenScience #NYNJCommunityScience

Weather observers wanted: become a citizen-scientist!

Article by LRWP intern Daniel Cohen

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is looking for volunteer weather observers in the Raritan Basin. CoCoRaHS is a nationwide volunteer precipitation-observing network, with over 15,000 active observers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Bahamas, and the US Virgin Islands, including over 250 in New Jersey. The NJ program is run out of the Office of the NJ State Climatologist at Rutgers University. Working with the Rutgers Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, NJ CoCoRaHS is looking to enlist volunteers of all ages within the basin. Volunteers take a few minutes each day to report the amount of rain or snow that has fallen in their backyards. All that is required to participate is a 4″ diameter plastic rain gauge, a ruler to measure snow, a computer or cell phone, and most importantly, the desire to report weather conditions.

Observations from CoCoRaHS volunteers are widely used by scientists and agencies whose decisions depend on timely and high-quality precipitation data. For example, hydrologists and meteorologists use the data to warn about the potential impacts of flood and drought within the Raritan Basin.

“Weather matters to everybody –meteorologists, car and crop insurance companies, outdoor enthusiasts and homeowners,” according to CoCoRaHS founder and national director Nolan Doesken. “Precipitation is perhaps the most important, but also the most highly variable element of our climate.”

As Dave Robinson, NJ State Climatologist and NJ CoCoRaHS co-coordinator, notes, “The addition of new observers in your community will provide a detailed picture of rain and snowfall patterns to assist with critical weather-related decision making.”

“Rainfall amounts vary from one street to the next,” says Doesken. “It is wonderful having large numbers of enthusiastic volunteers and literally thousands of rain gauges to help track storms. We learn something new every day, and every volunteer makes a significant scientific contribution.”

CoCoRaHS volunteers are asked to read their rain gauge or measure any snowfall at the same time each day (preferably between 5 and 9 AM). Measurements are then entered by the observer on the CoCoRaHS website where they can be viewed in tables and maps. Training is provided for CoCoRaHS observers, either through online training modules, or preferably in group training sessions that are held at different locations around NJ.

“Anyone interested in signing up or learning more about the program can visit the CoCoRaHS website at http://www.cocorahs.org,” says Mathieu Gerbush, Assistant NJ State Climatologist and program co-coordinator. “We’re looking forward to welcoming new volunteers into the NJ CoCoRaHS program.”

For more information, contact the NJ CoCoRaHS state coordinators:

Dr. David Robinson, Rutgers University, drobins@rci.rutgers.edu, 848-445-4741
Mr. Mathieu Gerbush, Rutgers University, njcocorahs@climate.rutgers.edu, 848-445-3076


May 21 – Visual Habitat Assessment Training in North Brunswick

Please join us for our May visual habitat assessment training with the LRWP and WMA9 Americorps Watershed Ambassador Katee Meckler! (Here’s more on the LRWP’s water quality monitoring programs).

This FREE training will run from 9 AM – 1 PM at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension EARTH Center at Davidson’s Mill Pond, located at 42 Riva Avenue in North Brunswick.

We will start the morning with a lecture indoors, and then get out in the field to test our knowledge of streams and stream habitat.

Please wear clothing and footwear that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.

RSVP required, E-mail Heather: hfenyk AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org

Civic Science comes to PBS

Article by LRWP Board President Heather Fenyk

Wikipedia tells us that civic science or citizen science (CS; also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, volunteer monitoring or networked science) is “scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as public participation in scientific research, participatory monitoring and participatory action research.”

The LRWP employs civic science to better understand the health of our watershed. Our volunteers engage in activities like water quality monitoring, soil sampling, pollinator counts and mapping of invasive and threatened/endangered species. The data our volunteers generate is a key input to our analyses and restoration prioritization.

While the LRWP’s mission centers on protecting, preserving and restoring habitat and biodiversity within our Lower Raritan Watershed, our civic science approach to data gathering speaks to another core purpose: by training community volunteers to monitor and report on the health of the environment we work to ensure that science, community engagement and environmental stewardship become a permanent part of the culture and identity of the Lower Raritan Watershed.

Want to learn more about citizen/civic science? Not only how it is used to characterize the health of our watersheds, track climate change and map oil spills, but also how it can improve emergency responses, help us understand how diseases spread, and keep our drinking water clean? Check out the new PBS mini-series sponsored by The Crowd and The Cloud. For a month of Thursdays this April, PBS will host a 4-part television series exploring citizen science, crowdsourcing, and mobile technology. Below we summarize the episodes in the series:

Even Big Data Starts Small

The crowd, using mobile tech, and the cloud contribute to science that saves lives. In this episode, you’ll hear stories of everyday people contributing data used for emergency management, researching Alzheimers, mapping oils spills, and more.

World Broadcast: April 6th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Citizens + Scientists

Citizen scientists track air pollution in Wyoming, test for lead in Philadelphia’s drinking water, fish for data in coldwater trout streams and report environmental crimes in China, using the “Black & Smelly Rivers” app. Hear all these stories and more in Episode 2.

World Broadcast: April 13th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Viral vs Virus

Real-time data helps track environmental triggers for asthma sufferers and citizens confront air pollution and rising asthma rates by collecting real time data. In this episode, explore how maps and apps can combat globalized disease from asthma to Zika.

World Broadcast: April 20th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)


This episode explores a Year in the Life of Citizen Science. Counting birds with an app, surfers collecting ocean data while they ride the waves, volunteers surveying horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay, and butterflies wintering over in California.

World Broadcast: April 27th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)