Now that spring has arrived over most of the country, we can start asking questions about how this spring stacks up to previous years - where in the country did spring arrive early or late compared to last year? Was this year "normal" where you live?

These are the kinds of questions that you can answer with our new phenology maps, which show climate patterns and the predicted onset of spring for plants with early spring season activity. Explore the maps through the USA-NPN Visualization Tool, or read more about them below. The observations you submit through Nature's Notebook can help to create more accurate predictions for when a variety of different plants will start "springing." 

Happy observing! 

What your data are telling us
Phenology maps now on the Viz Tool 

Two new sets of maps allow you to explore climate patterns and the predicted onset of spring across the country. Heat accumulation is commonly used to predict the timing of seasonal changes in plants and animals. See maps of this year's heat accumulation, and explore how this year compares to previous years. 

The Extended Spring Index models predict the "start of spring" at a particular location. This metric represents when plants that show early spring season activity should begin to leaf and flower. See how spring is progressing across the country this year, or how this year stacks up to a long term average. You can also compare the predictions to on-the-ground observations made through Nature's Notebook.
Photo: California Phenology Project
NN observations validate oak leaf-out models 

Researchers from Princeton, Chapman University, and UCLA developed models of valley oak leaf-out under past and future climate scenarios to test how changing the scale of these models affects leaf-out. The authors used data collected by the California Phenology Project, which began in 2010 and is part of the USA-NPN, to validate their models of valley oak leaf-out before modifying the models to create local predictions of leaf-out. 
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Earn new badges for your efforts!

We've rolled out some new badges this spring to encourage you to keep your observations coming! In addition to three badges for our new campaigns, we also added badges for making observations with a 
Nature's Notebook group, for reporting intensity on phenophases, and for making weekly observations for at least 12 consecutive weeks in the same year. To see the badges, open the Badge tab at the top of your Observation Deck.
Nature's Notebook office hours        

Do you have questions about making observations, entering data, how to set up and use Nature's Notebook at your group site, or how to integrate it into your curriculum?  We will have your answers during office hours on June 14th at 3pm EDT. Come with questions, or listen in on other's questions to learn how best to use Nature's Notebook!

Recent happenings in the field
Photo: Greg Wilker, USFWS
Kodiak brown bears surf the salmon wave

Authors of a study from the University of Montana, University of Wyoming, and US Fish and Wildlife Service investigated how well Kodiak brown bears track spawning salmon. They found that bears were 50 times more likely to be detected at streams where salmon were spawning than where they were not, and bears that traveled to more sites with salmon had more days of salmon access than bears that stayed put. Bears depend greatly on this salmon resource, which is threatened by habitat fragmentation and low diversity of spawning phenology that can be introduced by hatchery stocks. 

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
Photo: Patricia Guertin
Help! The phenophases are coming too fast!

A plant, even a small one, can have lots of activity occurring during the growing season. Visual confusion can make it difficult to understand when a phenophase has begun or ended. When observing for Nature's Notebook, look only at the plant parts in the phenophase definition, and evaluate those individuals separately over the entire plant. With focus on the defintion, it should be easier to determine whether any phenophase question deserves a "Yes" or a "No" response. 

More ways to get involved
Watch SciGirls en Espaol

The Nature's Notebook episode of the Emmy-winning PBS show SciGirls has now been dubbed into Spanish! The episode "Flower Power", or "Primorosa Primavera", follows sixth grade girls as they track flowering plants during a Minnesota spring.

More phenology on the radio

Listen to phenologist David Inouye and our own Executive Director Jake Weltzin talk with Jake Ryan of Western Colorado's KVNF about phenology. They discuss mismatches caused by shifting phenology, unpredictable weather, and how we can adapt to these changes. Recorded on March 23, 2016.

Spring is changing in the Sonoran Desert
Photo: Sara N Schaffer

An article in the popular magazine Zcalo discusses what a changing climate means for the Sonoran Desert. This spring followed an intense El Nio event last winter, resulting in an early bloom for many desert species. The article begins on page 45.    
Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator