Local gardeners tracking impact of climate change

Tim De Chant in the Chicago Tribune:

Leaves750When Tom Koulentes is not advising students at Highland Park High School or chasing after his own kids, he spends time behind his small Des Plaines home researching climate change.

Koulentes is recording his garden’s natural history, from the weigela’s first leaf to the butterfly bush’s last bloom, for Project BudBurst, a new nationwide research program based on the observations of ordinary people. He is looking for local signs like an early bloom or a late-falling leaf that stem from planetwide changes.

Only a handful of researchers study plants to chronicle global warming, but millions of gardeners quietly keep watch on their plants. BudBurst seeks to tap that potential, asking “citizen scientists” to monitor plants alongside trained scholars.

“If just scientists were working on this, there’s no way we could obtain a data set of this size,” said Kay Havens, director of plant science and conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and one of the project’s organizers.

More here.  Project website here. [Thanks to Bill Brooks.]