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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Nolan Doesken

State Climatologist for the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University

Nolan Doesken was born and raised in rural central Illinois where he grew up with an intense fascination with weather.  After studying Atmospheric Science at the University of Michigan and University of Illinois, he moved to Colorado in 1977 to become the Assistant State Climatologist at Colorado State University.  His job is monitoring, investigating, describing and explaining patterns, variations, extremes and trends in climate across the state of Colorado.  In 1997 a localized flash flood severely damaged the CSU campus and killed 5

people near campus.  This event resulted in a new focus.  Nolan has been working more ever since on outreach and education to help citizens be more aware of the weather and climate around them.  In 1998 he established a small local project called CoCoRaHS -- the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network where people of all ages help scientists study storms.  CoCoRaHS is now becoming a national program with thousands of participants.

CoCoRaHS -- The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network

CoCoRaHS is an example of a 'Citizen Science' project where volunteers of all ages use simple low-cost tools to help measure and report rain, hail and snow.  The project has been very successful in terms of the number and geographical spread of participants, the commitment of participants and the widespread acceptance and scientific use of the data being gathered.  However, there are many significant challenges and barriers.  We will discuss a few of these challenges including purchasing and paying for supplies, building and maintaining an effective website, finding and training local volunteer leaders, providing the personalized feedback that volunteers need and deserve, and reaching underserved groups.

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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