Monday, August 31, 2009

Tracking Climate In Your Backyard at the State Fair

The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) and its Museum of the Earth will be measuring weather at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY from August 27 - September 7, 2009 at the 4-H Youth Building as part of their Tracking Climate in Your Backyard project .

Tracking Climate in Your Backyard is a collaborative project between PRI, 4-H of New York State, the citizen science project Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), and the Cornell Institute for Resource Information Systems. The project teaches youth about weather and climate through a hands-on curriculum and citizen science precipitation gathering project.

Each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses an area, CoCoRaHS volunteers take measurements of precipitation.. These precipitation reports are then recorded on the CoCoRaHS web site ( The data are then displayed and organized for its end users to analyze
and apply to daily situations, ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbors comparing how much rain fell in their backyards. These data, along with the curriculum provided by Tracking Climate in Your Backyard, provide 4-H participants with insight into local weather and climate.

CoCoRaHS is administered in New York State by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at the Cornell University Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. CoCoRaHS is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community. All precipitation measurements that are garnered at the Fair will be entered into the national database for these purposes.

Visitors from all over the state will have the opportunity to learn more about Tracking Climate in Your Backyard at the Fair and how they can take part in this citizen science project. They will also have the chance to hunt for fossils in 380-million-year-old shale from the Ithaca area. The Central New York area is rich in fossils from the Devonian period (about 400-350 million-years-ago), and it’s quite common to find them at parks or even in your own backyard. These fossils can tell us a great deal about what life was like millions of years ago and about the geology of our landscape.

“Geology is a local subject,” stated Rob Ross, Associate Director of Outreach at the aleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth. “No two places share exactly the same sequence of geological events that led to the way the places are today. In this sense, geology is a subject to be explored in one’s own neighborhood, examining the detailed sequence of rocks for the history that has gone on under our feet, and finding clues to what life was like as the earth evolved over the last 4-billion years.”

For more information about Tracking Climate in Your Backyard please visit us on the web at and for more information about CoCoRaHS please visit


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