USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

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The USA-NPN, phenology, and our partners are often in the news. Follow some recent stories below.

Image credit:
Sara N. Schaffer


  • Your questions, answered, amid the coronavirus pandemic
    Monday, March 30, 2020

    We've been receiving a lot of questions about how to manage your phenology programs during these difficult times. Here are some suggestions:

    My staff/volunteers don't have access to our observation site anymore, what should we do?

    We have to accept that there will be some gaps in data during this time - that is ok! If you are determined to continue to collect data, and it is safe and you are allowed to do so, here are some options:

    If your Nature's Notebook site has been closed to the public, then your volunteers will not be able to make observations. Are staff still working on site? Consider having them take photos of your plants and send them to volunteers to enter the data from home, or hang onto the photos to enter at a later date.

    If sites are totally inaccessible, or if you are in a location with a shelter in place order, consider whether you or your volunteers have similar species at your home. You can register these new plants or animals at a new personal site. While these are not the same individual plants, they will still contribute valuable information on your species of interest for your area. It will also help you and your volunteers keep up the habit of making observations, not to mention give you a reason to spend time outside!

    What will happen to my group/data if we have to stop collecting data for the next several months?

    We will maintain your group and all of its associated data in our system. We never delete data collected by Local Phenology Programs unless there is a problem with your data that you have alerted us to.

    How can I keep engaging my volunteers remotely?

    Check out LoriAnne's tips for moving programs online in our new LPP Forum. It might be a great time to have your observers take our Observer Certification Course , Basic Botany and Intensity Quizzes , read through and take the quizzes in our Botany Primer , or make a Phenophase Photo Guide by taking photos of plants at their homes.

    Consider doing a social media campaign to have volunteers document signs of spring out their windows, or start a phenology-related book club.

    Also, check out VolunteerPro's Guide for Managing Uncertainty with Volunteers.

    Do you have any tips on how to juggle all this online communication?

    We use Editorial Calendars to keep track of what content we want to send to different audiences, and when. The Nonprofit Marketing Guide has some great resources on how to create one.

    Do you have any activities to do with my kiddos while we're stuck at home?

    Yes! We have lots of activities and lesson plans on our Education page . Filter by indoor, outdoor, grade level, and more. Also check out Theresa Crimmins' recent Op-Ed in the Arizona Daily Star about doing citizen science at home during the current public health crisis.

    Education Coordinator LoriAnne Barnett will offer a one hour crash course that will cover:

    • How to get a group set up in Nature's Notebook

    • How to engage participants remotely

    • Which activities and curriculum might be most relevant to your particular learning environment

    • How to move scheduled Nature's Notebook trainings online.

    Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 at 12 pm PDT / 3 pm EDT. We will post the recording on our YouTube channel .

    Meeting link »

    Password: 056653

  • 2020 Heat Accumulation vs Rodent Prognostication
    Tuesday, February 4, 2020

    Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this year! Our maps of heat accumulation provide a more scientific look at how much heat has accumulated so far this year, and what's next. Heat accumulation is ahead of schedule in the Southeast, Northeast, and parts of the West, and more typical in Midwest states. Research published in Journal of Geophysical Research by Crimmins and Crimmins last year, as well as NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, predict advanced plant and animal activity in the coming months in the Southeast and Northeast, the less precipitation and warmer temperatures in the Southwest, normal conditions in the Northwest, and below average temperatures and above average precipitation in the Midwest.

    Groundhog day seasonal story 2020

  • Early spring leaf out across the Southeast
    Thursday, January 23, 2020

    Spring leaf out is off to an early start this year in much of the Southeast. USA-NPN's Director Theresa Crimmins joined Jim Cantore and Stephanie Abrams on The Weather Channel on January 23, 2020 to talk about the implications of an early spring. Some locations are seeing spring leaf out three weeks ahead of normal (a long-term average of 1981-2010).

    Other news outlets have also picked up on the early spring: 

    Washington Post: Indicators of early spring are flourishing all around Washington (Feb 21, 2020)

    New Orleans Public Radio (WNNO): Spring Is Coming Earlier And Plants Are Confused (Feb 19, 2020)

    Washington Post: Spring has arrived weeks early in the South. Flowers are blooming and that could be a problem (Feb 13, 2020)

    Gizmodo: Spring is here...but it's still winter (Feb 11, 2020) January's mild temperatures gave spring a false start in parts of the south (Jan 23, 2020)

    ClimateWire: Warm winter has leaves in the Southeast popping out way early (Jan 23, 2020)

    KXAN Weather Blog (Austin, TX): Spring leaves predicted to be out earlier than normal (Jan 22, 2020)

    SFGate: Warm winter has leaves in the Southeast popping out way early (Jan 22, 2020)

    Bloomberg News: Warm winter has leaves in the Southeast popping out way early (Jan 21, 2020)

  • 2.5 million NEON records added to National Phenology Database
    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) uses USA-NPN observational protocols to track plant phenology. In October of 2019, we ingested over 2.5 million phenology data records collected on more than 5,000 individual plants observed at 78 NEON sites collected between 2013-2019 into the USA-NPN's National Phenology Database. These data are reflected in the map of observation records below and are available for visualization ( and download ( 

    Nature's Notebook and NEON records as of Oct 2019

  • Buffelgrass Pheno Forecasts inform time to treat invasive grass
    Thursday, August 8, 2019

    Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) is an invasive plant that impacts native desert plant and animal communities in the Southwestern US. It creates substantial fire risk in ecosystems that are not adapted to large-scale intense burning. This summer, the USA-NPN developed a Pheno Forecast, our first for an invasive plant, to predict when buffelgrass reaches a level of greenness where herbicide treatment is most effective. These maps are based on known precipitation thresholds and predict green-up one to two weeks in the future. We invite managers and community members to report their sightings of buffelgrass and the level of greenness at buffelgrass.usanpn.orgLearn moreabout other the USA-NPN's other Pheno Forecasts.