After a short introduction and get-together, the meteorologist Birgit Eibl and the expert of phenology Thomas Hübner started a tour through the garden of phenology. They explained why phenological observations of plants form an important part of climate monitoring and showed,, the current state of development of some "Indicator Plants" as examples in the phenological garden of the ZAMG.
After the outdoor activity, a presentation about the history of Citizen Science at the ZAMG was held by the phenologist Birgit Eibl. She talked about the very beginning of data collection. Since 1851 the ZAMG has operated the phenological observation network and is the oldest citizen science initiative in Austria.
Back then, citizen scientists wrote down their observations on paper and sent them to the scientists by postal mail. Nowadays, participating in phenology is much easier: observations can be posted in the "Nature’s Calender's App", a Citizen Science Smartphone App running on the SPOTTERON Citizen Science Platform and submitted by the press of a button. Thomas Hübner and Birgit Eibl introduced the group of visitors to the App to show how to participate as active Citizen Scientists and gave some advice about how to do a proper phenological observation. They gave examples, why citizen Science is so important, and how phenology seasons shift because of climate change.
"We want to start the beginning of the phenological year with a day about phenology observations. Currently it's early spring, the first phenological season after winter. Over the past two weeks, the flowering of hazel and snowdrops has set in all across Austria. The development of vegetation is a few days ahead than the average over the last decade. This confirms the trend towards earlier entry times overall."
Most of the visitors were advanced users, or at least used the Citizen Science App before. At the end of the presentation, when there was time to ask some questions the participants of the Day of Phenology started a really interesting discussion about the practical use of the "Naturcalender's App" instead. There was an exchange about if it's better to post a lot of different spots, or focus on the "indicator plants", how to best update old spots and how to welcome new users and deal with mistakes they may commit. The Nature’s Calendar project has already a strong and active community in their Citizen Science app, but it was really impressive how passionate people were talking about "their" spots, the community and Citizen Science projects in general.
If you are interested in see how climate change affect plants and nature, download the Nature’s Calender ZAMG app for Android and IOS on your smartphone and submit your observerations, too. The app is available in German and English and you can find the app links directly at www.naturkalender.at