There is always something refreshing about the transition from summer to autumn. The temperature begins to cool, the air feels a bit more crisp and clean with that distinctive smell, and there is nothing like seeing the warm glow of changing autumn leaves. 

The World Metrological Association is predicting a "triple dip" La Niña event, meaning it's our third La Nina winter in a row. La Niña climate patterns are caused by a build up of cooler-than-normal waters in the tropical Pacific, and this is the third time in the past century that it has occurred for three winters in a row. 

La Niña events impact climate patterns globallyIn the United States we may experience a colder, wetter winter than usual in Northern states, while Southern states may expect dryer, warmer conditions. 

It will be interesting to see what you observe as your plants and animals transition through their fall phenophases this year. Your observations and efforts can provide valuable information about how plant and animals adjust to these major climactic events.

Thank you so much for your continued support and dedication to this project!


Special Feature: Autumn Connections with Food and Nature

Local harvests and sustainable practices

Understanding phenology can help us better understand the natural world around us. However, observing phenological changes is not limited to wild areas. Agriculture and food security is also linked to climate and phenology. Autumn is a great time to visit your nearby farmer's market to support local growers and see what seasonal foods are available in your area. If you plant your own seasonal gardens, there are several crop species that can be observed through Nature's Notebook. Simply visit our species list and under "advanced settings," filter plant species by "crop" to see what crop species are available to observe. 

Autumn is an opportunity to learn from indigenous people about how to grow and harvest food. There has been a recent movement to understand Native American agricultural practices as a way to live more sustainably, and also respect the people and cultures who have long stewarded the lands we currently occupy.  

Find local food resources »

Photo: Native corn growing in a demonstration garden in Santa Fe, N.M by USDA

Year-round blooms support pollinators

Pollinators are vital to human livelihoods and food security locally and globally. Addressing global issues can seem overwhelming when you want to take action as an individual, but there are measurable impacts that you can make to support pollinators. Recently, a study conducted by Bristol University found that small urban gardens can be a valuable resource for local pollinators. They found that if urban gardeners plant strategically they can ensure that there is a continuous supply of open flowers and available nectar. You can use Nature's Notebook to observe when your garden has open flowers available through the year, and when pollinators are utilizing your garden. 

Read the article »

Common Evening Primrose with Open Flowers by Joshua Mayer

What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN

New and returning USA-NPN students

Ava Lasater is a returning undergraduate student at the University of Arizona majoring in Bioinformatics and is in the Honors College. Ava is from Golden, Colorado, and is interested in climate change and how changes in the environment and ecology affect human health.

Viviana Beltran, originally from San Luis, AZ, has always had a passion for STEM educational outreach in underrepresented communities such as her hometown. She received her Bachelor's in environmental science in 2021 and is currently a graduate student at the University of Arizona studying educational psychology to bridge the gap between environmental science knowledge and educational community outreach.

Carla Arreguín is an undergraduate student from Mexico City in an internship program with the USA-NPN. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Geography at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and is currently doing her thesis project in the impacts of climate and land use change in species of fireflies. She has always been interested in the environment and biodiversity, and how they are affected by human activities

Sofia Guadalupe Delgado is an undergraduate at the University of Arizona pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is a current NASA Space Grant intern. Sofia is originally from El Paso, Texas, and is interested in the American Southwest desert that surrounds them. Outside of school, Sofia enjoys painting, drawing, and being a giant nerd.

Meet the students »

Timing is everything... when it comes to managing invasive species

Nature's Notebook data have been used to identify critical windows of opportunity for treating invasive plans and insect pests. For example, data collected through Natures' Notebook has been used to identify when invasive buffelgrass is green enough to spray with herbicide, but has not yet spread its seeds. In the coming months, the USA-NPN will create Pheno Forecasts for management of cheatgrass and red brome.

Learn more »

Buffelgrass herbicide treatment by:

 Desert Landscape Creative Cooperative

Recent happenings in the field of phenology

Increased drought effects on the phenology of autumn leaf senescence 

Researchers have found that while global warming can delay the date that plants begin the aging process and re-absorb nutrients (date of foliar senescence), warming-associated drought can actually stimulate earlier aging, which can impact carbon uptake in terrestrial ecosystems. This important research exemplifies the importance of studying not only how temperature change can affect phenology, but changes in water availability as well. 

Read the article »

Photo by observer

Elizabeth Heeren

Tropical seasonality and dragon phenology

Komodo dragons live in habitats with year-round high temperatures, but concentrated summer rainfalls. Researchers recently examined how these seasonal changes affect the phenology of Komodo dragon reproduction, growth, movement, and survival. They found that reproduction, hatchling emergence, and movement were influenced by seasonal changes, but growth and body condition were not. More research may be needed to understand how seasonal changes affect the survival rate of these impressive reptiles. 

Read the article »

Baby Komodo dragon by: William Warby

Nature's Notebook Nuggets

Looking closely at the blush of color as leaves start to turn

As summer days shorten and temperatures drop, some plants respond with a beautiful change to their leaf color. Leaf coloration happens when it has been cold enough for a long enough period of time to cue the trees to shut off the exchange of water and protein between the leaf and the tree. This shut-off ends the production of chlorophyll (which gives green color to the leaves), and protects the tree by preventing damage caused when water inside the leaf freezes.  This Nature's Notebook nugget examines when to record changing leaf color, and how to estimate the intensity of your fall leaf color.

Learn more »

Autumn leaf macro by: Snapdragoon1

More ways to get involved

Visualizing bird migrations

BirdCast, powered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Colorado State University, and UMassAmerst provides tools where you can view migration forecasts, see real-time analysis maps of nocturnal bird migrations, and use their local migration alert tool to determine whether birds are passing over your city tonight!

Check out the BirdCast visualizations »

The Foliage Report

The Foliage Report is a weekly autumn report which tracks fall foliage change throughout the United States. The report is compiled by aggregating data from multiple sources into easily viewable interactive maps.

See the fall color report in your region »


Samantha Brewer

Volunteer Engagement Coordinator



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