Tomorrow marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. As the days lengthen, I hope the coming weeks bring you a chance for rest and relaxation and good times spent with family and friends. It's also a chance for us to reflect on all that we have accomplished together this year - over 3,400 of you have contributed over 3 million records of plant and animal seasonal activity. Your data have been used in 14 peer-reviewed research studies this year alone, and many more are likely in the works!

We are so grateful to you for being part of Nature's Notebook again this year. We are already looking forward to next year and providing you new data collection campaigns to join, improved training resources, and additional information on how your data are being used.

Best wishes for the New Year,
What your data are telling us
Nature's Notebook lends power to the study of rare species
Thanks to phenology observations from both arboreta and those collected by Nature’s Notebook observers like you, researchers were able to predict how rare and understudied species may respond to climate change. Collaborations with botanical gardens and arboreta are critical to continuing to build our understanding of changing phenology.

Photo: John Hagstrom, Morton Arboretum
Trees bloom earlier in urban areas
Dr. Lin Meng, post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, used Nature's Notebook data to document that trees in urban areas, influenced by increased warmth and light, are blooming earlier than those in more rural areas. You can hear Dr. Meng and USA-NPN Director Theresa Crimmins discuss the implications of the study on NPR's All Things Considered.

What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
The Redbud Phenology Project
Eastern redbuds are iconic spring bloomers, but mystery remains about the timing of their flowering and fruiting. We are launching a new campaign next year - The Redbud Phenology Project - which seeks to answer questions such as "are redbuds flowering and fruiting earlier in the year" and "is there a cycle to abundant years of redbud fruiting"? Join us on Wednesday, January 5th at 12pm ET for a kickoff webinar where we will explain the significance of this project and how you can get started observing redbuds.

Photo: Thom Pennington
Time for an end of year data check!
The end of the year is a great time to check your data to make sure you have entered everything correctly. If you use the Nature's Notebook app, check out the Review tab and make sure that you see a green bar at the top that says "User data are up to date." If you collect data on paper datasheets, now is a great time to get everything entered online.

You can also use our visualization tools to look over your data and make sure that nothing stands out as an obvious error:
  • Check out the My Phenology Calendar tab at the top of your Observation Deck. You can customize your calendar to show other species and phenophases.
  • Follow the link on the bottom right of your Observation Deck to Visualize My Data.

Need to fix something? Watch this video on how to edit your data.

Seeking a new Volunteer Coordinator
We're hiring! The USA-NPN is hiring a Volunteer Engagement Coordinator to lead recruitment and retention activities for Nature's Notebook. The Coordinator will bring fresh, innovative ideas to the program and focus specific recruitment efforts on audiences traditionally underrepresented in the science fields. They will join an enthusiastic team, a flexible, supportive work environment, and enjoy outstanding benefits offered at the University of Arizona. Applications reviewed as received; position to start in early 2022. We'd love to have someone familiar with Nature's Notebook in this position - please share widely with your networks!

Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Challenges for leaf peeper season
In some locations, increased drought, heat waves, and extreme events like hurricanes are making it harder to track autumn color. Trees are responding to unusual weather events by changing leaf color quickly, or dropping leaves early. An article from the Associated Press explains how climate is impacting fall foliage.

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
What should I record in winter?
In northern states, most plants will not need weekly observations in the middle of winter. However, if your species retains ripe fruit in the winter, you should still report on fruiting phenophases. In southern states, many species may have active flower buds or open flowers that will require normal weekly observations. Get familiar with the seasonal progression of phenophases for your species to predict what’s coming! 

More ways to get involved
Give your input on climate issues
Please join the authors of the Fifth National Climate Assessment for a virtual workshop on January 11, 2022 from 12-4pm ET to share your thoughts on the climate change-related issues most important to include in the Ecosystems, Ecosystem Services, and Biodiversity chapter.

This workshop is free and open to the public including scientists, professionals, volunteers, and interested parties. The information gathered will help authors decide which topics to cover in their chapter of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, a major U.S. Government report on how climate change affects people and places in the United States.

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator