2017 journal article
CoCoRaHS Observers Contribute to "Condition Monitoring" in the Carolinas A New Initiative Addresses Needs for Drought Impacts Information
BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY, 98(12), 2527–2531.
Abstract This article introduces two new tools developed to enhance drought impacts monitoring by citizen scientists. In collaboration with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network, the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) developed an experimental method of drought monitoring and reporting by citizen scientists. Since 2013, CISA has recruited CoCoRaHS observers in the Carolinas to participate in “condition monitoring,” the regular reporting of local conditions. In contrast to intermittent drought impact reports, condition monitoring creates a baseline for comparison of change through time and improves understanding of the onset, intensification, and recovery of drought. A project evaluation demonstrated the usefulness of the qualitative reports, while also identifying a need for improved accessibility to the information and a quantitative metric to more quickly assess changing conditions. Evaluation findings informed the development of 1) a condition monitoring scale bar for inclusion on the national CoCoRaHS reporting form and 2) a web map to spatially display the condition monitoring reports. CoCoRaHS observers use the scale bar to record their assessment of local conditions, ranging from severely wet to severely dry. Their qualitative reports provide more in-depth information about their selection, noting the effects of weather and climate on the environment and communities in their area. The web map provides an easily accessible format for users such as the State Climate Offices to view the reports, facilitating the incorporation of CoCoRaHS observations into drought monitoring processes.