Note to Reporters: Photos are available with the news release at http://news.colostate.edu. To watch a brief video about CoCoRaHS on YouTube, go to http://youtu.be/M5-sXXg9M30.
Colorado State University is helping to bring donated rain gauges to every school across Colorado while training kids and teachers to use the scientific measurements in their classrooms.
Colorado State’s volunteer precipitation monitoring network – created by CSU state climatologist Nolan Doesken after the devastating 1997 Spring Creek flood in Fort Collins – assists meteorologists and scientists nationwide by gathering accurate data on precipitation, which can vary within one community or even one block.
The program, called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS, now boasts 16,000 volunteers in all 50 United States and in Canada.
CSU and CoCoRaHS reached out to organizations statewide, and have received enough pledges to donate one gauge per Colorado school. Teachers interested in obtaining a gauge and training should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Two webinars are planned to train teachers and other volunteers:
• Aug. 8 at 10 a.m.: Register at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/369605662
• Aug. 20 at 4:30 p.m.: Register at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/366358526
CoCoRaHS will push a special campaign, titled “Rain Gauge Week,” Sept. 5-11 to encourage participating schools to report their rainfall amounts for the week.
CSU’s Colorado Climate Center joined a statewide celebration of water hosted by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education called “Colorado Water 2012,” which includes agencies such as CSU Extension, CSU’s Water Institute, city municipalities, conservation districts and others to deliver the gauges to schools. For more information, go to http://water2012.org/.
"The best way that I can think of to begin to learn about water here in Colorado is to start measuring how much precipitation falls in your own community,” said Doesken, who also is director of the Colorado Climate Center and oversees the historic Fort Collins weather station with 125 year of continuous climate data. "By comparing rainfall from one place to another and from one storm to the next, we all quickly learn where our water comes from and how much or how little we have."
“This is real science in the classroom and the data get used around the country,” said Noah Newman, the climate center’s education coordinator who works with Doesken and recent CSU atmospheric science graduate Katie Boyd on the gauge program.
“It gets into mathematics and geography and it’s a good opportunity for schools to compare each other’s data,” Newman said. “That’s the great thing about being part of a network.”
Nationally, data collected by CoCoRaHS volunteers has helped predict flooding on the Missouri River, track the movement of West Nile Virus across the country and verify satellite data on crop health, among other things.
CoCoRaHS was honored earlier this year with a major national award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, known as APLU, for the West region. The program will compete for a national title in Denver in November. In 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration honored Doesken as one of 10 "Environmental Heroes" nationally for creating the network.
The National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, have provided financial support for CoCoRaHS.