CISA Integrating Climate Science & Decision Making in the Carolinas

CISA: Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, A NOAA RISA Team

Citizen Science Condition Monitoring in the Carolinas

two women checking a rain gauge
A. Farris and J. Davis with the CISA
Team CoCoRaHS rain gauge

Drought is a complex climate phenomenon with far reaching consequences for our environment and communities. In order to improve the process of drought impacts monitoring and reporting, the CISA team worked with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network to create a national Condition Monitoring program. CoCoRaHS is a well-regarded, trusted source of weather data with a network of over 20,000 volunteers across the U.S.

CoCoRaHS volunteers take daily rainfall measurements and submit weekly Condition Monitoring reports to share information about how recent rainfall, or a lack thereof, has affected the plants, animals, and people in their area. Regular reporting helps to identify expected seasonal changes versus changes caused by unseasonal wet or dry weather conditions. Reports can also reveal the onset, intensification, or recovery from wetter or drier than normal conditions. The information volunteers submit is used by the state climate offices, National Weather Service offices, and others to help inform drought-related decisions.

In order to improve access and usability of the reports, the CISA team developed a Condition Monitoring web map. The web map allows users to view individual condition monitoring reports spatially and in conjunction with other contextual information, such as the US Drought Monitor Map. The CoCoRaHS team also created Condition Monitoring summary charts which display information provided in condition monitoring reports to document changing on-the-ground conditions over time.

The links on this page provide additional resources to learn more about the project including the CoCoRaHS Condition Monitoring story map and regionally-tailored guidance documents to support condition monitoring reporters in different climates and geographies around the country.

The More Than Drought: Condition Monitoring for Weather of All Types story map summarizes additional research conducted by the CISA team to investigate how Condition Monitoring might inform other types of agency weather and climate monitoring and reporting. For instance, Condition Monitoring observers share details about conditions leading up to, during, and after extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and tropical storms, including information about the recovery process.

This project was supported by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

If you are interested in becoming a condition monitoring observer, sign up online at the CoCoRaHS website.