Content

Volunteer opportunities

Observe your world with us. Be a citizen scientist for NOAA.

 

In July 2007, NOAA partnered with Washington Sea Grant and the University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Oceans to host the fifth annual NOAA Science Camp in Seattle.  During the week-long camp, 53 middle-school-aged campers worked on a hypothetical fish kill in the Puget Sound and learned about NOAA science through hands-on activities.  At the end of the week, the campers applied the knowledge they had learned during the activities to investigate the cause and impacts of the fish kill, and presented their conclusions to the scientists, families and friends. 

Joining the WSG camp staff were scientists from NOAA Fisheries Service, NOAA Ocean Service, National Weather Service, NOAA Research, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, and JISAO. 

Left to right: Curran Fey and Dr. Nick Bond from JISAO show campers a TAO buoy used to collect oceanographic data. Photo by Megan Burbank, WSG Staff Photographer.
 

Help NOAA predict, observe and protect our changing planet by making your own contributions toward a greater understanding of our Earth and its diverse systems. Whether it’s helping count whales in Hawaii or reporting on weather right outside your window, we’ve got a volunteer opportunity for you.

We work with a diverse set of partners to coordinate the citizen science opportunities we offer. See these links below for some of our citizen science programs or search this siteoffsite link (select NOAA under "Agency Sponsor") to find both national and local NOAA volunteer opportunities.

Weather

Trained storm spotters and weather observers support NOAA’s mission of climate monitoring and protecting life and property through accurate weather and water forecasts and warnings.

  • SKYWARN® Storm Spotter: Help keep your community safe by volunteering to become a trained severe storm spotter for NOAA's National Weather Service. There is even an easy-to-use online community reporting tool, NWS StormReporter, which promotes the rapid delivery of coastal storm damage information to emergency management personnel and others across New England.
  • Daily Weather Observer: Join a national network of Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) volunteers who record and report weather and climate observations to the National Weather Service on a daily basis over the phone or Internet. The National Weather Service provides training, equipment, and additional support through equipment maintenance and site visits. Not only does the data support daily weather forecasts and warnings, but they also contributed toward building the nation’s historic climate record.
  • Precipitation Reporter: If you like to track rain, hail and snow, you may want to join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Networkoffsite link (CoCoRaHS), a nationwide community-based network of volunteers who measure and help map precipitation. NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory has a similar program, the Precipitation Identification Near the Ground project (PING), where you can report on the type of — but you do not need to measure  precipitation you are encountering at any given time or location. PING volunteers can spend a little or a lot of time making and recording ground truth observations using the PING project website or mobile phone app. 

NOAA also needs your help in analyzing historic weather and other environmental data:

  • CycloneCenter.org: Climate scientists need your help classifying more than 30 years of tropical cyclone satellite images taken from the archives of NCDC’s Hurricane Satellite Data system. The existing global intensity record contains uncertainties caused by differences in analysis procedures around the world and through time. Scientists need help because patterns in storm imagery are best recognized by the human eye. After many people review the same image online, scientists will use their feedback to come up with a new global tropical cyclone dataset that will provide 3-hourly tropical cyclone intensity estimates, confidence intervals, and a wealth of other metadata that could not be realistically obtained in any other fashion.
  • Old Weather Arctic Project: Since 2010, NOAA, National Archives and Records Administration, and other partners have been seeking volunteers to transcribe a newly digitized set of ship logs containing weather, sea ice and other environmental observations dating back to 1850 and the World War II era. The project will improve understanding of our global climate and appeal to a wide array of scientists from other fields – historians, genealogists, as well as current members and veterans of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.

Climate and Earth observations

Contribute data to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. NCEI provide access to one of the most significant archives on Earth of comprehensive oceanic, atmospheric and geophysical data.

  • CrowdMag app: You can help chart Earth’s magnetic field with your smartphone! After installing the CrowdMag app (Android and iPhone), your phone will automatically send NCEI the data collected from its magnetometer from a sensor already in your phone. The CrowdMag app measures the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field around you. Scientists use observatories, satellites and ship/airborne surveys to track the changes in the magnetic field, but due to gaps in coverage, they are always looking for additional ways to obtain that data. Using the CrowdMag app can help scientists improve magnetic navigation, as well as our understanding of Earth’s magnetic field. 

Engage in NOAA’s management of living marine resources through conservation and the promotion of healthy ecosystems.

Oceans

Delve into NOAA’s pursuit to observe, understand, and manage our nation's coastal and marine resources. Opportunities include:

  • National Estuarine Reserve VolunteerEvent coordinators, research assistants, and educators are just some of the many more ways you can help NOAA in protecting our nation's coastal protected areas.
  • Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project ParticipantSupport coastal marine debris monitoring efforts used by researchers and NOAA’s Marine Debris Program to assess the impacts and risk posed by marine debris. There is even a free app, the Marine Debris Tracker Mobile Application, which allows you to easily report the type of debris and the location through GPS features pre-installed on your cell phone.
  • Phytoplankton Monitoring Network: This NOAA initiative promotes a better understanding of harmful algal blooms with help from volunteers who sample local waters twice a month and identify the phytoplankton found.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary System

Help NOAA Sanctuaries serve as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles. There are myriad opportunities to do so, including:

  • Whale Alertoffsite link: Whale Alert is a free smart phone app that allows mariners and the public to help decrease the risk of injury or death to whales from ship strikes. Whale Alert depends on your increased participation and willingness to contribute observations taken while whale watching from land and at sea along the coast.

  • LiMPETS: Teachers, students and community groups along the coast of California collect rocky intertidal and sandy beach data in the name of science and help to protect our local marine ecosystems.

  • Sanctuary Ocean Count: Help collect important population and distribution information on humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands.

NOAA Sea Grant

Partner with the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training, and extension projects within coastal communities. Opportunities include:

  • Delaware’s Citizen Monitoring Programoffsite link: Collect verifiable water quality data to support public policy decisions.  This program also aims to increase public participation and support for the protection of Delaware’s water resources. 

  • Red Tide Rangersoffsite link: Monitor for the presence of Karenia brevis, a common microscopic, single-celled, photosynthetic organism found in Gulf of Mexico waters that releases toxins known to harm wildlife and people on land and at sea. K. brevis can "bloom" and cause significant discoloration of Gulf and bay waters, commonly known as a “red tide.”

  • Maine’s Beach Profile Monitoringoffsite link: Join 150 community and school volunteers to measure changes in the distribution of sand on the beach. Tracking these changes over long periods (as they have done for 15 years) provides Maine Geological Survey with data to identify seasonal, annual, and even track long-term trends in beach erosion and accretion.

Thank you for your interest in helping advance our mission — we hope you'll volunteer as a NOAA citizen scientist today!