Citizen science

Want to get involved in scientific processes? With citizen science projects, you and your students can collect and interpret data that will be used to help better understand our Earth and Earth systems. With your computer or mobile device, low cost materials, or sometimes things you already have at home, you can participate in many different kinds of projects. 

Three people looking at their mobile phones while walking on an outdoor path.
Walking down a bike path in Boulder, Colorado, three citizen scientists collect data on the Earth's magnetic field using the CrowdMag cellphone app. (Jennifer Taylor/CIRES)

Explore citizen science projects from NOAA, our partners, and our grantees. You can find even more federal projects at

CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail, and snow) in their local communities. By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website, CoCoRaHS aims to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications. The only requirements to join are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our lives.

Count Herring offsite link

Help track changes in river herring populations over time by counting the number of fish passing through the fish ladder at Jenny Grist Mill dam located on Town Brook in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Video recordings from the dam allow people anywhere, at any time, to participate in this project. With these video counts, are used to estimate in real-time the total number of herring that have migrated so far this year. Every video count matters, and helps to get one step closer to an accurate estimate of the total herring run. Let's start counting!


When you go outside and are moving around, use CrowdMag to measure the magnetic data along your path. Save, list, export or delete data to create a complete magnetic field map of your area. Share your data with a research group at NOAA. Multiple recordings along the same path are very helpful to reduce the noise and produce a more accurate magnetic field map.
Get started with our tiny tutorial!

FISHtory offsite link

The FISHtory Project has two ways to help collect information from historic dock photos.

  1. FISH & PEOPLE: Count is an easier project where you can mark the number of fish and people in a photo.
  2. FISH: Classify is a more challenging project where you can identify four common species using a draw tool. After the common fish are marked, you will be given a list of less common fish and asked to identify the remaining fish in the photo. If you're not a fish expert, don't worry! All skill levels are welcomed and encouraged to use a given field guide to help identify fish and provide your best guess. 

The GLOBE Program

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment. GLOBE provides grade level-appropriate, interdisciplinary activities and investigations about the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and soil/pedosphere, which have been developed by the scientific community and validated by teachers.  GLOBE connects students, teachers, scientists, and citizens from different parts of the world to conduct real, hands-on science about their local environment and to put this in a global perspective.

GPS on Bench Marks

Help improve the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) by participating in GPS on Bench Marks (GPS on BM). GPS on BM has three important steps: recover, observe, and report. Recover: Using web maps or other desktop tools to look up the description of an existing bench mark and visit the bench mark of your choice and submit a mark recovery. Observe: Record field notes, take digital photos, and collect GPS observations for the bench mark you visit. Report: Use online tools to send the information to the National Geodetic Survey.

Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators

The Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators was created through a collaboration between the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This toolkit provides many useful marine debris resources and adapts the MDP's Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, a robust citizen science monitoring initiative, for classroom use. The Toolkit is designed to assist teachers in educating their students about marine debris and involving them in marine debris research and outreach. Using the Toolkit, students conduct marine debris surveys, which can help to provide valuable information on where, when, and what kind of debris is showing up. Students can enter their data into a national database, analyze monitoring results, and become involved in marine debris stewardship within their communities.


The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory collects public weather reports through a free app available for mobile devices. Reporters select the type of weather that is occurring, and tap “submit.” mPING reports are immediately archived into a database at The University of Oklahoma, and are displayed on a map accessible to anyone. Weather radars cannot “see” at the ground, so mPING (Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) reports are used by the National Weather Service to fine-tune their forecasts. NSSL uses the data in a variety of ways, including to develop new radar and forecasting technologies and techniques. 

OceanEYEs offsite link

NOAA scientists need your help to count fish and improve data used in management of the Hawaiʻi “Deep 7” bottomfish fishery! NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center deploys camera systems on the seafloor to help monitor populations of deep-water snappers and groupers. Each camera can record tens of thousands of images! Human observers annotate the images to count and measure each species. This can take months using only a small team of researchers. With your help, we can speed up the work and train machine vision algorithms to improve our analysis. This will make us one step closer to improving fish stock assessments, which are used by fishery managers.

Old Weather offsite link

Old Weather volunteers explore, mark, and transcribe historic ship's logs from the 19th and early 20th centuries. We need your help because this task is impossible for computers, due to diverse and idiosyncratic handwriting that only human beings can read and understand effectively. By participating in Old Weather you'll be helping advance research in multiple fields. Data about past weather and sea-ice conditions are vital for climate scientists, while historians value knowing about the course of a voyage and the events that transpired. Since many of these logs haven't been examined since they were originally filled in by a mariner long ago you might even discover something surprising.

Seas of Knowledge offsite link

In this project, NOAA has partnered with the National Archives and the National Archives Foundation offsite link to engage citizen scientists and citizen archivists. Anyone can review and transcribe centuries-old U.S. Navy logbooks. These data can be used to better understand this history of our planet's climate and to predict what may happen in the future. 

Whale Alert offsite link

Busy shipping lanes that coincide with whale feeding areas, breeding regions, and migratory routes present an immense ship strike threat to whales. With the free Whale Alert app, mariners and members of the public are provided with a user-friendly tool directly on their mobile device that displays whale "safety zones." The app also allows the user to report any live, dead, or distressed whale sightings to the appropriate response agency; thus making this app an important tool for reducing ship strike threat to all whale species.

What's your water level? offsite link

Submit information on water levels in your community. Observations are used to map regional water levels (flooded, normal, and low) regionally. Your contributions will be used by local, state, and national managers and scientists to learn more about high coastal water levels, their causes, and impacts.