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Swiss Teachers Learn about Climate Change through GLOBE Phenology Day

On 20 September 2008, GLOBE Switzerland held a day-long event to introduce teachers to GLOBE projects and protocols related to phenology. Phenology, the science of the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena such as migrations of birds and the fruiting of plants, is the subject of the popular GLOBE measurement protocol known as Budburst. GLOBE Switzerland's Phenology Day focused on plant phenology and the links between plant biology, the growing season and climate change. Participants included current GLOBE teachers as well as new teachers who plan to become GLOBE certified teachers during a workshop to be held later this year.

The event was hosted by MeteoSwiss, the national weather and climate service of Switzerland at the MeteoSwiss regional center in Zurich. MeteoSwiss supports teaching and research in the field of meteorology and climatology and provides schools, universities, and their students with free data for educational purposes. Mr. Claudio Defila, former Head of the MeteoSwiss Department of Biometeorology, presented activities related to phenology research and investigations in Switzerland. Mr. Defila shared data indicating that the vegetation period of plants is getting longer mainly due to earlier budburst, and not due to later green-down. What exactly introduces leaf coloration in autumn is scientifically not yet explained. there are many factors such as dryness, heat periods in summer and early frost having impacts on these processes. Following Mr. Defila, Ms. Juliette Vogel, GLOBE Switzerland Country Coordinator, talked about the GLOBE Program and the possibilities for teachers to do phenological observations and demonstrated a GLOBE phenology protocol.

Mr. Markus Eugster, GLOBE teacher and trainer in phenology, who has been participating in the GLOBE Earth System Science Project (ESSP) Seasons and Biomes, presented the phenology activities he uses with his pupils in Uzwil. Afterwards, he spoke about his experiences in Fairbanks, Alaska, in July of 2007, where teachers and teacher educators from around the world gathered to learn more about GLOBE's Seasons and Biomes ESSP. Mr. Eugster and his GLOBE students have been active in the Seasons and Biomes student research campaign pilot study, monitoring the seasons in their local biome to learn how interactions within the Earth system affect local, regional and global environments.

MeteoSwiss organized a visit to their weather services division, which provides meteorological and climatological services, monitors ozone levels, studies the direct and indirect influences of weather on human health, issues weather forecasts, and is involved in the vegetation cycle of plants in various phenological programs. As participants toured the facilities, they concluded that temperature is the most important factor affecting budburst, fruiting and green-down.

In the final session of the day, Mr. Claudio Defila opened a discussion about the future of phenology, and the potential for teachers to enhance and promote the science of phenology among today's students. Teachers contributed many interesting ideas. The opportunity to observe life and constant change in the school garden, in the forest, or at home, is an exciting concept to teachers who want to take their students outdoors to observe their environment and bring real science back into the classroom. Ms. Vogel commented that, "Events like these allow GLOBE in Switzerland to extend our network. This is actually one of the most important aspects in the GLOBE Program in Switzerland. The GLOBE network, which is getting larger and which includes participants from education and science and other domains, allows us to promote the ideas of GLOBE at many levels."

09 October 2008