March 4, 2018
Turn your students into citizen scientists with the mPING app
Posted by Laura Guertin
Since December 2012, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and University of Oklahoma have been asking for observations and submissions to the mobile Precipitation Identification Near the Ground app, or mPING (https://mping.nssl.noaa.gov/). The ask has been answered with over 1.6 million individual weather reports.
The purpose of mPING is to engage everyday citizens, from youth to adults, in providing ground observations of precipitation types to NSSL researchers. These data help develop and refine algorithms that use dual-polarization NEXRAD radars to detect and report on the type of precipitation that is falling (or not falling at a time when precipitation is reported in the area).
This video provides an overview of the app, how you can view the data, and how scientists utilize the reports submitted through the app:
The app is available for the iPhone/iPad and Android. The app requires no registration and pulls the GPS location for the observation from the mobile device. And if you are unclear with the differences between “rain” and “drizzle,” not to worry – there is a glossary as part of the app to confirm how to classify the liquid/frozen precipitate.
The app is simple to engage students with and to connect them with meteorologic events in their own region. Consider hosting an information session in your campus residence halls to encourage your students that live on campus to collect precipitation data during evenings and on weekends. Hold a session for the entire campus around Citizen Science Day (April 14) and demonstrate the app (you can submit a Test Report). Or take a minute during class to allow your students to download the app and walk them through how to use it – especially before the next winter storm hits!
To explore more articles and information about mPING, please visit:
- From NPR (article & audio, February 12, 2013) – This App Uses The Power Of You To Report The Weather
- The SciStarter page for mPING
- mPING toolkit on citizenscience.gov including case study overview in PDF
- Elmore et al. (2014, September). MPING: Crowd-Sourcing Weather Reports for Research. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 95(9): 1335-1342. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00014.1 (open access)
The total number of mPING reports mentioned here is out of date: we have collected nearly twice that number: about 1.6 million reports. We can’t have too many, so please encourage students to not only make reports, but to use them for their own research!
Thanks for the number of reports – I’ve updated that in the post. And yes, citizen science apps such as mPING are an excellent foundation for student research – and there is plenty of variation in weather patterns to keep all of us busy recording!