Exploring inter-annual variability of budburst using GLOBE data

Home page for the GLOBE Program, Access GLOBE Data in tabular format
This DataSheet was created by Jessica Robin (SSAI/NASA/GSFC), Elena Sparrow (IARC/UAF), Kim Morris (GI/UAF), Leslie Gordon (Gordon Consulting), Mike Leon (GLOBE), and Nick Haddad (TERC).
Author Profile

The Dataset

The site provides GLOBE data in tabular form for budburst dates, maximum and minimum air temperatures, and other environmental data from GLOBE schools.

Click the image on the right to see the annual profile of 2005 budburst, green-up, and maximum and minimum air temperature for Innoko River School, Shageluk, Alaska.

Use and Relevance

The GLOBE Seasons and Biomes Project https://web.iarc.uaf.edu/education-outreach/past-projects/seasons-and-biomes/ is an inquiry- and project- based initiative where K-12 students monitor their local seasons, specifically their interannual variability, in order to increase their understanding of the Earth system. Students monitor their local weather and observe budburst, green-up and green-down of trees, shrubs, and grasses native to their environment. Vegetation phenology is controlled by a variety of factors including air and soil temperature and precipitation. Students and scientists use these data to better understand conditions under which budburst, green-up, and green-down take place and how these phenomena respond to climate change.

Use in Teaching

This data can be used to teach or learn the following topics and skills in Earth system science.


  • Relationships between temperature, precipitation, and seasonal plant phonological changes.
  • Inter-annual variability of budburst


  • Using data to make hypotheses about factors that may induce budburst, green-up and green-down
  • Using data to make graphs of seasonal changes (e.g. plant and weather)

Exploring the Data

Data Type and Presentation

Raw data is available in tabular format (tab or comma delimited text files). Data is also available in graphic format through the GLOBE visualization tools.

Accessing the Data

User selects the school, type of data, dates and format (tab or comma delimited text files) to access tabular data. Data can then be imported into spreadsheet applications such as Excel. Graphic data can also be accessed in the same way and visualized on the GLOBE site.

Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations

One way that users can process this data is to create graphs from the raw data. The raw data are provided in tab or comma delimited text files; these can be imported into a spreadsheet application such as Excel. Graphs could be used to visualize annual changes in plant phenology (dormancy, swelling, budburst, leaf growing and color change). This data set could be combined with air and soil temperature data sets to create graphical representations of phenology-temperature-precipitation relationships.

Tools for Data Manipulation

The GLOBE site provides tools for visualizing the data. Raw data can be downloaded and imported into a spreadsheet application such as Excel for further processing.

About the Data

Collection Methods

GLOBE schools that have performed this protocol select native plant species and monitor when budburst, green-up and green-down occur. Some schools also set up a weather station and monitor daily weather conditions at their site.

Limitations and Sources of Error

(1) Human observational errors, e.g. untimely observations and misidentification of subject buds
(2) Weather instrument errors as per manufacturer specifications
(3) Recording errors

References and Resources

Education Resources that Use this Dataset

'GLOBE Teachers Guide' (http://www.globe.gov) (http://www.globe.gov/seasons)
Observing Locally and Connecting Globally (http://www.uaf.edu/olcg)
National Phenology Network (http://www.usanpn.org/)
European Phenological Garden (http://www.arm.ac.uk/phenology)

Other Related Scientific References

  • 'Utilizing GLOBE student data for model simulations of drainage and runoff' is an article in Journal of Hydrology (Melkonian, Riha, Robin, and Levine, 2007, 333:241-245) that examines utilizing a model with GLOBE data to predict changes in stream flow.
  • 'Utilizing GLOBE student data and satellite imagery to model soil dynamics' is an article in Ecological Modelling (Robin, Levine, and Riha, 2005, 185: 133-145) that examines utilizing a model with GLOBE data to predict soil dynamics.

Related Links