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CoCoRaHS to Measure Precipitation at White House Garden

Precipitation is arguably one of the most important – and most fluctuating – components of climate. Effective methods of monitoring rainfall, snowpack, and drought are vital to adaptive management, but gathering this information in densely-packed urban areas can sometimes be difficult. CoCoRaHS, or the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, has solved this problem in metropolitan DC by putting a rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden at the White House, where it is already being closely monitored by National Park Service horticulture staff.

CoCoRaHS was started by CSU’s own Nolan Doesken as a method to collect precipitation data from over 20,000 active volunteers from around the country. According to Doesken, “citizen science empowers people and communities to directly participate in the scientific process outside of traditional classroom settings, and to help expand the frontiers of knowledge in a way that makes a difference.” The data gathered from these gauges, as well as the collaborative process of involving stakeholders in the scientific process, is a key component of adaptive management. The data is used by the National Weather Service, private sector and university scientists, the Department of Agriculture, and others.

The rainfall gauge was mounted in anticipation of the White House Science Fair later this month, but is also a timely installation given the record max snowfall on the east coast this winter and the record lows in the western United States. Understanding trends in precipitation has direct impacts for land and resource managers throughout the US who rely on seasonal precipitation. For more information on drought and rainfall in the north central region, visit the foundational science page of our website.