City Nature Challenge—Boston and Beyond

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In recent years, cities across the country (and now the globe!) have been competing in a global biodiversity challenge to observe and identify as many species as possible. In April of 2018, Earthwatch is helping to spearhead the Boston Area campaign. Last year, our collective efforts helped to mobilize over 250 participants to record nearly 4,000 observations and 750 species for the Boston area. For the 2018 CNC campaign, we have set our goal to double our numbers. We have an amazing team of partners to achieve these numbers, but need your help to reach more people and record more observations. 

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The majority of the global population lives in cities, and increased migration to cities is projected to continue. Climate change is also impacting cities and the people who live in them, in ways we have not yet seen in history.

In response to the growing need to create healthy and sustainable cities, Earthwatch has developed a series of programs to create more resilient urban environments. Working alongside leading scientists, local municipalities, and partner organizations, Earthwatch engages community members to help collect essential environmental data related to green infrastructure, trees, water quality, temperature, and air quality, answering relevant research questions that can influence positive change.  

By engaging committed local community members, Earthwatch ensures that participants gain increased awareness and knowledge about additional ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change in their homes and communities, creating a new cohort of environmental ambassadors.

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Earthwatch launched the Urban Resiliency Program in 2014 in southern California to create field research programs that engage the public and lead to more informed decisions. Working alongside our local partners, including NASA and the University of California Riverside, Earthwatch recruits citizen scientists to collect large amounts of data that are needed to improve our understanding of how to build a more resilient urban biosphere. Our newest program, Operation Healthy Air, is supported by NASA and engages participants to map and measure how differences in their environment—such as the amount of trees or pavement—affect local air quality and temperature. 

Urban Resiliency—Southern California
Rainwater Harvesting City Challenge—U.S. and Canada 

Flooding from extreme rainfall is one of the biggest and most expensive challenges facing cities. Flooding endangers human lives, but also overwhelms stormwater management systems, such as sewers, which leads to contaminated lakes, rivers, and beaches. To manage these extreme rainfall events, cities are looking at how to capture rainfall and slow it down from entering our waterways. This includes investing in building more green space such as raingardens, bioswales, and retention ponds. Starting in 2018, Earthwatch is working with HSBC bank to launch a rainwater harvesting research program across six North American cities (New York, Vancouver, Buffalo, Toronto, Chicago, and San Francisco). HSBC employees will help to collect data on the ways in which water is being captured and filtered by bioswales, which will help to shape future investments in similar green infrastructure. 

Sustainable Cities