A first look at Season Spotter results

I’ve been busy these last couple weeks analyzing the 85,000 classifications we have received since Season Spotter began in July. And while we carefully designed the project to provide us with useful scientific data, it’s really exciting to actually see the data — and comforting to find that the data is, in fact, good quality. So, what have we found so far?

For one thing, flowers!

You’ve probably seen the Asa, Sweden, site. It’s got a tree in the middle of a field of various plants, shrubs, and grasses, with some bigger trees in the background.

asa_2011_07_28_120000We ask you whether you can see flowers on the trees and on the shrubs. And the answer is ‘yes.’

Here is a diagram summarizing all the classifications for shrubs at Asa. (It’s really long and skinny, so if you want to view it up close, click to enlarge.)

asa

If we zoom in, this is what it looks like:

asa1asa2 asa3This type of diagram is called a Hinton diagram. Each square represents one day. And each row is one year. So there are 365 squares in a row (except in leap years when there are 366). In this case, we see years 2010 to 2013. So the top row is year 2010, the next row is 2011, the next is 2012, and the bottom year is 2013.

Each square color has a different meaning. White, light blue, and dark blue squares are days when there was snow. Red squares are days when the image was not good enough to see the landscape. Green squares are days when there was no snow on the ground and no flowers. And yellow squares are days when there are flowers.

The size of each square tells you something, too. The largest squares are those with unanimous classifications. Five people looked at the image from each day. So if all five people said that a day had no snow and no flowers, then its green square would be the largest size possible. Smaller squares mean that not everyone agrees.

So we can see that winters in Asa have a fair amount of snow. The 2010-2011 winter had a very snowy December, with snow on the ground late into the spring. By contrast, the 2011-2012 winter had several stretches in December and January with no snow and an earlier spring. And we can see that there is a definite period of shrub flowering that happened about the same time in 2011 and 2012.

There’s still quite a bit of black in this diagram. That’s because we haven’t gotten enough classifications yet for many of the days. As more classifications are made, the black areas will turn into colored squares, until eventually we have the complete time series for Asa, Sweden.

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About Margaret Kosmala

I am an ecologist exploring the complex dynamics of plant and animal systems. I am especially interested in understanding how species communities change over time and how humans impact them.
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One Response to A first look at Season Spotter results

  1. Pingback: Initial results: Cones | Season Spotter

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