Carbon "Footprints" - A Citizen Science Virtual Challenge to Offset Carbon Emissions

Sat August 15 - Thu October 15, 2020 Flagstaff, AZ 86011 US
NAU School of Earth and Sustainability
624 Knoles Dr.
Flagstaff, AZ US 86011


Greetings fellow runners, walkers, hikers, and cyclists.

The School of Earth and Sustainability at Northern Arizona University needs your help (and your miles)! This Fall, as part of the Graduate Program in Climate Science and Solutions, graduate students will be taking a course specifically focused on Climate Change Mitigation. In the context of Climate Change, mitigation can be defined as any human intervention to reduce the sources (or enhance the sinks) of greenhouse gases. This is where we need your help (and data).


First Some Background:

Direct measurements of CO2 today ( show us that globally, we currently have over 415 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere. The last time we had levels this high was over 3 million years ago during a period on Earth known as the Pliocene Epoch. The Pliocene provides us the most recent analog to where we are likely headed in the next 50-100 years. During the Pliocene, global average temperatures were between 3 and 6 degrees (F) warmer than modern pre-industrial levels (

There is inherent inertia within the global climate system, and it takes time for the Earth to respond to rapidly increasing CO2 levels. If we stay on a "Business as Usual" pathway (also known as 'RCP 8.5'), where we continue to embrace fossil fuels as our primary source of energy, the global average temperature is projected to rise 3 additional degrees (F) by 2100. You might be asking..."What would that look like"?

Well, here in Flagstaff, our average yearly temperature would rise almost 10 degrees (F). Where we might now have just a handful of days per year where we hit a high over 90 degrees (F), by 2100, we are projected to have over 50 days where we top 90 degrees (F). If you want to see how it will affect your town or city, you can use the climate explorer tool here to see the projections:

Needless to say, efforts need to be made quickly to move to greener and more sustainable energy sources. But, this doesn't just mean solar panels and wind energy. To truly keep our planet livable into the next century, will mean incorporating an entire array of new solutions, technologies, policies, and practices. The important thing to remember here is that EVERY LITTLE THING WE DO, MATTERS...NO MATTER HOW SMALL. Gandhi once said, "Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it". This sentiment is incredibly relevant with regards to what we can all do combat future Climate Change. So....


The Climate Change Mitigation Citizen Science Virtual Challenge:

What we're asking from all of you is to participate in a citizen science virtual 'offset' challenge. During this event, we encourage you to log your total human-powered miles like you would for any other virtual event...but, we also specifically want you to log any miles that you complete in place of driving. We'll use both sets of numbers/data for various calculations. Did you ride your bike or walk to work (or to the store) instead of driving? We want to know this! The idea here is that NAU graduate students will use your data for various CO2 emissions offset calculations in conjunction with assignments for their mitigation class. Plus, you will be doing your small part to reduce your own emissions.

We will provide you all a group/shared spreadsheet where each registered participant can log their total human powered miles, and more importantly, the specific miles you've done IN PLACE of driving. Unlike other virtual running events, this event includes ANY FORM OF HUMAN POWERED MILES. The point here is to track the miles you've completed in place of driving.

As part of the registration process, we will ask all of you to note what your primary driving vehicle is as well (year, make, model). This way the students can calculate emission reductions specific to each participant (in addition to larger group calculations)

I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that I wish we could be out there running our favorite races along our favorite trails and streets....but while we're continuing to practice social distancing, and the in-person events are on-hold...why not track our activities in the context of carbon emission reductions? Wouldn't it be phenomenal to know what our group efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions could yield?


Rules and Tracking Miles:

The event will officially 'start' August 15th and run through October 15th. The graduate students will then use the collected data as part of their coursework. All calculations will be made public so that you can see the specific results of your efforts, and of our overall group efforts. Unlike other virtual events, EVERY entry you make is tallied, and nothing is overridden. So, if you do 5 miles in the morning, and 5 miles in the evening, either log the events separately, or wait until the end of the day to make ONE cumulative entry.


  • Use this link to find and bookmark your personal intake form page
  • (It may take up to 24hrs for your name to be added to the tracking and input sheets)





To participate in this event, in lieu of a 'Registration Fee', we ask that you consider a minimum donation of $10 to the NAU Climate Science and Solutions (CSS) Graduate Program Foundation Fund (DONATION LINK:  NAU CSS Program Foundation Fund), Any donation you make to this fund is tax deductible, and all funds will be used to help grow the small graduate program, acquire much needed equipment, and support various student projects and research. As an example, this year, the CSS graduate students are planning to run a large tree planting campaign north of town on a previously burned area of National Forest land (as a way to naturally sequester carbon). The link to donate can be found here:

DONATION LINK:  NAU CSS Program Foundation Fund


REGISTRATION NOTE: Registrant rosters will only be updated once a day (evening). Also, because this race allows for rolling admissions, it could take up to 24hrs to get your name added to the tracking and input sheets. Rest assured, we will get you on the registrant sheet and added to the intake and tracking forms. Just keep a record of your miles for the first few days so you can enter them later. I'm working alone on the backend components here, while also teaching and carrying out research, so please just be patient with me. Thanks!

I do hope you consider participating in this event and I look forward to seeing what I kind of reductions and offsets we can bring about through this effort!


John Fegyveresi, PhD
Asst. Professor of Practice
Climate Science and Solutions Graduate Program
School of Earth and Sustainability
Northern Arizona University
CSS Program:
Research Site:
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