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Shower Thoughts: Why Scientists Should Spend More Time in the Rain
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  • John Van Stan,
  • Scott Allen,
  • Doug Aubrey,
  • Z. Carter Berry,
  • Matt Biddick,
  • Miriam Coenders-Gerrits,
  • Paolo Giordani,
  • Sybil Gotsch,
  • Ethan Gutmann,
  • Yakov Kuzyakov,
  • Donat Magyar,
  • Valentina Mella,
  • Kevin Mueller,
  • Alexandra Ponette-Gonzalez,
  • Philipp Porada,
  • Carla Rosenfeld,
  • Jack Simmons,
  • Sridhar Kandikere R,
  • Aron Stubbins,
  • Travis Swanson
John Van Stan
Cleveland State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Scott Allen
University of Nevada Reno
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Doug Aubrey
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
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Z. Carter Berry
Chapman University System
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Matt Biddick
Technische Universität München
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Miriam Coenders-Gerrits
Delft University of Technology
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Paolo Giordani
University of Genoa
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Sybil Gotsch
University of Kentucky
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Ethan Gutmann
National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Yakov Kuzyakov
Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen
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Donat Magyar
National Center for Public Health
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Valentina Mella
The University of Sydney
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Kevin Mueller
Cleveland State University
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Alexandra Ponette-Gonzalez
University of North Texas
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Philipp Porada
Universitat Hamburg
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Carla Rosenfeld
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
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Jack Simmons
Georgia Southern University
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Sridhar Kandikere R
Mangalore University
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Aron Stubbins
Northeastern University
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Travis Swanson
Georgia Southern University
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Rainwater is a vital resource and dynamic driver of terrestrial ecosystems. Yet, processes controlling precipitation inputs and interactions during storms are often poorly seen, and poorly sensed when direct observations are substituted with technological ones. We discuss how human observations complement technological ones, and the benefits of scientists spending more time in the storm. Human observation can reveal ephemeral storm-related phenomena such as biogeochemical ‘hot moments’, organismal responses, and sedimentary processes which can then be explored in greater resolution using sensors and virtual experimentation. Storm-related phenomena trigger lasting, oversized impacts on hydrologic and biogeochemical processes, organismal traits/functions, and ecosystem services. We provide examples of phenomena in forests, across disciplines and scales, to inspire mindful, holistic observation of ecosystems during storms. We conclude that technological observations alone are insufficient to trace the process complexity and unpredictability of fleeting biogeochemical or ecological events without the “shower thoughts” produced by scientists’ human sensory and cognitive systems during storms.