California residents are asked to map the floodings following El Nino, thus becoming citizen scientists under the umbrella of a project developed by The Nature Conservancy.
Using smartphones and drones, the volunteers responding to the call of The Nature Conservancy organization should follow coastal erosion and flooding events. Considering the severe drought California residents have been facing, El Nino might turn things for the better. Yet, while the state is enjoying the wettest winter in the past years, the aftermath of the El Nino weather pattern isn’t too encouraging.
The Nature Conservancy organization believes that involving California residents into a massive scientific project could help create a more clear picture of the what the future will bring under dire climate change prospects. Crowd-sourced images, complete with geotagging, are key to opening this window to the future. Thus, California residents are asked to map the floodings following El Nino in addition to coastal erosion.
Citizen scientists can submit high-resolution images, videos and even 3D maps. The latest drone technology can capture videos and images as well as create high-resolution 3D maps. The evidence collected by the citizen scientists answering the call will help create a vault of scientific proof to measure the accuracy of predictive models. According to Matt Merrifield, chief technology officer with The Nature Conservancy organization, there is a wealth of predictive models concerning coastal flooding.
The issue with these models is that they are not supported by empirical evidence. The volunteer project aims to collect the empirical evidence to test the predictive models. The more volunteers join the citizen scientists’ ranks, the better. Coastal flooding and coastal erosion following El Nino are widely spread phenomenons.
The scientific project which aims to involve California residents in an effort to raise public awareness is welcomed by climate scientists. According to Lesley Ewing who is a coastal engineer at the California Coastal Commission:
“It’s not the answer, but it’s part of the answer. It’s a piece of the puzzle”.
According to scientists studying coastal flooding in California, almost half a million people as well as infrastructure are in danger provided the sea level increased by 4.6 feet. Such an increase is possible by 2100 under a business as usual scenario.
Against this background, studying evidence spanning the 840-mile-long California coastline is not a meager task. Yet it answers the need for empirical evidence. California residents are asked to map the floodings following El Nino even to the smallest extent possible. Mapping real-time coastal flooding on 10 to 15 percent of the coastline is still a valuable contribution.
Photo Credits: Flickr