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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Crowdsourcing Science: Citizens Measuring water levels

Posted in Models, Research by Jessica Bird on July 16th, 2013

Source: FastCoExist

Image from the CrowdHydrology project.

From the article “An Army Of Citizen Scientists Is Tracking Our Water Levels” by Zak Stone.

In an age of mechanized, digitized labor there are still some jobs where humans get it done better or more cheaply than just about any machinery–particularly when that human labor is crowdsourced by volunteers. University of Buffalo Geologist Chris Lowry figured that out when trying to collet basic information on the water level of streams across a large watershed in western New York, an endeavor that would eat up cash using machinery or time using labor from the lab. After reading an article about a researcher who used crowdsourcing to get the public to help monitor roadkill, “I was like ‘If these people can get people to help out with their research, why can’t I get people to help out with water level measurements?'” explains Lowry. He started simple, printing out a half sheet of paper that said “‘Please text me the water level,’ and it had a phone number. “And then I bought a giant ruler, I brought this into the stream, I put this sign on top, and then I just waited for someone to send me a text message,” he explains. “And sure enough, a couple people sent me text messages.”

That basic idea turned into the pilot project CrowdHydrology at nine New York freshwater sites, starting in 2011. Now, with support from the U.S. Geological Survey, the project will expand to more than 50 new sites across New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The data can help fill in gaps in data collection as budget cutbacks mean the USGS is discontinuing monitoring of certain streams.

When citizens are contributing data, quality is always a concern, but Lowry says control tests–where a pressure transducer measures water levels in the same sites where people are measuring by hand–show that “people who send us text messages do a really really good job.” The level of error turned out to be to be as small as one tick mark on a ruler.

Lowry has found that engaging local communities is the key to getting a high volume of texts from any given site–more so than just foot traffic. And locations where passersby are more likely to take an interest in science–like a nature center–have worked best. “I really think that as scientists we may just be on the cusp of crowdsourcing scientific data. I think there’s going to be a big boom in the future for using these kinds of methods,” Lowry says. […] “On one side we’re using [the project] for cutting edge research. On the other, we’re using it as this outreach tool to foster the next generation of scientist.”

>>> Read the full article on FastCoExist.
>>> Learn more about the CrowdHydrology project on their website.

I Am A Climate Scientist: Rap

Posted in Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 20th, 2011


“In the media landscape there are climate change deniers and believers, but rarely are those speaking about climate change actual climate scientists.”

This (clean extended) rap from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Hungry Beast features some real, vocal, climate scientists responding to the posturing of climate change deniers in the media – check it out for some sweet relief if nothing else.  There are a couple of versions around with varying degrees of adult concepts so be aware if little ones are watching with you.  KA

Climate Change: A Brief Introduction

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 24th, 2010

Source: Food Climate Research Network

Rothamsted Research has put an really useful new document up on its website called: Climate Change- a brief introduction for scientists and engineers – or anyone else who has to do something about it.

The document has been written by David Jenkinson, a Rothamsted senior fellow. It provides a detailed but accessible walk-through of the hows and whats and whys and wheres of climate change. Its chapters cover the following:

  • Chapter 1 – the science of climate change (solar radiation, the greenhouse effect, radiative forcing etc, long term climate variations etc)
  • Chapter 2 – the greenhouse gases (water; sources and sinks of CO2 methane, nitrous oxide; halocarbons, ozone, aerosols)
  • Chapter 3 – how people use energy (fossil fuel combustion, reserves, per capita emissions)
  • Chapter 4 – using models to forecast future climate (models for temperature, precipitation, sea level, extreme weather etc)
  • Chapter 5 – reducing the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (transport, buildings, industry, electricity generation, carbon capture, agriculture, deforestation)
  • Chapter 6 – geoengineering as a way of counteracting climate change (biological and chemical sequestration, solar iradiation measures)
  • Chapter 7 – energy from biomass (current
  • Chapter 8 – sources of energy that do not depend on carbon (nuclcear fusion and fission, hydroelectricity, wind, wave, solar, tidal, geogrhermal and others)
  • Chapter 9 – adapting to climate change (population growth, sea level rise, water, food security)
  • Chapter 10 – economic incentives to reduce emissions (economic tools, the Kaya Identity)

To download the document go to:

Source: Tara Garnett,  Food Climate Research Network

The Science and Practice of Ecology and Society Award

Posted in Events by Devin Maeztri on May 6th, 2009

The Science and Practice of Ecology and Society Award is an annual award given to the individual or organization that is the most effective in bringing transdisciplinary science of the interactions of ecology and society into practice. Examples of possible winners include a high school teacher who develops a special curriculum, a mayor with initiatives and actions for her/his town based on scientific concepts, a journalist who brings scientific insights to a broader audience, or a NGO group who facilitates local knowledge production in rural communities. Hosted by Ecology and Society.

See the articles about past winners.

The purposes of this award is to recognize the importance of practitioners who translate the scientific findings and insights of the scholarly community to practical applications. We want to identify innovative practitioners so that their story can be an example for others.

For more information, please contact: Marco Janssen: or Michelle Lee:

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