Topic 5c - Citizen science

Satellite data offers a chance for the public, as well as scientists to get a bird’s eye view of the world. This has inspired new projects where the public collect data and help scientists working with Earth Observation to better understand the marine environment; including surfing to measure the temperature of coastal waters and identifying kelp forests in satellite images.

Remote sensing, especially sea surface temperature readings from satellites, are an essential part of conservation today, however these satellites and SST data only reads the skin of the ocean. When it comes to what is happening beneath the surface in situ measurements can be done by gathering data from public observation projects and crowd sourcing.

Project Hermes: The first global effort to measure ocean temperatures worldwide at the scale of the ecosystem. A community of divers worldwide source data revealing temperatures of the ocean, and other parameters important to understanding the underwater world.

PML Surfer Project: A project, which gathers SST measurements with surfers as the vehicle, rather than a boat or buoy. The coastal zone is a difficult area to measure, as these zones are high with life so sensors often get covered in algae or seaweed. Scientists use data gathered by surfers to create maps and time series, which provides them with information on distribution measurements along the coast.

Once you have a sufficient number of people taking measurements you can start to improve SST retrieval algorithms in those areas, especially with the improvements of satellite resolution, as we are starting to see with modern satellites.

Featured Educators:

  • Pierre Yves Cousteau

  • Dr Thomas Jackson

Don’t forget you can download the video and transcript with the links on the right.


Sea surface temperature (SST) results

Sea surface temperature at Wembury beach aquired by a surfer, a buoy and satellite data.

Surfer Equipment

This diagram shows the equipment used by the surfers to measure SST.

Wavelet analysis

(a) Wavelet analysis performed on monthly chlorophyll concentration field from Polcom/ERSEM model and (b) derived from MODIS sensor for April 2004