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iCoast: Did the Coast Change?

iCoast: Did the Coast Change?
Image: Courtesy of USGS

Hurricane season started again in June. Do you know what happens to our coasts after these extreme storms? The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a new crowdsourcing application called “iCoast – Did the Coast Change?” to show you these coastal changes from extreme storms.
 
Since 1995, the USGS has collected more than 140,000 aerial photographs of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts after 24 hurricanes and other extreme storms. For Hurricane Sandy alone, more than 9,000 aerial photographs were taken a week after the storm. iCoast allows citizen scientists to identify changes to the coast by comparing these aerial photographs taken before and after storms.
 
Crowdsourced data from iCoast will help USGS improve predictive models of coastal change and educate the public about the vulnerability of coastal communities to extreme storms. Currently, USGS’s mathematical models are derived from dune elevation and predicted wave action during storms. Adding the human observations will allow the scientists to validate the models and to provide better predictions of damage before storms occur.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sophia Liu
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: USGS Research Geographer and Mendenhall Postdoc Fellow
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Data Processing
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    USGS provides detailed instructions on its Web site to help citizen scientists join the iCoast project.

See more projects in FreeData ProcessingAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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