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.
Power plants burning fossil fuels constitute more than 40 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the Earth’s atmosphere every year, according to Arizona State University researchers. Information regarding where the world’s power plants are located and how much each one is emitting is not well-known outside of the U.S. and a handful of industrial countries. In order for basic research on climate change and the global carbon cycle to move forward, researchers need this information.
The Ventus Project lets citizen scientists work with the scientific community by contributing this power plant information. Your role can be as simple as providing the exact coordinates of a single power plant near your home or work (or correcting the location of one already identified). Or, you may have information regarding a series of power plants including, not only location, but power generation, fuel type and CO2 emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging individuals and community groups in New York City to apply for grants that will allow citizen scientists to collect information on air and water pollution in their communities and seek solutions to environmental and public health problems. The EPA will award a total of $125,000 for five to 10 New York City projects related to air or water pollution.
Projects receiving funding through the citizen science grants will be expected to promote a comprehensive understanding of local pollution problems as well as identify and support activities that address them at the local level. Proposed projects must also consider environmental justice and should engage, educate and empower communities.
All applications are due no later than April 20, 2012, at 5:00 P.M. EST.
After the March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting radiation leak at Fukushima Diachi in Japan it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available about the earthquake, resulting tsunami and damage to nuclear power facilities. Through joint efforts with partners such as International Medcom and Keio University, Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan—both near the exclusion zone and elsewhere in the country.
Safecast is a non-profit group building Geiger counters, measuring radiation levels and making the data available to the public through maps, a Web site and data feeds to citizens, scientists and the public. Safecast is releasing data openly and pushing the Japanese government as well as universities and researchers to share their medical, sensor and other data. Open data is a very important trend and pushing people to release their data instead of just their results and findings is essential and adding a new layer of robustness in research that the Internet and data science enables.
While Japan and radiation is the primary focus of the moment, this work has made us aware of a need for more environmental data on a global level and the long-term work that Safecast engages in will address these needs.
Nonprofit SkyTruth, in conjunction with the Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Conservancy, Gulf Oil Spill Tracker in early May 2010 as a way to give people a way to participate in tracking the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and its aftermath.
Citizen scientists submit their observations online. When out in the field, they can take with them an information card reminding them of the information they need to include in their report: contact information, incident information and description, GPS location, etcetera.
In May 2010, Alabama Coastal Foundation and Mobile Baykeeper worked with Coalition of Active Stakeholders Team (COAST) partners to develop and implement the Volunteer Field Observer (VFOB) Program in response to last year's Deepwater Horizon oil release. The program's goal is to train volunteers to serve as citizen scientists, documenting shoreline conditions along Alabama's shoreline using GPS coordinates and alerting officials and COAST partners to the presence of oil and/or affected wildlife.
Redwood Watch is a citizen science project created by Save the Redwoods League scientists to help learn in what climates redwoods can survive and track the redwood forests' migration over time. Redwoods can grow taller than 100 meters and have been known to live for more than 2,000 years.
Redwood forests once grew in North America and beyond but their territory, which has shrunk due to changing landscapes and climates over millions of years, today stands at about 1.9 million acres along the coast of Northern California. Researchers believe that climate change will continue to impact the survival of these trees and are seeking help to map the areas where redwoods are currently thriving.
Redwood tree observations can be made anywhere redwood trees are found and recorded using the Redwood Watch iPhone application. By submitting observations citizen scientists will help their professional colleagues track the migration of redwood forests over time and learn what climate redwood trees can survive.
NatureMapping's mission is to protect biodiversity through data collection and dissemination. It is designed to engage citizens of all ages in hands-on, technology-enabled exploration of our natural environment. It fosters an open exchange of scientific information among a growing network of universities, government agencies, science and nature centers, landowners, civic organizations, businesses and interested citizens.
The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) is a collaborative initiative for developing the world's largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to Internet-connected computers. Volunteers can help the Quake-Catcher Network provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.
Deadline: Jan 27 2014
Reward: $15,000 USD
The Dow Chemical Company is the leading producer of polyalkylene glycols (PAGs) used in synthetic fluids and lubricants where petroleum,
Deadline: Jan 11 2014
Reward: $20,000 USD
Conventional washing machines cause excessive damage and wrinkling to clothes primarily during the water removal step. With the introduc
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