Giving Compass' Take:

Coastal communities are effectively helping city planners and climate scientists by using citizen science to advance research and gauge local impacts of rising sea levels.

Scientists comment that citizen science is helpful because communities have a relationship and knowledge of the areas that are impacted. How can you contribute to citizen science pursuits in your local area?

Understand more about citizen science.

Coastal communities across the United States are experiencing tangible impacts of climate change as sea level rise worsens. “Sunny day flooding” and  “king tides” range from annoyance to serious danger in cities like Miami, San Francisco and Seattle. Coastal commissions and city planners are working against the clock to calculate and prepare for a future in which entire neighborhoods may disappear.

In order to create effective plans, sea level rise and flood rates need to be carefully documented. But the sheer scale of the problem makes it difficult to track for scientists and lawmakers; researchers simply can’t be everywhere.

The King Tides Project, run by the California Coastal Commission, is a successful example of a citizen science tracking project. The project’s map (available to the public) tracks sea level rise all over the state through photos submitted by local citizen scientists. To participate, citizens just need a camera or smartphone — they take photos of rise in their area and submit it to the commission to be inputted into their database.

Whitney Berry is the climate change program manager for the Ocean Protection Council, a close partner of the commission that utilizes the project and hosts it on its website. She says citizen science is immensely useful for research like hers.

Citizen Science “advances scientific research by providing extra hands or eyes, and it includes everyone, so you get participation from folks who might not have a PhD or a Master’s degree, but they have years of local knowledge and have a closer relationship with the area.”

Read the full article about communities helping through citizen science by Casey O'Brien at Shareable.