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Citizen Scientists Monitor Coastlines with Smartphone

beach photo Citizen Scientists can Support Research with iPhone
Citizen Scientists can Support Research with iPhone

Today, the most common coastal monitoring technique deploys satellite data, which can only capture 2D observations. Obtaining more detailed insight into coastal erosion requires large and relatively expensive devices known as terrestrial laser scanners. However, these instruments are difficult to handle and not very common, but citizen scientists now have a new option.

From an article in India Education Diary

Local monitoring can now be accomplished using a setup that is as basic as an iPhone, selfie-stick and an app. Newer iPhones are equipped with a so-called LiDAR scanner, located on the back of the phone alongside the camera lenses.

“For tech manufacturers, the LiDAR scanner is used to improve a camera’s autofocus, but for me and my research team, it is a simple, inexpensive and far less resource-intensive way to measure coastal erosion. In the future, this will allow more people to help with monitoring,” explains PhD Gregor Luetzenburg from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management.

Citizen scientists can help monitor
LiDAR is an acronym for light detection and ranging. The phone-based 3D scanner emits 576 laser pulses in all directions, making it possible to measure depths in, among other things, a landscape.

According to Luetzenburg, the new scanning method has great potential for more thorough coastal monitoring. This is particularly true if those living in vulnerable areas can be motivated to participate in citizen science.

“It’s a bit like recording a video with the phone. So, if you are someone who regularly walks your dog along one of these stretches of disappearing coastline, it is obvious that you, together with other citizens around the country, could help researchers and government agencies with the important task of coastal monitoring,” says Gregor Luetzenburg, who has just returned from field research in Greenland.

For the complete story CLCIK HERE.

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