Testing the Waters: Mobile Apps for Crowdsourced Streamflow Data


Citizen scientists keep a watchful eye on the sector’s streams, catching intermittent streams in motion and filling statistics gaps to construct an entire hydrologic picture. Do you power, motorcycle, or hike via streams in your manner to a area site, the workplace, or domestic? Are you interested in how streams change via the seasons and years? If so, bear in mind becoming a member of a developing crowd of humans logging streamflow information using their cellular telephones. Two new tasks—CrowdWater and Stream Tracker—focus on crowdsourced hydrologic measurements, and both have recently launched loose smartphone packages to facilitate data series alongside circulate networks.

Crowdsourced Streamflow Data

Many folks regularly rely upon crowdsourced cell telephone facts for traffic conditions, restaurant reviews, and encouraged news articles. Environmental scientists use crowdsourcing to map biodiversity, invasive species, phenology, and bird locations [Tweedle et al., 2012]. Increasingly, crowdsourcing also provides precious hydrologic records for each research and watershed management [Turner and Richter, 2011; Lowry and Fienen, 2013; Little et al., 2016]. Keeping an eye on the world’s streams is a frightening undertaking. If you added up the duration of all of the streams around the arena, the full might be at the least 89 million kilometers [Downing et al., 2012]. Even in areas with good hydrologic tracking networks, revealing all streams with in-stream sensors is unrealistic. Crowdsourcing is a practical technique to grow the accuracy of movement maps and makes a bigger understanding of while, in which, and the way streams go with the flow.

Not handiest do the sector’s streams span a massive spatial extent, but lots of them require common checking to catch them in action. More than half of the global stream channel network is probably intermittent (i.E., the streams do not have glide yr-round [Datry et al., 2014]), but most streamflow monitoring stations are placed on perennial streams. In dry regions, almost all streams are intermittent. However, even humid areas have intermittent headwater streams. These streams provide floor water delivery, groundwater recharge, nutrient storage, and cycling, habitats for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, and help for flowers communities that stabilize stream banks [Levick et al., 2008]. Existing map layers regularly classify circulation sorts incorrectly [Fritz et al., 2013], so many regions lack accurate records on intermittent stream places.

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The CrowdWater task’s purpose is to enhance hydrologic forecasts with the help of crowdsourced facts that consist of water level, streamflow, soil moisture, and the waft circumstance of intermittent streams. This mission, funded with the aid of the Swiss National Science Foundation, also assesses the accuracy of the data, the effectiveness of excellent manipulate measures, and how beneficial citizen science records are to calibrate or improve hydrologic fashions.

Crowdsourced Streamflow Data

CrowdWater records are amassed with an app advanced using Spotteron, a citizen science app improvement corporation based in Vienna, Austria, on behalf of the University of Zurich. The app has been to be had for Android and iOS because April 2017 and can be used free from fee. The CrowdWater undertaking uses a method like geocaching: Every participant can set up a brand new station and contribute information for existing stations. No physical installations or sensors are wanted for the measurements. For circulate-level measurements, the consumer takes a photo and uses the app to add a digital workers gauge to the image. When that individual or another consumer returns to the site again, the user can decide the brand new water degree by comparing the contemporary water level to the virtual group of workers gauge on the photograph.

The fame of intermittent streams can be recorded using six classes: flowing water, standing water, connected swimming pools, isolated pools, wet streambed, and dry streambed. Measurements for streams that aren’t on the map assist in filing the life of the intermittent move community. For soil moisture, some other qualitative scale (based totally on the work of Rinderer et al. [2012]) is used.

So a long way, nearly four hundred CrowdWater stations were installed, and 121 unique participants made more than 1,000 measurements. Everyone can participate, and all contributors within the undertaking can view and request the facts. Participants can see a time series of the information collected at each website when they input new information inside the subject. They can use the records to reveal their environment or plan kayak outings or fishing trips.

The venture organizers will also use the information to check their usefulness for hydrologic model calibration and improve streamflow dynamics knowledge. The long-term purpose is to reap crowdsourced statistics in countries with little hydrometric data or to supplement the to be had facts.

Stream Tracker focuses on documenting go with the flow patterns in intermittent streams. This venture started in April 2017 with funding from the Citizen Science for Earth Systems Program of NASA. Stream Tracker’s purpose is to improve intermittent circulate mapping and to monitor the use of satellite and plane faraway sensing, in-flow sensors, and crowdsourced observations of streamflow presence and absence. The crowdsourcing issue is vital for information intermittent streams because far-flung sensing gives information once in a while, and a large sensor setup is infeasible. Crowdsourcing can fill in records on streamflow intermittence anywhere human beings regularly go to streams—all through a hike or motorcycle trip or while passing via at the same time as commuting.

Stream Tracker websites can be established on any flow through the assignment internet site at the citizen science platform CitSci.Org. Ideal sites are streams that do not drift constantly, are publicly available, and have a glaring channel to be smooth to see even when the move is not flowing. Anyone can be part of the project, establish websites in places of interest, and music the streams over time.

Current members range in age from elementary college students to retired teachers. They encompass no longer best flow professionals but also humans who have in no way monitored streams earlier than. Project contributors can navigate cell phones or GPS devices’ usage and input data on whether or not the circulation is flowing via the unfastened CitSci.Org cellular app.

Crowdsourced Streamflow Data

Circulation monitoring is a smooth upload-on to a field day for researchers who often go to subject sites. Researchers can identify move crossings on their route to field websites, add them as tracking factors on Stream Tracker, and upload data after each discipline visit. All Stream Tracker records are freely handy thru the project website.