STEM & Citizen Science

Earth Sciences

Earth Sciences
Earth Sciences provides ample opportunities for citizen science projects, especially in regard to environmental monitoring and geohazard studies. Scholars pair the rise of earth sciences-related citizen science projects to several phenomenon like the making research socially relevant, needing large-scale and long-term datasets, increased public awareness of environmental concerns, and relatively easy access to technology (i.e. cell phones and apps). As seen with other citizen science projects, concerns over cost and data quality are key considerations in designing projects where significant portions of research will be conducted by volunteers.

Crossing paths with environmental engineering and ecology, earth sciences-related citizen projects bring together research on water, biodiversity, air quality, geophysics, and environmental monitoring. Information gathering using remote sensing and/or survey on the ground is known in the field of earth sciences as Earth Observation. Remote sensing can include aerial photography from airplanes or drones and handheld devices and surveys can be both analog and digital. Again, access to technology in the form of smartphones has allowed volunteer participation to flourish. Appealing to concerns over climate change specifically, Earth Observation citizen science projects can improve disaster management and public policy. A goal of these projects is often to increase public awareness of environmental concerns and engage the public in active scientific inquiry through observation and data collection. A hopeful impact is to also improve long-term interest in these earth science topics, where volunteers participate over long periods of time and new volunteers continue to be trained.

Fritz, Steffen, Cidália Fonte, and Linda See. “The Role of Citizen Science in Earth Observation.” Remote Sensing (Basel, Switzerland) 9, no. 4 (2017): 357-370.

Lee, Kathryn A, Jonathan R Lee, and Patrick Bell. “A Review of Citizen Science Within the Earth Sciences: Potential Benefits and Obstacles.” Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 131, no. 6 (2020): 605–617.

McKinley, Duncan C.,  et al. “Citizen Science Can Improve Conservation Science, Natural Resource Management, and Environmental Protection.” Biological Conservation 208 (2017): 15–28.

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