Volunteers are using drones to monitor the impacts of El Nino on California’s coastline

As El Nino hits California, drones are heading into the air — documenting the impacts of the rainfall on California’s coastline.

DroneDeploy Orthomosaic Example

Courtesy of Eric Cheng

With El Nino comes surge in storms, coastal flooding and erosion. And the pace of shoreline change is rapidly speeding, meaning that the sea level rise and storms could destroy natural habitats and our own infrastructure. Drones can generate aerial data that documents those changes, allowing scientists to make decisions.

The Nature Conservancy launched a “Phones and Drones” project, giving any  volunteer with a drone the opportunity to help gather data about the coastal impacts of big storm events, with the purposes of improving predictive models and planning responses that protect people and nature. Effectively anyone with a drone can become a citizen scientist.

“These photos will help scientists at The Nature Conservancy better understand and respond to this El Niño and help us prepare for future storms,” said Matt Merrifield, Chief Technology Officer of The Nature Conservancy.


Courtesy of Eric Cheng

Anyone can get involved. Volunteers have to use a smart phone or drone to take pictures of the coastline and can submit the imagery online. Volunteers can also use the free web service DroneDeploy to process the maps.

Interested volunteers can get more information here.

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