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A New Wave in Citizen Science: Development of a Long-Term Coastal Monitoring Program through the use of Citizen-Operated Unoccupied Aerial System Technology

Authors: Robert Goodwin*, Michigan State University, Remote Sensing & GIS Research and Outreach Services, Erin Bunting, Michigan State University, Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences, Elizabeth Mack, Michigan State University, Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences, Ethan Theuerkauf, Michigan State University, Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences
Topics: Coastal and Marine, Drones, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: UAS, Remote Sensing, Citizen Science, Coastal, Great Lakes
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The severity of coastal hazards requires better data to understand the physical changes to coastlines, root causes, rates of change, and associated environmental, social, and economic impacts. These data and insights are needed to develop evidence-based hazard mitigation strategies and policies. This presentation focuses on a new approach to address this need, through a pilot program, Interdisciplinary Citizen-based Coastal Remote Sensing for Adaptative Management (IC-CREAM). This program tests hypotheses about the feasibility and scientific value of a citizen-science approach to creating a localized, repeat aerial image database on coastal processes in the Great Lakes. This cross-disciplinary, mixed methods project will train citizen scientists composed of practitioners and stakeholders to collect repeat aerial imagery, via an unoccupied aerial system (UAS), of coastal sites in six communities along Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior to document erosion and accretion associated with fluctuating water levels, storms, and human interventions. Citizen scientists will be trained on UAS operation, data collection, and FAA regulations in order to pass the FAA Part 107 exam. Citizen scientists will then collect repeat aerial imagery of beaches, bluffs, and dunes (seasonal and before/after storms). This project will be the first step towards developing a collaborative and coordinated researcher and stakeholder network focused on coastal hazards in the Great Lakes.

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