Meeting Abstract

52.6  Saturday, Jan. 5  A networked “Citizen Science” monitoring system for estuarine environment and biota. WOLCOTT, T G*; DEAN, A G; SICHITIU, M L; NC State Univ; NC State Univ; NC State Univ

The Coastal and Estuarine Monitoring System (CEMS) addresses the spatial and temporal heterogeneity in estuaries, where events can be fully described only by dense monitoring arrays. Changes in many estuarine variables are large, and useful information can be obtained from instruments with modest accuracy. These cost far less than precision units and can be affordably deployed in large numbers. Our prototype system sits offshore in Chesapeake Bay but data uploading and control are via the Web. It logs solar panel and battery status; water depth; temperature, salinity, water clarity in four color bands at two depths; and biological observations correlated with the physical data (gape of 16 oysters). The datalogging module will be expanded to log currents, surge and waves, and can accommodate other sensors that provide serial data or voltage output. The same electronics could go into a mobile housing and be towed along transects by a small boat, when they would log the vessel’s GPS positions and compass headings as well. Logged data are stored in non-volatile memory. In fixed arrays, the datalogging module is polled by a single-board computer on a piling or buoy, which periodically uploads data via Wi-Fi to an on-shore access point and server. The data appear on the project website in nearly real time. We also are developing apps to allow the data and graphs to be downloaded by nearby visitors with “smart phones.” The sensors are simple and their housings, mainly of PVC and pipe fittings, are designed for easy assembly and maintenance. Citizen groups (e.g., high school classes) would be capable of “taking ownership” of an array, and seeing “their data” online as contributions to a national database.