It’s a breeze for Memorial Day beachgoers to help out with the Coastal Science Project
HARRISONBURG, Va., May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — As the Memorial Day holiday kicks off the summer vacation season, James Madison University professor Shelley Whitmeyer hopes beachgoers will help collect data for an important coastal science project.
All that is required to participate in “SandSnap” is to take a photo of a coin in the sand with a mobile phone and upload it to a website.
The information could ultimately help coastal decision-makers better manage erosion-prone areas.
Tweet this With a coin and a phone, beachgoers can help collect data for an important coastal science project.
A computer using a machine learning algorithm does the rest, giving scientists information about the different sizes of sand grains.
Whitmeyer has assisted the US Army Corps of Engineers with the project for the past several years, promoting the project to Girl Scout troops and others. This week, a sign was placed on the boardwalk of Fire Island National Seashore, a barrier island off Long Island, New York, inviting the public to participate. The sign will be there for the next five years, but photos can be taken at any beach in the world.
When Whitmeyer works with groups, she usually gives instructions on how to take the photos. Now it’s time to see how the Fire Island audience doesn’t follow the instructions on the sign.
“I tend to get too involved,” she joked.
So how can pictures of sand help scientists?
The ribs change quickly. Normal tides, storms with high winds, and people on the beach all move the sand. SandSnap examines how sand moves. The information could ultimately help coastal decision-makers better manage erosion-prone areas.
Inviting the public to participate has significant benefits. Scientists can get more data faster than if they had to collect it all themselves, and that builds trust in science, Whitmeyer said.
“We know there’s a distrust of science in the community at large and I think part of that is that people think science is a body of facts and therefore if they’re true, they should never change. That’s not really what science is. Science is more of a process where we keep collecting data and we keep revising what we know because we let’s learn new things. If people understand the process better, I think they might trust the science a little more.
More information about SandSnap can be found on the SandSnap website.
SOURCEJames Madison University