Phytoplankton — the microscopic, plant-like organisms that make up the base layer of the oceanic food chain — might be in serious trouble. A 2010 paper suggested that their numbers have declined 40% since the 1950s, largely thanks to climate change. But that paper is controversial because the methods for counting phytoplankton haven't been particularly strong. Now, scientists at Plymouth University in the UK want to improve the data collection methods and they need your help. Do you sail, fish, travel, or work on the ocean? If so, then you can participate in a global citizen science project, helping scientists gather data on phytoplankton populations from diverse locations around the planet.

7 Responses to “Citizen science on the sea”

  1. aliktren says:

    ask on reddit, HUGE post about peoples experience of being at sea is trending at the moment with some great insights

  2. glatt1 says:

    We wouldn’t need to ask for anecdotal evidence from the handful of sailors who happen to both browse the internet and also sail around the world, if Congress would stop cutting NASA’s funding. NASA should replace the OrbView-2 spacecraft, which carried the SeaWiFS that directly measured all of the Earth’s phytoplankton for 13 years before it died.

    This is what satellites do best, and considering that we’re talking about a potentially massive die off of the entire planet’s oceans and a huge source of food for people, it’s probably worth funding.

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/seawifs_end.html

    • It’s not anecdotal evidence they’re asking for, here. They have a system and want people taking actual measurements. But, yes, with enough money there are probably easier ways of doing this. 

      • glatt1 says:

         ”Anecdotal” may have been a little snarky.  I do support crowd sourcing things like this.  It can only help our understanding.  But with something as vast as the ocean, the most obvious tool would be an eye in the sky.

  3. noggin says:

    Confirmation bias much?

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