With the bulk of the expected 1.5 million tonnes debris from the March 2011 tsunami still to surface in North American shores, the government and ocean researchers need all the help they can get. A new Android app called Coastbuster might just be the help they need.
Developed by Ocean Networks Canada, a research group based in the University of Victoria, the app allows citizens to take pictures if they spot debris wreckage in the coastline. They need to fill out a short form, which includes description, composition and estimated size. The information then goes back to Ocean Networks and is databased so that local governments and the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can access it. The information will then allow the governments to coordinate the local clean-up efforts and even identify species that may have hitched a ride on the debris. The photos are also posted to a specially created Flickr feed. The researchers are also hoping that the information gathered can tell them more about ocean current circulation and patterns. “..these big large things have a certain buoyancy and are sitting in the water column at a certain depth, and you begin to understand how it got here and what path it took”, shares Kate Moran, president of Ocean Networks Canada. The app is currently available only in Android but an iOS version is already being developed.
As of December 13, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received 1,432 reports of debris on the coastline. So far, only 17 have been confirmed as coming from the tsunami wreckage from Japan. Volunteers who do beach clean-ups, like the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation say that they will be able to use the Coastbuster app not just to help their clean-up but also to encourage people to pay attention to debris they see, and also maybe encourage them to clean it up when they see it.
[ via Huffington Post ]
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