Crowdsourcing has changed how we gather news, how we fund companies and now how fast scientists can analyze data to produce predictive climate models. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced CycloneCenter.org, a website where â€œcitizen scientistsâ€ can analyze past hurricane photos (over 300,000) in a series of controlled questions to determine the maximum wind speeds of past tropical systems.
Satellites that can see and track hurricanes have only been around since the space age â€“ a blip of time in our planetâ€™s lifespan. As satellites and data gathering improved over the years, the processes for identifying a stormâ€™s wind speed (when ground data is unavailable) have changed. To add more problems to the dataâ€™s consistency, not every part of the world used the same methods to determine a stormâ€™s intensity. This means that the data from storm-to-storm, and region-to-region, may be inconsistent and needs to be corrected and normalized with present-day knowledge and standardized categories. With CycloneCenter.org, researchers are looking to tap into the collective ability of the masses to analyze images and speed up the classification process. In a release on NCDCâ€™s site, a researcher claims that this process may accomplish a decadeâ€™s worth of analysis in two months.
This is an interesting way of using the power of crowdsourcing to cut costs and increase the turn-around time of weather and climate modeling. You can start your journey as a citizen scientist here.