Citizen Science Projects

Everyday citizens can make important contributions to our understanding of flood risks. The pictures and data that you gather helps climate change researchers, city planners, hazard mitigation teams, and other community leaders to plan for the future of sea level rise. Crowdsourcing is as helpful here as it is for Yelp!

Here are citizen science project taking place during the high tides on January 19, 20, and 21, 2015:

  • Marin County: Marin Community Development Agency, Coravai, and the Our Coast, Our Future team are partnering with local high schools to educate about sea level rise and get students engaged in real-world planning.  Data and pictures that students collect will be used in Marin County’s sea level rise adaptation plan, made possible by a Climate Ready grant from the Coastal Conservancy.
  • China Camp State Park (San Rafael, CA): The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is monitoring high tide locations at China Camp State Park. Come join us during the January King Tides photo monitoring and nature walk events, entitled “Flooded by Science and Seawater on January 19 or January 20, 2015. Follow the links for more info. Refer to our photo monitoring map to find locations at this site.
  • Candlestick Point State Park (San Francisco, CA): The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a research institute of San Francisco State University, is partnering with a local community non-profit Literacy for Environmental Justice at Candlestick Point State Park and the surrounding neighborhood to highlight the impacts of sea level rise and extreme high tides on residents of the Bayview/ Hunterspoint communities of San Francisco. This project will focus on raising awareness and collecting diverse perspectives on the intersections of shoreline and neighborhood change and community sense of place in the face of a changing San Francisco.
  • Benicia:  Students will help the City of Benicia by visiting and documenting local areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise.  Data will be used in the city’s Adaptation Plan, made possible by a Climate Ready grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.
  • East Palo Alto:  This January 19 event includes an easy one-mile recreational walk on the Faber-Laumeister Trail, off of the SF Bay Trail. During the walk, participants will learn about the baylands wildlife and ecology. Along the way, participants will also help take photos documenting the high tides via their smartphones and social media. To sign up, click here.
  • Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge: The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR has sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay shoreline. Help track the tidal reach into the marshlands by photographing from designated survey points. The project is self-guided but the refuge visitor center can help you find your way. Refer to our photo monitoring map to find locations at this site. For questions about this project, please contact Jennifer Heroux, Chief of Visitor Services for the Don Edwards NWR, (510) 792-0222 x139 or
  • Monterey / Elkhorn Slough:  Interpretive walks will lead participants to 4 designated study areas where local scientists are looking for more photos and information. The data that is collected at these sites provide important indicators of future sea level rise impacts.  Additional details and specific walk dates can be found here.
  • Santa Monica:  The University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant Program and partners are hosting a King Tides and Winter Storms Photo Contest for the Los Angeles Region. We have highlighted locations that will help local planners, elected officials and community members from our Regional AdaptLA project to envision future flooding from coastal storms, high tides and sea level rise in our coastal communities. Prizes will be awarded. Details are available here.
  • San Diego and Baja California:  The public is invited to help the Tijuana National Estuarine Research Reserve document and understand flood risk in the Tijuana River Valley, on both sides of the border.  For more information click here.

Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

How to get involved?

1. Choose a location from the list above, or get in touch to start a new project
2. Follow the ‘Photo Monitoring Protocol’ below
3. Share your photos per the instructions for each project, and don’t forget to share them with us on Facebook, Flickr, or Twitter!

Photo Monitoring Protocol

Equipment needed:

  • Camera or smartphone
  • Location coordinates
  • Notebook and pen, or note-taking app
  • GPS (free smartphone app – GPS Status)
  • Compass

At the location:

  1. Scout out the area and make sure it is safe.
  2. Find the location as close as you can to the original coordinates or directions, using your GPS.  Record the coordinates in decimal degrees.
  3. Orient yourself facing in the direction given on the google map description using your compass. Record this as well.
  4. Write down your observations of the area including the weather, wildlife, human activity, state of the land, and anything else you deem noteworthy.
  5. Snap a couple photos and then explore the area! Don’t forget to record the picture number on your camera so that there is no mix-up when you upload them later.

Share Photos:

How to upload your pictures to the California King Tides Flickr Group:
1. Createflickr account (if you don’t already have one)
2. Join the Group by searching for the California King Tides Photo Project and agreeing to the Group Rules when it pops up.
3. click Upload at the top of the Flickr page and chose a photo(s) to upload.
a. Click below the picture to rename it with the title provided by the google maps site you visited (i.e. China Camp 1).
b . Click “Add a description” below the title and type in all the information from the field record sheet.
c. Click “Add tags” (found on left side bar) and use the same photos title (i.e. china camp 1).
**Tags are IMPORTANT because they enable other people to find your photo in our flickr pool using flickr’s search engine.**
d. Because your photos are automatically licensed as “None (all rights reserved), in order for us to use them please change the license settings on your photo to “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons” License.  You can do this by going to the Owner Settings on the left side bar. Directly underneath click on the © and a list of options should appear. Select “Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike Creative Commons” license.
4. Geotag your photos (its easy!): Geotagging just means placing your photo on a map to show where you took it. The best way to do this is to complete the uploading of your photo(s) first by clicking upload on the upper right. Then click on the photo you want to geotag. To the right of the image find and click on the 3 dot symbol, ••• which will open   a menu where you can click on “add to your map”. Once a map opens up, drag and drop your image to the right location or search with the GPS coordinates in the search   bar. Finally click “save location”. Voila you have geotagged!
5. To Add your King Tide photos to the group click on the same 3 dot symbol again, but this time select “add to group” and find “California King Tides Photo Project”.
6. Visit the group pool to see your photo(s) added and check out the other cool pictures people have been taking.

IMPORTANT! – Check out the weather reports before heading out to the location. – ALWAYS be aware, alert and safe! – Have fun!