Volume 25, Number 3

Contents - Volume 25, Number 3

Published December 2021
Volume 25, Number 3 (complete issue)

Contents page - Volume 25, Number 3



Citizen science initiatives in high-impact weather and disaster risk reduction

Lauren J. Vinnell, Julia S. Becker, Anna Scolobig, David M. Johnston, Marion L. Tan & Lisa McLaren

Keywords: Citizen science, high-impact weather, earthquakes, disaster risk reduction

High-impact weather events cause considerable social and economic harm, with these effects likely to increase as climate change drives extremes and population growth leads to commensurate growth in exposure. As part of the World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather Research Programme, the 10-year High-Impact Weather (HIWeather) Project facilitates global cooperation and collaboration to improve weather prediction, forecasting, and warning. As part of this, the HIWeather Citizen Science Project identifies and promotes activities which involve citizens in the warning value chain, from “sensors” where they passively provide data, through to “collaborators” where they are involved in designing, running, interpreting, and applying the research. As well as benefitting global efforts to reduce societal impacts of weather and other natural hazards, citizen science also encourages hazard awareness and scientific literacy and interest. This editorial introduces the HIWeather Citizen Science Project special issue, summarizing the three papers in this issue in the broader context of high-impact weather and citizen science.


Research Updates

Using citizen data to understand earthquake impacts: Aotearoa New Zealand’s earthquake Felt Reports

Tatiana Goded, Marion L. Tan, Julia S. Becker, Nick Horspool, Silvia Canessa, Rand Huso, Jonathan Hanson & David M. Johnston

Keywords: New Zealand, Felt Reports, citizen science, macroseismic intensity

Aotearoa New Zealand’s national seismic network, GeoNet, administers Felt Reports, including the Felt RAPID and Felt Detailed databases, which are being collected at present. NZ has a long tradition of using earthquake Felt Reports provided by the public to analyse the damage caused by moderate to large earthquakes. From traditional paper-based Felt Reports to current online reports (using the GeoNet website or a mobile app), researchers have been using such data to obtain a geographical distribution of the damage caused by an earthquake and to assess what actions people take during shaking. Felt Reports include questions on people’s reactions, indoor and outdoor effects of earthquake shaking, building damage, and tsunami evacuation. The database of long online Felt Reports (Felt Classic between 2004 and 2016 and Felt Detailed from 2016 to the present) comprises over 930,000 reports from more than 30,000 earthquakes. Current research being carried out using this data includes: 1) updating of the NZ Ground Motion to Intensity Conversion Equation and Intensity Prediction Equation, 2) understanding human behaviour for earthquakes and related hazards such as tsunami, 3) developing a predictive model of human behaviour in earthquakes to estimate injuries and fatalities, and 4) improving public education. This paper summarises the history of NZ earthquake Felt Reports as well as the research currently being carried out using this data. Finally, we discuss how citizen science helps in the understanding of earthquake impacts and contributes to the aim of improving Aotearoa New Zealand’s resilience to future events.

Build and measure: Students report weather impacts and collect weather data using self-built weather

Thomas Kox, Henning W. Rust, Bianca Wentzel, Martin Göber, Christopher Böttcher, Jonas Lehmke, Elisabeth Freundl & Matthias Garschagen

Keywords: Citizen science, motivation, weather, impacts, observation

The citizen science component of a project on climate change adaptation at the European regional level (Klimawandelanpassung auf regionaler Ebene; KARE-CS) established a layperson weather network with two high schools in the Bavarian Prealps south of Munich, Germany, to measure small-scale weather phenomena and impacts of weather and to build decision-relevant knowledge about weather and climate change. Over the summer of 2020, local students collected weather data with self-build micro weather stations and reported observed weather phenomena and impacts. The preliminary results show that despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the students actively engaged in the project, created valid data, and enabled detailed data analysis of weather observations and reports. First insights show that visual observations of weather phenomena such as heavy rainfall aligned well with the measurements. Students’ primary motivations to participate in the project were the desire to contribute to scientific research and their interest in science and weather. The project continued over the summer of 2021 with further analysis ongoing.

Practice Update

Experience from large-scale crowdsourcing via weather apps

Harald Kempf

Keywords: Crowdsourcing, app, weather, best practice

This practice update presents the experience of launching a large-scale crowdsourcing feature using categorized user reports through an established weather app in Germany. Starting from the motivation for using crowdsourcing, this paper covers all development stages of the campaign from design through to legal considerations to the final rollout of the feature and first data analysis. Of particular focus is parameter choice and the possibility for automatic plausibility checks. We found that the newly-designed crowdsourcing feature was widely embraced by app users, which led to a very high number of reports. Analysing a sample dataset of approximately 660,000 observations from July to November 2020, we provide insight on data composition and quality of the reports as well as examples of the data integration into operational procedures. We offer some recommendations for potential new crowdsourcing campaigns based on our preliminary experience. Finally, we discuss possible future extensions as well as options to introduce standards and achieve an international data exchange.


All papers are protected under the Creative Commons attribution as per our copyright notice.

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