Citizen Scientists Contribute to Real-Time Monitoring of Lake Water Quality Using 3D Printed Mini Secchi Disks

George, G, Menon, NN, Abdulaziz, A, Brewin, RJW, Pranav, P, Gopalakrishnan, A, Mini, KG, Kuriakose, S, Sathyendranath, S and Platt, T 2021 Citizen Scientists Contribute to Real-Time Monitoring of Lake Water Quality Using 3D Printed Mini Secchi Disks. Frontiers in Water, 3.

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Citizen science aims to mobilise the general public, motivated by curiosity, to collect scientific data and contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge. In this article, we describe a citizen science network that has been developed to assess the water quality in a 100 km long tropical lake-estuarine system (Vembanad Lake), which directly or indirectly influences the livelihood of around 1.6 million people. Deterioration of water quality in the lake has resulted in frequent outbreaks of water-associated diseases,leading to morbidity and occasionally, to mortality. Water colour and clarity are easily measurable and can be used to study water quality. Continuous observations on relevant spatial and temporal scales can be used to generate maps of water colour and clarity for identifying areas that are turbid or eutrophic. A network of citizen scientists was established with the support of students from 16 colleges affiliated with three universities of Kerala (India) and research institutions, and stakeholders such as houseboat owners, non-government organisations (NGOs), regular commuters, inland fishermen, and others residing in the vicinity of Vembanad Lake and keen to contribute. Mini Secchi disks, with Forel-Ule colour scale stickers, were used to measure the colour and clarity of the water. A mobile application, named “TurbAqua,” was developed for easy transmission of data in near-real time. In-situ data from scientists were used to check the quality of a subset of the citizen observations. We highlight the major economic benefits from the citizen network, with stakeholders voluntarily monitoring water quality in the lake at low cost, and the increased potential for sustainable monitoring in the long term. The data can be used to validate satellite products of water quality and can provide scientific information on natural or anthropogenic events impacting the lake. Citizens provided with scientific tools can make their own judgement on the quality of water that they use, helping toward Sustainable Development Goal 6 of clean water. The study highlights potential for world-wide application of similar citizen-science initiatives, using simple tools for generating long-term time series data sets, which may also help monitor climate change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Edited by: Alex de Sherbinin, Columbia University, United States Reviewed by: Junsheng Li, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China Ulrich Ofterdinger, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom
Additional Keywords: citizen science, mini Secchi disk, TurbAqua, Vembanad lake, FU scale, turbidity
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Earth Observation Science and Applications
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 24 Jun 2021 09:14
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2021 09:14

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