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    Citizens’ Observatory for Coast and Ocean Optical Monitoring

    Blue Info days great success!

    Citclops blue info days - rangers provided by Dr. Maria Röbbelen // 2014 03 16_9391_1024.png (691 K)The Blue Info days in Wilhelmshaven (15/16 March 2014) have been a great success. In total a number of 36 participants have been actively particpating in the discussions and fieldwork. The fieldwork including tests of the Citclops App to collect water colour data, as well as on the spot measurements of water transparency and fluorescence.
    The blue print of these days will be used more in the project, to allow further citizen involvement also in other working areas.

    We thank the participants and the organisors (ICBM - University Oldenburg) for their contributions.

    **Group image (with junior Rangers at the front) kindly provided by Dr. Maria Röbbelen

    Illustration below: An interesting article by Dr. Maria Röbbelen (in German - UK translation below!) about the Blue Info days in a local newspaper from Wilhelmshaven - Wilhelmshavener Zeitung.

    newsarticle Blueinfodays WHV zeitung // bleuinfodays_newspaper.png (813 K)

    **UK translation**

    Article: Citizens collect marine data for scientists

    Wadden Sea: Together active for the protection of the environment – EU project hopes that many people join

    Scientists of different countries trained interested lay citizens in Wilhelmshaven. The event was organised by the Institute from Chemistry and Biology of the marine environment.

    Original (German) text by Dr. Maria Röbbelen

    Science is very complicated and scientists use incomprehensive scientific terms? That it can be completely different was proved during the last weekend. 14 committed scientists have shown Wilhelmshaven citizens, how they can survey the sea and forward these observations to the researchers. The event was organised by the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Oliver Zielinski. The idea is simple: If many people collect data, citizens and scientists can jointly achieve much more for the protection of the seas than the researchers themselves. Therefore, scientists of five European countries have joined to develop methods that enable lay citizens to gather data about the oceans."Citclops" is the name of this EU funded project. The clou here is that well established simple scientific methods are combined with the capabilities of a smartphone.

    "The event was perfect," Malte (12 years) holds his thumbs up. He is one of six Junior Rangers in the age of 13-17 who participated in the event. "We will continue to conduct measurements" is also clear for Jelke (13). Dr. Julia Busch of ICBM is happy about so much positive feedback. "We are just beginning to develop this kind of methods for environmental monitoring. It is the first time that we inform interested lay citizens about the project and show them how they can collect data for research". But also the researchers got some important feedback from the participants on how to improve the measurements.

    On the first day the scientists explained what can be discovered with such simple methods. Water colour, its transparency and fluorescence are three properties, from which one can draw conclusions about the state of a water body. On the second day the participants could collect data at the Wadden Sea themselves and send them with their smartphones to the scientists.

    What colour is the sea? Spontaneously, everyone will probably say that the sea is blue, as this is the colour that we know from postcards and advertising. In fact, clear tap water would appear blue when looked at through a four-meter long tube. Yet, everybody who has been walking along the Wilhelmshaven Südstrand area knows well that the colour of the sea here tends to be green or brownish. Microscopic algae, suspended particulate material and coloured dissolved organic matter colour the water. This colour and its change in the course of time provide scientists with valuable information about the state of the sea. As an example, nutrient discharges can cause certain algae to grow massively. This in turn changes water colour and the quality of the ecosystem. Algal blooms can harm other plants and animals. As early as 1890, the researchers Forel and Ule have developed a comparator scale to determine water colour. Since then, the colour of seas has been measured worldwide about 250,000 times. Dr. Marcel Wernand from the Netherlands has compiled these data and could show that the colours of the oceans have changed over the past 100 years. While the Indian Ocean has become blue, the North Sea changed to green. With the Citclops project, scientists hope to gather new information on developments and to learn about changes of water colour under the influence of climate change. This is, however, only feasible if many people join in and document their observations.

    On the second day, Marcel Wernand demonstrated how to determine water colour with a smartphone. Participants also learned how to measure water transparency with a white disk. This so-called Secchi disk is lowered into the water until it just disappears. All participants could experience at the Helgoland jetty in Wilhelmshaven how easy measurements can be conducted.

    Julia Busch is very satisfied with this first practical test of "Citclops". The team still has much work ahead until the methods will work on many smartphone models and many people are motivated to get involved. "The project will not only bring us scientists important data, but it will also positively change the environmental awareness of citizens", Julia Busch is convinced. This is important to bring such issues to a political level so that politicians will seriously support the protection of the seas. More information about the project is available at www.citclops.eu.