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The role of citizen science in hydrology

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24 February 2021

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All over the world, hydrological systems face unprecedented pressures from overexploitation, degradation, and changing climate conditions. This poses a major challenge to managing them in a sustainable way, which is often complicated further by the scarcity of scientific evidence to support adequate decision-making. Despite the advent of remotely sensed data sources, understanding and quantifying the nature and scale of hydrological processes still relies strongly on in-situ observations, which are often time- and labour- intensive to collect.

As statutory monitoring activities are suffering from budget cuts and other challenges, it is opportune to explore new arrangements to support and expand hydrological data collection and evidence generation. Citizen science, which refers to the participation of the general public in the scientific discovery process, is receiving increased attention in this context.

Although citizen science in itself is not a new phenomenon, new technologies for hydrological sensing, data processing, and communication create new opportunities for its application in hydrology. Moreover, citizen science may help the evidence creation process more collaborative, transparent and inclusive. However, implementing sustainable citizen science projects faces many challenges, ranging from the deployment of adequate and robust technologies, to ensuring the generation of long- lasting benefits for all the involved actors.

This webinar will draw upon experiences from South America, Africa, and South Asia to discuss some of the challenges and potential solutions of implementing citizen science and other types of participatory monitoring activities in a water resources management context. It will also synthesise these findings by outlining an analytic framework that may help in the design and implementation of citizen science for environmental management.

For more information please contact:

Elira Alushi