You may not think much about it while you’re busy snapping photos of your breakfast or the evening sunset, but Instagram pictures can be an invaluable way of crowdsourcing data from all across the world — and that’s exactly what environmental journalist Julia Kumari Drapkin wants to do to keep tabs on our changing climate.
The I See Change project first got going in 2012 but it’s about to spread across the United States thanks to new partnerships with NASA and eight radio stations. The idea is that anyone can hashtag a tweet or an Instagram photo with #iseechange and contribute to the growing collection of data on our weather — it could be anything from unusually early bird migrations to freak storms.
Thanks to the growing quality of mobile phone photos and the ability for these social media apps to accurately add information about locations, times and dates, the data collected from Instagram and Twitter is very useful for scientists.
“It’s the little changes — the details we see on our regular walks, in our homes, the small talk at the post office or the corner store — that can add up to big, big differences,” Drapkin explained to Gizmodo. Taking a picture of a hailstorm or a budding flower may not cost you much in terms of time or effort, but by collecting large numbers of these types of pictures, global changes can be mapped.
The I See Change website offers more details about the project and explains exactly how you can get involved using your own social media accounts — just don’t use any unnecessary filters. You can also review the posts left by others using the #iseechange hashtag over the course of the year.