The Arctic is currently heating up more rapidly than the rest of the world, which causes the thawing of frozen soils known as permafrost. The degradation of frozen plant remains releases greenhouse gasses that further increase global warming.
Unlike glaciers or sea ice, permafrost is not directly visible on the Earth’s surface and is therefore more difficult to monitor using satellite data. We are therefore researching how to better observe the melting of Arctic soils.
With the participation of young citizen scientists, our goal is to collect reliable and current data on permafrost thawing. In this way, climate predictions can be improved.
School classes in Canada and Germany are working together to understand how the Earth’s surface is changing.
With the help of drones, young citizen scientists in Aklavik in Northwest Canada collect high-resolution airborne images of the Arctic Earth’s surface. This image data is pre-processed by the project team and divided into small mapping tasks (“micro-tasks”). The tasks are then carried out by young citizen scientists in Germany via smartphone, thus completing an important image processing step.
The contribution of citizen scientists will create a unique reference dataset for research. In combination with machine learning methods, this will make large-scale mapping of permafrost structures possible for the first time and simultaneously bring the urgent topic of climate change and permafrost melting into classrooms.
Duration and funding of the project
The project runs from July 2021 to December 2024 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the Citizen Science funding area. It is one of 15 projects that will advance the cooperation between citizens and scientists in terms of content and methodology as well as provide answers to society’s challenges until the end of 2024.