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UNCA faculty member wins grant to mobilize citizen marine scientists
Thursday, 21 July 2022 14:17


From Staff Reports

UNC Asheville Assistant Professor of Biology Rebecca Helm is co-leading a global quest to map life on the ocean’s surface, UNCA announced in a June 6 press release.

"With much of the earth’s oceans largely unexplored, Helm and a team of marine biologists have developed The Global Ocean Surface Ecosystem Alliance, an effort to mobilize citizen scientists and volunteers to collect information across the ocean’s surface and along coastlines," the release stated.

"Helm and her team developed this initiative intending to discover living islands of floating life. The project has earned recognition from NASA and has received two-year grant funding for a demonstration phase with the potential of implementation funding for additional three years."

Helm was quoted in the release as saying, "Around the world, citizen scientists are snapping photos and recording their findings of ocean life – they are mapping their own backyards. Their individual contributions are puzzle pieces that create a greater map for scientists to read of the ocean surface.”

"The Global Ocean Surface Ecosystem Alliance (GO-SEA) is a community of scientists and experts, including the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Ocean Voyages Institute, NASA NESDIS, and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and marine enthusiasts coming together to observe and map what’s happening on the ocean’s surface.

"With the help of independent community submissions of sea life posted to iNaturalist, GO-SEA is creating a more extensive overview that combines those findings with access to satellite data and imaging, sea surface current data, and global monitoring. The result is a constantly evolving map that may help scientists better understand how human involvement like plastic consumption and oil spills can impact the ocean’s surface and its inhabitants," the release noted.



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