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Open Innovation Playbook for Risk Homepage

Climate Change Projects & Tools

  • Indigenous Observation Network (ION)

  • Local Environmental Observer Network (LEO)

  • iSeeChange

  • IceWatch USA

  • EyeOnWater

  • Globe Observer Land Cover

  • Climate Resilience Data Challenge

For the climate change case study, Indigenous Observation Network (ION) (Herman-Mercer et al. 2016, 2018, 2019; Toohey et al. 2016; Wilson et al. 2018), Local Environmental Observer Network (Brubaker et al. 2013, Mosites et al. 2018), ISeeChange (Drapkin et al. 2016, Drapkin 2018), IceWatch USA, EyeOnWater, Globe Observer Land Cover (Hayden et al. 2019, Janney 2019), and Climate Resilience Data Challenge projects will be surveyed to understand how community-based monitoring, engagement with indigenous communities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, data collected online versus on-the-ground, and ground truthing remote sensing data can inform research on climate impacts. This case study will focus on the ION project by conducting online and in-person interviews at the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center (AKCASC) and Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) in Anchorage, AK. Participant observations will also be conducted by observing and video recording how USGS scientists engage with indigenous communities during their fieldwork in the summer. This study will also inform Watson’s proposed OI risk projects related to climate change with the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PICASC) and Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK).

For floods, CrowdHydrology (Fienen and Lowry 2012, Lowry and Fienen 2013, Lowry et al. 2019), CrowdWater (Seibert et al. 2019, Strobl et al. 2019), What’s Your Water Level?, iFlood - Flood Reports, and Lowering the Cost of Continuous Streamflow Monitoring projects will be surveyed to understand how OI can be used to understand floods for hydrological risk reduction (Paul et al. 2018), measure water levels and high water marks, monitor hydrologic changes, detect flooding, improve flood and hydraulic models, as well as identify and deploy low-cost sensors. This case study will inform proposed OI risk projects like Ryberg’s “Historical Floods - Stakeholder Engagement and Data Acquisition” crowdsourcing project, which engages local communities to find and share old records with historic flood information to improve flood forecasting and increase public awareness of flood risk.

For wildfiresSmoke Sense...

Related Policies

Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

USGS Open Innovation Climate Change Projects

Indigenous Observation Network (ION)

  • Project Leads:
    • Ryan C Toohey (Alaska Climate Science Center)
    • Nicole M Herman-Mercer (USGS Branch of Regional Research, Central Region)
    • Paul F Schuster (USGS Branch of Regional Research, Central Region)
    • Edda Mutter (Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council)
  • Purpose:
    • The Indigenous Observation Network (ION) is a collaborative research and monitoring project to preserve and protect the Yukon River for future generations and the continuation of a traditional Native way of life. Since 2006, the USGS National Research Program and Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) have been partnering to collect water-quality samples from the Yukon River and tributaries with the assistance of trained Indigenous citizens living in the Yukon River Basin. Through this partnership over 300 Indigenous citizens have been trained in water sample collection, which has resulted in over 1500 samples collected at more than 54 sites covering the entire 2,300 mile reach of the Yukon River since the program began. In addition to water-quality monitoring a permafrost monitoring project began in 2009 called the Active Layer Network. This project measures the thickness of the active layer on an annual basis and collects air and soil temperature readings as well as soil moisture measurements at 20 locations across the Yukon River Basin and Alaska and Canada. Note: Volunteers must be trusted local citizens that are recommended by Tribal Councils, Newsletter, YRITWC outreach.

  • Description:
    • The hydrology of the Yukon River Basin has changed over the last several decades as evidenced by a variety of discharge, gravimetric, and geochemical analyses.  The Indigenous Observation Network (ION), a community-based project, was initiated by the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council and USGS.  Capitalizing on existing USGS monitoring and research infrastructure and supplementing USGS collected data, ION investigates changes in surface water geochemistry and active layer dynamics throughout the Yukon River Basin.  Over 1600 samples of surface water geochemistry (i.e., major ions, dissolved organic carbon, and 18O and 2H) have been collected at 35 sites throughout the Yukon River and its major tributaries over the past 15 years.  Active layer dynamics (maximum thaw depth, soil temperature and moisture) have been collected at 20 sites throughout the Yukon River Basin for the past eight years.  Important regional differences in geochemistry and active layer parameters linked to permafrost continuity and tributaries will be highlighted.  Additionally, annual trends and seasonal dynamics describing the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the watershed will be presented in the context of observed hydrological changes.  These data assist the global effort to characterize arctic river fluxes and their relationship to the carbon cycle, weathering and permafrost degradation. 

    • The Indigenous People of the Yukon River Basin have been forming and observational 'baseline' for thousands of years.  Until the modern age, the 'best technology' to make observations was our experience on the land.  The best means of organizing this 'baseline' data was by passing down stories generated from experience.  Today, the YRITWC facilitates the integration of stories and experiences with scientific environmental monitoring.  Since 2006 the YRITWC, and Yukon River Basin communities have partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to collected high quality environmental data about the water and the land.  This work is made possible only through the development of partnerships with communities along the river and would not be possible without the dedication of community technicians, the hard working staff of the YRITWC science department, and the support of the USGS.

Local Environmental Observer Network (LEO)

Image result for Local Environmental Observer Network (LEO)

  • Purpose:
    • A tool to help the tribal health system and local observers to share information about climate and other drivers of environmental change.

    • LEO is a network of local observers and topic experts who share knowledge about unusual animal, environment, and weather events. With LEO, you can connect with others in your community, share observations, raise awareness, and find answers about significant environmental events. You can also engage with topic experts in many different organizations and become part of a broader observer community.
    • Use LEO Field Reporter anywhere to share your observations of unusual environmental change. Your observations are uploaded when cellular service is restored and you can also read recent posts from the LEO Network or your area.

    • Use LEO Field Reporter anywhere as a tool to capture and share your observations of unusual environmental change. If you are in the field, you can still record your observation and then when cellular service is restored you observation is uploaded to the network. When service is available you can also use LEO Field Reporter to read recent stories on LEO Network. Go to the LEO Network Website for a full range of LEO data, observation posting and user features.

    • The Local Environmental Observer Network is a project that applies traditional knowledge along side western science and technology in order to document change due to climate change, development and progress. Observations include: unusual plants and wildlife, extreme weather, erosion, flooding, droughts, wildfire and other events that can threaten food security, water security and community health. The goal is to gain better understanding about how communities are changing, to identify emerging threats, and to connect community members with topic experts who can provide assistance. The project utilizes observation reports and web-based maps to publish findings. LEO Network is based at the Center for Climate and Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. It receives funding support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Description:
    • The Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network is a group of local observers and topic experts who share knowledge about unusual animal, environment, and weather events. With LEO, you can connect with others in your community, share observations, raise awareness, and find answers about significant environmental events. You can also engage with topic experts in many different organizations and become part of a broader observer community.
    • Arctic communities were among the first to experience significant impacts from climate change. In 2009, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) established the Center for Climate and Health to help describe connections between climate change, environmental impacts, and health effects. In 2012, LEO Network was launched as a tool to help the tribal health system and local observers to share information about climate and other drivers of environmental change.

    • Northern communities are changing due to environmental impacts, climate change and development. The LEO Network is a network of local environmental observers and topic experts who apply traditional knowledge, western science and technology to document significant, unusual or unprecedented environmental events in our communities. These changes can be observed in seasonality, plants and wildlife, weather conditions as well as natural hazards including coastal erosion, flooding, droughts, wildfire and other events that can threaten food security, water security and community health. The purpose of the LEO Network is to increase understanding about environmental change so communities can adapt in healthy ways.

    • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium LEO Network

NASA GLOBE Observer Land Cover

Image result for NASA GLOBE Observer Land Cover

  • Project Leads:
    • GLOBE Observer Team
    • Holli Kohl, NASA Goddard (SSAI) - Project coordinator, manages overall implementation and coordination with the GLOBE Program. She is also the lead for the Land Cover team, and the liaison for museum partnerships. Holli is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    • Tassia Owen (NASA Goddard)GLOBE Observer communications team, supporting social media and writing web content. She also supports the Land Cover team. Tassia is based in Portland, Oregon.
  • Purpose:
    • By photographing and classifying the land cover over an area the size of a soccer field, you will be assisting those scientists working to enhance global maps of land cover use.Your observations will contribute to new maps with a finer spatial resolution than is possible using satellites alone. Land cover is critical to many different Earth processes, and is of interest to a wide variety of scientists and decision makers.
    • Land Cover Science
  • Description:
    • GLOBE Observer: Land Cover is an app-based tool that will help you document what is on the land (land cover). Once you have downloaded the app and created an account, the Land Cover tool will guide you through the observation process. You will report on current surface conditions, then take photographs in all four cardinal directions, up and down. Optionally, you can classify the land cover in your photographs, telling us if it is grassland, a forest or an urban area, as well as compare your classification to a satellite land cover observation and note any differences. Even a basic observation without optional elements is valuable! For more details about how to take observations, including tips and tricks, additional tutorials beyond what is in the app, and frequently asked questions about how to observe, visit the Taking Observations page. Our Resource Library includes additional activities, references, videos and book lists.
    • Land cover is the base dataset for many areas of critical science, including hazard analysis for floods, fires and landslides, mapping wildlife habitat, and tracking the impacts of climate change. Even though land cover is familiar to everyone on the planet, the most detailed satellite-based maps of global land cover are still on the order of hundreds of meters [about 330 feet] per pixel. That means that a park in a city may be too small to show up on the global map. GLOBE Observer: Land Cover can fill in local gaps and contribute to consistent, detailed global maps. Find out more about the science of land cover and how it is studied on the Land Cover Science page. Because land cover can influence the atmosphere (clouds), mosquito habitats, and defines the broader ecosystem for trees, it is helpful if you take a land cover observation whenever you observe mosquito habitats, trees, or clouds

Other Open Innovation Climate Change Projects


Image result for iseechange

  • Purpose:
    • ISeeChange connects people to their changing environments to make solutions together. We crowdsource and analyze qualitative and quantitative data to inform public project planning, design, and emergency preparedness.
    • A virtual platform to help investigate how climate change affects your community. Pick an investigation that scientists, journalists, local cities, and community partners are actively researching and add sightings from your own backyard, neighborhood, or city. Each sighting will be paired with satellite, sensor, and weather data. This helps us identify local signs of change that correlate with bigger picture climate trends. ISeeChange empowers communities to observe how weather and climate affect their environment and daily life. Over time these micro-observations provide records that allow cities, engineers, scientists, and researchers to better model, respond to, and protect our communities as the climate continues to change.
  • Description:
    • Our climate is changing--and so are we. With ISeeChange, share your experiences and collect data to investigate our environment and help our communities through change. What you see change in your backyard, neighborhood, and city is important to our understanding of how climate change and weather affect our communities. Your observations and block-by-block insights can help cities, engineers and local organizations advocate for and create solutions to climate challenges. If you or your community has a question or hypothesis about how climate is changing your area, you can also use your ISeeChange account to collect data and answer those questions.

      • Create your account: Your account is a personal record of your sightings as well as a way to connect with your local community. Your location is generalized to protect your personal privacy.

      • Post a sighting: The best posts combine detailed stories and photos to show what you’re seeing in your environment and how it affects you. We then sync your stories to local weather data and trends.

      • Have conversations and connect: Comment on what others are seeing in your area and across the globe. Connect with community members on tips to manage the same climate challenges you are experiencing.

      • Help improve local knowledge and research: During weather events let us know what you’re seeing and check in on the feed to see what information your community is gathering. We may send push notifications and emails during local and regional weather events. When you respond to them, we do our best to share what you saw with people studying local weather trends.

      • Contribute to solutions: We share posts on social media, in newsletters and in reports to local partners that are working on solutions. Be sure to subscribe to our emails so you can be the first to know when we hear someone has used your post as data. This helps you and others track how your community is changing in response to climate change.


Cover art
eyeonwater app

  • Purpose:
    • One of the most apparent characteristics of water to the human eye is water colour. Water colour indicates the algae and organic content of the water that feeds organisms. Your observations are therefore valuable to scientists and water authorities.You can now contribute by downloading our EyeonWater app!
    • The EyeOnWater concept consists of an App and a website. The app allows you as user to make a contribution to science and supply information about the water colour of fresh- as well as saline waters (lakes, rivers, coastal waters, seas and oceans) near your location or elsewhere. The measurement is sent to the central server, validated and stored, after which it is visible via the EyeOnWater website:

    • What is it you measure? Water colour is an indication for life (e.g. algae) in the water. Scientists have been measuring this in marine waters via the Forel-Ule scale for more than 200 years. Your measurements will contribute to this long term observation and continue the timeseries.

    • The EyeOnWater concept has been developed by NIOZ (scientific background), Veerder (Design), and MARIS (Technical development), with assistance from other partners in the EU funded project Citclops: 

  • Description:
    • The EyeOnWater colour app helps us to classify rivers, lakes, coastal waters, seas and oceans on it's colour (it can be used for both fresh and saline natural waters). The observations via the app are an extension of a long term (over 100 years) set of water colour observations made by scientists in the past. You can view them all together in this map application. 
      View the map of colour observations

    • Clarity observations are usually done by Secchi Disk, lowering a white disk in the water and measuring to what depth it is still visible. EyeOnWater has collected a large dataset of observations from the past, and this set has been extended by citizens and volunteer measurements contributed via the EyeOnWater app. 
      View the map of clarity observations

IceWatch USA


  • Purpose:
    • IceWatch USA volunteers observe a waterway in their community over the winter season, reporting on winter precipitation and wildlife activity. 

  • Description:
    • IceWatch USA™, a program of Nature Abounds, brings you the opportunity to help scientists study how our climate is changing! With as little as 10 minutes, you can report information that will help to analyze how our climate will change in different regions of the United States, and how our ecosystems are reacting to the change. IceWatch USA™ is modeled after and a proud partner of IceWatch Canada

      IceWatch USA™ needs your help, and becoming an IceWatcher is very easy. All you need to do is:

      • choose a location to observe over the winter, like a nearby lake, bay, or river
      • record your observations and
      • report your observations online.

      Your information will be entered into a database, compared to other reports, and shared with interested scientists. IceWatch USA™ is also a proud partner of the National Phenology Network which brings together scientists and others to monitor the effects of climate change on plant and animals in the United States.  

    • Steps to beginning IceWatch USA

      • Step 1 - Sign up to be a Nature Abounds Volunteer

      • Step 2 - Select an observation point that can be used each season and in future years and enter a complete Site Description form.

      • Step 3 - Record and report your Observations.

Climate Resilience Data Challenge

  • Project Leads:

  • Tool / Instrument:
  • Purpose:
  • Description:

  • Publications:

scistarter logo hi res - SciStarter Blog


  • Track Four Emerging Climate Hazards Near You Blog Post
    • GLOBE Observer Land Cover
      • Land cover — the material on earth’s surface, like grass or asphalt — is critical to many different processes on Earth and contributes to a community’s vulnerability to disasters like fire, floods or landslides. Join NASA GLOBE Observer to photograph the landscape, identify the kind of land cover you see and then match your observations to satellite data. Scientists will use your observations to improve global land cover maps.
    • CoCoRaHS

      • Just like the Postal Service, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night prevents CoCoRaHS volunteers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds! In fact, that’s their favorite kind of weather. If this sounds like you, join the CoCoRaHS weather monitoring program. Use a rain gauge to collect data that are used by the National Weather Service, meteorologists, city utilities, teachers, students and many others to better understand both extreme precipitation and drought.

    • MyCoast

      • When stormy seas meet unyielding shore, the result is not always pretty. Use the MyCoast app to document tides, storm damage, beach cleanups, floods and more. Coastal decision makers, emergency managers and others use your reports to make decisions about resiliency plans.

    • ISeeChange

      • Become an environmental reporter with ISeeChange by documenting wildfires, floods, weather events and other phenomena. This groundbreaking project combines citizen science, citizen journalism, NASA satellite and weather data, sensors and community curiosity to monitor changing environmental conditions.

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