(From Fall 2013 Newsletter) Adults and children from Florida to Texas are calling, emailing, and going online to report little yellow cards they find in the water and on the beach. The locations of these cards give scientists important information for an ongoing study to aid future oil spill response. The data are important enough to be prize-worthy and the public’s participation in science is getting regional media attention. The first 1,250 drift cards released elicited more than 200 responses.
The Gulf Integrated Spill Research (GISR) consortium is using the cards as part of a larger research effort to understand how wind and currents move items on surface waters. The deployment and recovery data from the drift cards will go into a particle tracking model – the Larval TRANSport Lagrangian model (LTRANS). Lagrangian models help scientists understand the many factors which influence the hidden pathways along which air and water flow.
Scientists took great care with manufacturer specifications to make the drift cards environmentally friendly, not adding to ocean trash or toxins. Each month, the research team sends a $25 gift card to a person randomly-selected by a computer from names of people who report a card.
Adapted from a longer article. Original article published here.