“The BirdReturns program is an effort to provide ‘pop-up habitats’ for some of the millions of shorebirds, such as sandpipers and plovers that migrate along the Pacific Flyway, a route that spans from Alaska to South America. Birds flying on this journey seek out the increasingly rare wetlands teeming with tasty insects to fuel their long-distance flights. Over the last century, California’s Central Valley has lost 95% of the wetlands habitat to development, agriculture, and other land use changes. As a solution, scientists use big data, binoculars, and rice paddies.”
This project combines data from satellite imagery to map surface water in California’s Central Valley, and individual bird observations to select locations that can be temporarily converted into wetlands to aid the migratory birds (for more information than the video provides about this project, read this article).
This is a great example of using both ‘big’ geospatial data as represented by the satellite imagery and combining it with field data and actual observations to make the world a better place. We need more decision makers that can think spatially and use geographic skills.