Why scientists need your flood photos to study climate change


Climate change means more floods, and finding new ways to cope.

Words: Nadene Hall

NIWA is asking people in flood-affected areas to contribute photos to a national database to support understanding of flood hazards and risks.

The NZ Flood Pics project is part of a five-year Endeavour Fund research programme. It’s examining how flood risk will change over the next century due to climate warming, more frequent and extreme weather events, and land-use changes.

“We really hope that New Zealanders will help us capture photo evidence of floods across the country,” says Dr Andrew Lorrey, NIWA Principal Scientist of Climate and Environmental Applications. “These snapshots will build up our knowledge of where and when flood impacts occur.

“Floods are unfortunately increasing in frequency and severity across Aotearoa, meaning they pose one of the biggest risk areas for society. The photo database we’re building will support new strategies to increase resilience which is more important than ever.”

The database will provide a free resource about recent floods, searchable by location, date, and keyword, for anyone to use, including NIWA scientists.

Photos taken on a smartphone can be uploaded via NIWA’s citizen science app, which geolocates where the photo has been taken. There are also options to input more information about the flood.

Tonkin and Taylor Engineering Manager and flood risk expert Jon Rix pioneered the development of NZ Flood Pics. He says efforts to protect people and property from floods have traditionally been hampered by the lack of information.

“Through the simple application of smartphone photography, NZ Flood Pics can provide a meaningful contribution toward reducing flood risk by providing direct evidence of floods. I am really excited by the development of NIWA’s citizen science app, as we look to gather more information to support our country’s flood management decision-making.”

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The app is free to use and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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