Kirk KlausmeyerWant to help scientists monitor the impacts of climate change?

If you’re in California, then you have a unique opportunity to do just that. Kirk Klausmeyer, a senior conservation analyst with the Nature Conservancy in California. He’s leading a citizen-scientist initiative using cell phones and drones to document California’s coastal flooding conditions. The ultimate objective is to measure the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and develop measures to reduce future impacts.  In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Kirk talks about the Nature Conservancy, the Phone and Drones Program and other technology applications helping planners monitor climate change.

In This Episode

  • [01:27] Introduction to Kirk Klausmeyer, Senior Conservation Analyst with the The Nature Conservancy.
  • [01:32] The Nature Conservancy. The The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The organization addresses the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale.
  • [02:31] Technology Applications. Kirk discusses the use of technology applications by the Nature Conservancy to support the organization’s mission.
  • [02:54] Drones and Phones Program. The Nature Conservancy’s innovative use of drones and cell phones to monitor the California coastline. Kirk summarizes the origins and organization of the Drones and Phones Program.
  • [04:34] Citizen Scientists. The Drones and Phone program relies on the participation of citizens collecting data that will be to evaluate changes in coastal flooding. Citizens are invited to take images of flooding conditions along California’s coast. Drones are encouraged, but operators need to fly safe and in appropriate weather conditions.
  • [10:06] Drones and Phones Community. A Facebook page has been created to connect citizen scientists and interested individuals.
  • [12:24] Causes of Erosion. Kirk discusses some of the causes of the erosion along California’s coast, including wave effects, sea level rise, excessive rain and other effects. The drones and phones program will help to identify the impacts associated with these causes.
  • [13:06] Community Interaction. Its early in the project, but users are starting to interact with each other via the social media pages. Users are interested in learning about the results of the project.
  • [13:54] Project Timeline. The project started in January and will continue through the California rainy season. Images and data will be analyzed beginning in the summer.
  • [14:48] ROI of Citizen Scientist Program. The value represented by the use of the drones and the manpower generated by the volunteers could not typically within the operating budgets of most non-profits.
  • [15:47] Creating a Citizen Scientist Program. A successful citizen scientist program needs to have a cause and a constituency that is committed to that cause.
  • [18:38] Why Documenting Flooding Conditions Matter. Monitoring where flooding occurs, can provide insight into measures that can mitigate or slow the rate of flooding in the future. This can help protect future populations and property from future impacts.
  • [20:30] Getting Involved. People can get involved by visiting the Nature Conservancy Website at
  • [20:55] Google 360 Camera. Kirk describes how using a Google 360 camera device, he’s able to collect ground level images of California’s sensitive areas to be used in monitoring climate change over time. The 45 lb. camera system fits in a back pack. To date, Kirk has walked more than 20 miles. The images can be viewed on Google Maps.
  • [27:35] Closing

Mentioned Links

View of the California Coast subjected to coastal flooding

View of the California Coast subjected to coastal flooding (© Eric Cheng/

Eric Cheng uses his drone to capture images of the California coastline for drone and phone program (© Eric Cheng /

Eric Cheng uses his drone to capture images of the California coastline for drone and phone program (© Kirk Klausmeyer / The Nature Conservancy)

Kirk Klausmeyer with the Google 360 Camera

Kirk Klausmeyer with the Google 360 Camera (© Maya Sugarman / KPCC))  Read the article.