Hang 10 for change


Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents - Com­piled by NIKKY KNIJF ( nikky.knijf@ram­say­media.co.za)

Surfer dudes as re­searchers

RIS­ING SEA LEV­ELS are a cer­tainty and an ev­ery­day re­al­ity of cli­mate change.

Eustatic change – a change in the vol­ume of wa­ter in the oceans – threat­ens coastal re­gions and is­land na­tions across the globe. In the near future, this will di­rectly im­pact the habi­tats of ap­prox­i­mately 100 mil­lion peo­ple. Sadly, the ef­fects can al­ready be felt. Many small is­lands re­port se­vere coastal ero­sion and face over­crowd­ing in large towns and cities. The lit­tle-known is­land na­tion of Kiri­bati lo­cated in Ocea­nia is one of the many na­tions fac­ing a siege of ris­ing tides. Ac­cord­ing to Kiri­bati Gov­ern­ment, the is­lands are so nar­row the cit­i­zens have nowhere to go.

An­other of the damn­ing ef­fects of cli­mate change is ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion. This is the global de­crease in the ocean’s ph lev­els due to the in­crease of CO in the at­mos­phere.

2 Ocean wa­ter with higher ph lev­els has been linked to in­hib­ited shell growth in ma­rine an­i­mals and is be­lieved to im­pact on the re­pro­duc­tion of some fish species. That’s a big con­cern be­cause fish serves as a sta­ple for some 2,5 bil­lion peo­ple world­wide.

But there’s hope. Your hobby could help re­searchers, sci­en­tists and com­mu­ni­ties.

Re­searchers and sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped a data-cap­tur­ing fin for surf­boards to help mea­sure ocean pa­ram­e­ters. This data will, in turn, help re­searchers to “ob­tain base­line in­for­ma­tion about chang­ing ocean chem­istry”, says the Surfrider Foun­da­tion, adding: “So­lu­tions to these prob­lems are within our grasp.”

Founder of Smartfin, Dr An­drew Stern, says that although we have de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the deep ocean, not much ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion is avail­able about the shore.

Smartfin makes it easy for surfers to aid sci­en­tists by gath­er­ing ad­di­tional data. What makes surfers so use­ful is that there are more of them

than there are re­searchers and they tend to spend more time in the wa­ter. Once cap­tured, the data can help the Surfrider Foun­da­tion to ed­u­cate com­mu­ni­ties and help them curb the ef­fects of cli­mate change.

Smartfin mea­sures:

l Tem­per­a­ture l Lo­ca­tion l Wave char­ac­ter­is­tics But the com­pany says sen­sors that also mea­sure the wa­ter’s salin­ity, ph, dis­solved oxy­gen and chloro­phyll are in de­vel­op­ment.

How does it work?

The sen­sors are housed in­side an aero­dy­namic fin shape. There are no strange bumps or shapes; Smartfin main­tains the stan­dard foil. In fact, the only way any­one would know the fin is elec­tronic is the small green LED that serves as a power in­di­ca­tor.

When you’re done surf­ing, the Smartfin app will trans­fer the data from the fin us­ing Blue­tooth. Data from the app is sent off to be pro­cessed.

Smartfin is not avail­able to the pub­lic yet. If you’re in­ter­ested in find­ing out more, head over to Surfrider.org to re­ceive a no­ti­fi­ca­tion the mo­ment you can buy one; it could even be in time for sum­mer. PM

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