Lake Tahoe mobile beach app lets visitors be citizen scientists | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe mobile beach app lets visitors be citizen scientists

Staff report
Sand Harbor, off the East Shore, ranks high among Lake Tahoe's most iconic beaches.
File photo |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center has launched a new smartphone app, “Citizen Science Tahoe,” that encourages beach-goers to tap in what they see at Lake Tahoe.

Scientists then hope that app will cull observational that can be shared to better understand conditions around the lake.

According to the Incline Village-based Tahoe Environmental Research Center, the app was programmed by Shahzeb Khan, a UC Davis freshman studying computer science who won a university competition for the best app proposal.

“Working on the app and solving problems has been a fun challenge,” Khan said in a statement. “Collaborating with TERC has also been a great work experience.”

The idea is for the app to create “citizen scientists” — hence its name — so residents can help lake researchers by entering info on what they see at a beach, everything from sand to algae to wildlife.

Each observation automatically records the user’s location and the date and time, according to UC Davis; users can also add photos and their own comments, and they earn points for every observation made.

Visit http://www.CitizenScienceTahoe.org to download the app, or search “Citizen Science Tahoe” on your smartphone’s app store.

“There are aspects of water and ecological quality that depend solely on the perceptions of individuals,” Geoff Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, said in a statement. “That is what this app is seeking to measure from everywhere around the lake at all times of year.

“If you want to contribute to science at Lake Tahoe, simply go to the beach.”

Data from the app will be available through a new exhibit currently under development at the TERC building on the camps of Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village.

The “Lake Tahoe Conditions” exhibit — developed by TERC and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association — will reportedly explore trends related to lake level, temperature, water color, water clarity, algae and more.

To learn more about UC Davis, visit ucdavis.edu. To learn more about, the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, visit terc.ucdavis.edu.