Development and growth of strategic monitoring and resilience training in coastal watersheds on affordable budgets

Brian T Glazer and Hou In Lio, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, United States
Affordable technological developments have become widely available over the past five years, but most of these advancements have not yet been applied to aquatic sciences, or have only been developed for use by highly-trained scientists, engineers, and technicians. Undergraduate research assistants, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and even lead investigators in highly productive environmental science departments are often intimidated by expensive and overly-complex commercially-available sensors and instruments. For many researchers, and for most non-expert audiences (e.g., community college STEM students, non-profit environmental management organizations), current ocean and watershed observing technology is as foreign and inaccessible as Mars rover innovations, but it need not be. We have targeted fundamental coastal oceanographic research questions, rooted in hypothesis-driven science, that are poised to benefit from sensor, instrumentation, and technology transfer advancements that can help address problems of undersampling in aquatic environments. The overarching goal behind the work is to democratize access to environmental sensor observing techniques and time-series data by enabling and growing an affordable network of hardware instrumentation and data delivery tools to empower research scientists with empirical measurements for coastal processes on appropriate spatial and temporal scales, as well as to empower local community organizations working to restore coastal watersheds. Here, we describe the sensors, telemetry, web interface, and applications of the platform, supporting over 150 sensors in five states.