Smartfin – collecting data for ocean research

The global ocean may be the most critical part of Earth’s environmental system. Since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has absorbed 90% of the excess heat from global warming and half of the excess carbon dioxide. Scientists confirm that the way the ocean handles continued increases in heat and carbon dioxide will largely determine how Earth responds to climate change.

The nearshore coastal zones are highly productive, rich in biodiversity, and are where the vast majority of human activity occurs. However, because coastal zones are so dynamic, it is challenging and expensive to measure the trends and effects of climate change in these areas. As a result, scientists do not have consistent, reliable nearshore data and our understanding of climate change in our coastal zones remains incomplete.

Smartfin offers research-grade, data-collecting surfboard fins to its ocean-engaged members and encourages them to surf or SUP with the fins regularly to transfer useful nearshore data to the cloud for oceanographic scientists to use in their research.

The Project also encourages members to be vocal about their Smartfin participation, ocean health and climate change within their own communities and provides opportunities for members to engage others, learn and be heard, both online and offline. Members will be given tools to organize themselves into groups and manage the data that they collect.

The Project aims to establish Initiatives in locations that host active surfing communities, and also in areas that are high priorities for oceanographic research. These initiatives encourage ocean health awareness, increase Smartfin membership and participation and promote scientific research.

With the help of surfers and this technology, scientists can get new insights into ocean health. Measuring temperature, acidity levels, salinity and the waves themselves is opening new data on our coastlines that is difficult to gauge from traditional methods like satellites and ocean buoys.