PhD project by Mirjam Scheller

Accuracy of temporary stream observations and their usefulness for water management

I am Mirjam, a member of the CrowdWater team. In my PhD-project, I am using the data that you collect using the temporary stream category in the CrowdWater app. If you haven´t used this category yet: Temporary streams are streams that dry up from time to time. The state of these unique streams can be described by several categories such as a dry streambed, standing water, trickling water or a flowing stream and people all over the world contribute with their observations. With your help, I want to answer the following questions:

  1. How consistent are the assessments of the state of temporary streams by different people?
  2. How useful are observations of the state of temporary streams for hydrological model calibration and the prediction of water resources?
  3. Can we predict the state of temporary streams with a model that was constrained by data collected by citizen scientists?

I will address question 1 by interviewing hikers next to temporary streams in Switzerland and Germany. But I will also take pictures and videos of these streams and do an additional survey online. We will inform you via our newsletter about the online surveys but if you want to have a preview, see this survey. For question 2, I will use a 10-year data set obtained in France ( Observations about temporary streams were collected in a way that is very similar to the CrowdWater app. I hope I will be able to afterwards draw conclusions about these results to the data that has been collected by you in the CrowdWater app. Finally, for question 3, I will create a map that shows the state of temporary streams at different times. I do not only want to show the state of the streams that you are observing in the map but all the streams. Additionally, I also want to show the changes of the state of all these streams at different times. To do so, I need a model and temporary stream observations (the more, the better!). The model contains equations that have some unknown parameters. These unknown parameters can be determined with the help of the data you have been collecting with the CrowdWater app. Maps showing the flow state of streams over time and space could be a valuable tool for managing our water resources and protecting valuable ecosystems.

I hope that I will be able to show you some interesting results soon. A big thank-you to everyone for supporting me and for being fascinated by science. If you have any questions about my research project, do not hesitate to write an e-mail to: