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The Climate from the Ground Up: Trying to Use all the World’s Webcams

Speaker  Robert Pless

Affiliation  Washington University in St. Louis

Host  Andrew Fitzgibbon

Duration  00:53:28

Date recorded  18 June 2013

The web has an enormous collection of live cameras view image parks, roads, cities, beaches, mountains, ski-resorts, buildings and more. Over the last 5 years, I have been archiving imagery from most (22000) publically available outdoor cameras, and working to understand how to effectively use this massively distributed resource as a tool for phenology, environmental, atmospheric and social measurement. Our approaches to analyzing this data set are inspired by a combination of time-lapse video artists Jason Salavon and Hiroshi Sugimoto and work to characterize the statistical invariants in images of natural scenes. I will talk about algorithms for automatically geo-locating, calibrating and inferring 3D scene structure from outdoor time-lapse imagery, interfaces to integrate the webcams with Google Earth and strategies that we have developed to visualize and categorize this data archive. I will conclude by describing early work that uses webcam data to evaluate satellite estimates of the spring green-up time of trees in North America and the potential for smart phone apps to allow citizen scientists to capture more calibrated and directed imagery.

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