Surf Science

A wave quality survey needs your help

For years California surfers have fought to stop the construction of the toll road, but it appears that fight isn't over. Photo: Ellis

Is a permanent high tide in Trestles’ future? Scientists want to know. Photo: Ellis

Your knowledge is needed. Did you hate science in school? Don’t worry. You’re an expert when it comes to the observational science of breaking waves. And Dan Reineman--a coastal researcher, Stanford doctoral candidate, and more important, a surfer--wants to deputize you as a citizen surfer scientist.

Your role as a citizen scientist is easy: take this survey from Thousands of surfers worldwide have taken the survey so far. You’ll spend about 5 minutes on the thing, doing your part.

Should you heed your task, the survey will ask you a series of questions about where you surf, how often, and how the waves break throughout the cycle of tides. Once Reineman and his team have collected all the responses, the data will be used to predict which surf spots will be swamped by rising sea levels and how significant that swamping will be. You’re in the ocean all the time, and you know more than anybody else, save your fellow locals, about how your homebreak may have changed over the years. Or, listen to Leif Thomas here, Stanford professor of oceanography and a member of Reineman’s team: "Many surfers are amateur oceanographers and meteorologists - they have to be in order to know when and where to paddle out and how to get the best rides. Their local knowledge could provide insights into how particular surf breaks work and how they might be affected by changes in sea level."

Don’t put it off too long. The survey ends May 9.